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VIRGINIA: Byrne Skips Challenge to Rep. Moran in 2004

After months of flirtation with a comeback campaign, state Sen. Leslie Byrne announced Tuesday that she will not run in the 8th district Democratic primary next year against Rep. Jim Moran.

Byrne, who is not seeking another term in the Senate this year after her district was essentially eliminated during redistricting, said she will instead devote time and energy next year to helping elect former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) to the White House.

“I have come to the conclusion that regardless of personal aspirations, nothing in politics is more important than the defeat of President George W. Bush,” Byrne said in a statement.

Byrne served one term in the House before being defeated by now-Rep. Tom Davis (R) during the Republican revolution in 1994.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Kate Hanley and attorney Andy Rosenberg are currently trying to knock off the seven-term Congressman in the June 8, 2004, primary. Hanley outraised Moran in third-quarter campaign receipts, although the incumbent showed a $78,000 cash-on-hand advantage at the end of September.

A handful of GOP candidates are also seeking their party’s nomination, although the district heavily favors Democrats.

Moran raised the ire of Democrats and Republicans alike in March, when he suggested that Jewish influence was driving U.S. policy in Iraq. He later apologized for his comments, which he said were taken out of context.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Daschle Gets Help From Colleagues He Helped

Continuing his aggressive campaign for re-election, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) will hold a Washington, D.C., fundraiser Thursday featuring Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Max Baucus (Mont.).

The breakfast event is a $1,000-a-plate affair at the Hyatt Capitol Hill.

It will further stock Daschle’s already bulging war chest as he prepares for a potential 2004 race against former Rep. John Thune (R).

Daschle raised nearly $1.4 million from July 1 to Sept. 30 and now has more than $3 million in the bank. Daschle has said he expects to raise roughly $10 million for the contest.

Thune has not yet made a decision about running. In his 2002 challenge to Sen. Tim Johnson (D), Thune raised and spent almost $6 million.

Both Harkin and Baucus faced what were thought to be tough challenges last cycle and were aided heavily by Daschle and his political operation. Harkin wound up winning by 10 points, Baucus by 31.
— Chris Cillizza

Former Judge Becomes 3rd Candidate in Dist. 1

Former Texas Appeals Court Chief Justice Louie Gohmert (R) became the third candidate to announce a challenge to Rep. Max Sandlin (D) in the redrawn 1st district.

He joins doctor Lyle Thorstenson and attorney John Graves in the 2004 race. Thorstenson is the early financial frontrunner, banking $215,000 at the end of September. Graves ran in 2002 against Rep. Ralph Hall (D) in the 4th district, taking 40 percent.

Gohmert was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry (R) in July 2002 to the Court of Appeals but stepped down in January. He has also been elected as a district judge in Smith County.

Sandlin’s East Texas 1st district — already a Republican-leaning seat — was recently made roughly 5 percent more favorable to the GOP by the state Legislature.

Despite this Republican edge, Sandlin has won re-election three times, never dipping below 56 percent.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Turner (D) floated the idea Monday that he might run for governor or Senate in 2006 after the new map placed him in a district with Reps. Martin Frost (D) and Joe Barton (R).

Perry will likely stand for a second term in 2006, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) is also up for re-election. She is also mentioned as a primary challenger to Perry.

Turner is seen as a possible candidate against Rep. Kevin Brady (R) in the new 8th district.
— C.C.

Kobach Endorsed by 4 Conservative Members

Former Overland Park City Councilman Kris Kobach (R) received the endorsements of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Reps. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and John Hostettler (R-Ind.) on Monday for his GOP primary race in the 3rd district.

The endorsements of the four prominent Congressional conservatives are Kobach’s attempt to counter the support that 2002 nominee Adam Taff (R) has already received from Capitol Hill.

Taff was the featured guest at a recent D.C. fundraiser attended by Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Kansas Republican Reps. Jim Ryun, Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt.

Interestingly, the only member of the GOP delegation not in attendance was Sen. Sam Brownback, who is widely considered the most conservative of the group.

