LOUISIANA: Alexander’s Poll Shows He’s in Good Shape
A new poll conducted for Rep. Rodney Alexander (D) shows that he is in solid shape six months into his first term.
Alexander led former Rep. John Cooksey (R) 52 percent to 37 percent and 2002 5th district nominee Lee Fletcher 58 percent to 29 percent in the Anzalone Liszt Research poll.
Cooksey held the district from 1996 to 2002, when he vacated it for an unsuccessful Senate bid. Fletcher, Cooksey’s former chief of staff, lost the open seat to Alexander by 974 votes. Both are considering running again.
The survey was in the field from July 13 to 17, testing 500 likely voters. It had a 4.4 percent margin of error.
Despite being a freshman legislator, Alexander’s poll showed that he was known by roughly three-quarters of respondents, with 64 percent having a favorable opinion of him compared to 10 percent with an unfavorable opinion.
Alexander is one of the top Republican targets in 2004 given his narrow win and the competitive nature of the district. President Bush would have won 57 percent in the district in 2000, although roughly 34 percent of the population is black.
— Chris Cillizza
Inslee Can Use Some of His Funds for State Run
Rep. Jay Inslee (D), according to the latest Federal Election Commission reports, is sitting on more than $850,000 in his campaign account — not a bad nest egg to build from should he decide to run for governor in 2004.
Inslee said last week that he will decide soon whether to join state Attorney General Christine Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims and former state Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge in the race for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
But under Washington state’s complex campaign finance rules, Inslee can transfer only some of his Congressional campaign fund to a statewide account if he runs.
For starters, Washington has a $1,250 campaign contribution limit, which is lower than the $4,000 limit ($2,000 for primaries and $2,000 for general elections) for federal races. What’s more, any candidate seeking to transfer money from a federal account to a state account must get written permission from each individual donor, starting with the most recent donor and working back to the least recent.
So the answer to the question, can Inslee transfer money from his Congressional account to a gubernatorial one should he decide to enter the race, is yes — but nobody knows how much.
— Josh Kurtz
2000 Senate Contender Schwartz Runs in 13th
State Sen. Allison Schwartz (D) announced Wednesday that she will seek the open 13th district seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D), who is running for Senate.
“I’m running to bring an independent voice and mainstream values to important issues in Washington on behalf of the hard-working people of northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County,” Schwartz said in a statement announcing the filing of her candidacy.
In 2000, Schwartz placed second in a six-way Democratic primary for the right to face Sen. Rick Santorum (R).
The four-term state lawmaker is currently the longest-serving woman in the state Senate and her legislative district includes portions of Philadelphia and Montgomery County, the area that makes up the suburban 13th Congressional district.
Schwartz has the backing of Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Marcel Groen and Philadelphia Controller Jonathan Saidel (D), who had been considered a top-tier candidate for the seat before throwing his support to Schwartz.
Two other Democrats are also running for the seat: state Rep. Mark Cohen and Pennsylvania Association of Health Underwriters Legislative Chairman Ross Schriftman.
National Constitution Center President Joseph Torsella remains the only other potential heavy hitter still considering a Democratic bid.
On the Republican side, ophthalmologist Melissa Brown and state Rep. Ellen Bard have both announced they are running. Hoeffel defeated Brown last year, 51 percent to 47 percent.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Group Forms to Inform Moderates About Pombo
A group of Bay Area liberals have put together a fundraising committee to knock off Rep. Richard Pombo (R), chairman of the House Resources Committee.
Calling itself Eye on the 11th, the group is raising money for newspaper advertisements and mailings designed to highlight Pombo’s conservative voting record. They will be aimed at moderate and liberal voters in the inland East Bay portion of the 11th, who were added to the San Joaquin Valley-based district in the previous round of redistricting.
“I don’t think people know that Pombo was assigned to them,” a spokesman for the group told the Stockton Record.
The campaign is modeled after an organization called Eye on the 10th, which used the same tactics in the Bay area to help defeat another conservative, then-Rep. Bill Baker (R), in 1996.
But Pombo partisans noted in the newspaper that in 2002 the six-term Congressman took 60 percent of the vote despite the new district lines, which were supposed to make the 11th more competitive.
Rounds Takes Himself Out of Daschle Race
Take Gov. Mike Rounds’ (R) name off the list of potential challengers to Sen. Tom Daschle (D) in 2004.
“I am very happy serving the citizens of South Dakota as governor, and I have no intention of running for the Senate in 2004,” Rounds recently told the Rapid City Journal.
Speculation about Rounds began in the past few months when a statewide poll was conducted testing Rounds’ name in a potential matchup with the Minority Leader.
“I did not authorize anyone to use my name as a potential candidate,” Rounds said.
National Republicans believe that former Rep. John Thune will enter the race this fall. After serving three terms in the House, Thune unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Tim Johnson (D) in 2002. He lost that race by 524 votes.
The X-factor in the contest is the potential candidacy of Rep. Bill Janklow, a former four-term governor of the Mount Rushmore State.
Janklow and Daschle are friendly, however, and the former governor has said in the past that he would not run against the Senator.
Polling conducted in the race typically shows Daschle with a lead over Thune, although in recent Republican surveys that edge has been within the surveys’ margin of error.
Daschle is clearly gearing up for a serious fight; he raised $1.4 million from April 1 to June 30 and ended the period with $2.9 million on hand.
