Fresh off a narrow loss in the 2003 gubernatorial race, former Health and Human Services Department official Bobby Jindal (R) has moved into the 1st district, further fueling the rumor that he will run to replace Rep. David Vitter (R).
Jindal is moving from Baton Rouge, the state capital, to Kenner in St. Charles Parish following his 52 percent to 48 percent defeat at the hands of then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) in a Nov. 15, 2003, runoff election, according to the Louisiana Political Fax Weekly.
Seen as one of the national party’s rising stars despite his defeat, Jindal would likely enter the 1st district race as the frontrunner.
State Sen. Steve Scalise (R) is already in the race, and state Sen. Tom Schedler (R) is weighing a bid.
The suburban New Orleans district is heavily Republican; it would have given President Bush 66 percent in the 2000 election.
Vitter has held it since 1999, when he won a special election to replace Rep. Bob Livingston (R), who resigned abruptly. Vitter is vacating the seat to run for the open seat of Sen. John Breaux (D), who is retiring after three terms.
— Chris Cillizza
Chronic Campaigner Fills 15th District Void
After months of high-profile recruiting setbacks for Democrats in the 15th district, the party’s first candidate has filed to run for the swing district seat being vacated by Rep. Pat Toomey (R).
Attorney Rick Orloski (D) said last week that his reason for entering the race, and his primary campaign platform, is to “help get our troops home from Iraq.”
Orloski has run for public office eight times before and lost each race. If he is the party’s eventual nominee, it would set up the likely rematch of a 2002 state Senate race, when Orloski lost badly to state Sen. Charlie Dent (R).
Dent is now the leading candidate in the GOP race to succeed Toomey, who is challenging Sen. Arlen Specter (R) in a primary.
Attorney Brian O’Neill and former Lehigh County Commissioner Joe Pascuzzo are also running in the Republican primary, but Dent enjoys a wide financial advantage and the broad backing of state and national GOP leaders.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Poll: Brown Has Healthy Lead in GOP Primary
In the Keystone State’s only other open-seat House race, ophthalmologist Melissa Brown (R) released a poll last week showing her with a wide lead over state Rep. Ellen Bard (R) in the 13th district GOP primary.
In a head-to-head matchup, Brown garnered 47 percent and Bard 26 percent in the race to replace Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D), who is running for Senate. The survey was conducted Jan. 11-12 by Public Opinion Strategies and had a 5 percent margin of error.
In a test of the current three-way primary field, Brown received 41 percent, Bard got 20 percent and Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce President Al Taubenberger got 11 percent.
Brown, who lost narrowly to Hoeffel in 2002, had been widely considered the frontrunner for the party’s nod until Bard won the surprising endorsement of the Montgomery County GOP last month. The 13th district is comprised of parts of northeast Philadelphia and the surrounding Montgomery County suburbs, which contain the majority of the district’s Republican votes.
Still, Brown has the backing of the Philadelphia Republican establishment and several top GOP officials in the suburbs.
Fingerhut Compares His Bid to Gilligan’s in 1968
Long-shot Democratic Senate candidate Eric Fingerhut hopes to walk in the footsteps of former Gov. John Gilligan (D), who endorsed him last week.
Fingerhut, who is seeking to topple popular Sen. George Voinovich (R), reminded voters of Gilligan’s 1968 feat.
“In 1968, John Gilligan, then a Cincinnati city councilman, defeated incumbent U.S. Sen. Frank Lausche in the Democratic primary,” Fingerhut said in a statement. “Lausche had previously been mayor of Cleveland, governor and then Senator. Sound familiar? George Voinovich has served as the mayor of Cleveland, governor and now Senator.”
Gilligan was governor from 1971 to 1975.
— Nicole Duran
Beasley Adds Confusion To GOP Senate Contest
Former Gov. David Beasley (R) formally entered the open-seat Senate race last week, immediately leaping to the head of the five-candidate Republican field.
“This is a race that we cannot afford to lose, and I honestly believe that my candidacy offers us the best opportunity for victory,” Beasley said at a news conference announcing his candidacy.
Beasley’s decision to restart his political career comes more than five years after he lost a bid for a second term as governor to then-state Sen. Jim Hodges (D) in one of the biggest upsets in the country.
It was spurred, he said, by a poll commissioned by political consultant Richard Quinn that showed him at the front of the GOP field.
Rep. Jim DeMint, former state Attorney General Charlie Condon, Charleston developer Thomas Ravenel and Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride are also seeking the nomination.
State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum is the Democratic standard-bearer.
