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At the Races

Hoeffel Calls Bush Visit Sign of Specter’s Worries

President Bush on Monday took time out during his 27th trip to the Keystone State since taking office to stump for Sen. Arlen Specter (R), who is battling conservative Rep. Pat Toomey in the April 27 GOP primary.

Bush headlined two events for Specter in Pittsburgh — a re-election rally that Specter’s campaign estimated was expected to draw a crowd of more than 1,300, and a $500-per-plate fundraiser.

Recent polls have shown the Republican race tightening, with Specter still retaining the edge. The winner of the primary will face Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) in November.

Hoeffel held a conference call with reporters Monday to attack Bush’s record on jobs and the economy. He also said the president’s visit is a sign of desperation from Specter’s campaign.

“He’s here because he’s in trouble in Pennsylvania, as is Arlen Specter,” Hoeffel said.

Meanwhile, the Allentown Morning Call — Toomey’s hometown newspaper — endorsed Specter in the primary Sunday.

“Mr. Toomey’s very conservative ideology will be attractive to some, but Mr. Specter’s record of serving the interests of Pennsylvania make him the better choice for Republicans on Primary Day,” the newspaper editorialized.

The editorial continued: “Refusing to work collegially with others in Congress to serve that ideological goal has harmed the 15th district … it casts [Toomey] as the Don Quixote of Capitol Hill; a man with a good heart and many worthwhile ideas, but so isolated that he would be able to accomplish little.”
— Lauren W. Whittington

ScoPa Is 1st on Network TV in 17th District Race

Meanwhile, in the crowded GOP primary in the sprawling Harrisburg-based 17th district, attorney Scott Paterno became the first candidate to go up with network television ads last week. He also began running 30-second radio spots.

Paterno, the son of Penn State football Coach Joe Paterno, is considered the nominal frontrunner in the race to challenge Rep. Tim Holden (D) in November. He faces former state Adjutant General Bill Lynch, Dauphin County Attorney Mark Stewart, accountant Frank Ryan, real estate agent Sue Helm and teacher Ron Hostetler in the winner-take-all primary.

Over the weekend the Harrisburg Patriot-News endorsed Lynch in the race, calling his “knowledge of how things most important to this district happen” impressive. Lynch has already aired cable television ads.
— L.W.W.

Dooley Makes Appeal for Costa in 20th District

In a welcome sign of unity for Democrats in a district that they must hold to have any hope of regaining the majority, retiring 20th district Rep. Cal Dooley (D) has sent a letter to his former supporters, political action committees and interest groups in Washington, D.C., urging them to support the Democratic nominee, former state Sen. Jim Costa.

Dooley backed his former longtime chief of staff, Lisa Quigley, in what became a very bitter primary contest to succeed him. Costa won handily but spent more than $850,000 and now finds himself trailing the likely Republican nominee, state Sen. Roy Ashburn, in the fundraising department.

While the Central Valley district favors Democrats, it is a conservative area, and Ashburn is well-known there.

“Jim and I have known each other for many years,” Dooley wrote. “As a state legislator, Jim developed a well-deserved reputation as a problem solver and coalition builder. Once elected Jim will continue to provide the same strong and effective representation that the people of the 20th district have come to expect.”

Dooley is expected to send another letter to his supporters back home on Costa’s behalf.

— Josh Kurtz

Ravenel Calls Himself Outsider in Latest Ad

Real estate developer Thomas Ravenel (R) launched his second ad of the open-seat Senate race Monday, joining three other Republican candidates on the air.

“I’m conservative. A businessman,” Ravenel says in the ad.

It goes on to tout his humble roots and his work at creating jobs in the state; the ad seeks to cast Ravenel as an outsider to the political process.

He has never before run for office, a stark contrast to his rivals in the June 8 Republican primary — former Gov. David Beasley, Rep. Jim DeMint and former state Attorney General Charlie Condon.

Ravenel does have a famous political name, however, as his father — Arthur — is a longtime state Senator who also served in Congress during the early 1990s.

“Sending another politician to Washington won’t create jobs or make America safer,” Ravenel says.

The ad’s tag line is: “Conservative ideas, honest answers.”

So far in the contest, Ravenel has done little fundraising, choosing instead to finance the campaign with a $1 million personal donation.

Conventional wisdom holds that given Beasley’s name identification statewide he is all but assured a place in the June 22 runoff, with Ravenel, Condon and DeMint fighting for the other slot. A runoff is triggered if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the primary vote.

State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum is virtually assured to be the Democrats’ standard-bearer.

The seat is being vacated by Sen. Fritz Hollings (D).
— Chris Cillizza

Field for Houghton Seat Is Growing by the Day

The field of candidates in the race to replace retiring Rep. Amo Houghton (R) continues to grow.

State Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R) on Monday became the sixth Republican to jump into the 29th district race since Houghton announced his decision to retire on April 7.

“The most important issue is jobs,” Kolb said, according to The Associated Press. “My business experience, both domestic and internationally, is something none of the other candidates have.”

