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WISCONSIN: Three Republicans Boast of Shared PAC Backing

Auto dealer Russ Darrow, construction executive Tim Michels and state Sen. Bob Welch all issued releases last week touting how they had snagged the coveted Wisconsin Right to Life Political Action Committee endorsement in the upcoming Senate race.

How could this be? It seems the good folks of the anti-abortion rights movement had as much difficulty choosing one GOP candidate over the others as the candidates are having in pulling away from the pack.

None mentioned that he was a “tri” recipient of said endorsement.

The only Republican candidate who cannot run under the anti-abortion banner is latecomer Robert Lorge, who apparently did not seek, though said he would welcome, the honor.

If anyone can coo a little more loudly, it might be Welch.

In the group’s announcement, it listed his name first and noted that “Bob Welch has been a champion for the right to life cause during his distinguished career in the state Legislature. Time after time he has courageously fought for legislation that would enhance the dignity and sanctity of all human life. Bob Welch would take that same courage and determination with him to the U.S. Senate and continue his work on behalf of the unborn and other vulnerable individuals.”

One would think yeoman’s work like that would bear more fruit.

Michels and Darrow warranted one joint sentence in the announcement.

All four Republicans are vying for the right to challenge Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in November.

Meanwhile, Darrow is trying hard to match Welch’s organization.

He recently announced leadership teams for Waukesha and Outagamie counties and snagged the backing of Waukesha County Executive Dan Finley (R).

Former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow (R) signed on as his campaign committee chairwoman in October 2003.

Nonetheless, Welch has already lined up an impressive array of endorsements from the National Rifle Association, Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the Wisconsin Builders Association and a host of others.
— Nicole Duran

Hall of Famer Carlton Pitches in for Boehlert

It pays to have Cooperstown, N.Y. — and baseball’s Hall of Fame — in your district.

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R) has a fundraiser scheduled Wednesday with Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton. Dubbed a “Spring Training” event by Boehlert’s campaign, the $1,000-a-ticket affair will be held at the American Legion Post 8 on Capitol Hill.

Carlton, a wicked left-hander who spent the bulk of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies, has always been something of a controversial figure. As a player, he did not talk to the media for years. Then, on the eve of his 1994 Hall of Fame induction, he was quoted in Philadelphia magazine saying he believed that 12 Jewish bankers controlled the world economy — statements he vehemently denied making.

Boehlert is likely to face a rematch with Cayuga County legislator David Walrath (R), who took 47 percent of the vote against the incumbent in the 2002 GOP primary in the central New York 24th district.
— Josh Kurtz

Doucet First Democrat in Race for John’s Seat

Former Louisiana 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ned Doucet late last week became the first Democrat to enter the 7th district race to replace Rep. Chris John (D).

“The state has got to have jobs, jobs, jobs,” said Doucet at a stop on his announcement tour.

Born and raised in Vermillion Parish—in the district’s far southeastern reaches — Doucet served one term in the state Legislature from 1976 to 1978, representing Vermillion and Acadia parishes. The following year he took the judgeship in which he represented five of the eight parishes that comprise the 7th district.

Doucet stepped down from his judgeship in 2003 to focus on the House race.

State Sens. Don Cravins and Willie Mount are also still considering the race on the Democratic side.

Cravins, who is black, is the X-factor in the race, because if he decides to run, he would likely secure a runoff spot given that the district’s voting-age population is 25 percent black.

For Republicans, physician Charles Boustany and Lafayette Parish School Board member David Thibodeaux are in the race.

Under Louisiana election law, all candidates run in the Nov. 2 open primary; if no candidate receives 50 percent, the top two votegetters, regardless of party, advance to a Dec. 4 runoff.
— Chris Cillizza

Cheney: Stan’s the Man in Boswell Seat Rematch

Continuing his fundraising efforts on behalf of Republican House candidates, Vice President Cheney held an event Monday for 2002 3rd district nominee Stan Thompson (R) as he pursues a rematch against Rep. Leonard Boswell (D).

Cheney was joined at the Des Moines lunch event by his wife, Lynne.

“It’s a huge vote of support when the vice president goes on the road for any candidate, and for my race it illustrates how competitive the White House views Iowa’s 3rd Congressional district,” said Thompson in a release.

Thompson raised $111,000 from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 and ended the year with $117,000 in the bank.

The Cheney event is expected to be the largest financial windfall of the cycle to date for Thompson.

In 2002, Boswell defeated Thompson 53 percent to 45 percent in the Des Moines-based district. The district is competitive on the presidential level, as Al Gore would have taken a 49 percent to 48 percent victory there in 2000.
— C.C.

