GOP Poll: Neugebauer Leads Stenholm in 19th

Posted February 9, 2004 at 3:55pm

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) held a double-digit lead over Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D) in a new GOP poll.

Neugebauer received 49 percent to 38 percent for Stenholm in a hypothetical matchup in the new 19th district, where, after a tumultuous redistricting fight in the state, the two Members will square off this fall.

Public Opinion Strategies conducted the survey Jan. 26-27 of 400 likely voters. It had a 4.9 percent margin of error.

Neugebauer led the horse race despite being slightly less well-known in the district. Seventy-four percent of voters recognized Stenholm, who is completing his 13th term, compared to 69 percent who were familiar with Neugebauer, who has served since he won a special election last June. Both had 4-to-1 favorable/unfavorable ratios in the poll.

Other numbers in the poll, however, showed that Stenholm has a fighting chance in the West Texas seat.

The generic ballot showed a Republican candidate receiving 53 percent to a Democratic candidate’s 31 percent.

That result showed that Stenholm is already overperforming a generic Democrat by 7 points, while Neugebauer is underperforming a generic GOPer by 4 points.

Stenholm clearly enters the race as an underdog, however, as the district strongly favors Republicans on the state and federal level.

President Bush would have received 75 percent of the vote there in 2000.
— Chris Cillizza

DeMint Is Golden With Chamber of Commerce

Rep. Jim DeMint (R) picked up the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday, providing him a boost in the five-way Republican Senate primary.

“[Jim DeMint] understands that America’s businesses are the spark plug for economic prosperity and job growth,” said Chamber political director Bill Miller.

DeMint began the race as the frontrunner, but questions surrounding his fundraising ability widened the Republican field, with former Gov. David Beasley, former state Attorney General Charlie Condon, developer Thomas Ravenel and Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride all in the contest.

The three-term Congressman, however, has regularly led the Republican field in fundraising and ended last year with $1.3 million on hand. Condon showed $993,000 in the bank at that time.

The likely result of the crowded June 8 primary field is a two-man runoff two weeks later.

On the Democratic side, state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum is unopposed for her party’s nomination. She showed $678,000 on hand through December.
— C.C.

Carson Has 11-Pt. Edge in Independent Poll

A new independent poll released last week in the Sooner State showed Rep. Brad Carson (D) leading former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys (R) by 11 points in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Don Nickles (R).

Carson got 47 percent compared to Humphreys’ 36 percent in a hypothetical matchup. Both men are considered the frontrunners for their respective parties’ nominations. The poll, conducted by Consumer Logic for the Tulsa World, was taken Jan. 14-21.

Meanwhile, state Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony officially entered the GOP primary last weekend. Anthony is the longest-serving Republican in statewide office.

In announcing his candidacy Saturday, he pledged to take his campaign directly to the people after acknowledging he doesn’t have the support from “big political names” that Humphreys does.

“All the endorsements in the world don’t make someone qualified for public office,” he said.

Humphreys has the backing of Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (R), former GOP Reps. J.C. Watts and Steve Largent and almost all of the state’s current Republican delegation in the House.

In the Tulsa World poll, Humphreys received 43 percent while Anthony received 24 percent in a test of the GOP primary field. The survey of 326 likely Republican voters had a 5 percent margin of error.
— Lauren W. Whittington

County Organization Backs Paterno in 17th

Scoring the first major endorsement of county organizations in the wide-open primary fight to face Rep. Tim Holden (D) in November, Scott Paterno (R) got the backing of the Lebanon County GOP last week.

Paterno, an attorney and aide to the state Senate Majority Leader who is making his first bid for elected office, was unanimously endorsed by the party’s county executive committee. He is the son of legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

This is the first county party to endorse in the crowded primary. The 17th district is comprised of three counties and portions of two others.

Republicans in Perry County, the smallest territory in the 17th, have opted to remain neutral. Dauphin County Republicans are scheduled to meet Feb. 14 to decide their endorsement, while Schuylkill County Republicans will meet later this month.

