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Attorney John Graves has a 15-point lead over his nearest competitor in the 1st district Republican primary, according to a poll released by his campaign this week.

Graves took 39 percent to 24 percent for former Judge Louis Gohmert and 11 percent for businessman Wayne Christian. Wealthy ophthalmologist Lyle Thorstenson received less than 3 percent in the survey.

Moore Information conducted the poll Feb. 5, testing 300 GOP primary voters with a 6 percent margin of error.

Graves’ lead is due in large part to his two past Congressional bids against Rep. Ralph Hall (R) in the 4th district. In 2002, Graves lost to Hall, who was then a Democrat, 58 percent to 40 percent while spending $161,000.

Both Thorstenson and Christian are spending heavily from their own pockets in the runup to the state’s March 2 primary.

The Republican nominee will face current 1st Rep. Max Sandlin (D) in November. Sandlin chose to run in the redrawn 1st district, which was made more Republican by GOPers in redistricting, shortly before filing closed last month.
— Chris Cillizza

Feingold Has Early but Not Intimidating Lead

A new poll shows Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in good shape for re-election, but experts warn it’s too early to put much stock in the results.

The Badger Poll, conducted by the University of Wisconsin on behalf of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and The Capital Times of Madison, showed 52 percent of Wisconsinites would return Feingold to the Senate.

Only 26 percent of the poll respondents said they support “another candidate,” while 22 percent didn’t know.

The poll of 502 residents was conducted from Jan. 27 to Feb. 4 and had a 4 percent error margin.

More than a third of respondents said they do not know enough about Feingold to have an opinion, which opens the door for other candidates, the poll’s director told the Journal-Sentinel.

Of those who would give an opinion, 46 percent viewed Feingold favorably and 16 percent unfavorably.

Three Republicans, state Sen. Bob Welch, auto dealer Russ Darrow and businessman Tim Michels, are vying in the Sept. 7 primary to take on Feingold.
— Nicole Duran

Beasley Officially Enters Crowded Senate Race

Former Gov. David Beasley entered the already crowded Republican Senate primary field Monday, citing job creation as his main priority in the race.

“I refuse to yield any of the job issues to Democrats,” said Beasley at a news conference announcing his intentions.

Beasley, who served as the state’s governor from 1994 to 1998, joins Rep. Jim DeMint, former state Attorney General Charlie Condon, businessman Thomas Ravenel and Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride in the contest.

All five GOP candidates will compete in a June 8 primary; if no candidate receives 50 percent, the two top votegetters advance to a June 22 runoff. Due to his name identification and strong base among conservative Republicans, Beasley seems to be a lock for one of the runoff spots.

DeMint, a three-term Congressman from the Up Country, has the largest pot of money ($1.3 million as of Dec. 31, 2003) to spend on the race.

State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum is the odds-on Democratic nominee, although she faces nominal primary opposition.

Fingerhut Struts Literary Stuff in New Manifesto

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Senator and presidential hopeful John Kerry (D-Mass.), President Bush and now … state Sen. Eric Fingerhut.

Following the example of these successful pols, Fingerhut — the Democrat who is challenging Sen. George Voinovich (R) — will be releasing his own book mid-campaign.

For the past six months Fingerhut has been working on a tome detailing his vision for Ohio. 

“‘Good Enough’ Isn’t Good Enough Anymore: Fifty Great Ideas to Get Ohio Moving Again and Build a Prosperous Future for All Americans” will be available in early March, according to his campaign.

Fingerhut will be previewing his economic ideas from the book Thursday morning at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee headquarters.
— N.D.

Sacramento Bee Backs Lungren in 3rd District

Former California Attorney General Dan Lungren received a major boost Tuesday in the three-way Republican primary to replace retiring Rep. Doug Ose (R).

Lungren picked up the endorsement of The Sacramento Bee, the largest newspaper in the 3rd district. The paper called Lungren, who spent 10 years in Congress and was the GOP nominee for governor in 1998, far more experienced than his two primary opponents, state Sen. Rico Oller and businesswoman Mary Ose, the Congresswoman’s sister.

“As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) points out, California doesn’t get its fair share out of Washington, largely because too many members of the California House delegation are political show horses instead of legislative workhorses,” the Bee wrote. “Lungren is a workhorse, one of the best in show, and he would go back to the House with the advantage of 10 years of seniority and experience. Electing him to the 3rd district seat would be a boost for Sacramento, and for California, too.”
— Josh Kurtz

Kaloogian Lashes Out at Web Site About Him

Former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian, one of four major candidates seeking the Republican Senate nomination in the March 2 primary, has struck back at a new political Web site that questions his contribution to the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis (D).

