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OKLAHOMA: AG Edmondson Leads Carson in Senate Poll

State Attorney General Drew Edmondson leads Rep. Brad Carson in a hypothetical 2004 Democratic primary matchup for Senate, according to a poll conducted by the leading GOP survey research firm in the state.

Edmondson received 42 percent to 36 percent for Carson in the Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates poll.

“Contrary to what some consider the buzz in Washington, D.C., Drew Edmondson, not Brad Carson is the strongest of the oft-discussed potential Democrat [sic] candidates for U.S. Senate,” wrote GOP pollster Pat McFerron in the Sooner Survey.

Much of Edmondson’s lead, however, can be ascribed to superior name recognition; he was known by 92 percent of those tested, while Carson was recognized by 63 percent.

Edmondson’s name-recognition edge comes as a result of his nine years as the state’s top cop and his famous last name. His father, Ed Edmondson, served in the House from 1952 to 1972 and his uncle, Howard, held a U.S. Senate seat.

Carson is in his second term representing an eastern Oklahoma House district. Although a relative political newcomer, he is seen as the fastest rising star in Sooner State Democratic circles.

Both men have expressed an interest in running for the Senate if Sen. Don Nickles (R) decides against seeking a sixth term. Carson has held open the possibility that he might run even if Nickles re-ups.

On the Republican side both Rep. Ernest Istook and Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys are interested in the race. Former Rep. J.C. Watts is seen as the strongest GOP candidate but is reportedly uninterested in running in 2004. No Republican primary matchup was released from the CHS poll.

Nickles has said he will announce a decision on re-election by the end of this session of Congress.

— Chris Cillizza

‘Unconventional’ Bid For Capito Seat Planned

Becoming the first Democrat to move toward challenging Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) in 2004, Charleston Realtor Howard Swint filed papers with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday that will allow him to begin raising money for the 2nd district race, the Charleston Gazette reported Wednesday.

“I believe conventional wisdom holds that [Capito] cannot be beaten,” Swint told the newspaper. “That’s why I anticipate running an unconventional campaign based on the merits of my policy positions and ideas.”

Swint worked in the state Office of Community and Economic Development in the administrations of three former governors, including Capito’s father, Arch Moore (R).

He ran for Congress in 1996, challenging then-Rep. Bob Wise (D) in a primary. Wise, who was elected governor in 2000, easily defeated Swint 86 percent to 14 percent.

Capito won the highly competitive 2nd district race to succeed Wise and was targeted by Democrats in 2002. Jim Humphreys, the millionaire trial attorney who lost to Capito in 2000 and 2002, is not expected to run again next year.

Attorney Jim Lees, who lost in the 2000 gubernatorial primary, and perennial candidate Curtis Robinson are mentioned as other possible Democratic contenders.

Capito had more than $367,000 in her campaign account at the end of June.

— Lauren W. Whittington

McCarthy Challenger Takes in $127,000 So Far

Former Council on Foreign Relations fellow Jamie Metzl (D) announced Wednesday that he has raised $127,000 in the first three weeks of fundraising for his primary challenge to embattled Rep. Karen McCarthy (D).

“This strong support is an early indicator that I will have sufficient resources in my campaign to represent the people of Missouri’s Fifth District in Congress,” Metzl said.

Metzl is the only announced challenger to McCarthy in the strongly Democratic Kansas City-based seat. McCarthy has rarely been tested since winning her seat in 1994, but a string of recent problems, including an incident of drunkenness in the Capitol, has jeopardized her political career. As a result, McCarthy has struggled to raise money. Through June 30, she had raised just $21,000 so far in 2003 but had a healthier $422,000 on hand.

Public policy consultant Damian Thorman (D) has also indicated that he is planning to run.
— C.C.

Taff Meets With Donors, GOP Caucus This Week

Former Navy pilot Adam Taff (R) spoke to the House Republican Conference on Wednesday morning just hours after several current and former Kansas GOPers gathered to raise money for his 2004 campaign against Rep. Dennis Moore (D).

“My primary purpose in traveling to Washington was to update key groups and party leaders on the progress, strength and organization of our campaign,” Taff said.

Taff had a fundraiser Tuesday evening featuring Sen. Pat Roberts (R) and Kansas GOP Reps. Jerry Moran, Jim Ryun and Todd Tiahrt. Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) also attended.

That event drew the ire of state Rep. Patricia Barbieri-Lightner, one of two other candidates seeking the Republican nomination. She said the fundraiser was an attempt by national Republicans to select their preferred candidate.

Former Overland Park City Councilman Kris Kobach is also in the race on the Republican side.

Taff, who took 47 percent of the vote in 2002 against Moore, has much more significant institutional backing for this run.

Through June 30, he had raised $154,000 and had more than $200,000 left in the bank.

Moore, one of the strongest fundraisers in the Democratic Caucus, had $352,000 on hand at the end of June.
— C.C.

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