Seven candidates are vying in an April 27 primary for the chance to face Holden on the November ballot.

Among the other leading candidates in the primary are accounting consultant Frank Ryan, real estate agent Sue Helm, teacher Ron Hostetler and former state Adjutant General William Lynch.
— L.W.W.

Ex-Garrett Opponent Skips Primary Rematch

It appears that freshman Rep. Scott Garrett (R) can breathe a little easier now that his most prominent potential primary opponent has said he will not seek a rematch.

State Assemblyman David Russo, who finished second in the 5th district’s GOP primary in 2002, has decided not to challenge the freshman lawmaker again this year, according to, a Web site devoted to state politics.

Russo, a GOP moderate, took 26 percent of the vote in a three-way primary in last cycle’s race to succeed then-Rep. Marge Roukema (R).

Garrett’s primary win was largely credited to the fact that Russo and state Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R) split the party’s moderate vote. Cardinale got 25 percent in the primary.

Garrett, a conservative considered vulnerable to a challenge from the middle, is now expected to receive the Bergen County GOP organization line in the June primary. He is not considered a target for Democrats in November.

In other Garden State political news, state Sen. Nia Gill recently said she will not challenge Rep. Donald Payne in the June 8 Democratic primary. Gill issued a statement that called the suggestions she should run for other office “flattering” but said she would rather use her state Senate seat to address her issue priorities.
— L.W.W.

Durbin Wants to Play Peacemaker in Primary

Sen. Dick Durbin (D) has issued a call for civility among the seven Democrats seeking the Senate nomination in next month’s primary, asking the candidates to refrain from negative attacks.

“We have all witnessed the snowball effect of negative advertising in political campaigns,” Durbin wrote in a letter to the Democratic candidates dated Feb. 6. “I applaud the issues-focused campaign you have waged and encourage you to continue campaigning in a manner that enhances the public policy debate and strengthens our party for the eventual Senate nominee.”

Durbin has said he will not endorse before the March 16 primary, but he has pledged to help elect the party’s nominee.

“Stay focused, stay positive and know that, if you are our nominee, I will help you win in November,” Durbin wrote.

At least one Senate contender, Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes, was quick to respond to Durbin’s plea, issuing an immediate statement accepting the challenge to stay positive.

Six Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R).
— L.W.W.

Cubin Brings in Cheney, Who Once Held Seat

Rep. Barbara Cubin (R) apparently does not think her campaign war chest is large enough and has called in the big guns to help bolster it.

An invitation on the National Republican Campaign Committee Web site entreats supporters to “Join Congresswoman Barbara Cubin for VIP Reception and photo-op with Vice President Cheney” on Wednesday evening at a Washington restaurant. Political action committees and individuals need only bring $2,000 for the pleasure.

If that’s not enough face time with the Congresswoman and Cheney, who once held her seat, sponsors can lay out $5,000 while patrons can fork over $10,000 later that night for a dinner with the duo.

Cubin is facing a rematch with Ron Akin (D), who lost to her in 2002, 61 percent to 36 percent. She had more than $172,000 in the bank on Dec. 31, 2003, while Akin reported a cash-on-hand balance of $407 to begin the year.
— Nicole Duran

Cleaver Swings Into McCarthy Seat Race

Former Kansas City Mayor Emmanuel Cleaver (D) entered the race to replace Rep. Karen McCarthy (D) on Sunday, immediately jumping to the front of the field.

“I appreciate the opportunity to run,” Cleaver, a minister, told his parishioners at St. James United Methodist Church. “It does not mean I’m going to win.”

Cleaver served two terms as mayor of Kansas City in the 1990s, leaving office in 1999. He had previously served three terms on the city council.

Although Cleaver is clearly the frontrunner, several other Democrats are also in the race.

Former Capitol Hill aide Jamie Metzl (D) has been extremely aggressive on the fundraising front, showing $320,000 on hand at the end of the year.

