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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Colo. Remap Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday that it had decided not to hear a Republican appeal to Colorado’s Congressional lines, ensuring that at least two of the state’s districts will be closely fought between the parties through 2010.

The high court’s refusal to hear the case comes after a December 2003 ruling by the Colorado state Supreme Court, which overturned a Republican-friendly map that would have bolstered the party’s chances in the Western Slope 3rd district and the suburban Denver 7th district.

The Colorado court ruled that Republicans in the Legislature violated the state constitution last year by drafting a new redistricting plan just a year after another Congressional map had gone into effect. District lines may be changed only once a decade, the court ruled.

A majority of Supreme Court justices agreed that the high court should not hear the Republicans’ appeal to the Colorado decision. Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said the court ought to hear the case.

Monday’s decision most directly impacts the re-election prospects of Rep. Bob Beauprez (R), who won the 7th district by just 121 votes — the most narrow margin of any House race in the 2002 cycle.

Democrats have rallied around Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas as their candidate of choice. In 2002, Thomas lost a primary to former state Sen. Mike Feeley.

The 3rd district is open in 2004 as Rep. Scott McInnis (R) is vacating the seat.

— Chris Cillizza

Schaffer, Coors Get Ballot Access After Confusion

After a confused balloting process, the two Republican candidates seeking to replace Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) reached an agreement that allows both to appear on the Aug. 10 primary ballot.

Former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) took 61 percent of the convention delegates’ votes to 39 percent for brewing magnate Pete Coors (R), but the exact totals could not be verified because of irregularities in the process.

Voting was stopped after it was discovered that some delegates had voted twice while others hadn’t voted at all.

Under convention rules, any candidate receiving better than 30 percent earns the right to appear on the primary ballot. The deal cut by Schaffer and Coors allows the former Congressman the top line on the ballot.

Democrats will also play host to a Senate primary between state Attorney General Ken Salazar and educator Mike Miles.

Late last month, Miles shocked the political establishment by winning the top ballot spot from Salazar at the Democratic convention.

Despite that setback, Salazar remains a heavy favorite in the primary.

The winner of the Republican primary is much less clear, as both Coors and Schaffer have significant institutional backing.
— C.C.

Walcher Gets Top Spot on Dist. 3 GOP Ballot

Former state Natural Resources Director Greg Walcher (R) won a convincing convention victory last weekend, receiving 54 percent of the total vote in the 3rd Congressional district.

That victory means that Walcher will have the top line on the Aug. 10 Republican primary ballot. State Rep. Matt Smith, who is the brother-in-law of retiring 3rd district Rep. Scott McInnis (R), took 41 percent of the delegates’ votes, which ensures he will also be in the primary.

Only Delina DiSanto was unable to garner the 30 percent of the convention votes needed to make the primary.

Two other candidates — Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino and state Rep. Gregg Rippy — chose to try to petition their way on the ballot rather than win their spot at the convention.

Democrats face a much less crowded field as only state Rep. John Salazar received 30 percent at the party convention.

Anthony Martinez is trying to petition his way onto the ballot.

The Western Slope 3rd district has a Republican lean, but both parties are expected to spend resources to try to win the seat in the fall.
— C.C.

Son of Dahmer Lawyer Seeking Kleczka Seat

GOP 4th district candidate Corey Hoze got a surprise visit from his old boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, during a Washington, D.C., fundraiser last week.

Hoze — one of the seven candidates hoping to succeed Rep. Gerald Kleczka (D) in the Milwaukee district — previously served as Midwest regional director for HHS.

Thompson, whom Hoze also worked for when the secretary was governor of the Badger State, was the special guest at the fundraiser that also featured Wisconsin GOP Reps. Mark Green and Paul Ryan as well as Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker.

The $500 per individual/$1,000 per political action committee event was held at the lobbying shop of Barbour Griffith & Rogers.

Hoze is likely to face attorney Gerald Boyle in the Sept. 14 Republican primary in the heavily Democratic district.

Boyle is the son and law partner of Gerald P. Boyle, who gained national attention when he represented serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer during his 1992 competency trial.

The law firm also represented former Green Bay Packer star Mark Chmura, who was acquitted of sexual assault charges. Chmura is now a research assistant at the firm.

The younger Boyle is a 1994 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Boyle has yet to formally file his candidacy but says he intends to run.

Four Democrats — state Sens. Gwen Moore and Tim Carpenter, state Rep. Shirley Krug and former Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Matt Flynn — are vying for their party’s nomination.

Brian Verdin, a teacher, is running as the Green Party candidate.

In the Democratic primary in the adjoining 5th district, professor of Portuguese Bryan Kennedy received the backing of Milwaukee for Democracy, a group that was founded by the presidential campaign of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D).

Kennedy faces former Oconomowoc Mayor Gary Kohlenberg in the Democratic primary for the right to challenge 13-term Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R) in November.
— Nicole Duran

AFL-CIO Backs Engel; Lone GOPer Drops Out

In a development that was hardly surprising — but that nevertheless represents a blow to his Democratic primary challenger — Rep. Elliot Engel (D) was endorsed for a 9th term last week by the New York AFL-CIO.