The new site,, appeared this week as an advertisement on the Rough and Tumble political Web site,, which posts newspaper articles about California government and politics. The site’s anonymous authors accuse Kaloogian, who headed the Recall Gray Davis Committee, of exaggerating his role in the recall election.

In response, Kaloogian issued a six-page news release, featuring testimonials from other leaders of the recall campaign.

“Keep your eye on the people who are lying about Howard’s role. It says more about them than it does about Howard,” said Melanie Morgan, a conservative talk show host in San Francisco.
— J.K.

Club for Growth Helps Swallow Treasury Grow

The conservative Club for Growth, which bombarded Rep. Jim Matheson (D) with negative ads last cycle, sent almost $150,000 to his likely Republican challenger in 2003, the Deseret Morning News reported.

Former state Rep. John Swallow (R), who finished just 1,600 votes behind Matheson in 2002, was the beneficiary of the anti-tax group’s largess.

Swallow does not have the GOP field to himself, however. Tim Bridgewater, who lost to Swallow in the 2002 Republican primary, and Salt Lake County Councilman David Wilde are also in the race.

Despite his status as a top GOP target, Matheson, who has represented the sprawling 2nd district for two terms, is in good shape financially, reporting almost $600,000 in the bank to begin 2004.

Meanwhile, the Democratic challenger to entrenched Sen. Bob Bennett (R) is blaming campaign finance reform for the fundraising gap between him and the incumbent.

Bennett had $662,000 in the bank as of Dec. 31, 2003, while former Utah Attorney General Paul Van Dam (D) had raised only $30,000. In an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Van Dam blamed the shortfall on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.

“Campaign finance laws don’t do much for me except limit my ability to raise,” he said.
— N.D.

IT Magnate Passes on Challenge to Sen. Leahy

A high-tech executive has opted out of the Republican primary fight to challenge Sen. Patrick Leahy (D).

Richard Tarrant, co-founder and board chairman of IDX Systems Corp., a Burlington-based information technology firm, had been weighing a Senate run but decided against it when polling showed he would have to go negative to win, The Barre Times-Montpelier Argus reported.

“I was not interested in running the kind of negative race needed to beat Sen. Leahy,” Tarrant told the paper.

He left the door open for a bid in 2006, when Sen. Jim Jeffords’ (I) term expires.

Tarrant’s decision leaves John McMullen (R), a management consultant, as Leahy’s only competition so far. McMullen reported having $61,000 in the bank to start off 2004; Leahy had $1.23 million.

The five-term Senator was re-elected in 1998 with 72 percent of the vote.
— N.D.

Primaries Delayed for Second Straight Cycle

For the second election cycle in a row, the North Carolina primaries will be delayed because of redistricting.

The state Elections Board announced Monday that the primaries, originally scheduled for May 4, will be pushed back to July 20 because a federal court hasn’t finished reviewing proposed new boundaries for the state Legislature.

The board decision pushes the filing deadline, which had originally been scheduled for Feb. 27, to May 7. If a runoff is needed in any Congressional or state legislative district, it will now be held Aug. 17 instead of June 1.

In 2002, lawsuits over redistricting delayed the spring primary until September.
— J.K.

Republican Family Man Targets Single Langevin

Rep. James Langevin (D) has drawn a challenger in the state’s 2nd district.

East Greenwich Town Council President Chuck Barton (R) says he will take on the two-term Langevin for the sake of families.

“I am running because families in this district have not been well-represented in Washington,” he told The Providence Journal in a dig at the young, single Langevin. Barton vowed to develop a “family-security agenda.”

The 53-year-old commercial banker with Peoples Bank in Connecticut previously served as chairman of the town’s school committee.

Barton likely faces an uphill battle, as Langevin was re-elected with 76 percent of the vote in 2002.
— N.D.

News Report: Socialite Prepares for Schumer

Gail Hilson, a Manhattan society matron and Republican activist, is taking steps toward seeking the GOP nomination for Senate, the New York Post reported this week.

Hilson, who ran unsuccessfully for the state Assembly in 2002, has hired a campaign consultant and plans to announce her intentions in about three weeks, the newspaper wrote.

Hilson is the latest name to be floated by GOP leaders as a possible opponent to Sen. Charles Schumer (D), who is sitting on a $20 million campaign account. But according to the Post, Gov. George Pataki (R) fears that she would be a weak candidate, and that Schumer would use the momentum from a landslide Senate win to run for governor in 2006.

So far, only 30-something former investment banker Michael Benjamin is seeking the GOP Senate nod.

In a related development, the New York AFL-CIO endorsed Schumer this week. AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes, according to the Post, is urging Schumer to run for governor in two years. He quickly added that he’d like to see state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) also make the race — as long as the two don’t run against each other in a primary. Clear?
— J.K.

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