Both Kobach and Taff — as well as state Rep. Patricia Barbieri-Lightner (R) — are seeking the right to challenge Rep. Dennis Moore (D) in November 2004.

The dueling endorsements likely presage a nasty primary fight that will once again put on display the chasm between conservatives and moderates within the state Republican Party.

Taff, a moderate, won an ideological primary in 2002 over physician Jeff Colyer but was unable to regroup quickly enough to overtake Moore.

The same scenario may be developing in 2004, as Moore continues to stockpile funds while waiting for an opponent. He ended September with $490,000 in the bank.
— C.C.

Bryant: ‘Available’ to Run for Senate in 2006

Former Rep. Ed Bryant (R) said recently he would “definitely” run for the seat of retiring Sen. Bill Frist (R) in 2006 if he had to decide in the near future.

“I have a strong intention to run for the Senate,” he told a meeting of the Shelby County Young Republicans, according to the Memphis Flyer. “I’m going to make some noise and raise my hand and say that I too am available for that office.”

After serving four terms from the 7th district, Bryant embarked on an uphill primary battle against now-Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) in 2002 for the open seat of retiring Sen. Fred Thompson (R). He lost 54 percent to 43 percent.

Frist, who serves as Senate Majority Leader, has said he will keep his two-term-limit pledge and step down from his post in 2006.

Already Reps. Zach Wamp and Marsha Blackburn have expressed interest on the Republican side. Bryant could make a formidable challenger given the name recognition gained from his statewide race and his popularity in conservative circles.

Rep. Harold Ford Jr. is the odds-on favorite to become the Democratic nominee, although Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell is also mentioned as a candidate.
— C.C.

World War II Veteran to Challenge Rep. Johnson

Champaign County Board Member Ralph Langenheim (D) announced his candidacy against Rep. Tim Johnson (R) this week, the Bloomington (Ill.) Pantagraph reported Tuesday.

The 81-year-old World War II veteran and former professor of geology at the University of Illinois will face physician David Gill in next year’s Democratic primary.

“I have hands-on experience against which our current military and foreign policy can be evaluated,” Langenheim said in a statement.

After being first elected in 2000 with 53 percent, Johnson won 65 percent in 2002 and he is not considered vulnerable next year.
— L.W.W.

Nethercutt Yet to Merge Campaign Funds

How is Rep. George Nethercutt’s (R) fundraising going in his campaign to unseat Sen. Patty Murray (D) in 2004?

It depends how you look at it.

Nethercutt’s Senate committee reported taking in $370,000 from July 1 to Sept. 30 and having $244,000 in the bank. That’s a far cry from the $1.6 million that Murray raised and the $3.3 million she has banked — prompting chortles from Democratic operatives.

But Nethercutt’s camp insists that the numbers are better than they seem, noting that with the surplus in the six-term Congressman’s House account, Nethercutt is sitting on about $620,000. The two funds have not yet been merged, according to Nethercutt staffers, for purely technical reasons.

That’s not enough to silence the Democrats, however, who are all too eager to point out that Nethercutt actually took in more money during the second quarter of the year — when he was still officially a candidate for re-election, albeit one who might be running for the Senate — than he did since he formally entered the Senate race.

Said Washington state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt: “His lack of financial support will only be surpassed by his lack of voter support in November.”
— Josh Kurtz

EMILY’s List Endorses Quigley for Dooley Seat

EMILY’s List, the fundraising organization that supports women Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, has endorsed Lisa Quigley (D) in her primary battle against former state Sen. Jim Costa (D) in the 20th House district.

“Lisa Quigley has spent the past 12 years working on legislation that really makes a difference for California’s children and families,” EMILY’s List President Ellen Malcolm said Tuesday.

Quigley, the longtime chief of staff to retiring Rep. Cal Dooley (D), is making her first run for public office in an attempt to take over her boss’ Central Valley seat. But she faces a formidable foe in Costa, who has 30 years of experience in state politics and has picked up the endorsements of nine Members of Congress, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D).
— J.K.

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