Despite his time away from politics, Beasley is still the best-known name in the Republican field, and that name recognition coupled with his base in the religious conservative community likely ensure him a spot in the all-but-certain runoff.
If none of the Republican candidates is able to win 50 percent of the vote in the June 8 GOP primary, the two top votegetters move to a June 22 runoff.
The seat is being vacated by Sen. Fritz Hollings (D) after six terms in office.
Winsome Hopes She’ll Stay on Voters’ Minds
Amid the backdrop of Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations, former Virginia Del. Winsome Sears (R) announced her challenge to Rep. Bobby Scott (D) on Monday.
Announcing her bid at the state Capitol, Sears said she was compelled by her faith to run for Congress. She was joined at the event by state GOP Chairwoman Kate Obenshain Griffin and Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, the state’s top elected Republican.
Sears was the first black Republican woman to be elected to the General Assembly. She won a seat in the House of Delegates in 2001, knocking off a well-known black Democratic incumbent who had served for 20 years.
She further shocked the Old Dominion’s political establishment when she announced her retirement after serving only one term.
The majority-black 3rd district stretches from Norfolk to Richmond. Scott, the first black Member elected from Virginia since Reconstruction, has held the seat since it was created in 1992, winning re-election by wide margins since.
Then-Vice President Al Gore (D) won 66 percent of the presidential vote in the 3rd in 2000.
Mills Joins Crowded 8th District Primary Field
Teacher Tom Mills (R) this weekend tossed his hat into the open-seat 8th district race, launching an uphill campaign to succeed Rep. Mac Collins (R).
In a statement announcing his candidacy, Mills railed against the “tyrannical judicial power” evident in the recent dispute over the Ten Commandments display in Alabama, and he vowed to stand for conservative principles and the Constitution if elected.
In the race to replace Collins, who is running for Senate, Mills joins state Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a former House Minority Leader; state Sen. Mike Crotts; and Dylan Glenn, a former aide to Gov. Sonny Perdue (R).
Democrats Get Their Man for Simmons Race
Norwich Public Utilities Commissioner Jim Sullivan (D) has entered the race against Rep. Rob Simmons (R) in the eastern Connecticut 2nd district.
“I can’t sit idly by as politicians in Washington mortgage our futures and destroy the very programs that created the great American middle class,” said Sullivan.
This is Sullivan’s first run for elected office since serving on the Norwich City Council and the Norwich Stadium Authority.
He briefly entered the 2002 race against Simmons but dropped out in favor of former state Rep. Joe Courtney (D). Courtney ran a disappointing campaign, losing to Simmons 54 percent to 46 percent.
Sullivan is the clear choice of national Democrats, although he currently faces a challenge from former state Rep. Shaun McNally, who also ran in 2002.
Despite the seat’s Democratic lean, Simmons has held it thanks to his strong fundraising and moderate credentials. He won the seat in 2000 — even as Al Gore beat George W. Bush by 14 points — by besting longtime incumbent Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D).
Simmons begins the contest with a significant financial edge. He had $409,000 in the bank at the end of September.
Murphy Attacks U.N. In His First District 4 Ad
In an attempt to raise his name identification in advance of the May 18 4th district GOP primary, attorney Kevin Murphy took to the airwaves late last week.
The spot centers on Murphy’s opposition to U.S. funding of the United Nations — an odd introductory ad for a first-time candidate.
“Nations that engage in terrorism don’t belong in the U.N.,” Murphy says in the ad. “You give me a chance to cut that U.N. budget and that’s a message they’ll get loud and clear.”
Murphy will face off against 2002 nominee Geoff Davis in the GOP primary. Davis enters the race as a prohibitive favorite after running a stronger than expected challenge to Rep. Ken Lucas (D) last cycle.
Lucas is vacating the seat after three terms. He briefly ran for a fourth term — breaking a previous term-limits pledge — but bowed out of the race last fall.
Democrats quickly coalesced around newspaper columnist Nick Clooney, the father of actor George Clooney.
Clooney will enter the general election as an underdog regardless of who wins the Republican nomination.
The northern Kentucky district is one of the most Republican-friendly seats in the nation currently held by a Democrat.
President Bush would have taken 61 percent of the vote there in 2000.
Ruff and Ready: Lawyer Challenges Brownback
Democrats finally have a candidate willing to take on Sen. Sam Brownback (R) in the form of attorney Joan Ruff.
Ruff, who has never before sought elected office, said that Brownback “does not represent the working men and women of Kansas.”
