CALIFORNIA: Costa’s Poll Shows Him With Significant Lead
Former state Sen. Jim Costa held a commanding lead over Lisa Quigley, the former chief of staff to Rep. Cal Dooley (D), in a recent poll matching up the two Democratic contenders in the race to replace Dooley, who is retiring after seven terms.
The poll, conducted for Costa by J. Moore Methods Inc. of Sacramento, showed Costa leading Quigley 49 percent to 8 percent in the initial horse race question. The survey of 425 Democrats likely to vote in the March 2 primary was conducted Dec. 27-29 and had a 4.7 percent margin of error.
Costa, who represented the Central Valley for 24 years in the Legislature, was known by 86 percent of the voters, while only 20 percent of the survey respondents were familiar with Quigley. Costa received a favorable rating from 52 percent of the voters, compared with Quigley’s 6 percent.
In the final round of questioning, after receiving information about the candidates’ professional backgrounds and positive and negative attributes, Costa was preferred by 58 percent of the voters and Quigley by 14 percent.
The primary winner will face state Sen. Roy Ashburn (R) in a district that would have given Al Gore 55 percent of the vote in the 2000 presidential election.
— Josh Kurtz
A Good Week for All 3 Contenders for Ose Seat
The three major contenders in the wide-open Republican primary to replace retiring Rep. Doug Ose (R) each claimed significant endorsements last week.
Former state Attorney General Dan Lungren (R), who has the support of more than two dozen Members of Congress, got a particularly significant endorsement last week: House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, the most powerful Republican in the state Congressional delegation — and one of the few with a potent political network.
State Sen. Rico Oller (R), meanwhile, countered with an endorsement from Dave Stirling, the chief deputy attorney general under Lungren, who called Oller “a no-nonsense crime fighter.”
Businesswoman Mary Ose (R), sister of the retiring Congressman and the moderate in the field, picked up the endorsement of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a national group dedicated to electing centrist Republicans.
The winner of the primary will face financial adviser Gabe Castillo (D), who is taking pains to label himself a “conservative Democrat” in a Sacramento-area district that gave George W. Bush 55 percent of the vote in 2000.
DSCC Continues to Use Harris to Raise Money
With Rep. Katherine Harris (R) expected to announce this week whether she will enter the Sunshine State Senate race, Democrats are continuing to use the prospect of her candidacy to gin up support and money from their base of supporters.
In an e-mail to donors Friday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee employs a hypothetical scenario whereby Senator Harris casts the deciding vote to approve electronic voting machines that have no paper record.
Harris, who won her House seat in 2002, is considered a heroine by many Republicans and is equally loathed by as many Democrats for her controversial role as Florida secretary of state in stopping the 2000 presidential election recount.
“Please send Katherine Harris a message that we don’t want her in the Senate, and won’t let her steal any future elections,” the e-mail, signed by DSCC Executive Director Andy Grossman, states.
The e-mail further refers to Harris as “an election-stealing, rightwing apologist for the radical Republican agenda.”
This is the second e-mail to donors in as many months in which the DSCC has used Harris as a fundraising tool.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Reindeer Sausage on Tap For Knowles’ D.C. Event
Former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) shows no sign of letting up on the money chase despite having topped the $1 million mark in about six months. His campaign told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner last week that his year-end filings will show him raising more than $1 million since July.
But Knowles is already working on his next event for his campaign against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R). He’s seeking hosts for his “bringing Alaska to Washington D.C.” event Feb. 10 at the Friendship House. Hosts who contribute or raise $500 will receive 10 tickets for the reindeer sausage and Alaskan salmon dinner. Individual tickets will be sold for $50.
Murkowski’s campaign told the paper she has raised about $1.8 million since last January.
In another development, Knowles has pledged to reject third-party advertisements on his behalf and challenged Murkowski to follow suit.
“This office should be earned by the person who wins the confidence and respect of Alaskans by dealing with them directly, and not through ads paid for and sponsored by outside groups and their unknown agenda,” he said in a news release.
Knowles’ pledge was likely prompted by an ad buy paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Murkowski’s behalf that has already aired in Alaska.
