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CALIFORNIA: Hot, Three-Way Battle Likely for Dooley Seat

The Democratic primary battle to replace retiring Rep. Cal Dooley (D) in 2004 could be a competitive, three-way affair.

On Tuesday, the day Dooley announced his intention not to seek an eighth term, his chief of staff, Lisa Quigley, and state Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes both said they were likely to enter the 20th district race and would announce their plans in the next few days. On Wednesday, former state Sen. Jim Costa said he was also giving the race “a very serious look.”

Costa, who spent 24 years in the state Legislature, including eight in the Senate, noted that state Senate districts in California are bigger than Congressional districts.

“I’ve been representing the people in the 20th Congressional district for many years,” he said.

Al Pross, editor of the California Target Book, which handicaps political races in the Golden State, said Costa has far higher name recognition than the other two candidates. Before running for office in 1978, Costa was an aide to then-Reps. Bernie Sisk (D-Calif.) and John Krebs (D-Calif.), as well as to influential members of the state Legislature.

“Right now, if I was a betting man, I’d have to say the odds are with Costa,” Pross said.

Costa would clearly try to turn his experience and legislative record into assets in the Central Valley district. Reyes has spent six years in the Legislature, and Quigley has worked for Dooley since he entered Congress in 1991.

— Josh Kurtz

Boxer Bashes Issa for The Recall ‘Situation’

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) on Wednesday lent her name to a new campaign by the liberal organization to defeat the attempt to recall Gov. Gray Davis (D) and in the process took a swipe at Rep. Darrell Issa (R), who spent about $1.7 million to get the recall on the ballot next month.

“He put a ton of his money in, caused this whole situation, and now the taxpayers have to pay $66 million, maybe $70 million [to fund the Oct. 7 recall election],” Boxer said of Issa during a telephone news conference. “Thanks a lot.”

Boxer, who is seeking a third term in 2004, said she has agreed to put out a mailing in opposition to the recall, and noted that she recently made two appearances with Davis in the Golden State. These were issue events rather than campaign events, she said, but they highlighted what’s at stake in the recall election.

Issa, who recently abandoned a campaign for governor in the recall election, is considered a possible challenger to Boxer in 2004 and could join a GOP field that includes state Assemblyman Tony Strickland, former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin and former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey.

Issa entered politics seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Boxer in 1998.

Boxer also said she was not troubled about taking a different approach to the recall than the state’s most popular Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Like the rest of the California Democratic Congressional delegation, Boxer has said she will vote against the recall but will also vote for Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D) as an alternative candidate in case the recall passes.

Feinstein, who was the target of a recall when she was mayor of San Francisco in the 1980s, has said she will simply vote no on the recall and will not choose an alternative.

“I just disagree with Senator Feinstein, and that’s fine,” Boxer said. “We feel equally strongly about the recall. We just need a back-up strategy.”

Meanwhile, in other Congressional delegation news regarding the recall, Rep. Brad Sherman (D) said Wednesday that he has ordered 8,000 combs that he will distribute to voters urging them to reject the recall but support Bustamante.

“You can fit a lot of information on a comb,” said Sherman — who is bald.

— J.K.


Campaign Reformers Target Redistricting, Too

The Reform Institute, a nonprofit group promoting campaign financing reforms, filed a friend of the court brief late last week in the Pennsylvania redistricting case currently being considered by the Supreme Court.

The brief urges the court to strike down current redistricting practices, marked by partisan gerrymandering in most states, which have led to a decline in competitive elections.

“Gerrymandering practices are completely out of control and they are seriously damaging the democratic process,” Reform Institute President Richard Davis said in a release. “You don’t have to look any further than the redistricting mess in Texas, Colorado and now Pennsylvania. Our brief is about diminishing the partisan power struggle that’s now so common in redistricting fights across the country.”

The brief notes that the high rates of incumbent retention resulting from the declining competitiveness of Congressional districts have eroded the accountability and legitimacy of the House. It also argues that the 2002 elections are a prime illustration of how redistricting has helped kill competitive races. Last year, only four challengers defeated House incumbents, the lowest number in modern American history.

The Pennsylvania case is a challenge to the time-honored practice of the party in power in the state Capitol rigging the redistricting process to its advantage. The high court will likely hear the case — the first partisan gerrymandering case the justices have agreed to hear since 1986 — after November.

— Lauren W. Whittington


McKinney May Focus on Burns for Her Comeback

As speculation continues to mount over whether former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D) may make a comeback bid next year, it now appears that the district in which she would run is uncertain.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week that McKinney is “testing the waters” for a challenge to 12th district freshman Rep. Max Burns (R) in 2004.

Burns was elected last year to represent the Democratic-leaning district that stretches along the state’s eastern boarder, from Savannah to Augusta to Athens. He is considered a top target for Democrats this cycle.

McKinney was defeated in a 2002 primary by now-Rep. Denise Majette (D) in the DeKalb County-based 4th district. She spawned speculation that she was contemplating a comeback when she filed paperwork to open a 2004 campaign committee as a 4th district candidate.

Athens-Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow and former state Sen. Doug Haines are already seeking the Democratic nomination in the 12th. State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond is another prominent Democrat contemplating running for the seat.