Public policy consultant Damian Thorman (D) has also been running for the past six months but previously told Roll Call that he would reconsider his candidacy if Cleaver ran.

The Kansas City-based seat is strongly Democratic. McCarthy held it easily for five terms until personal problems, including a bout with alcoholism, drove her to announce her retirement.
— C.C.

College Professor Passes Lawmakers in Quarter

College professor Jeff Smith (D) outraised a field of state legislators in the final three months of 2003, as they compete for retiring Rep. Richard Gephardt’s (D) seat in the 3rd district.

Smith raised $127,000 in the period (a total that includes a $22,000 personal loan), to $96,000 for state Sen. Steve Stoll (D) and $54,000 for state Rep. Russ Carnahan (D).

Smith, a political science professor at Washington University in St. Louis, ended the period behind his two main rivals in cash on hand, however.

Carnahan led with $145,000 left to spend; Stoll showed $122,000 on hand, and Smith had $101,000 in the bank.

Carnahan was the early fundraising leader in the race, tapping into the fundraising network that delivered more than $20 million collectively in 2000 and 2002 for the Senate candidacies of his father, Mel, and his mother, Jean.

Stoll has strong backing in the labor community and has seen his fundraising steadily improve. He raised $262,000 for the race in 2003.

The 3rd district seat is reliably Democratic although Gephardt has faced several well-financed challenges in recent years.

State Rep. Zane Yates (R), the leading GOPer, raised $39,000 in the fourth quarter of 2003, ending the year with $19,000 on hand.
— C.C.

Voters Happy With Both Dayton, Coleman

Perhaps showing their split voting personality, Minnesotans gave favorable marks to both their Senators recently.

First-term Sen. Mark Dayton (D) has a 53 percent favorable rating — and 40 percent unfavorable — his highest positive rating in three years, according to a poll conducted for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Minnesota Public Radio by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. Dayton is up for re-election in 2006.

Freshman Sen. Norm Coleman (R) posted a 52 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable rating, pretty much unchanged since he took office last year.

The Senators differ sharply on the war in Iraq, President Bush’s tax cuts and the Medicare drug plan, the paper notes, yet both are liked.

“Minnesotans are closely divided on those issues,” Dayton told the paper.

Coleman said that he just hopes folks in the Gopher State see he is working hard for them.

“Unfortunately, we’re in a very partisan environment, and we live in kind of a divided society,” he said.
— N.D.

Strategist Says GOP Has ‘White Male’ Problem

The Senate candidacy of former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin (R) received an unlikely plug the other day from Democratic strategist Garry South, the top political adviser to former Gov. Gray Davis (D).

In an op-ed piece in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee, South wrote that among Republicans competing in the March 2 primary, Marin would probably run the strongest race against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) in November. She would lose, South said, but her appearance on the November ballot would help the GOP gain strength in the long-term among minority voters.

South compared the Republican Senate dilemma — the field also features former California Secretary of State Bill Jones, who is the frontrunner, former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, and former Los Altos Hills Mayor Toni Casey — to 1991, when then-Gov. Pete Wilson (R) appointed then-state Sen. John Seymour (R) to fill a Senate vacancy. Seymour was drubbed in the 1992 general election by Dianne Feinstein (D), the former mayor of San Francisco.

Wilson, South wrote, considered several minority appointees before tapping Seymour, “a bland middle-aged white male from Orange County.” And just as Wilson erred by going with Seymour, he said, new Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has erred by casting his lot with Jones.

“Since it’s unlikely either Marin or Jones can beat Boxer … wouldn’t California Republicans be better off presenting something other than the umpteenth white male face to the voters of this, the most diverse state in the union? Schwarzenegger clearly opted not to light the fires of imagination among California voters — especially women and Latinos. Instead, he has become just another cog in the California Republican Ol’ Boys Network — and his boy Bill Jones is destined to go down in flames this November,” South concluded.
— Josh Kurtz