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At the Races

Coors Hopes to Tap Into D.C. Fundraising Well

Brewing magnate Peter Coors (R) will visit Washington early next week to raise money for his nascent bid to replace retiring Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R).

Coors will host a fundraising reception and speak at an event for the National Beer Wholesalers Association on Tuesday.

He is also scheduled to meet with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen (Va.).

After one week as a candidate, Coors has raised nearly $240,000, according to campaign spokeswoman Cinamon Watson. He also has considerable personal wealth that he is expected to bring to bear on the race.

Coors will face off against former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) in an Aug. 10 primary.

Schaffer, who held the 4th district from 1996 until 2002, raised $187,000 between Jan. 1 and March 31, with $212,000 in the bank.

Democrats are also expected to have a primary between state Attorney General Ken Salazar and educator Mike Miles.

Salazar is the overwhelming primary favorite. He had raised better than $500,000 at the end of March and his campaign now estimates that he has brought in nearly $700,000.

Colorado is one of three open seats that Republicans must defend in the fall. Democrats have five open seats of their own — all located in the South.
— Chris Cillizza

Before Announcement, Oxford Comes to D.C.

Wealthy businessman Cliff Oxford (D) traveled to Washington, D.C., this week for a series of campaign strategy meetings as he appears poised to announce a Senate bid next week. He has privately told top party officials that he will run.

Oxford had meetings scheduled Wednesday and today with party strategists and leaders, including Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Jon Corzine (N.J.).

Corzine and former President Jimmy Carter have encouraged Oxford to run for the seat of retiring Sen. Zell Miller (D).

Oxford met with Miller Wednesday and he is scheduled to meet with other members of the Peach State delegation today.

Already seeking the Democratic Senate nod are Rep. Denise Majette and state Sen. Mary Squires.

The state’s filing deadline is next Friday.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Cuellar Attorney Says Show Me the Fraud

An attorney for former Texas Secretary of State Henry Cuellar (D) asked a state court to force Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) to provide specific examples of voter fraud in order to justify the Congressman’s legal protests of the 28th district primary results.

“There is no allegation of any particularized defect, error or irregularity in the recount,” said Steve Bickerstaff, Cuellar’s attorney.

The Rodriguez campaign responded that the evidence to back up its allegations will be made available to Joseph Hart, a former Travis County judge appointed to oversee the case.

At the core of Rodriguez’s legal appeal are more than 400 untallied votes that were found in two Cuellar-friendly counties during a manual recount of the district vote.

Rodriguez initially prevailed in the March 9 primary by roughly 150 votes but the found ballots in Webb and Zapata counties put Cuellar ahead by 200 votes.

Rodriguez immediately filed suit, arguing there was no reasonable explanation for the discovery of the new ballots, nearly all of which were votes for Cuellar.

Regardless of the eventual outcome of the lawsuit, the Democratic nominee will have a clear edge in this south Texas district, which runs from San Antonio south to Laredo.

The Republican nominee is tax attorney Jim Hopson.
— C.C.

New Senate Candidate Ready to Spend Freely

Just as the Republican primary field shrunk by one last week, the wife of a wealthy Vero Beach businessman is planning to toss her hat into the Senate race, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Karen Saull plans to announce her candidacy this week and file papers in order to run around the state’s filing deadline in early May.

Saull’s husband, businessman Jeffrey Saull, made millions selling office chairs and candles to retailers. He is also a major philanthropist and Republican donor, who has floated the possibility of running for governor in 2006.

Jeffrey Saull told the AP his wife would have “whatever it takes” in terms of resources to spend on the race.

Saull will face former Rep. Bill McCollum, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez, state House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, state Sen. Daniel Webster, businessman Doug Gallagher and judicial activist Larry Klayman in the Aug. 31 primary.
— L.W.W.

Schwarz Leads in Dist. 7 But Others Are Close

A new poll in the Great Lakes State’s 7th district shows candidates who lead in the money chase do not necessarily lead in voters’ minds.

Former state Sen. Joe Schwarz led the pack of six Republicans vying for the right to replace retiring Rep. Nick Smith (R), though he had less money in the bank on March 31 than most his competitors, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Schwarz’s support was at 18 percent in the poll conducted by EPIC/MRA of Lansing.

He was followed by state Rep. Gene DeRossett, who had 16 percent support.

The rest of the candidates were at 10 percent or less.

The poll of 304 people conducted April 14-16 had a high error margin, 5.7 percent.

“Today’s poll results confirm what many have said all along; this race will come down to a conservative Republican vs. liberal Republican Joe Schwarz,” attorney Brad Smith, son of the retiring Congressman, said in a news release.

DeRossett has spent heavily and has the most money in the bank, much of it coming from personal funds.

“After squandering nearly $250,000 in a media barrage designed to convince voters he is the ‘conservative’ alternative to Joe Schwarz … Gene DeRossett has fallen flat,” Smith charged.

Smith recently won the backing of the conservative Club for Growth as well as the American Conservative Union and the Associated Builders and Contractors.

