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Gallagher: Porter Should Reject Oil and Gas Money

Challenger Tom Gallagher (D) upped the ante in his campaign to unseat freshman Rep. Jon Porter (R) in the Silver State’s 3rd district by calling on the incumbent to refuse contributions from the oil and gas industry.

Porter — who has received more than $81,000 from the industry since his first Congressional bid in 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics — has refused.

“My record is very clear in 20 years of service,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted Porter as saying.

When asked if he would accept Gallagher’s challenge, Porter said it was a “disservice” to make a campaign issue of the matter.

Gallagher, a former gaming executive, vowed not to take a dime from oil and gas interests and slammed Porter and the GOP for their ties to the industry.

“With the generous contributions of big oil and gas to Republicans, it is little wonder that the interests of the energy industry come first while the consumer is stuck with the bill,” he said in a news release last week.

Porter’s campaign manager, Mike Slanker, scoffed at Gallagher’s “stunt.”

“This is nothing more than comical coming from someone who is trying to buy a Congressional race for a district he doesn’t live in in a state he’s barely lived in,” Slanker said. “What are you supposed to do to a challenger like this except to laugh?”

Slanker then asked which segment of the industry Gallagher meant.

“Is it Shell, Arco, Chevron? These are businesses that are integral to jobs in southern Nevada,” he said.
— Nicole Duran

MICHIGAN
Candidates Take to Road in Two House Districts

Looking to break away from the pack of six Republicans vying for the GOP nod in southern Michigan, Tim Walberg is taking his campaign on the road.

Despite recently losing endorsements from Michigan Right to Life and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce to state Rep. Clark Bisbee, Walberg promised to live in at least 30 7th district communities between Tuesday and the Aug. 3 primary to convince voters that he is the “true conservative” in the race.

“Walberg and his wife Sue are hitching up the family trailer behind the family sports utility vehicle … and taking his common-sense message on the road,” according to the former state representative’s campaign.

Walberg — a nondenominational minister and Moody Bible Institute manager — has been battling Bisbee, attorney Brad Smith, son of the district’s retiring Rep. Nick Smith (R), and former state Reps. Gene DeRossett and Paul DeWeese for the conservative base in the GOP primary. Joe Schwarz, a practicing doctor, former state Senator and political moderate, is also running.

For his part Schwarz, tired of having the conservatives’ bull’s-eye on his back, fought back to reaffirm his Republican credentials.

“I can break down and reassemble any 9 millimeter weapon ever made, so don’t give me this malarkey about being soft on the Second Amendment,” the Vietnam veteran told The Associated Press.

While Walberg and Bisbee have been driving the 7th — Bisbee has boasted about reaching every corner of the district — a first-time candidate in the adjoining 8th district is set to walk 150 miles across the Lansing-based district.

Matt Ferguson, a 27-year-old radio journalist seeking the Democratic nomination against Rep. Mike Rogers (R), began his adventure on Memorial Day.

He will end Friday in Oakland County.

He said his walk was inspired by former Democratic Whip and Michigan Rep. David Bonior’s book “Walking to Mackinac.”
— N.D.

ILLINOIS
Tribune Poll: Obama’s Support Wide and Deep

Another new poll in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R) showed state Sen. Barack Obama (D) with a sizable lead over Republican Jack Ryan.

Recent polling in the race has consistently shown Obama leading Ryan by healthy margins, and a Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV poll published Monday found Obama ahead of Ryan by 22 points — 52 percent to 30 percent.

The Market Shares Corp. poll of 600 registered voters in the state had a margin of error of 4 percentage points. It was conducted May 21-24, as Ryan’s campaign was generating plentiful headlines after hiring an aide to follow and videotape Obama.

The poll also revealed other troubling data for Ryan when it comes to how the investment banker-turned-teacher is perceived by voters. While 29 percent of those surveyed had a favorable opinion of Ryan, almost as many — 25 percent — viewed him unfavorably.

Obama, meanwhile, had a 46 percent to 9 percent favorable/unfavorable rating.

The survey continued to show Obama drawing broad support across racial, geographic and ideological lines.

The poll found 31 percent of voters who consider themselves “very conservative” intend to vote for Obama despite his overall liberal voting record in the state Senate and efforts by Ryan’s campaign to paint him as too liberal for the state. Meanwhile, 18 percent of respondents who consider themselves “moderate or liberal” said they planned to support Ryan.

Among independents, a constituency considered key to a Ryan victory in the Democratic trending state, Obama led the Republican 46 percent to 27 percent.

Obama, who would be only the third black Senator elected in modern times, also led Ryan 46 percent to 34 percent among white voters, the survey found. Black voters favored Obama over Ryan 91 percent to 4 percent.
— Lauren W. Whittington

ALASKA
NRSC Ads Aid Senator, Hit Knowles on ANWR

As the filing deadline in Alaska passed Tuesday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee began airing pro-Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) television spots in the Last Frontier.

Murkowski now faces two GOP challengers — former state Senate President Mike Miller and former U.S. attorney Wev Shea — in the Aug. 24 primary.

Presumably, the airing of the NRSC’s buy was timed to shore up Murkowski’s base within her own party, though the ads strike neither Miller nor Shea but rather the Democratic candidate, former Gov. Tony Knowles.

“With this initial onslaught of negative ads, Lisa Murkowski is sending two sad messages to Alaskans,” Knowles said in a news release. “First, she apparently doesn’t think she can win unless someone attacks her opponent and distorts his record in one of the earliest negative attacks in Alaska history, all funded by outside Washington money. Second, she doesn’t have the gumption to do it herself but instead has the Washington big shots do it for her.”

