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CONNECTICUT: A Potentially Strong Challenger Enters in 2nd

Former Norwich City Councilman Jim Sullivan (D) will enter the race against Rep. Rob Simmons (R) by week’s end, according to knowledgeable Democratic sources.

Sullivan joins former state Rep. Shaun McNally in the contest and is seen as the preferred candidate of national Democrats.

Sullivan briefly ran for the seat in 2002 but dropped out in favor of former state Rep. Joe Courtney (D), who ran a disappointing general election campaign, losing to Simmons 54 percent to 46 percent.

Simmons has shown an ability to win the eastern Connecticut district despite its Democratic underpinnings.

He ousted longtime Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D) in 2000 even as then-Vice President Al Gore was carrying the district with 54 percent.

After a Democratic-controlled redistricting process in 2001, Democrats had high hopes, but ultimately Simmons’ moderate credentials and background in the intelligence community ensured his victory last year.
— Chris Cillizza

State House Speaker Backs Hynes’ Senate Bid

State Comptroller Dan Hynes (D) got the endorsement of state House Speaker Mike Madigan (D) on Tuesday, adding the name of yet another political luminary to his Senate campaign.

In a statement released by the Hynes campaign, Madigan cited his working relationship with the comptroller as a factor in the endorsement.

“Dan Hynes knows our state budget woes are caused in part by federal policies and the national economy,” he said. “There will be no better candidate on the 2004 U.S. Senate ballot than Dan Hynes.”

Although Madigan also serves as chairman of the state Democratic Party’s central committee, the committee is not expected to endorse in the primary. Hynes has also been endorsed by 85 of the state’s 102 Democratic county chairmen.

Madigan’s endorsement came as little surprise to political observers in the state as well as to Hynes’ primary opponents. Apart from the Daleys of Chicago, the Hynes and Madigan families are two of the state’s foremost political dynasties. Hynes’ father is a former president of the state Senate and Cook County assessor and remains a political heavyweight in Chicago. Madigan’s daughter is a state Senator.

Hynes’ Senate bid is being co-chaired by Cook County Board President John Stroger and Cook County Commissioner John Daley.

Madigan’s endorsement comes on the heels of the announcement Monday that the state’s Service Employees International Union is backing state Sen. Barack Obama (D), one of Hynes’ chief rivals in the Senate primary. The Illinois chapter of the American Federation of Teachers has already endorsed Obama, who is also expected to get the support of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Still, Hynes enjoys broad backing from labor groups and is working to get the endorsement of the state AFL-CIO. Among the other Democrats running in the March 16, 2004, primary are Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas, millionaire investor Blair Hull and ex-Chicago School Board Chairman Gery Chico.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Uncertainty Marks GOP Republican Senate Field

With 16 days to go before the filing deadline, Republicans are still not sure whether their three-candidate field is set in the race to take on Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) in 2004.

Rep. David Dreier (R), one of the potential candidates GOP officials are high on, appears to have taken himself out of the running, telling CNN’s “Inside Politics” on Monday that he had filed papers to seek re-election.

Meanwhile, mystery surrounds another potential candidate, former Secretary of State Bill Jones (R).

The Sacramento Bee reported late last week that Jones had been offered, and had accepted, the post of secretary of resources in new Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) administration. But no other newspaper has carried this news, and there has been no official announcement about the appointment out of Sacramento. Jones in the past few weeks has said that he will not run for Senate if Dreier does.

Coincidentally, Rep. Doug Ose (R) has also been mentioned as a candidate for the Resources position — and if he took it he would have to resign early, making a special election necessary to fill his seat.

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen (Va.) said Tuesday he is talking “frequently” to California GOP Chairman Duf Sundheim about the Senate race but could not say whether other candidates would get in. The Republicans so far in the race include former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey, former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin and Assemblyman Tony Strickland.
— Josh Kurtz

State Senator Becomes 1st Lincoln Challenger

State Sen. Jim Holt (R) on Monday became the first announced challenger to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D).

“I’m not questioning her job performance or her dedication, but we think we can bring something to the table that the people of Arkansas have been needing and lacking,” Holt told The Associated Press.

Holt was elected to his state Senate seat in 2002 after winning a House seat two years earlier.

He plans to make Lincoln’s opposition to several judicial nominees put forward by President Bush a major issue in the campaign.

Both former Benton County Sheriff Andy Lee and medical supply company manager Tom Formicola are also mentioned for the GOP nod.

Republicans repeatedly failed to recruit a top-tier candidate into the race. Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Rep. Asa Hutchinson, currently an undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department, and Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller all decided against running.

Lincoln is running a strong re-election campaign. She ended September with $2.4 million in the bank.
— C.C.

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