Bush Will Raise Money For Bond Next Month
Sen. Kit Bond’s (R) already bulging war chest will grow significantly larger Aug. 26 when President Bush travels to St. Louis to raise money for Bond’s re-election bid.
The event is Bush’s first for a candidate this cycle. He has done a number of fundraisers for his own re-election campaign and raised better than $30 million in his July quarterly report.
Bond set a torrid fundraising pace in the first six months of the year. In the most recent filing period he brought in $1.7 million — the fifth highest total of any incumbent up in 2004 — and ended the period with $2.8 million on hand.
Democrats recently recruited state Treasurer Nancy Farmer into the race against Bond. Farmer officially jumped in last Friday after state Auditor Claire McCaskill and Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell turned it down.
A poll conducted for the Farmer campaign by Decision Research showed Bond with a 51 percent to 38 percent lead over Farmer.
In the field from July 10 to 14, the poll tested 800 likely voters with a 3.5 percent margin of error.
Bond has never won his seat with more than 53 percent; in 1998 he defeated state Attorney General Jay Nixon by 9 points.
New Poll Helps Explain McCain’s Popularity
A recent independent poll showed why Sen. John McCain (R) has neither primary nor general election opponents as he prepares to run for a fourth term in 2004.
Sixty-eight percent of those polled by the Behavior Research Center said McCain was doing an “excellent” or “good” job, with 26 percent judging his job performance as “fair, poor” or “very poor.”
The survey was conducted from July 14 to 18 of 701 adults and had a 3.7 percent margin of error.
McCain is wildly popular among independents and even some Democrats following his 2000 presidential bid in which he nearly beat George W. Bush for the GOP nomination. His maverick mentality — especially his championing of campaign finance reform — has rubbed a number of Republicans the wrong way, however.
As a result, conservative Rep. Jeff Flake (R) pondered a primary challenge to McCain before bowing out earlier this month.
“After a lot of soul-searching on this, I decided I’d probably get whipped,” Flake said at the time.
State Democratic Party Chairman Jim Pederson has acknowledged that McCain is unlikely to get a serious opponent in the general election.
Pederson, a wealthy businessman, is seen as Democrats’ strongest future Senate candidate but is unlikely to risk a bright political future on such an uphill race.
Democrats are much more keen on running a serious challenge to Sen. Jon Kyl (R) in 2006. Democrats did not field a candidate in Kyl’s last race, and he won with 79 percent.
DeMint Touts Support From State Lawmakers
Attempting to re-establish himself as the frontrunner for the Senate nomination, Rep. Jim DeMint (R) announced the support of 21 state legislators, including the state Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the state House.
“I’m very grateful to have such a strong team of able legislators at my side,” DeMint said.
The state officeholders will form the foundation of DeMint’s legislative leadership team, an advisory committee for his Senate bid.
DeMint, a three-term Congressman from the Up Country 4th district, began 2003 with the field to himself, but somewhat sluggish fundraising led former state Attorney General Charlie Condon (R) and wealthy Charleston businessman Thomas Ravenel (R) to enter the race.
Ravenel, who will officially announce his candidacy today in a fly-around tour of the state, loaned his campaign $950,000 just prior to the July quarterly reports that were filed with the Federal Election Commission. He showed $1 million on hand. DeMint had $811,000 to spend, and Condon showed $441,000 in his war chest.
It remains unclear who the Republican nominee will face next fall.
Seven-term Sen. Fritz Hollings (D) seems unlikely to run for re-election, although he has yet to make an official announcement.
If Hollings leaves, Democrats believe state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum (D) will likely run to replace him.
Christian Coalition Figure Enters 4th District Race
South Carolina Employment Security Commissioner Carole Wells (R) is expected to enter the open 4th district race early next month, according to The Greenville News.
“I looked at it and decided it was the right time,” said Wells, who is finishing up her second four-year term on the commission.
A former state legislator and founder of the state’s Christian Coalition chapter, Wells joins former Rep. Bob Inglis and former Public Service Commissioner Phil Bradley in the Republican race.Current Rep. Jim DeMint (R) is retiring after three terms to run for the Senate.
Wells’ strong ties to social conservatives coupled with her base in Spartanburg (both Inglis and Bradley are from Greenville).
Inglis is considered the early frontrunner in the contest, which because of the strongly Republican nature of the seat will likely be decided in the GOP primary.
He held the Up Country 4th district from 1992 to 1998, when he abandoned it to challenge Sen. Fritz Hollings (D). Hollings won that race 53 percent to 46 percent.
Inglis is the only candidate who has filed with the Federal Election Commission.
From April 1 to June 30, he raised $83,000 and has brought in $217,000 so far this cycle. Inglis had $213,000 in the bank on June 30.
Hispanic Caucus PAC Ready to Endorse Chico
The Senate campaign of former Chicago Board of Education President Gery Chico (D) is scheduled to receive a boost this evening with an endorsement from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Political Action Committee.
Chico will be joined by CHC Chairman Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) and Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) at an event this evening at a Chicago restaurant, where he will pick up the PAC endorsement. Chico is involved in a wild, multicandidate Senate primary.
In GOP news, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday that retired Air Force Maj. Gen. John Borling has formed an exploratory committee and may enter the race in September. Borling, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, said that he envisions flying himself around the state in vintage military airplanes as he campaigns.
Meanwhile, former state Rep. Jim Durkin, the 2002 GOP Senate nominee, announced this week that he would not run next year, but is considering running for a statewide office in 2006.