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Isakson Begins TV Ads in Ga.

Rep. Johnny Isakson (R) launched his first statewide television ad buy in the Georgia Senate race this week, seeking to tout his conservative credentials and counteract the moderate label being pinned on him by his two primary opponents.

In announcing the new spots, Isakson said his campaign decided to wait until the ads could go on the air and not come down until the July 20 primary election.

“Being conservative means that you stand for something, that you are fiscally frugal, and it means you care about your country,” Isakson says in one spot.

“In the Senate, Isakson will support President Bush’s conservative judges, lead the fight to make tax cuts permanent, and continue to support the war on terror,” an announcer says in another ad.

The two spots will air on a dozen network affiliates in five cities as well as on cable outlets.

Isakson faces Rep. Mac Collins and Godfather’s Pizza executive Herman Cain in the GOP primary.

Collins and Cain, who has run six television ads so far, have been elbowing each other for the “true conservative” label in the race. Collins has primarily focused on differences with Isakson over the issue of abortion in his attempts to paint Isakson as the moderate in the race.

At the end of March, Isakson had $3.5 million in the bank, compared with $947,000 for Collins and $668,000 for Cain.

Cain has spent $1.3 million on the race so far, most of it on television advertising.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Cheney Returns for Burr, Who Gets Press Help

Vice President Cheney is scheduled to attend a Winston-Salem fundraiser May 17 to boost Rep. Richard Burr’s (R) Senate campaign.

Cheney headlined a Raleigh event for Burr last September that raised $250,000.

Candidate qualifying began in the state last week and ends Friday. Burr is expected to face former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles (D) on the ballot in November.

Bowles, who ran and lost a 2002 Senate race, had $3.4 million in the bank as of March 30. Burr had $5.7 million, despite being outraised almost 2-to-1 for the quarter.

Meanwhile, after a difficult week on the campaign trail, Burr announced he has retooled his press shop and hired a new campaign spokesman.

North Carolina native Doug Heye, a former spokesman for Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), is leaving his position at the Small Business Administration to become communications director for Burr’s campaign. He succeeds Stephanie Hawco, who is shifting to other duties in the campaign.

Bowles’ campaign cried hypocrisy when Burr recently said he had changed his mind about his support for NAFTA, which he has criticized Bowles for once supporting.

Burr said in 1994 that had he been in Congress he would have voted for the trade measure. Bowles, who lobbied for NAFTA’s passage as well as permanent normalized trade relations with China, has also since said he would now oppose the measure. Burr opposed PNTR status for China.
— L.W.W.

Coors Tops Schaffer in GOP Senate Trial Heat

Brewing mogul Pete Coors holds a solid lead over former Rep. Bob Schaffer in a hypothetical Republican Senate primary, according to a poll conducted for his campaign.

Coors led Schaffer 50 percent to 32 percent in the Tarrance Group poll, which was in the field from April 27-29. The primary sample was of 192 likely GOP voters with a 7 percent margin of error.

In potential general election matchups, both candidates trailed state Attorney General Ken Salazar, the odds-on Democratic nominee.

Salazar held a 52 percent to 41 percent lead over Coors; he led 53 percent to 36 percent over Schaffer.

The general election sample was 500 likely voters with a 4.5 percent margin of error.

Coors and Schaffer are headed for a showdown in the state’s Aug. 10 primary.

Salazar faces a nominal challenge from educator Mike Miles (D) but is expected to win easily.

The seat came open in early March when Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) announced that he would not seek a third term.
— Chris Cillizza

Club for Growth Invests $145K to Defeat Bromm

The Club for Growth disbursed nearly $145,000 late last week on an independent expenditure campaign against state House Speaker Curt Bromm as he campaigns for the Republican nomination in the 1st district.

The club’s ads hit Bromm for his stewardship of a $344 million tax increase that passed the unicameral Legislature in 2002.

“Send Curt Bromm to Washington? Nebraska taxpayers can’t afford that,” says the ad’s narrator.

Bromm immediately responded with an ad of his own rebutting the club’s claims.

The club’s spending far outdistances that of Bromm, former Nebraska Cattleman’s executive Greg Ruehle and former Lincoln City Councilman Jeff Fortenberry — the three Republicans given a shot at winning the party’s nod on May 11.

