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Cheney, Laura Bush to Raise Murkowski Cash

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), potentially facing a bruising GOP primary, is getting a lot of help from the White House in her efforts to stockpile cash.

Vice President Cheney will join her in Anchorage April 9 for an afternoon reception. Then, in a recent e-mail to supporters, she invites backers to fly to Washington for a special evening reception featuring first lady Laura Bush on April 22.

Accommodations are being arranged.

No word on the cost for either event yet, but in another communication, Murkowski’s campaign entreats donors to contribute before today’s first quarter reporting deadline.

“In the last few days you have seen news reports about other Republicans possibly entering the GOP primary,” reads the e-mail, addressed to “Dear Friends.” “Since that news broke we have seen a significant amount of individual Alaska contributions coming to my campaign. These results are heartening and demonstrate our broad support throughout Alaska, but there is still time for us to increase our numbers even more.”

According to the e-mail, her campaign has raised at least $80,000 this quarter.

While Murkowski’s could-be Republican challenger, Administration Department Commissioner Mike Miller, mulls a Senate bid, his Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska, churns out letters and deeds from the jolly old fellow himself to children everywhere at $7.50 a pop.

“Since 1952, the Santa Claus House has been putting smiles on the faces of children all over the world with the ‘original’ letter from Santa,” according to its Web site. “Personalized with the recipient’s name and printed on special Santa Claus House stationery, each letter comes with a special sticker proclaiming the bearer to be on ‘Santa’s good list,’ along with a postcard photo of Santa and Mrs. Claus.”

The former state Senate president has owned and helped operate the tourist destination just outside of Fairbanks throughout his political career.
— Nicole Duran

Actor Hopes Voters Pan Inouye’s Performance

Former “Full House” and “Beverly Hills 90210” actor Brian Evans is challenging Sen. Daniel Inouye in the Democratic primary.

The 33-year-old Las Vegas lounge singer lives in Wailea on Maui and seems to be running to the left of the 79-year-old veteran Senator, who is in his 42nd year of service.

“There are many people unhappy with his stance as a Democrat on same-sex marriage rights, marijuana, health and dental care, and many other matters,” Evans said in a news release.

The political newcomer describes himself as an advocate for legalized marijuana and same-sex marriage who believes the state’s health care program is weak on dental care.

Evans touts his youth as a reason to elect him.

He says Hawaiians believe Inouye is an “institution” and return him to office because of that stature.

“I would respond that our U.S. Senator is not memorabilia,” Evans said. “It’s a serious job and you don’t just elect someone to sit there.”
— N.D.

Candidate Goes Belk to the Drawing Board

Marcus Belk, who headed up the short-lived presidential exploratory committee of jailed former Rep. James Traficant (D-Ohio), dropped out of the Democratic Senate primary earlier this week.

“I’ve had a lot of fun making new friends and raising over one-half million in this campaign, but I’m going to do the right thing and not file,” he said in a statement.

Belk called state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum (D) the party’s “only hope” of retaining the seat being vacated by Sen. Fritz Hollings (D).

Belk was not considered a serious threat to Tenenbaum in the primary.

The clear field for Tenenbaum represents a stark contrast to the six-way race in the Republican primary.

Former Gov. David Beasley is the current frontrunner with Rep. Jim DeMint, former state Attorney General Charlie Condon and wealthy real estate developer Thomas Ravenel all considered serious candidates.

If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote in the June 8 primary, the two top votegetters will advance to a June 22 runoff.
— Chris Cillizza

Showdown at Hotel Bar, but No Punches Thrown

When Rep. Major Owens’ (D) son and the father of one of the candidates running against the 11-term Member in the Democratic primary ran into each other in a hotel bar recently, sparks did not fly — contrary to a rumor that had been making the rounds in Brooklyn political circles.

In an account published last week in the Courier Life newspapers of Brooklyn, the conversation in Albany’s Crowne Plaza Hotel between Chris Owens and former state Assemblyman Frank Boyland (D), father of New York City Councilwoman Tracy Boyland (D) went roughly like this:

“So, Major’s running?” Boyland asked.

“Yes, indeed!” the younger Owens replied.

So much for great confrontations.

One rumor had the two shouting at each other, with Chris Owens threatening retribution against the Boylands and their political allies, and William Boyland dissing the Owens’ political operation.

“Pure fiction,” Chris Owens told the newspaper about the speculation.

But the primary itself, featuring Congressman Owens, Councilwoman Boyland and Councilwoman Yvette Clarke (D) could be a great confrontation.

Owens made himself a target by announcing his intention to retire after the 109th Congress. That made several ambitious politicians in the black majority district begin to see the Congressman as a potential lame duck.

Chris Owens and state Sen. Carl Andrews (D) are among those contemplating getting into the 11th district race when the elder Owens retires.
— Josh Kurtz

State Lawmaker to Skip Race for Tauzin’s Seat

Democratic state Rep. Warren Triche will not join the growing field to replace Rep. Billy Tauzin (R), he announced Monday.

Triche said that the current legislative session would greatly limit the time he could devote to campaigning.

“I can’t see just campaigning on the weekends,” Triche told The Associated Press.

Triche’s departure leaves former state Rep. Charlie Melancon and state Sen. Reggie Dupre as the only announced Democrats in the race.

On the Republican side, state Sen. Craig Romero has formally announced while Billy Tauzin III, the Congressman’s son, is also expected to run.

After rampant speculation that Tauzin would resign his seat to take a lucrative lobbying position, it now appears that he will stay on through November.

The southeastern Louisiana 3rd district is competitive between the parties. President Bush carried it with 52 percent in 2000 but Gov. Kathleen Blanco (D) took 56 percent there in the 2003 gubernatorial race.
— C.C.

Boxer Challenges Jones to a Series of Debates

In a counterintuitive move, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) has challenged her Republican opponent, former California Secretary of State Bill Jones (R), to a series of debates.

“Senator Boxer’s eager to discuss the differences between her views on issues and Bill Jones’ views,” Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Jones’ campaign promptly accepted.

But when these debates take place — and how many there will be — remains to be seen.

Boxer did not extend the offer early for any strategic purposes, Kapolczynski said. Rather, logistical considerations simply require an early start in planning, she said.

Allen Hoffenblum, a Republican consultant and publisher of the California Target Book, told the Union-Tribune he was puzzled that Boxer, as the incumbent who leads in the polls and in fundraising, would extend the offer to give Jones more publicity.

“I see no reason why she would want to do it,” he said.
— J.K.

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