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Beasley’s TV Ads Tout His Job Creation Record in S.C.

Former Gov. David Beasley (R) became the third candidate on the air in the South Carolina Senate race in advance of the June 8 primary.

The ad highlights the job losses in the state due to “unfair trade.”

Standing on the floor of an abandoned factory, Beasley pledges to “stand up for our jobs.”

The ad’s announcer notes that during Beasley’s gubernatorial term from 1994 to 1998, 110,000 new jobs were created in the state.

“Strong enough to stand up for South Carolina’s jobs. David Beasley. Senator,” says the ad’s narrator.

Both Rep. Jim DeMint and former state Attorney General Charlie Condon are already on television in the crowded Republican race. Real estate developer Thomas Ravenel has not yet taken to the airwaves.

With such a crowded primary field, a June 22 runoff two weeks later is the most likely scenario.

Given the name identification derived from his stint as governor, Beasley is nearly assured a place in the runoff. DeMint, Condon and Ravenel are fighting for the other spot.

State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum is the odds-on Democratic nominee, and all public polling released to this point has shown her with leads over each of her potential Republican opponents.
— Chris Cillizza

It’s ‘Everybody Into the Pool’ for Houghton Seat

Two Republicans wasted no time Wednesday jumping into the race to replace Rep. Amo Houghton (R), who announced Tuesday that he will retire after completing his ninth term.

Lawyer Bill Nojay, the chairman of the Rochester-Genessee Regional Transportation Authority, said he wanted to run to boost the struggling region’s economic fortunes.

“The loss of jobs caused by career politicians voting for higher taxes, ever-growing government budgets and job-killing government regulations has to be addressed honestly with voters,” he said in a statement.

Rochester businessman Geoffrey Rosenberger, the unsuccessful GOP nominee against Rep. Louise Slaughter (D) in an adjacent district eight years ago, also got in the race and immediately began airing radio spots throughout the vast 29th district. Rosenberger has pledged to spend at least $400,000 of his own money on the race.

Monroe County legislator Mark Assini has been seeking the Republican nomination since last summer.

But the GOP race is likely to get far more crowded.

State Sen. Randy Kuhl is scheduled to announce his candidacy today. State Assemblyman Brian Kolb is expected to get in during the week of April 19. Others could follow.

The 29th district is divided into three distinct parts: the Southern Tier along the Pennsylvania border, the counties in the middle of the district, and Monroe County in the Rochester area to the north. Kuhl is from the Southern Tier, and Kolb is from the middle part of the district.

In a thinly veiled message to Nojay, Rosenberger, Assini and anyone else who may get in the race, Stephen Minarik III, chairman of the Monroe County GOP, said this week that he wants just one Rochester-area candidate competing in the Sept. 14 primary. He said his party committee will meet May 20 to endorse a candidate.

“If there’s more than one Monroe County person, I’ll probably wind up supporting Randy Kuhl,” he said.

Although Republicans have a 45 percent to 29 percent edge in voter enrollment in the 29th, Democrats have some hope of competing for the open seat.

Democrat Stan Lundine, who went on to become Mario Cuomo’s lieutenant governor, held the seat for 10 years before Houghton was elected to replace him.

Democratic operative Samara Barend, a 26-year-old graduate student who has worked for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D), is contemplating making the race.
— Josh Kurtz

GOP Foe Says Obey Better Watch His Speed

Rep. David Obey (D) is taking flack from his GOP opponent for jamming with a member of the Grateful Dead.

Obey and his band played with Mickey Hart of the Dead last week at a fundraiser that cost up to $5,000 a person. Joan Osborne and The Flying Other Brothers also performed at the concert.

Joe Rothbauer, Obey’s 2002 Republican challenger in the Badger State’s 7th district, who is seeking a rematch, chastised Obey for the price.

“We can’t afford to pay over $1,666 an hour just to talk to good ‘ole Dave,” Rothbauer said in a statement.

The Army veteran then lambasted the iconic band for its politics.

“The Grateful Dead has opposed every combat action since Vietnam,” he stated. “They called our soldiers ‘baby killers.’ They were heavy drug users and advocated drug use. Are these the kind of political ties we want our representative to have?”

Obey’s camp had no response.
— Nicole Duran

Knowles Maintains Slim Lead in Monthly TV Poll

Former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) continues to lead Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) in polls, but the advantage is within the margin of error and her negatives are dropping.

The newest monthly poll, conducted on behalf of KTUU-TV by Alaska-based pollster Ivan Moore, shows Knowles leads 47.6 percent to 44.7 percent with 4 percent of Alaskans undecided on the Senate battle.

The error margin of the 500 likely voters polled at the end of March is 4.4 percent.

Green Party candidate Jim Sykes polled slightly more than 2 percent.

Knowles’ greatest lead over Murkowski was in January when he was up 4 percent. Since the last poll, Murkowski’s positives shot up 10 percent to 55 percent while Knowles’ remained steady at 60 percent. Both candidates’ negatives were at 35 percent.