Ruehle led the field in spending between April 1 and April 21, according to pre-primary reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

He spent $97,000 in the period to $66,000 for Fortenberry and $60,000 for Bromm.

Ruehle also had the least to spend of the three major candidates at the end of the period — $14,000.

Bromm had $87,000 on hand, while Fortenberry had $18,000 in the bank.

In 48-hour reports, Ruehle brought in an additional $29,000; Fortenberry received $6,000 in contributions; Bromm got $4,000 in donations, including a contribution from former Omaha Mayor Hal Daub.

State Sen. Matt Connealy is the likely Democratic nominee.
— C.C.

Newspaper Publisher to Take on Hastings

Newspaper publisher Keith Clayborne made his primary challenge to Rep. Alcee Hastings (D) official on Monday, as candidate filing in the Sunshine State got under way.

Clayborne, the publisher of the black-oriented Broward Times, announced his intention to run against Hastings last July, when the Congressman was weighing a Senate bid.

Clayborne, who does not live or work in the 23rd district, charged that Hastings has not done enough to help his minority constituents.

Clayborne showed $95,000 in the bank as of March 30 and $100,000 in debt owed by his campaign. His debt total includes a $45,000 bank loan and $56,000 in loans from the candidate. Hastings, meanwhile, had $81,000 in his campaign account.

Candidate qualifying in Florida ends at noon Friday. Hastings also qualified Monday to seek a seventh term.
— L.W.W.

2 Name Contenders Shy Away From House Race

In the still developing race to replace Rep. Jack Quinn (R), who last week announced his surprising decision to give up his 27th district seat, two big names have removed themselves from contention.

On the Democratic side, state Assembly Majority Leader Paul Tokasz told the Buffalo News on Tuesday that he would not run, choosing instead to focus on his leadership post in Albany.

Tokasz and Assemblyman Brian Higgins (D) had been the favorites of most of the state and national Democratic establishment, meaning that most of that support should now go to Higgins. Tokasz called Higgins “the best candidate.”

Other Democrats running for the seat are West Seneca Town Supervisor Paul Clark and retired government lawyer Peter Crotty Jr., the 2002 nominee against Quinn. Clark told the newspaper that he would spend up to $250,000 of his own money on the race.

Still other Democrats are considering the race, including state Sen. William Stachowski and Erie County Clerk David Swarts.

On the Republican side, former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco said Tuesday that while he was eager to return to public service, he did not want to run for Congress now because it would take him away from his two young sons.

Republicans are increasingly focusing on Erie County Sheriff Patrick Gallivan and Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples as their strongest potential contenders. Deputy Erie County Executive Carl Calabrese is also weighing a run.

Both Gallivan and Calabrese are expected to make their plans known this week.

The race to replace Quinn in the Buffalo-area seat is expected to be highly competitive.

In a related development, the Web site floated the rumor that Quinn, a former teacher, may be in line for a top administrative position in a local school district.
— Josh Kurtz

Kuhl Gets Endorsements From Elected Officials

In the Empire State’s other open-seat House race, one of the half dozen Republicans seeking to replace retiring Rep. Amo Houghton (R) has picked up several key endorsements in the past several days.

Rep. John McHugh (R), who represents the 23rd district, endorsed state Sen. Randy Kuhl (R) on Monday. Kuhl and McHugh are former colleagues in the state Senate.

McHugh became the second Congressman to endorse Kuhl so far — Houghton is the other. Equally significant, Kuhl last week was endorsed by state Sen. Jim Alesi (R) — who had contemplated running for the Houghton seat himself.

“Randy Kuhl is a close personal friend, and I trust him to put his heart and soul into representing our entire region in the United States Congress.”

Alesi’s endorsement is especially noteworthy because four of the Republicans running in the primary come from the part of the district that is near Rochester, Alesi’s home turf. Kuhl comes from New York’s Southern Tier, Houghton’s home base. A sixth GOP candidate, state Assemblyman Brian Kolb, comes from the central part of the district.

The lone Democratic candidate, 26-year-old Samara Barend, last week picked up the endorsement of the last Democrat to hold the seat, former Rep. Stan Lundine. Lundine, who left Congress to become lieutenant governor under then-Gov. Mario Cuomo (D), said Barend “has the energy, insight and commitment to make a superb Representative.”
— J.K.

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