DeRossett closed the first quarter with almost $548,000 in the bank. He has loaned his campaign $451,000.

Schwarz, who was the last to join the fray March 25, banked $144,000 in less than a month.

Former state Rep. Paul DeWeese bested Smith, thanks to a loan from himself. Smith had $239,000 cash-on-hand while DeWeese had $261,000. DeWeese gave himself $240,000. Former Rep. Tim Walberg ended the quarter with $102,000 in the bank.

Bisbee and Walberg tied with Smith at 10 percent in the poll. DeWeese got 9 percent.

Two Democrats, Sharon Regnier and Drew Walker, joined the race in the last few weeks, the Daily Telegram of Lenawee reported, although the GOP nominee will be the favorite in the general election.
— Nicole Duran

They Love Joe Driscoll on NYC’s Park Avenue

The National Republican Congressional Committee is questioning 15th district Democratic candidate Joe Driscoll’s hometown appeal, after his latest fundraising report shows he received only two contributions from within the district.

A news release issued by the NRCC this week details the origin of Driscoll’s itemized receipts, including 26 donors who live on Park Avenue in Manhattan and 160 donors who live in New York state. All total 24 residents of Pennsylvania contributed to Driscoll in the first three months of the year, two of whom live within the 15th district.

Driscoll, who is not required to live in the district to run there, has faced carpetbagger charges after his Democratic primary opponent filed suit over the residency issue. The case was eventually dismissed.

“According to his own report, even his and his wife’s contributions come from outside the district,” NRCC Communications Director Carl Forti said. “And to think, this is one of the Democrats’ success stories.”

Driscoll, who entered the race earlier this year, is favored to win the April 27 primary over perennial candidate Rick Orloski.

On the Republican side, state Rep. Charlie Dent is the establishment-backed favorite against two underfunded conservative challengers for the nomination in the race to succeed Rep. Pat Toomey (R).
— L.W.W.

Conservative Seeking Rematch With Boehlert

Former Cayuga County legislator David Walrath on Tuesday formally announced his intention to seek a Republican primary rematch with 11-term Rep. Sherwood Boehlert in the 24th district.

“My candidacy represents the Republican wing of the Republican Party, whereas my opponent represents the John Kerry wing of the Republican Party,” Walrath said, according to the Utica Observer-Dispatch.

Although he was badly underfunded, Walrath came out of the blue last cycle and took 47 percent of the vote against Boehlert in the GOP primary. He then was Boehlert’s lone general election opponent, taking 22 percent of the vote as the nominee of the Conservative Party.

Walrath is clearly banking on getting support from conservative national organizations that have been less than pleased with Boehlert’s moderate voting record. But whether they get behind the surgeon remains to be seen.

Boehlert is clearly armed for battle this time: He had $563,000 in the bank on March 31 compared to Walrath’s $78,000.

Two Democrats are also competing in the central New York district that would have given George W. Bush a 48 percent to 47 percent victory over Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. They are Jeffrey Miller, a Utica College associate communications professor, and United Auto Workers Local 2300 President Brian Goodell.
— Josh Kurtz

Houghton Plays It Kuhl in the Race for His Seat

Retiring Rep. Amo Houghton (R) on Wednesday endorsed state Sen. Randy Kuhl, one of the six Republicans vying to replace him in the 29th district.

“I am fortunate, deeply grateful and very proud to have Amo Houghton’s support as I seek to help the 29th Congressional District meet the challenges of the future,” Kuhl said. “He has given his heart and soul to keeping this region together. To have his confidence in my ability to represent us in Washington means the world to me personally.”

Houghton’s decision was not altogether surprising: He and Kuhl share the same political base and the same moderate ideology. The Republican Main Street Partnership, a group dedicated to electing centrist GOPers, that Houghton helped to create, is also likely to back Kuhl.

The 29th district includes New York’s Southern Tier, which runs along the Pennsylvania border and then runs north to metropolitan Rochester. In its old incarnation, Houghton’s district consisted mostly of the Southern Tier.

But the Republican race to replace Houghton could turn into a geographical battle. Kuhl is the lone candidate in the race so far from the Southern Tier, and Assemblyman Brian Kolb is the lone candidate from the district’s central counties. There are four candidates from the Rochester area: Monroe County legislator Mark Assini, lawyer Bill Nojay, businessman Geoff Rosenberger, and Monroe County Legislature Majority Leader Bill Smith.

The winner of the Sept. 14 primary is likely to square off against Democratic operative Samara Barend.
— J.K.

Feisty Populist Enters Race Against Fossella

Former state Assemblyman and ex-state Supreme Court Judge Frank Barbaro (D) this week formally announced his intention to challenge Rep. Vito Fossella (R) this year.

“Whether it is policies that send American jobs overseas, or telling workers they don’t deserve overtime pay or a real minimum wage, Vito Fossella has sold us out every time,” Barbaro said during an announcement in front of Staten Island Borough Hall.

