While Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez has not yet entered the GOP Senate primary, at least one of his likely opponents isn’t wasting any time in going after the candidate perceived to be the White House favorite.
Former Rep. Bill McCollum (R), who leads the current GOP field in early polling for the nomination, circulated a memo to state Republicans last week attacking Martinez’s ties to trial lawyers.
The memo, highlighting Martinez’s tenure as president of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, was written by Allen Weiss, a McCollum supporter and the president of an integrated health care system in the state.
“As a doctor, a citizen and a Republican I believe we do not want a former President of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers as our U.S. Senator,” Weiss wrote.
In addition to McCollum, state House Speaker Johnny Byrd and state Sen. Daniel Webster currently comprise the top flight of candidates seeking the GOP Senate nod.
Among other notables considering the race, Rep. Katherine Harris (R) has yet to rule out a bid and former Sen. Bob Smith (R-N.H.), who lost a primary last year in the Granite State and now lives in Florida, has also indicated he may run.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Breaux Decision Soon, Line for Seat Is Growing
With Sen. John Breaux’s (D) decision on re-election just one week away, a number of candidates are floating their names for a possible open-seat bid.
Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), a former state legislator, is interested in the race, according to the Louisiana Political Fax Weekly. Campbell was elected to his current position, in which he represents much of northern Louisiana, in 2001.
Campbell ran for the House in a 1988 special election to replace newly elected Gov. Buddy Roemer (D). During that race, Campbell was involved in a serious car accident that left him in a coma for several weeks and led to the loss of an eye.
He lost the race to now-Rep. Jim McCrery (R) 51 percent to 49 percent.
Another name surfacing is Jim Bernhard (D), chief executive officer of The Shaw Group and co-chairman of Gov.-elect Kathleen Blanco’s (D) transition team. Bernhard has considerable personal wealth as the head of one of Louisiana’s two Fortune 500 companies. The Shaw Group builds power plants.
State Treasurer John Kennedy (D) and outgoing state Attorney General Richard Ieyoub (D) are also mentioned.
The leading Democratic candidate — and the one most likely to run — is 7th district Rep. Chris John. John will hold a fundraiser Tuesday night on Capitol Hill.
Among Republicans, Rep. David Vitter (R) has a clear edge. Unsuccessful 2003 gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal is mentioned but unlikely to run. State Sen. Craig Romero (R) is also a possibility.
— Chris Cillizza
Banker Has Ads Up in New 10th District Race
Mortgage banker Ben Streusand (R) has already launched ads in his bid for the new 10th district seat.
Streusand is up with two biographical ads, produced by Tom Perdue of Windsor Marketing, which are running in both the Houston and Austin media markets.
He is funding the ads with a hefty personal contribution and anticipates spending $2 million to win his party’s nomination.
The ads tout Streusand as “a new leader for a new district” and detail his small-business experience and support for President Bush’s agenda.
Both his television ads and direct mail feature photos of Streusand with Bush, and with Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R).
The new 10th district takes in portions of both Travis County, which includes Austin, and Harris County, which includes Houston, as well as several more rural counties in between the two population centers.
Roughly 75 percent of the Republican primary vote will come from Austin and Houston, however.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D) lives within the boundaries of the new 10th, which was created by Republican redistricters earlier this fall, but is already campaigning in the new 25th district, an open seat that spans from Austin to the Mexico border.
The new 10th is heavily Republican, as statewide GOPers in 2002 would have taken nearly 64 percent of the vote there.
As such, it has already attracted a crowd of Republican candidates.
Former federal prosecutor Mike McCaul, whose father-in-law is the head of Clear Channel Communications, former state District Judge John Devine, Washington County GOP Chairman Pat Elliott and Houston attorney Dave Phillips are all in the running among Republicans.
No Democrats have announced for the race.
A Democratic appeal to the new Congressional lines will begin in federal court on Dec. 11. Under the GOP-led plan, as many as seven Democratic incumbents could be ousted in 2004.
State Senator Rules Out Run for Edwards’ Seat
State Sen. Steve Ogden (R) ruled out a run in the newly redrawn 17th district last week.
Ogden, who was considered the leading Republican candidate by many observers, said he believed he would be “most effective” by remaining in the state Senate.
His departure leaves attorney Dot Snyder and state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth in the race for Republicans. Rep. Chet Edwards (D) currently lives within the district lines but has not announced whether he will run for the seat.
The new 17th includes portions of Edwards’ Waco base but also stretches into Brazos County, home of the Texas A&M Aggies. Under the new lines, statewide Republicans on the ballot in 2002 would have received 64 percent of the vote.
In Edwards’ old 11th district, which he has held since 1990, the 2002 statewide GOP ticket would have taken 63 percent.
Clinton Adds Star Power to Farmer Fundraiser
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will provide a major financial boost to the Senate candidacy of state Treasurer Nancy Farmer (D) at a Jan. 3 brunch in St. Louis.
“I am thrilled that Senator Clinton is not only supporting me but actively getting involved in helping with the campaign,” Farmer said in a news release.
The Clinton event comes on the heels of a Dec. 4 gathering for Farmer in Kansas City with Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) and former Missouri Sen. Jean Carnahan (D); on Wednesday former Missouri Sen. Tom Eagleton (D) will host a St. Louis fundraiser for Farmer.
To this point in the race, Farmer has been outraised by Sen. Kit Bond (R), although she only entered the contest in late July.
Through Sept. 30, Bond had $4 million on hand compared to $384,000 for Farmer.
Farmer’s appearance with Clinton as well as her strong support from EMILY’s List presents a double-edged sword for her budding candidacy.
She must raise substantial funds for the race, some of which must come from national Democratic groups.