The Anchorage Daily News reported that she “made no effort against” the ads and quoted her spokesman as saying her campaign “cannot control what other people are doing.”
— Nicole Duran
Thompson Family Feud In Feingold Election
The Badger State’s Senate race has provided its share of endorsements from the usual suspects, but so far has yielded one surprise.
Ed Thompson, the 2002 Libertarian candidate for governor and brother of former governor and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson (R), has thrown his support to Sen. Russ Feingold (D), according to the Madison Capital Times.
“I am going to vote for Russ Feingold,” he told the paper. “He stood up to the Patriot Act,” he said, adding he was “disappointed” that Feingold’s Republican opponents are trying to make political hay of his vote against the act.
That endorsement is nothing to sneeze at when one considers that beyond his familial tie to the popular ex-governor, Ed Thompson garnered 11 percent of the vote in his own race to become the big cheese of Wisconsin.
On the Republican side, state Sen. Bob Welch received the backing of the National Rifle Association in his bid to win the GOP nomination, leaving opponents Russ Darrow, a big-time auto dealer, and Tim Michaels, a construction company executive, without the powerful lobby’s support in a state filled with hunters.
Possible Kucinich Foe to Go on Trial for DWI
A drunken driving trial for a potential challenger to presidential long-shot and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) has been set for Jan. 28. Former Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Chairman Tom Coyne (D), who also served as mayor of Brook Park for 20 years, was ticketed for drunken driving Sept. 12, 2003. His lawyer claims police were on a “fishing expedition” when Coyne was ticketed and asked a judge to dismiss the evidence prior to the trial, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Coyne has said he would run as an Independent, rather than face Kucinich in the March 2 Democratic House primary, giving him until March 1 to file his paperwork.
The filing deadline for Democrats and Republicans was Jan. 2.
Hynes Calls AFL Nod Most Significant So Far
State Comptroller Dan Hynes (D), who already enjoys significant labor support in his Senate bid, nabbed the key endorsement of the state AFL-CIO last week, despite efforts by his main primary opponent to block the 1 million-member umbrella union from issuing a formal endorsement.
Hynes called the labor endorsement the most important of the campaign.
State Sen. Barack Obama, considered Hynes’ main rival in the crowded Democratic primary field, has the backing of two of the AFL-CIO’s most politically powerful unions: the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. But he was unable to get the state labor organization to remain neutral in the primary race.
Also last week, Hynes got the endorsement of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois. Rep. Bill Lipinski (D) also announced in December that he is supporting Hynes.
In other recent Senate endorsement news, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros is backing former Chicago School Board President Gery Chico, and before the holidays, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D) announced she is supporting Obama.
Specter Touts Seniority, Toomey Uses ‘L’ Word
As Sen. Arlen Specter (R) kicked off his re-election bid with an announcement tour last week, his most formidable primary opponent yet, Rep. Pat Toomey (R) went on the air to assail the four-term Senator’s “three decades of liberalism.”
Speaking to supporters at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Specter emphasized his seniority in the Senate and his key position as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.
“Certainly in the Senate, seniority matters,” said Sen. Rick Santorum (R), who introduced Specter in Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, Toomey’s campaign began airing ads Thursday attacking Specter for allegedly voting against President Ronald Reagan “65 percent of the time” and, more recently, for his opposition to the death penalty for captured Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, a claim that is based on comments Specter made to a local newspaper. Specter’s campaign denied that the Senator ever said that Hussein should not face the death penalty.
Also last week, Toomey campaigned with former federal appeals Judge Robert Bork, a conservative icon whose 1987 Supreme Court nomination was stymied, in part, by Specter.
Specter will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee next year if he wins re-election.
Toomey is also expected to get fundraising help from two other conservative stalwarts — 2000 presidential hopeful Steve Forbes and former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III — in coming weeks.
Everist Hopes to Climb to Top in House Special
Former state Senate Majority Leader Barb Everist announced last week that she will seek the Republican nomination in the House special election.
“I am interested in running because I love legislating,” Everist told the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader.
Everist served a single term in the state House from 1992 to 1994, when she was elected to the state Senate. She left that body in 2002.
