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As the state’s filing deadline came and went, not one Democrat signed up to challenge first-term Sen. Mike Crapo (R) in November.

Crapo will get a total pass unless someone files as a write-in candidate by May 1, as no third-party candidates filed either.

If less than 1,000 voters wrote the candidate’s name in on the May 25 primary ballot, however, Crapo would still be unopposed in the general election.

A Democratic Party operative who rushed to the state Capitol to file paperwork for a replacement candidate missed the 5 p.m. Friday deadline by less than one minute, the Web site reported.

State Sen. John Peavey (D) was going to run until the very last minute.

Idaho’s two Congressmen were not so lucky.

Democrat Naomi Preston will challenge Rep. Butch Otter (R) in the 1st district, and former state Sen. Lin Whitworth (D) will take on Rep. Mike Simpson (R) in the 2nd district.
— Nicole Duran

Size of Democratic Field in 7th District Triples

Two more Democrats have entered the race for Michigan’s open 7th district House seat.

An organic farmer who opposed the Iraq war and a moderate business consultant recently threw their hats in the ring.

Sharon Renier, the farmer, ran for the state House last cycle, while Drew Walker is a new to politics.

President Bush “has made a mock-racy of our democracy,” Renier told The Jackson Citizen Patriot. “He has single-handedly changed the way the world views us.”

Walker said he will focus on the economy.

“It’s been a long time since serious attention has been paid to the development of this district,” he said.

Previous lone Democratic candidate Jason Seagraves, a teachers’ aide, said he welcomes the newcomers.

“Having multiple candidates for a race generates more publicity and more attention,” he told the paper.

While the three will compete for their party’s nod in the Aug. 3 primary, six Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination, as Rep. Nick Smith (R) is retiring. The GOP is favored to retain the seat.
— N.D.

Torsella Poll Shows Him Gaining on Schwartz

Former National Constitution Center President Joe Torsella has released a poll showing him gaining on state Sen. Allyson Schwartz in the 13th district Democratic House primary.

According to Monday’s Intelligencer newspaper, a poll conducted for Torsella on March 17 and 18 showed Schwartz favored by 38 percent and Torsella by 35 percent of the survey respondents. The poll of 400 likely voters in the April 27 primary by Bennett, Petts & Blumenthal had a 4.9 percent margin of error.

The newspaper said that a poll taken by the same firm in December 2003 showed Schwartz with a 29 point lead.

Schwartz and Torsella are vying for the Democratic nod in a highly competitive district that includes portions of Philadelphia and its close-in suburbs. Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) is vacating the seat after three terms to run for the Senate.

A hard-fought Republican primary between 2002 nominee Melissa Brown and state Rep. Ellen Bard, among others, is also under way.
— Josh Kurtz

Harris Visit for Diedrich Blasted by Democrats

Florida Rep. Katherine Harris (R) traveled to Rapid City to raise money for state Sen. Larry Diedrich (R) Sunday, the latest in a litany of high-profile Republicans to lend their support for his candidacy in the House special election.

“For South Dakota it is absolutely critical that you all have the opportunity to participate vibrantly,” said Harris. “Larry Diedrich is the only person who can hit the ground running in a majority.”

Diedrich will face 2002 nominee Stephanie Herseth in the June 1 election to replace former Rep. Bill Janklow (R), who resigned the seat Jan. 20.

Diedrich is scheduled to have a fundraiser in Washington today with Ohio Reps. Mike Oxley, Bob Ney and Steven LaTourette and another event a week from now with White House senior adviser Karl Rove.

Democrats immediately jumped on Diedrich’s decision to bring Harris into the state, citing her controversial role in the 2000 presidential election when she was Florida secretary of state.

“Apparently Larry Diedrich is counting on hanging chads to boost his sagging campaign against Stephanie Herseth,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Communications Director Kori Bernards in a news release.

Harris oversaw the recounting of contested ballots in the Sunshine State, a role that earned her the undying praise of Republican loyalists and the enmity of Democratic partisans.

She briefly flirted with a run for the open Senate seat in Florida this year before deciding to seek a second House term.
— Chris Cillizza

Bond Completes 5-City Announcement Swing

Sen. Kit Bond (R) officially began his race for a fourth term Sunday in Kansas City as he embarked on a two-day, five-city tour through the Show Me State.

Bond said he was running to “preserve the kind of country we want to preserve and pass on to our children,” according to the Kansas City Star.

Bond has never won election to the Senate with more than 53 percent, and Democrats again believe he is ripe for the picking.

State Treasurer Nancy Farmer, although not Democrats’ first choice, has run an active campaign against Bond.