“With a 99 percent lifetime labor voting record, Congressman Engel has distinguished himself as a friend of the labor movement and a guardian of working families,” said state AFL President Denis Hughes.

The AFL represents 66,000 union members in Engel’s 17th district, which takes in parts of the Bronx, Westchester and Rockland counties.

Engel’s primary opponent, New York firefighter Kevin McAdams, had hoped to get some labor support. Certain firefighter unions are already backing him.

In a related development, the lone announced Republican in the race, retired New York police detective John Fleming, dropped out last week.

Fleming, who has already benefited from a fundraiser hosted by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R), has instead jumped into an open-seat state Senate race — an open seat that was created last month when the veteran incumbent pleaded guilty to charges of accepting bribes.

Some Republicans still hold out the hope that former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer will run for Engel’s seat, but that is seen as a very dim possibility.
— Josh Kurtz

Higgins Gets Party Nod But Primary Still Looms

State Assemblyman Brian Higgins (D) on Saturday won the endorsement of the 27th Congressional district’s largest Democratic organization in his bid to replace retiring Rep. Jack Quinn (R).

Higgins was endorsed by the Erie County Democratic Committee, edging out several rivals running in the Buffalo-area district.

The endorsement of the county party leaves Higgins well-armed for the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, but it does not forestall a challenge. At least four other Democrats say they plan to compete in the party, and two appear to be waging particularly active campaigns.

West Seneca Town Supervisor Paul Clark was in Washington, D.C., last week seeking endorsements and campaign cash. The CPA has pledged to put $250,000 of his own money into the campaign.

Chautauqua County Executive Mark Thomas is also pushing forward with his campaign. Thomas recently hired Democratic media firm Joe Slade White & Co. to handle media, and he is arguing that he starts with a base of more than 20 percent of the primary voters because he is the only candidate from Chautauqua rather than Erie County.

Lawyers Peter Crotty Jr. (the 2002 Democratic nominee against Quinn) and Michael Collesano are also running, according to The Buffalo News.

Higgins was also endorsed by the Independence Party on Saturday, guaranteeing him two lines on the November ballot regardless of what Democratic primary voters do. The Working Families Party has also endorsed him.

Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples is expected to be the Republican nominee and run on the Conservative Party line as well.
— J.K.

Kuhl Sitting Pretty in Poll He Commissioned

A poll conducted recently for state Sen. Randy Kuhl (R) in his race to succeed retiring Rep. Amo Houghton (R) shows Kuhl way out in front of his Republican primary opponent, Monroe County Legislator Mark Assini.

In a survey of 300 likely Republican primary voters taken May 24-25, McLaughlin & Associates found that Kuhl was preferred by 55 percent of the voters, while Assini was the choice of 6 percent. The rest of those surveyed were undecided in a poll that had a 5.7 percent error margin.

In a memo, McLaughlin & Associates wrote that given the Republican lean in the district, “It is very likely that as long as Randy Kuhl has the necessary resources, Randy Kuhl will be the next U.S. Congressman in New York’s 29th Congressional district.”

But that hasn’t stopped Democrats from pressing ahead; in fact, the Democratic field grew on Monday when farmer and pizza delivery man Jeremy Alderson joined the race.

Alderson is best known for carrying on a four-year lawsuit against Cornell University’s agricultural biotechnology research. Alderson joins Samara Barend, a 26-year-old political operative, in the Democratic race. Barend has been touting her recent endorsement from former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D).
— J.K.

Dayton Not as Rich as Everybody Thinks

Democrats better not count on Sen. Mark Dayton to bankroll his entire 2006 campaign, according to new financial disclosure forms.

The freshman Senator poured $12 million of his personal fortune into his successful 2000 bid to unseat then-Sen. Rod Grams (R).

But in his 2003 disclosure report, Dayton estimates his wealth — inherited from his family’s major retail operation, the former Dayton Hudson Corp. — at between $5 million and $15 million, according to The Associated Press. He also draws no salary as he donated his $154,700 Senate income to the Minnesota Senior Federation, the AP noted.

Dayton is likely to be a top GOP target next cycle, as he has kept a low profile since coming to Washington and does not have a formidable campaign war chest yet.
— Nicole Duran

Ehrlich and Cabinet to Help Van Hollen Foe

Key members of GOP Gov. Bob Ehrlich’s administration are coming to the aid of 8th district Republican challenger Chuck Floyd, led by the governor himself.

Ehrlich is scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Floyd at a Gaithersburg restaurant tonight. Former vice presidential candidate and Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), who lives in the district, is also scheduled to speak.

Three nights later, Maryland Secretary of Transportation Robert Flanagan will be the star attraction at a Floyd fundraiser in Chevy Chase. Flanagan is a former Minority Whip in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Floyd, a retired Pentagon official, is waging an uphill battle against freshman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) in a district that heavily favors Democrats.
— J.K.

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