Wading into the hotly contested open-seat race for the seat he once held, former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) is set to endorse state Sen. Robert Lamutt’s (R) 6th district House bid next month.
A statement issued by Lamutt’s campaign described the former Speaker’s support as “the most significant endorsement obtained by any candidate running” in the primary. Gingrich is expected to formally announce his support when he appears at a local fundraiser for Lamutt on Feb. 18.
“I am delighted to be appearing on behalf of Robert Lamutt,” Gingrich said in the statement. “He will make a fine Congressman and will well represent the people of the 6th district.”
Gingrich represented the district from 1979 until his resignation in January 1999. His successor, Rep. Johnny Isakson (R), is vacating the seat this year to run for Senate.
Lamutt is facing state Sens. Chuck Clay and Tom Price, and state Rep. Roger Hines in the July 20 GOP primary. To this point, Price and Clay have been considered the frontrunners in the race to represent the heavily Republican suburban Atlanta district.
Gingrich’s endorsement pits the former Speaker against two of his ex-colleagues in the Georgia delegation. GOP Reps. Charlie Norwood and John Linder endorsed Price last fall.
Lamutt, meanwhile, triggered the so-called millionaire’s amendment last month due to his personal donations to the campaign, allowing his opponents to raise three times the $2,000 contribution limit from individuals.
In other campaign news, Lamutt also recently hired former Arkansas GOP Chairman Marty Ryall as a senior adviser to the campaign. Ryall resigned his position in October 2002 after an audit showed that the party was in substantial debt and that Ryall had misled party leaders about the troubles.
Ryall managed the 1998 re-election campaign of the late Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.).
— Lauren W. Whittington
Ryan Raises Eyebrows With Fundraising Pitch
Accounting consultant Frank Ryan (R), a retired Marine, has raised some eyebrows with a new fundraising appeal in his campaign to win the GOP nomination in the 17th district.
The eight-page fundraising pitch, which arrived in mailboxes in an official-looking brown envelope, uses large color photos of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to illustrate the need to be tougher on terrorism and to emphasize his own military background.
The mailing warns “YOU CANNOT FIGHT TERRORISM BY BEING A WUSS!!!” and in it Ryan also promises to “light a fire under Congress’s ass” if elected, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported Tuesday.
At least one of Ryan’s GOP opponents said he didn’t disagree with the premise of the appeal, but he took issue with the use of the photographs.
“It’s almost like you’re trying to capitalize on other people’s deaths,” Scott Paterno told the Harrisburg newspaper. “I don’t think I would use photos of 9/11 to further my political goals.”
Ryan, meanwhile, was quoted defending the mailing. “It can’t be politics of people sitting back and not thinking the consequences through that they are taking,” he told the newspaper.
He also expressed regret for using the word “ass.”
Ryan is among seven GOP hopefuls vying to take on Rep. Tim Holden (D) in November. Holden defeated another incumbent in 2002, in a race created by that cycle’s redistricting. The district favors Republicans and Holden is a potential top target for the GOP this year, even though party leaders were not able to coax any of their first-choice candidates into the race.
Other Republicans vying in the crowded April 27 primary include real estate agent Sue Helm; Dauphin County Sheriff Jack Lotwick; teacher Ron Hostettler; retired Maj. Gen. Bill Lynch, a former state adjutant general; and Paterno, the son of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.
Lantos Primary: Replay of S.F. Mayoral Election?
The dynamic that defined the recent hard-fought mayoral election in San Francisco may be developing in a House primary in the San Francisco area, where 12-term Rep. Tom Lantos (D) is being challenged by attorney Ro Khanna (D).
Khanna is attempting to portray Lantos, a liberal Democrat with near-perfect scores from Americans For Democratic Action, as out of touch and too conservative for the 12th district, which includes parts of San Francisco and San Mateo County.
To buttress his point, Khanna picked up the endorsement last week of San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzales. Gonzales, a former Democrat who became a member of the Green Party, narrowly lost a runoff election to become San Francisco mayor to Supervisor Gavin Newsom, a more traditional liberal Democrat.
“We have a Member of Congress from one of the most progressive cities in the world who is probably President Bush’s favorite Democrat,” Gonzales said.
Although Khanna is still a long shot, he probably represents Lantos’ toughest challenge in years. According to the San Francisco Examiner, a poll by Brad Benning Polling conducted for Khanna found that 43 percent of primary voters believe that Lantos has been in office too long. Forty percent said he deserved another term, while 33 percent said he did not.
Khanna told the newspaper that he would report having “more than” $100,000 in the bank as of Dec. 31 and expected to raise another $200,000 before the March 2 primary. Lantos had more than $1 million in the bank, the newspaper said.
— Josh Kurtz
Undecideds a Majority In New GOP Senate Poll
A new independent poll on the Republican Senate primary showed roughly the same result as another survey released last week: Former California Secretary of State Bill Jones (R) leads the field, but an enormous percentage of the voters surveyed are still undecided.