Moore noted that Murkowski’s improvement coincided with the beginning of her radio commercial campaign.

Despite two months of positive ads, “the race has only closed by about a point,” Moore noted. “She is not succeeding in winning new votes, so much as she’s strengthening the votes she already has.”

In light of rumblings by two prominent Republicans that they may challenge Murkowski in the primary, Moore tested former state Sen. Mike Miller and former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin against Murkowski.

Palin fared the best, with 33 percent of Republican saying they’d vote for her to Murkowski’s 65 percent. Miller won only 22 percent, leaving Murkowski with 74 percent.

Murkowski’s numbers are likely to increase further as she began airing television commercials Wednesday. The positive ad plays up Murkowski’s Alaskan roots and features a litter of puppies, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The Knowles camp would not say when it will hit the airwaves.

On the first-quarter money front, Knowles will show he raised around $705,000 in his April 15 Federal Election Commission filing, according to his campaign, while Murkowski has raised around $500,000 for the quarter, according to published reports.

He is still likely to trail in cash on hand, however.

Murkowski is beginning this quarter with two big-name fundraisers to help her.

Vice President Cheney will be on hand Friday for a $1,000-a-person reception in Anchorage. Individuals pay $1,000 to $3,000 for the afternoon fete — $3,000 is required for a photo opportunity.

Then first lady Laura Bush will headline a fundraiser in Washington on April 22. The privilege of a photo with her is a steal compared with the veep — $2,000 for individuals and $2,500 for political action committees.
— N.D.

Hastert Helps Franks in Advance of His Primary

Freshman Rep. Trent Franks (R) got a fundraising boost from Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) last week for his primary challenge from a wealthy radio executive.

Hastert and Arizona Republican Reps. J.D. Hayworth and Jim Kolbe appeared at the Washington, D.C., event that brought in roughly $70,000 for Franks’ campaign committee.

Franks will face Rick Murphy in a Sept. 7 primary.

At the end of 2003, Murphy had $350,000 in the bank, a total that includes a $250,000 personal loan. Franks had just $35,000 on hand at that time, but has significant personal wealth and is expected to spend it if necessary.

The 2nd district takes in much of central and northwestern Arizona and is strongly Republican. President Bush won 57 percent there in 2000.

— C.C.

Poll: Toomey Has Yet to Unify Conservatives

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Sen. Arlen Specter with a 15 point lead over GOP primary opponent Rep. Pat Toomey, with less than three weeks to go before the election.

Specter led Toomey 52 percent to 37 percent in the survey of 615 likely Republican voters. The poll was conducted March 30- April 5 and had a margin of error of 4 percent.

The survey also suggests that Toomey still has a way to go in unifying his conservative support. Among voters who identify themselves as conservatives, Toomey got 43 percent, while 46 percent of those surveyed were leaning toward Specter.

Toomey has also narrowed the gap somewhat in his efforts to get known statewide by voters, but the new poll showed that 39 percent of those surveyed still don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

The primary is April 27.
— Lauren W. Whittington

McCollum, Castor Lead, But Many Still Unsure

A new poll in the crowded race to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Graham (D) shows former state Education Commissioner Betty Castor (D) and former Rep. Bill McCollum (R) retaining leads in their respective primaries, although both races are expected to narrow considerably before the Aug. 31 election.

On the GOP side, the new poll suggests that the race is shaping up to be a two-person contest between McCollum and former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez. McCollum led Martinez 27 percent to 18 percent in the survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. State Sen. Daniel Webster and state House Speaker Johnnie Byrd registered 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, among the 373 likely GOP voters surveyed.

Business executive Doug Gallagher, the brother of the state’s chief financial officer, garnered 5 percent. He recently pumped $1.25 million of his own money into the race.

The poll had a 4 percent margin of error.

On the Democratic side, Castor led Rep. Peter Deutsch, 33 percent to 16 percent. Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas got 9 percent followed by political neophyte Bill Phillips, who garnered 1 percent. Forty-one percent of the 382 likely primary voters surveyed said they were undecided. The survey had a 5 percent margin of error.

In a test of general election matchups, Castor was in a virtual dead heat with the two leading Republican contenders. Castor led McCollum 39 percent to 38 percent and Martinez 39 percent to 36 percent.

McCollum had the best overall statewide name identification of all of the major candidates in the race, a lingering result of his 2000 Senate bid. He lost that race to now-Sen. Bill Nelson (D).

Castor raised more than $1.2 million in the first quarter of the year, more than her campaign raised in all of 2003. She has been aided by the support of EMILY’s List.

Although they are officially neutral in the race, officials at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee issued a statement praising Castor’s performance as one that puts “her in the top tier for fundraising by Senate challengers in the nation.”

In a sign of potential trouble for Penelas, the Miami-Dade mayor had 51 percent name identification among likely voters, but of the people who did know him 15 percent said they viewed him unfavorably while only 12 percent said they had a favorable view. Castor and Deutsch had unfavorables of 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively.
— L.W.W.

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