About the ads — which seek to link Knowles, who supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who does not — Murkowski’s campaign spokesman had no comment.

“We had nothing to do with the ads and haven’t even seen it yet,” Elliott Bundy said.

The ads, which will run statewide for at least a week were created by an independent group funded by the NRSC as required by the new campaign law.

“Clearly it’s not our intention to allow Tony Knowles to have a free ride while our primary develops,” NRSC spokesman Dan Allen said.
— N.D.

GEORGIA
Cain Airs First Negative Ads in Senate Primary

Godfather’s Pizza magnate Herman Cain (R) became the first Senate candidate last week to launch a negative mainstream advertising attack targeting Rep. Johnny Isakson, the Republican frontrunner in the Peach State race.

Cain went on the air with a pair of radio ads last week, targeting Isakson on the issues of abortion rights and taxes.

One ad, titled “The Old Johnny,” focuses on Isakson’s recent vote to allow abortions at military hospitals overseas, provided the procedure is paid for by the person seeking it.

“Sounds like the Old Johnny, the pro-choice Johnny, is back,” Cain says in the ad. “I believe we need a United States Senator who says what he means in Georgia. Then does what he says in Washington. I’m pro-life today. I’ll be pro-life tomorrow. And I’ll be pro-life as your Senator.”

In their efforts to out-conservative one another, Cain and Rep. Mac Collins (R) have been angling for the “most pro-life” candidate designation in the race. Collins recently received the endorsement of the National Right to Life PAC. The Georgia Right to Life committee is expected to make its endorsement in the race this week.

In another radio ad, Cain promotes himself as the only candidate willing to “rock the boat” in Washington.

“For 10 years, I’ve been fighting to replace the tax code with a fairer and simpler system,” Cain says. “But Mr. Isakson has done nothing but promote more of the same. Now that he’s in a tough Senate race, he’s decided he agrees with me.”

Collins recently went up on television with a positive biographical spot but observers expect to see an onslaught of negative ads before the July 20 primary.
— L.W.W.

LOUISIANA
Breaux Makes Support for Rep. John Official

Sen. John Breaux (D) endorsed Rep. Chris John (D) as his replacement, making official a preference that had been clear since the Senator decided not to seek a fourth term.

Breaux hosted a fundraiser for John on May 22 in New Orleans to put his stamp on the contest.

For the second time in his political career, John is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Breaux. John has held the southwestern 7th district seat since 1996; Breaux held it from 1972 to 1986, when he was elected to the Senate.

John has long been seen as a Breaux protégé and had been prepping for the Senate race for more than a year prior to Breaux’s retirement announcement.

Despite the Senator’s backing, both state Treasurer John Kennedy and state Sen. Arthur Morrell are also in the race for Democrats.

In an independent Multiquest poll, which was in the field May 21-25 testing 400 adults, Vitter led the field with 26 percent followed by John at 15 percent; Kennedy took 9 percent, Morrell 2 percent.

Rep. David Vitter is the only Republican in the contest but former Gov. Buddy Roemer, a Democrat turned Republican, continues to make noise about a potential bid.

All of the candidates will run in a Nov. 2 open primary; if none receives 50 percent of the vote, the two top votegetters, regardless of party, advance to a Dec. 4 runoff.
— Chris Cillizza

Thibodeaux Feels Good About Latest House Bid

Former Lafayette School Board Member David Thibodeaux (R) officially entered the 7th district race Tuesday, becoming the second Republican in the fray.

“I feel very good about this race,” said Thibodeaux in a news release, pointing out that he came within a handful of votes of advancing to a runoff against current Rep. Chris John (D) in the 1996 open-seat race.

Thibodeaux joins surgeon Charles Boustany on the Republican side. State Sens. Don Cravins and Willie Mount as well as former district judge Ned Doucet are running on the Democratic side.

Boustany appears to be the tacit favorite of national Republicans due to his strong early fundraising.

He brought in $341,000 in the first three months of 2004; Thibodeaux had not even filed a financial report at that time.

Under Louisiana law, all candidates will run on the Nov. 2 primary ballot. If no one takes 50 percent, the two leading votegetters will face off Dec. 4.
— C.C.

WASHINGTON
Cleland Aids Murray in Race Reminiscent of His

Former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) spent Memorial Day weekend campaigning for Democratic Senate candidates in the Northwest.

He began by helping Sen. Patty Murray (D) in a race GOP officials have likened to Cleland’s 2002 loss inasmuch as they hope Rep. George Nethercutt (R) can upset Murray the way former Rep. Saxby Chambliss (R) did Cleland in the Peach State.

Murray has taken that comparison to mean that Nethercutt will wage a nasty campaign.

Democrats have not forgotten how Republicans ran television ads that attempted to link Cleland — a veteran who lost three limbs in Vietnam — with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

Nethercutt’s campaign likes to compare the two races as well, minus the controversial ads.

Nethercutt’s camp points out that the Spokane legislator is an established House Member in his first bid for statewide office, just as Chambliss was, and that both were first elected in 1994.

Furthermore, the Murray-Nethercutt matchup was not initially considered a top-tier race, like the Cleland-Chambliss contest — but it appears to be tightening.

Cleland then headed to Alaska to help out former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) in his bid to unseat Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R).
— N.D.

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