Bond, however, still has a huge fundraising edge.

At year’s end, he had $4.3 million in the bank compared with Farmer’s $609,000.
— C.C.

State Senator Won’t Be Kind to Kind This Year

Rep. Ron Kind (D) has drawn a potentially tough challenger in state Sen. Dale Schultz (R).

“Schultz, who has served in the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate since 1982, could be Kind’s strongest challenger since he was elected in 1996,” the LaCrosse Tribune reported.

Schultz has already raised more than $100,000 but still faces an uphill battle as Kind won re-election in the 3rd district in 2002 with 63 percent of the vote.
— N.D.

Welch Using Red Sage for Fundraising Appeal

State Sen. Bob Welch (R) is coming to Washington, D.C., to raise money for his U.S. Senate bid.

Tonight at Red Sage, Welch hopes the $500 per individual and $1,000 per political action committee event will help him close the fundraising gap with his two main GOP rivals.

Both car dealer Russ Darrow and construction company executive Tim Michels have considerable personal wealth to pump into their efforts.

Welch began the year with less than $500,000 in the bank, while Darrow had more than $1 million and Michels had almost $800,000.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D), whom Republicans would love to knock off in November, began 2004 with almost $3 million banked.
— N.D.

Number of Candidates for House Is Growing

An archivist who has run for Wyoming’s one House seat before has announced he will try again.

John Hanks, an archivist at the University of Wyoming, wrote in a letter to the Casper Star-Tribune that he intends to challenge fellow Democrats Ron Akin, who lost to Cubin in 2002, and Ted Ladd, a management consultant, in the primary.

He ran write-in campaigns for the House in 1998 and 2000 as a Green Party candidate and Green-Labor coalition candidate, the Star-Tribune reported.

Rep. Barbara Cubin (R) also faces two challengers in the GOP primary, despite holding the seat for 10 years.

Attorney Bruce Asay and state Sen. Cale Case hope to upset her in the Aug. 17 primary.
— N.D.

GOP Plans for Schumer Made Blurry by Eye Doc

State Republican leaders recently settled on Assemblyman Howard Mills III as their preferred candidate to challenge Sen. Charles Schumer (D) this year. But the state Conservative Party, which frequently allies itself with the GOP, has other ideas.

State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long told Newsday last week that he expects Long Island eye doctor Marilyn O’Grady to seek his party’s Senate nomination. Left unsaid was whether O’Grady would also seek the GOP Senate nomination, which is entirely possible.

Either way, it’s bad news for Mills, because it would either mean a primary with O’Grady or a general election contest in which two conservatives are seeking to upend Schumer.

And either way, it means that O’Grady is abandoning her plan to seek a rematch this year with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D), whom she held to 56 percent of the vote in the 2002 general election.

O’Grady’s decision paves the way for Hempstead Mayor James Garner to win the GOP nomination to face McCarthy. Garner has vowed to raise $2.5 million for his uphill fight.

In a related development, David Paterson (D), the Minority Leader of the state Senate, told the New York Post on Monday that he and other Democratic leaders are becoming increasingly convinced that Schumer will run for governor in 2006.

“You know, he’s always wanted to do this and he hasn’t knocked down all the speculation that’s been going on,” Paterson said.
— J.K.

More Possible Houghton Successors Identified

While Rep. Amo Houghton (R) continues to keep everyone guessing about what he’ll say next month when he reveals whether he will seek a 10th term, more Republicans are jockeying to run for his Southern Tier seat if he opts to retire.

While Monroe County Commissioner Mark Assini (R) has said he’ll run regardless of what Houghton does, and two state legislators — Sen. John “Randy” Kuhl (R) and Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R) — have already said they’ll run if the Congressman doesn’t, WXXI-TV has identified two more potential contenders.

One is Geoff Rosenberger, a Pittsford businessman who was the 1996 GOP nominee against Rep. Louise Slaughter (D) in an adjoining House district.

The other is Bill Nojay, the former head of a local transportation authority. Both told the TV station that they would not run if Houghton does.

While Houghton has not said when in April he plans to make his announcement, WXXI theorized that it could be on April 6, when he is next scheduled to make public appearances in his hometown, Corning.
— J.K.

Right to Lifers Endorse Both Republicans in 5th

The Oregon Right to Life Committee is not giving GOP rivals in the state’s 5th district primary anything unique to put on their résumés.

The group is endorsing both businessman Jim Zupancic and state Sen. Jackie Winters as they fight for the Republican nomination.

The winner will face four-term Rep. Darlene Hooley (D) in what will be a closely watched contest.
— N.D.

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