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CALIFORNIA: Boxer Aiding Davis and Bustamante in the Recall

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) said Tuesday that she has offered to make TV commercials for both Gov. Gray Davis (D) and one of the candidates bidding to replace him in the Oct. 7 recall election, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante (D).

“I’m open to helping Cruz and Gray in whatever way they ask,” Boxer told a luncheon meeting of the California State Society in Washington, D.C. “They both know that.”

Like most Golden State Democrats — Sen. Dianne Feinstein being the notable exception — Boxer has embraced the strategy of opposing the recall but endorsing Bustamante as the only viable alternative in case Davis is removed.

Bustamante, Boxer said Tuesday, “is the man who was elected twice to step in in case of catastrophe.”

But the idea that Boxer could actually wind up cutting spots for both Davis, who is fighting for his political life, and Bustamante, who stands to gain if Davis is rejected by the voters (though he too is officially opposed to the recall), could further confuse an already confusing situation.

Already Boxer has appeared twice with Davis in a show of solidarity, though they were not strictly campaign events. And she has agreed to send a mailing to supporters urging them to reject the recall but vote for Bustamante.

Unlike Feinstein — who is not up for re-election again until 2006 and who was urged to get into the recall race — Boxer comes before the electorate in 2004. And she will not want to slight Latino voters — especially if her GOP opponent is former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin, one of three Republicans running for Senate so far.

Boxer said she could not predict whether Bustamante’s presence on the ballot would boost Latino turnout in the recall election. In fact, she said, the race is impossible to poll or predict, calling it “a 50-50 deal all the way around.”

“I hope we have the largest possible turnout,” she said. “Whatever the result, let there be a mandate.” — Josh Kurtz

Scratch One Contender From Dooley Seat Field

Scratch one potential candidate from the race to succeed Rep. Cal Dooley (D) in his Central Valley district.

Fresno County Supervisor Juan Arambula, who last week briefly considered joining the Democratic fray, said this week that he would instead run for the state Assembly in 2004. Arambula said the prospect of being in the minority party in Washington, D.C., contributed to his decision.

“What it came down to was one question: Where could I be most effective?” he told the Fresno Bee.

Three Democrats appear poised to enter the primary to succeed Dooley: former state Sen. Jim Costa; Lisa Quigley, Dooley’s chief of staff; and state Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes. Arambula is seeking Reyes’ Assembly seat.

As Republicans look for a candidate who can be competitive in the Democratic-voting district, former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson (R) took himself out of contention, saying the registration numbers were too heavily tilted in the Democrats’ favor.

“I do not feel a calling to be a sacrificial lamb,” he told the Bee. — J.K.

Inslee: I’ll Seek Another Term and Skip State Run

Rep. Jay Inslee (D) announced late Monday that he would not be a candidate for governor in 2004 and would instead seek re-election to his 1st district seat.

“Our nation is facing many difficult challenges, and after listening to my constituents it is clear they want me to stay in Congress and face those challenges,” he said.

Inslee would have joined an already crowded Democratic field to succeed retiring Gov. Gary Locke (D). State Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who underwent a mastectomy last week, is considered the early frontrunner. King County Executive Ron Sims and former state Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge are also running.

But Inslee, who won his 1st district seat in 1998 and also represented a central Washington district in Congress for one term, could face a tough re-election battle in his Puget Sound-area district. King County Councilwoman Jane Hague, a highly regarded moderate, is the leading Republican contender. Heart surgeon Roger Stark is also seeking the GOP nod, and 2002 nominee Joe Marino could also enter the race. — J.K.

Candidates Move Fast in Newly Open 3rd District

Would-be Members of Congress are moving fast in the 3rd district, where Rep. Scott McInnis (R) surprised the political world last weekend by announcing he would not seek a seventh term.

State Sen. Ken Chlouber (R) — who does not live in the 3rd under new lines drawn by the Republican Legislature but will if a court restores the previous boundaries — told the Rocky Mountain News that he has already met with Republican money men to discuss making the race. Chlouber, according to the newspaper, has been answering his cellphone, “This is Ken Chlouber, the next Congressman from the 3rd Congressional district.”

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, The Denver Post reported that Anthony Martinez, who twice ran unsuccessfully for Colorado secretary of state, has thrown his hat into the ring.

But Chlouber and Martinez are not going to be the only candidates — not by a long shot. Political insiders have identified at least a dozen potential Republican candidates and at least seven on the Democratic side.

Depending on how the court rules in the redistricting case, the 3rd could be one of the most competitive districts in the country next year. — J.K.

Independent Is First to Challenge Sen. Grassley

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) drew his first challenger of the 2004 campaign in the form of salesman Bob Watson, who will run as an Independent.

Watson, who sells wastewater equipment, has never run for elected office before but told the Quad City Times on Monday, “I think there are different directions this country should be going in.”

A Vietnam War veteran, Watson is planning to finance his campaign with disability payments he receives for post traumatic stress disorder, which he incurred during the war.

No Democrats have announced against Grassley, although Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver has been mentioned. Culver, son of former Iowa Sen. John Culver (D), who was defeated by Grassley in 1980, is interested in the 2006 gubernatorial race. Some speculate that a 2004 Senate run would be more of a positioning race for him.

Grassley is one of the best funded and most serious campaigners up for re-election in 2004. He ended June with $4.3 million on hand. — Chris Cillizza

Rep. Bereuter Seeking College Presidency

Rep. Doug Bereuter (R) expressed interest in becoming the next president of the University of Nebraska in an interview with the Omaha World-Herald on Monday.

“I am interested,” said Bereuter. “It’s an extremely important and challenging position.”

Bereuter said he had spoken to several members of the school’s board of regents about the job. Bereuter has held the 1st district seat since 1978 and has never faced a serious re-election challenge. The eastern Nebraska district, which excludes Omaha, is solidly Republican, having given George W. Bush 59 percent of the vote in the 2000 presidential election.

The current president of the university, Dennis Smith, announced Monday that he would leave the post when his contract expires June 30. Among the other names mentioned as possible successors to Smith are former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), who is currently president of the New School in New York City, and Rep. Tom Osborne (R-Neb.), the legendary former coach of the Cornhuskers’ football team. — C.C.

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