Everist joins state Sen. Larry Diedrich; Larry Russell, a former aide to ex-Rep. John Thune (R-S.D.); chiropractor Allen Unruh; Rapid City Councilor Jeff Partridge; former state Rep. Roger Hunt; and author Gary Wietgrefe in seeking the nomination.
The candidate will be picked by the state party’s central committee Jan. 23-24. The winner will square off against attorney Stephanie Herseth (D) in the June 1 special election.
Everist is seen by many state Republicans as their strongest potential nominee due to her gender and her vast personal wealth.
Herseth begins the race with an edge based on her name identification, which she gained in her race against Rep. Bill Janklow (R) in 2002.
Janklow will resign the seat Jan. 20, following his conviction last month on a second-degree manslaughter charge for his role in an August car accident.
— Chris Cillizza
Former Local Official Joins GOP Senate Race
Former Maumelle City Councilman Tom Formicola became the second announced Republican challenger to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) last week.
Formicola, whose only past public service was a one-year term on the city council in 2001, joins first term state Sen. Jim Holt in the race on the Republican side. Former Benton County Sheriff Andy Lee (R) is mentioned as a possibility.
None is considered a serious challenger to Lincoln, who going into this election cycle was seen as one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for re-election.
But state and national Republicans failed in their recruitment efforts as Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Rep. Asa Hutchinson and Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller all decided against the race.
Taking advantage of the recruiting disarray on the Republican side, Lincoln has positioned herself well for a second term. She ended September with $2.4 million in the bank.
Nomination Path Seems Clear for Paul Babbitt
Venture capitalist George Cordova (D) took himself out of contention in Arizona’s 1st district Tuesday, clearing the primary for former Flagstaff Mayor Paul Babbitt (D).
“There’s a necessary time commitment I cannot make,” said Cordova, citing business obligations as the primary reason he chose not to run.
Babbitt, the brother of former Interior Secretary and Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt, now has a clear shot at freshman Rep. Rick Renzi, one of the most vulnerable House Republicans.
Even prior to Cordova’s departure, Gov. Janet Napolitano as well as Democratic Reps. Ed Pastor and Raúl Grijalva had thrown their support behind Babbitt.
Napolitano has offered Cordova a spot on the Greater Arizona Development Authority.
Cordova came up 3 points short against Renzi in 2002 after shocking the Democratic establishment by winning the primary.
He was immediately buffeted by ads questioning his past business practices and never recovered. Even so, Renzi only took 49 percent of the vote.
The district, which is larger than Pennsylvania, was created following the 2001 reapportionment process in which Arizona gained two new Congressional districts.
In Dispatch From Iraq, Boquist Expresses Doubts
Brian Boquist (R) has told supporters that he may not seek another rematch with Rep. Darlene Hooley (D) after all.
Boquist, a lieutenant colonel who is on active duty with the 5th Special Forces Group stationed in Baghdad, filed to run again last year but as the possibility that his deployment could be extended grows, the Army Reservist is showing reservations about staying in the race.
“If I’m still on active military service in Iraq, it may be inappropriate to run for Congress,” he recently wrote in an e-mail addressed to “fellow Republicans.”
Boquist did not shy away from citing his inability to defeat Hooley in two previous bids as another factor in his decision-making. He received 45 percent of the vote in 2002 and 43 percent in 2000 in the Willamette Valley swing district.
“[And] there are two very good candidates, [State. Sen.] Jackie Winters and [lawyer] Jim Zupancic, running in the GOP primary,” Boquist continued in the e-mail.
Boquist, who is a Salem businessman in his civilian life, said he will make his final decision on filing day, March 9.
His tour is scheduled to end between March and June but could be extended. The primary is scheduled for May 18.
Selectwoman Considers Starting Shays Rebellion
Westport Selectwoman Diane Farrell (D) is leaning toward a challenge to 4th district Rep. Christopher Shays (R), according to a report in the Stamford Advocate.
Farrell was first elected to her post in 1998 and re-elected in 2002.
Despite the district’s Democratic lean, Shays has regularly won re-election with ease touting his credentials as one of the leading conservatives in Congress. He ended September with an unimpressive $122,000 on hand, however.