The Field Poll of 289 people likely to vote in the March 2 GOP primary showed Jones was the preference of 28 percent of those surveyed. Former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin and former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey each scored 6 percent. Former state Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian was the choice of 3 percent, while 57 percent of those surveyed were undecided or preferred lesser candidates.
The poll, conducted Jan. 5-13, had a 5.9 percent margin of error.
In a larger Field Poll of 929 California voters, Jones ran strongest of the potential Republican candidates in hypothetical general election matchups against two-term Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). Boxer led Jones 48 percent to 35 percent. She held a 17-point lead over Marin, a 20-point lead over Kaloogian, and a 23-point margin over Casey.
That poll had a 3.4 percent margin of error.
State of the Union Good for Both Bartlett, Rolle
Frederick County States Attorney Scott Rolle (R), who is challenging Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) in the March 2 GOP primary, used the State of the Union address to accuse Bartlett of not doing enough to support President Bush.
“As the President recounted the successes and legislative accomplishments of his first three years in office, I could not help but be struck by the number of them that the incumbent … opposed,” Rolle said in a statement.
“Particularly noteworthy was the President’s Iraq policy, his request that the Patriot Act be renewed, that the No Child Left Behind Act be expanded and funded and that other job training and education programs be extended and that democracy building programs in the Middle East be expanded. Rep. Bartlett opposed or is on record as opposing President Bush on each of these initiatives.”
In a news release of his own, however, Bartlett lavishly praised Bush.
“In the past year, President Bush’s leadership has been crucial in making gains in both national security and economic security,” he said.
In a related development, Rolle announced that his wife, Barbara, would host a fashion show on Jan. 31 to raise money for his uphill campaign. A department store in Frederick would provide some of the outfits for the “Rolle on the Runway” event, the campaign said.
Mikulski Stumps State As Foe Starts Radio Ads
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) this week completed a five-city swing through the state to announce her intention to run for a fourth term.
Mikulski’s tour took place as her likely Republican opponent, freshman state Sen. E.J. Pipkin, began a statewide radio buy to introduce himself to voters. Pipkin tries to paint himself as a populist in the ad, describing his fight against the dumping of dredging spoils in the Chesapeake Bay before he became a Senator.
A recent poll conducted for The Baltimore Sun found Mikulski with a commanding lead in a hypothetical matchup with Pipkin, 65 percent to 22 percent.
Ex-Bush Aide to Run in Democratic District
The chairwoman of the Texas Public Utility Commission has resigned to make a long-shot bid for one of the newly drawn Congressional seats.
Rebecca Klein, a former policy director to George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas, will seek the Republican nomination in the new 25th district, which stretches from Austin to the Rio Grande Valley. According to The Dallas Morning News, she also worked for former President George H.W. Bush in Washington, D.C., and was a telecommunications law analyst for the American Enterprise Institute.
The district is heavily Democratic with a large Hispanic population. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, whose current district was largely obliterated in the Republican re-redistricting of 2003, is competing in the Democratic primary against District Court Judge Leticia Hinojosa.
Sand Shifts: He’ll Run for House, Not Senate
Duane Sand (R), a former Navy submarine officer who has spent months preparing to challenge Sen. Byron Dorgan (D), stunned the state’s GOP establishment by announcing Tuesday that he would instead seek the Republican nomination to run against Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D).
“I will have what no other federal representative [from North Dakota] has today — access to a Republican president,” Sand said at a news conference in Grand Forks, according to The Associated Press.
Sand, 38, was the unsuccessful GOP nominee against Sen. Kent Conrad (D) in 2000, taking just 38 percent of the vote. He jumped into the race against Dorgan after former Gov. Ed Schafer chose not to run.
Schafer on Tuesday said the odds of a Republican defeating Dorgan are “insurmountable,” the AP said.
Republicans feel somewhat better about their prospects against Pomeroy, even though their top potential challenger, state Tax Commissioner Rick Clayburgh, the 2002 nominee, declined to run. Pomeroy has never taken more than 57 percent of the vote in his six House elections.
Top Prospect in 7th Declines to Make Race
Democrats hoping to knock off freshman Rep. Bob Beauprez (R) were dealt a blow last week when one of their strongest potential challengers declined to make the race for a second time.
Former state Sen. Ed Perlmutter (D) — who, it is widely believed, arranged to have the 7th district drawn for him during the redistricting process of 2001 and 2002 — told the Denver Post that he would not run because of a desire to make money and spend more time with his family. Perlmutter also bowed out of the race in 2002, paving the way for then-state Sen. Mike Feeley to win the Democratic nomination. Feeley lost to Beauprez by just 121 votes, the closest Congressional race in the country in 2002.
Feeley has also decided against running again, leaving Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas the nominal Democratic frontrunner for now. Thomas lost the 2002 primary to Feeley and also lost a 1998 House primary to now-Rep. Mark Udall in the 2nd district.
John Works, a political neophyte and financier to oil and gas businesses, has said he is considering seeking the Democratic nomination. Colorado Board of Education President Jared Polis (D), an Internet millionaire, may also run, though he lives just outside the Denver-area 7th district.