But appearing with Clinton and accepting significant help from EMILY’s List opens Farmer up to attacks that she is a liberal Democrat.
Clayburgh Leaves GOP Without Pomeroy Foe
State Tax Commissioner Rick Clayburgh (R) indicated Thursday that he will not make a rematch against Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D) and instead will seek another term in his current post.
“I have more to offer the taxpayers of North Dakota,” Clayburgh told The Associated Press.
Clayburgh ran a strong race against Pomeroy in 2002, coming up 4 points short. In order to run again in 2004, Clayburgh would have had to forfeit his current position, which has proven an effective political launching pad in years past.
Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan were both state tax commissioner at one point.
Clayburgh’s decision leaves Republicans without an obvious challenger in this GOP-leaning at-large seat.
Pomeroy has regularly shown crossover appeal during his six terms and is a strong fundraiser.
Ex-Navy SEAL Plunges Into Race With Kennedy
David Rogers (R), who is seeking a rematch with Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D) in the state’s 1st district, braved the cold waters of the Blackstone River last week to bring attention to his candidacy and prove the lengths he is willing to go to for his district, according to his campaign manager.
“I hope my journey will prove to you my desire to serve the people of this great state,” Rogers said in a news release. “I am on a mission to prove that I will protect this district and everyone in it from Burrillville to Bristol, from Woonsocket to Newport Harbor,” the former Navy SEAL said.
Rogers, who trained in Arctic warfare in Alaska and Norway by diving underneath the ice in freezing water, is no stranger to cold water, Christian Winthrop, his campaign manager, said.
Rogers plans to swim the entire length of the district, between 60 and 90 miles depending on his route, between now and Election Day, Winthrop said.
He started at the Pawtucket boat launch Thursday and will continue through to Narragansett Bay and into the Atlantic Ocean, then around the tip of Newport and back up the Sakonett River to finish on the beach outside his Portsmouth home, Winthrop said.
After winning a three-way Republican primary, Rogers lost decisively to Kennedy in 2002.
— Nicole Duran
Millionaire Amendment Takes Effect in District 6
State Sen. Robert Lamutt (R) has triggered the so-called “Millionaires’ Amendment” provision of the new campaign finance regulations, by donating $600,000 in personal funds to his campaign for the open 6th district seat.
Lamutt’s GOP primary opponents, state Sens. Chuck Clay and Tom Price, and state Rep. Roger Hines, are now able to raise as much as $6,000 from individuals for the primary, three times the $2,000 limit.
The candidates could eventually be permitted to raise as much as $12,000 from individuals, depending on whether Lamutt continues to dispense funds from his own pocket.
To this point, Clay and Price have been considered the frontrunners in the race to succeed Rep. Johnny Isakson (R), who is running for Senate.
The district is solidly Republican, and whoever wins the primary is considered a lock to win the November election.
Bill Thomas Takes Sides In 8th District Primary
Adding fuel to the endorsement jockeying among Republicans vying to replace Rep. Mac Collins (R) in the 8th district, Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) recently endorsed GOP hopeful Dylan Glenn’s primary campaign.
Glenn, who has run for Congress twice before, is facing state House Minority Leader Lynn Westmoreland and state Sen. Mike Crotts in next year’s primary.
Westmoreland has the backing of the conservative, anti-tax Club for Growth and the support of freshman Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R).
Glenn has worked in both Bush administrations and most recently was a top aide to Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), who has not endorsed in the primary.
In other state endorsement news, the Traditional Values Coalition PAC endorsed Collins’ bid for Senate last week. Traditional Values Coalition Chairman the Rev. Louis Sheldon called Collins “a man of leadership and integrity.”
Democrats Lose Top Chocola Seat Prospect
Striking the latest blow to national Democratic recruiting efforts, St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak (D) announced this week that he will not seek to challenge freshman Rep. Chris Chocola (R) next year.
“While I would be honored to continue in public service as a member of the U.S. Congress, my first obligation is to finish the term of office to which I was elected,” Dvorak said in a statement.
Dvorak had been national, state and local Democrats’ leading choice to take on the freshman Congressman, who won the swing district seat with only 50 percent in 2002.
The three remaining Democratic prospects are businessmen Steve Ross and Joe Donnelly and Northern Indiana Food Bank Director Bill Carnegie.
Labor and party leaders in the district are scheduled to meet Tuesday night to decide which candidate to back for the Democratic nomination, an effort that is expected to help the party avert a costly primary.
Donnelly, who ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 1990, is now considered among insiders to be the frontrunner for the party’s nod.
2 Join Republican Field For Holden Challenge
The field of GOP hopefuls seeking to take on Rep. Tim Holden (D) next year grew by two as attorney Mark Stewart and political neophyte Scott Paterno recently entered the Republican primary fray.
Paterno, the son of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, has filed paperwork that allows him to begin raising funds for the race. Stewart is expected to formally announce his bid on Dec. 10 in Harrisburg.
Those already running for the GOP nomination are accounting consultant Frank Ryan, teacher Ron Hostetler, real estate agent Sue Helm and Dauphin County Sheriff Jack Lotwick.
Without an obvious frontrunner in the Republican mix at this point Holden, who narrowly defeated another incumbent last year in this GOP-leaning seat, is currently favored to win re-election.
Former FBI Agent to Challenge Rep. DeFazio
A former FBI agent is taking on Rep. Peter DeFazio (D) in the 4th district, The News-Review of Douglas County reported last week.
Jim Feldkamp, a Republican, used a luncheon of the Umpqua Valley Republican Women to announce his intention to run.
The Roseburg native resigned his FBI post in Norfolk, Va., where he specialized in international terrorism, to move back home to challenge DeFazio, who is serving his ninth term.