— L.W.W.

McCallum Drops Out, Says It’s Clay’s ‘Time’

Meanwhile, the field in the open 6th district race to succeed Rep. Johnny Isakson (R) shrunk by one last week as John McCallum dropped his long-shot bid and endorsed state Sen. Chuck Clay (R).

McCallum, a onetime aide to former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), ran unsuccessfully for Georgia secretary of state in 1998.

In dropping his bid, he cited the fact that he was a “young guy with a young family” and that this wasn’t the time for him to run for Congress.

“This is the right time for Chuck Clay,” McCollum said.

Three other state legislators are also seeking the nomination in the staunchly Republican district. They are state Sen. Tom Price, state Sen. Robert Lamutt and state Rep. Roger Hines.

A recent poll conducted for Clay’s campaign showed him leading all other candidates.

— L.W.W.


Cheney to Stump for Freshman Rep. Rogers

Vice President Cheney will travel to Huntsville on Friday to attend a fundraiser for freshman Rep. Mike Rogers (R). Sen. Richard Shelby (R) is among the hosts of the breakfast.

Rogers, who won with just 50 percent in 2002, is likely to be targeted by Democrats again this cycle, although the party has yet to field a challenger.

As of June 30, Rogers showed an impressive $490,000 in the bank.

— L.W.W.


Self-Interested Governor Wants Hutchison in D.C.

Gov. Rick Perry (R) urged Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) to remain in the Senate rather than return to the Lone Star State to run for governor in 2006.

“I think the Senator is doing a great job as the senior Senator from the state of Texas, and I have an idea that we need that kind of leadership in Washington, D.C.,” Perry said at a news conference Tuesday.

Hutchison has not addressed recent recommendations that she run for governor in three years, even as editorial criticism has rained down on Perry for his role in Congressional redistricting.

Perry has already called two special sessions to reopen the line-drawing process and is expected to call a third in the near future. Republicans are hoping to recraft the lines to elect more of their own to Congress.

An editorial in the Park Cities People, a weekly Dallas-area newspaper, urged Hutchison to “come home,” accusing Perry of “political clumsiness” in the redistricting process.

A Democratic poll in July showed Hutchison with a 49 percent to 37 percent lead over Perry in a Republican primary; it also showed Perry leading former state Comptroller John Sharp (D) by only a 43 percent to 41 percent margin in a general election.

Perry won a full four-year term in 2002 after ascending to the governorship two years earlier when then-Gov. George W. Bush was elected president. Hutchison has been in the Senate since winning a 1993 special election to replace then-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D).

— Chris Cillizza


Retired Air Force Major Joins GOP Senate Race

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. John Borling on Tuesday officially joined the crowded GOP field in the race to replace retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R).

“Serious times deserve tested, experienced leadership,” Borling, 63, said during his three-city flyaround announcement tour. Borling has served overseas and at the White House, the Pentagon and the National War College.

Borling also said Tuesday that he favors a law allowing licensed gun owners to carry their weapons at restaurants, shopping malls and the workplace, something that might have prevented the workplace massacre at a Chicago supply store last week, he said.

Among the other Republicans running in the March 16, 2004, primary are investment banker-turned-teacher Jack Ryan, paper company president Andy McKenna, attorney John Cox, dairy magnate Jim Oberweis and state Sen. Steve Rauschenberger.

— L.W.W.


Race for Nethercutt Seat Gets a New Republican

State Rep. Cathy McMorris (R) this week joined the race to replace Rep. George Nethercutt (R), who is running for the Senate in 2004.

“I’m energetic, and my values match this district well,” McMorris told The Associated Press.

McMorris, 34, the state House Republican leader, said she would resign her leadership post later this month to concentrate on the campaign. She will keep her legislative seat, however.

McMorris is now one of three candidates vying for the GOP nomination; state Sen. Larry Sheahan and Spokane County Sheriff Mark Sterk have also entered the race.

Although Eastern Washington leans Republican, Democrats hope to field a competitive candidate in a district once represented by former Speaker Tom Foley (D). While he has not formally entered the race, many party leaders believe hotel developer Don Barbieri would be their strongest candidate.

— J.K.


GOP Recruits Ex-Mayor For Uphill Hoyer Race

Former Berwyn Heights Mayor Bradley Jewitt is emerging as the consensus Republican choice to take on Rep. Steny Hoyer (D) in 2004.

According to Tuesday’s Baltimore Sun, Jewitt, a major in the Marine Corps Reserves who was activated to serve in the Iraq war, plans to campaign full-time for the next year and a half. He resigned as mayor of Berwyn Heights, a community near the University of Maryland’s College Park campus, when his unit was called to duty.

Hoyer, who first came to Congress in a special election in 1981, must still be considered a heavy favorite in a district that trends Democratic despite some conservative precincts in southern Maryland.

Two state legislators have tried to take Hoyer out — most recently then-Del. Tim Hutchins (R) in 2000 — and were soundly defeated.

Jewitt may not have the GOP field all to himself in the 5th district. Conservative activist Joseph Crawford, who has run for the seat several times and was the nominee in 2002, could run again.

— J.K.

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