Battle for Middle Earth Comes to 2nd District

Three Republicans want to challenge Rep. Rick Larsen (D) in the 2nd district, but one stands out among them for his colorful Web site.

Glenn Coggeshell, a self-described entrepreneur from Camano, is seen in full “Lord of the Rings” costume, brandishing a sword, beckoning visitors to “enter the ring” underneath a banner headline declaring “the battle for middle earth has begun.”

“The true backbone of the Republican Party is its strong conservative base,” the self-described conservative Christian says on his Web site. “I run for office for the conservative voice, the advocate for conservative values that make this country strong.”

He concedes that the GOP is not likely to help him but then warns his party not take voters like himself for granted.

“I am not counting on much support from the Republican Party; ‘they need us conservative folks voting but don’t like us running.’ However there m[a]y come a time when we will not need you, so watch who you take advantage of,” he declares.

Coggeshell faces the party favorite, Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair, and Whatcom County resident Larry Klepinger in the Sept. 14 GOP primary — assuming Washington has one then.

State officials are still grappling with how to replace the old blanket primary, which was recently declared unconstitutional.
— N.D.

Undecided Far Ahead in Both Senate Primaries

Almost half of the voters in both parties are unsure of whom to nominate to replace retiring Sen. Bob Graham (D), a new poll reveals.

The poll of 800 voters, conducted March 3-4 for The Miami Herald and the St. Petersburg Times, found that 46 percent of primary voters were undecided on the Democratic side, and 44 percent of Republicans were undecided. It had a 5.3 percent margin of error.

Among Democrats, former state Education Commissioner Betty Castor was favored by 29 percent of respondents. Rep. Peter Deutsch was next at 15 percent, followed by Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas at 10 percent.

On the Republican side, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez had a narrow 19 percent to 18 percent edge over former Rep. Bill McCollum. State Speaker of the House Johnnie Byrd was at 4 percent, and four others were also in the single digits.

The Florida primary will be held Aug. 31.
— J.K.

2 Republicans Continue Firing Away on Taxes

GOP primary opponents in the 5th district continue to spar over taxes, each charging the other with changing course.

Jim Zupancic, an attorney, has been relentless in his criticism of state Sen. Jackie Winters and her support for Measure 30 — the state Legislature’s answer to budget shortfalls that was rejected by voters in February.

He trumpeted his signing of the Americans for Tax Reform’s pledge by saying: “Unlike my primary opponent, Jackie Winters, I will keep my promise of lower taxes and less government. In 2002, Winters signed a ‘no new taxes’ pledge sponsored by the Oregon Taxpayer Association but promptly broke her promise by voting for the largest tax increase in Oregon history.”

Winters recently got some backup in her claim that it is Zupancic who has flip-flopped on the issue.

“We’re sure you will recall meeting with us last year to seek our organization’s endorsement for your Oregon House of Representatives race,” leaders of Citizens Alliance for Responsible Education wrote Zupancic late last month.

“Part of that discussion included your commitment, as we understood it, to support increased resources for Oregon’s desperately underfunded K-12 school system, including new taxes,” the group wrote.

The letter continues by questioning Zupancic’s critique of Winters’ support for Measure 30, saying she followed the course he outlined in 2002.

“Frankly, it appears to us to be the same position as the one you presented to us,” the group stated. “This kind of turnabout is troubling and we urge you to carefully review your earlier commitments and re-evaluate the direction your campaign is taking.”

The letter was signed by two officials of education trade associations, which are members of the alliance.

The winner of the May 18 primary will face Rep. Darlene Hooley (D) in November.
— N.D.

Officials Question Value of Early Primary Date

Some state officials believe the Golden State should abandon its March primary in presidential election years.

State Sen. Ross Johnson (R) has introduced a bill that would return state, local and Congressional primaries to June in presidential election years. Secretary of State Kevin Shelley (D), who administers elections in California, has endorsed the idea.

“I think it’s time,” he told the Los Angeles Times this week. “This whole notion of moving up to March to make us relevant in the presidential sweepstakes hasn’t panned out.”

The primary date was moved to late March in 1996, in the hopes that presidential election contests would still be competitive, thus making the state more important in determining the White House nominees. In 2000 and 2004, the primaries were held in early March.

Despite the early dates, the nomination contests had all but been settled by the time Californians voted. And many politicians are now arguing that the early primary date limits voters’ interests in Congressional and legislative primaries, because the candidates have so little time to raise money and their political profiles.

Shelley argued that there are too many election periods in California, pointing to the recall election last October, regular municipal elections throughout the state last November, the March primaries, more local contests this June and the upcoming general election.

“There’s voter fatigue,” Shelley said. “It’s like, ‘Oh my God, I’m in a democracy, but didn’t I just vote last week?’”
— J.K.

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