National Democrats were optimistic about finding a top-tier recruit against Brownback in the wake of the 2002 victory by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D).
But former Rep. Dan Glickman once again dashed Democratic hopes by considering and ultimately rejecting the race.
Ruff is given little chance of ousting Brownback.
Brownback was elected in a 1996 special election to replace Sen. Bob Dole (R), who left the body to run for president full time.
He easily won a full six-year term two years later.
Although Democrats believe Brownback is too conservative even for this GOP-leaning state, his personal wealth and Democrats’ poor track record in past Kansas Senate races have kept their best candidates on the bench.
The last time a Democrat won a Kansas Senate seat was 1930.
Brownback ended September with $1.2 million on hand.
House Candidates Are Polls Apart in District 3
Dueling polls in the heated 3rd district Republican primary to replace retiring Rep. Doug Ose (R) were released last week — each one showing its sponsor ahead.
A poll of 400 likely GOP primary voters conducted for state Sen. Rico Oller (R) showed him leading. Oller had 33 percent, former state Attorney General Dan Lungren had 29 percent, and businesswoman Mary Ose, the Congresswoman’s sister, had 13 percent, with 23 percent undecided. The poll, conducted by Gene Ulm, had a 4.9 percent margin of error.
Meanwhile, a poll by Moore Information of 300 likely primary voters commissioned by the Lungren campaign showed Lungren with the same 33 percent that Oller enjoyed in his poll. Oller had 26 percent in the Moore poll, and Mary Ose had 9 percent. The margin of error was 6 percent.
— Josh Kurtz
Party Boosts Costa While Quigley Touts New Poll
The California Democratic Party last weekend conferred its formal endorsement on former state Sen. Jim Costa (D) in his 20th district primary battle against Lisa Quigley, the former chief of staff to retiring Rep. Cal Dooley (D). The two are squaring off in the March 2 primary to replace Dooley in the Central Valley district.
While a poll released by Costa 10 days ago shows him substantially ahead, a poll conducted for Quigley and released last week shows a considerably tighter contest.
A polling memo by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates acknowledges that Costa starts with a lead because of his high name recognition following two dozen years in the state Legislature, but says the race is tied when voters hear positive descriptions of the two candidates. After hearing “comprehensive” profiles of both candidates, Costa is favored by 42 percent of the voters, while Quigley is the choice of 37 percent.
The pollsters conclude that there is “strong evidence that Quigley can win this election.”
Ferguson Is Reservist’s New Combat Mission
Marine reservist Steven Brozak (D) recently filed paperwork to make his challenge to Rep. Mike Ferguson (R) official. Brozak, who currently runs a small investment bank, opened an exploratory committee in late November after leaving active military duty. A lieutenant colonel and a former Republican, the 42-year-old has never before sought elected office.
After being first elected in 2000 with just 52 percent, Ferguson was not a top target for Democrats last cycle and was re-elected with 58 percent of the vote. The swing 7th district voted only narrowly for Republican George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, and Ferguson, who attracted some unwanted press last year, could see another competitive race if he’s targeted.
GOP Still Looking for Top-Flight Michaud Foe
Republicans won’t give freshman Rep. Mike Michaud (D) a free pass in Maine’s 2nd district race after all, now that two GOP candidates have entered the race.
Bob Stone, a former banker, was the first to announce last week, followed by Brian Hamel, president of the Loring Development Authority in Limestone.
Stone took 30 percent of the vote against Democrat Margaret Rotundo in a 2002 state Senate race in a district where just 17 percent of voters are registered Republicans, the Bangor News reported.
Hamel will take a leave of absence from his job starting March 1 to run. He has one successful run for a school board seat in New Hampshire under his belt.
Neither is quite the top-tier candidate GOP leaders were hoping to put up against Michaud, whom they consider an inviting target. Kevin Raye (R), a former chief of staff to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) who held Michaud to 52 percent of the vote last time, will not run again. Former Bangor Mayor Tim Woodcock, who lost to Raye in the 2002 Republican primary, is not likely to run either.
Councilwoman Mounts Challenge to Rep. Kline
Burnsville City Councilwoman Teresa Daly has entered the July Democratic primary for the right to take on freshman Rep. John Kline (R) in the state’s 2nd district.
Daly steps in after former Rep. Bill Luther (D), whom Kline defeated by approximately 31,000 votes, declined a rematch. The consulting firm vice president has hired former Luther Press Secretary Darin Broton as her campaign manager. She joins Peter Idusogie, a former environmental activist and consultant, in the hunt for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nomination.