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GEORGIA: Chambliss Takes Sides, Endorses Westmoreland

Departing from his customary practice of staying out of intraparty battles, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) endorsed the 8th district Congressional campaign of state House Minority Leader Lynn Westmoreland (R) this week.

In brief remarks at a Washington, D.C., fundraising luncheon for Westmoreland on Tuesday, Chambliss “spoke glowingly” of the state legislator and said he looked forward to working to help elect him, according to one source who attended the event.

Westmoreland is currently one of two Republican candidates seeking to replace Rep. Mac Collins (R), who is running for Senate. State Sen. Mike Crotts (R) is also running and Dylan Glenn, a former Bush political appointee who recently left a top job in Gov. Sonny Perdue’s (R) administration, is also expected to make the race. The district is heavily Republican, and the person who replaces Collins in the next Congress will essentially be decided in the primary.

Perdue’s top aide told The Associated Press earlier this month that the governor, who sparred with Westmoreland over taxes during this year’s legislative session, will remain neutral in the primary. — Lauren W. Whittington

Gingrey Hits $1 Million Mark to Scare Off Foes

Aides to Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) weren’t shy about touting the fact that this week the freshman Congressman hit the $1 million mark in fundraising for the cycle.

Gingrey, who was elected to an open seat with 52 percent of the vote last year, led all other freshman Members in fundraising through the end of June.

“Certainly we’re in a very strong position going into next year, really going into the latter part of this year,” Gingrey spokesman Brian Robinson said.

Republicans hope the Congressman’s aggressive fundraising and massive war chest will force potential challengers to think twice before making the race next year. So far, Gingrey has no announced opponent in the northeastern 11th district, a marginal seat that was redrawn to favor Democrats.

“We’re hoping we’re the only dog that shows up for this fight,” Robinson quipped. — L.W.W.


Ruppersberger ‘Tough To Beat’: GOP Chairman

Freshman Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) may escape his first re-election campaign without a tough opponent.

Maryland Republican Party Chairman John Kane conceded last week that the party was having trouble recruiting a top-tier opponent against Ruppersberger, who won a close race against former Rep. Helen Bentley (R) last year.

“He’s going to be tough to beat,” Kane said. “That’s not a high priority for us.”

Republicans had high hopes for their prospects in the 2nd district last year, even after Democrats in the Legislature redrew the lines of the suburban Baltimore district to favor Ruppersberger. In a race where both candidates spent more than $1 million, Ruppersberger beat Bentley 54 percent to 46 percent.

Compounding the problem for Republicans is the fact that viable potential challengers to Ruppersberger, including former state Del. Jim Ports and two-time GOP gubernatorial nominee Ellen Sauerbrey, have been drawn out of the district.

Kane said that another potential challenger, state Sen. Andrew Harris (R), has decided to stay in the state Legislature rather than run for Congress because he is unwilling to give up his day job as an emergency room physician. — Josh Kurtz


Hardball for Boehlert by Baseball Hall of Fame

Although Hurricane Isabel may force organizers to postpone the event, Cooperstown is scheduled to be host this weekend to White House political guru Karl Rove at a fundraiser for Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R).

Rove is the headliner at a “weekend of baseball and hardball politics,” a $2,500-a-head fundraiser for the 11-term Congressman. It’s all supposed to take place down the road from the Baseball Hall of Fame at the historic Otesaga Resort, where, according to the resort’s brochure, “elegance comes naturally.”

The fundraiser is being organized by Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, executive director of the Republican Main Street Partnership, the group dedicated to electing moderate Republicans.

This is no coincidence: Boehlert may become a target of the Club for Growth, which has shown a penchant for going after Republican centrists. Boehlert received a scare from Cayuga County legislator David Walrath (R) in the 2002 24th district primary, winning 53 percent to 47 percent, and Walrath is pondering whether to run again. State Sen. Ray Meier (R) has also not ruled out a challenge. — J.K.

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