Kolb ran several industrial companies before entering politics in 1998.

He joins Monroe County legislator Mark Assini, state Sen. Randy Kuhl, Rochester-Genesee Transportation Authority Chairman Bill Nojay, businessman Geoff Rosenberger, and Monroe County Legislature Majority Leader Bill Smith in the GOP race.

The conservative Club for Growth has already signaled its intention to play in the district, vowing to work for the candidate best suited to defeat Kuhl in the GOP primary. Kuhl is expected to win the backing of the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership, an organization Houghton helped create.

On the Democratic side, 26-year-old political operative Samara Barend is expected to announce next week whether she will get into the race.
— J.K.

Poll: Coburn Has Big Lead Over Early Favorite

A new independent poll in the Republican Senate primary showed former Rep. Tom Coburn with a double-digit lead over his two opponents in the race.

Coburn, who formally entered the race in early March, led with 34 percent, followed by former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys with 22 percent. State Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony was preferred by 12 percent of the respondents in the poll.

Humphreys was the early favorite in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Don Nickles (R), and he still has the backing of much of the state party establishment. Coburn, meanwhile, is appealing to social conservatives and is considered likely to get the backing of the conservative Club for Growth.

The survey was conducted March 26-April 5 by Tulsa-based polling firm Consumer Logic. It surveyed 328 registered Republicans and had a 5 percent margin of error.

The primary is July 27, followed by an Aug. 24 runoff if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote. The winner will face Rep. Brad Carson (D) in November.
— L.W.W.

State AG Backs Boren in Race for Carson’s Seat

In the race to succeed Carson in the 2nd district, state Rep. Dan Boren (D) recently scored the endorsement of Attorney General Drew Edmondson (D), who decided to forgo entering the Senate race last year.

Boren is the frontrunner in the primary against former District Attorney Kayln Free and state Rep. Lloyd Fields.

The latest fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission last week show Boren, the son of former Sen. David Boren (D-Okla.), collected $448,000 in the first three months of the year.

Free, who has been endorsed by EMILY’s List, raised just more than $200,000 in the quarter and had $260,000 in cash on hand.

The Eastern Oklahoma district favors Democrats, and Republicans are not expected to competitively contest the seat this fall.
— L.W.W.

Tancredo Discards Past as Term-Limit Advocate

After taking a pass at a Senate bid last month, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R) officially announced that he would break his term-limits pledge and seek a fourth term in November.

“I concluded that term limits were a bad idea,” he told The Associated Press.

Tancredo was elected in 1998 in a crowded Republican primary in large part due to the support of former Sen. Bill Armstrong (R-Colo.), the face of term limits in the state.

The Congressman’s decision follows a letter sent to supporters prior to the 2002 election that strongly hinted he would remain in Congress beyond his third term.

It also comes after Tancredo’s surprise decision not to run for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R).

Although he was considered an all-but-announced Senate candidate, Tancredo backed away from the race, throwing his support behind former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R).

Schaffer faces a primary challenge from brewing mogul Peter Coors with the eventual winner likely to face state Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) in the fall.

Tancredo’s 6th district, which takes in portions of the southern and eastern Denver suburbs, is decidedly Republican.

President Bush won a 23 percent victory there in 2000.

Businesswoman Joanna Conti is the likely Democratic nominee but is given little chance of knocking off Tancredo.
— C.C.

NRA Says Winters Is on Target; Foe Snipes

State Sen. Jackie Winters (R) won the backing of the National Rifle Association’s political action committee in her primary battle with lawyer Jim Zupancic.

Winters and Zupancic are in a tough fight for the right to challenge Rep. Darlene Hooley (D) for the state’s 5th district seat.

Meanwhile, Zupancic has dubbed Winters and Hooley the “tax and spend twins” in numerous news releases.

“Winters’ and Hooley’s record on spending is music to the ears of liberal legislators who would have you believe that increasing the size of government is the only way to remedy society’s ill,” Zupancic’s campaign stated in a release.

It then goes on to outline several instances in which both lawmakers supposedly voted for higher taxes or against spending cuts.

Zupancic sounds the theme in a new television spot that began airing in mid-April and will continue through the May 18 primary.
— Nicole Duran

Largent Lends Luster to Nethercutt Senate Bid

Rep. George Nethercutt (R) is about $3 million behind Sen. Patty Murray (D), whom he is challenging in November, in cash on hand, but he hopes three major fundraisers will help close the gap.

On Thursday, two Washington, D.C., events headlined by current Senators should net Nethercutt significant sums. He starts the day with a breakfast featuring Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) at former House Appropriations Chairman Bob Livingston’s (R-La.) lobbying shop. Later, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) will host an evening reception on Nethercutt’s behalf at the National Mining Association.

Last week, former Seattle Seahawk standout and ex-Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.) headlined a fundraiser for Nethercutt.

“Come help score a touchdown for Washington state’s next U.S. Senator,” the invitation read. For $2,000, the campaign threw in a photo with the Hall of Famer.
— N.D.

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