Barbaro, a feisty 76-year-old populist who in 1981 challenged then-New York City Mayor Ed Koch for the Democratic mayoral nomination at the height of Koch’s popularity, is likely to give Fossella one of the toughest battles the Congressman has faced since winning a special election in 1997.

But Barbaro, who supported Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) during this year’s presidential contest, is still a longshot in the conservative Staten Island-Brooklyn district, even though there are more enrolled Democrats than Republicans.

Fossella, 39, had $286,000 in the bank on March 31. Barbaro, who had set up an exploratory committee earlier, had $69,000.
— J.K.

Chairman Young Hosts Dinner for Murkowski

Washington, D.C., Republicans continue to help Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) stockpile cash for her tough race against former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) and her GOP primary.

House Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) and wife Lu are holding a dinner featuring “real Alaskan seafood” at their Capitol Hill home Wednesday evening.

Young is solidly behind Murkowski. He introduced her two nights in a row during her election kickoff last week that took her across the state.

Former Alaska Teamster boss Jerry Hood is also one of the dinner’s co-hosts. The Democrat turned Republican toyed with the idea of challenging Murkowski in the Aug. 24 Republican primary but ultimately backed her.

While he and several other prominent Republicans declined to take on Murkowski, former state Commissioner of Administration Mike Miller threw his hat in the ring earlier this month.
— N.D.

Foe Roasts Delahunt at Campaign Kickoff BBQ

Lobbyist Michael Jones (R) kicked off his campaign for the Bay State’s 10th district Saturday with a barbecue and plenty of roasting for Rep. Bill Delahunt (D).

At Plymouth Rock, Jones called Delahunt an “ultraliberal” who has a “trial lawyer-funded stranglehold on our future,” according to the Cape Cod Times.

Afterwards, he held an “all-American barbecue” fundraiser that cost $35 for “Pilgrims” and $20 for children. Earning “Patriot” status cost $250.
— N.D.

Kemp Comes to the Aid of His Local Nominee

Chuck Floyd (R), the former Pentagon official mounting an uphill bid against freshman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D), will have some celebrity fundraising help tonight.

Former Rep. and one-time vice presidential nominee Jack Kemp (R), who lives in the 8th district, will appear at a fundraiser for Floyd at a private home in Potomac.

Floyd will have his work cut out for him in a district that was made heavily Democratic in the last round of Congressional redistricting. Through March 31, he had just $2,200 in the bank on the heels of a fairly competitive primary. Van Hollen was sitting on $498,000.
— J.K.

Gibbons, Sitting Out the Big One, Still Raises Cash

Rep. Jim Gibbons (R), who is not in a competitive race, nonetheless continues to raise money at a steady clip.

Last week he raised almost $50,000 at a fundraiser held at the home of real estate developer Phil Peckman, the Ralston Report, a Nevada political tip sheet, reported.

Peckman is the chief operating officer of the Greenspun Corp. The Greenspun family also owns the powerful Las Vegas Sun newspaper.

Gibbons’ only competition so far is political novice David Bennett (D), a computer technician.

Filing for the Sept. 7 primary does not close until May 17.

Gibbons had almost $554,000 in the bank at the end of the first quarter. Although he declined to run for Senate this year, he is considered a likely future candidate for statewide office.
— N.D.

Local Official Apparent Kline Opponent in Dist. 2

Burnsville City Councilwoman Teresa Daly will have the backing of state Democrats in her bid to unseat freshman Rep. John Kline (R) in the 2nd district.

She beat businessman Peter Idusogie, also of Burnsville, on the third ballot at a party convention last weekend.

Idusogie agreed to help Daly after she won the state party’s endorsement. Her victory means she will face no competition in the Sept. 14 primary.

Kline knocked off four-term Rep. Bill Luther (D) in 2002 to gain a seat in the Minnesota delegation for the Republicans.

According to Daly’s April 15 Federal Election Commission filing she had almost $106,000 in the bank on March 31. Kline had a little more than $500,000 cash on hand.
— N.D.

Cheney Puts Triplett in Dist. 9 Driver’s Seat

Vice President Cheney flew to southwestern Virginia Monday to boost the campaign of former NASCAR executive Kevin Triplett (R), who is seeking to oust 11-term Rep. Rick Boucher (D) in November.

The Roanoke event helped raise an estimated $100,000 for Triplett’s campaign.

“I’ve come to recognize good horse flesh,” Cheney said, The Associated Press reported. “And I can say with confidence … as a NASCAR executive, he’s shown himself to be a successful, creative leader, a kind of person who can work with colleagues from any given background, from both sides of the aisle.”

Triplett’s campaign also got some visibility as a sponsor of Andy Hillenburg’s No. 80 race car — which had Kevin Triplett for U.S. Congress emblazoned on its hood — at last weekend’s NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

Triplett probably hopes the car’s performance in the race isn’t a foreshadowing for his campaign. Hillenburg completed four laps then was involved in an accident. He finished 42nd out of 43 drivers in the race.
— L.W.W.

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