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Pa.’s Gerlach Barely Known, Opponent’s Poll Reveals

A new Democratic poll in the 6th district produced some good news for attorney Lois Murphy (D) in her race against freshman Rep. Jim Gerlach (R), even though the Democratic challenger is still widely unknown by voters.

The poll, conducted for Murphy’s campaign by Washington, D.C.-based polling firm Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, showed only 34 percent of respondents said they would definitely vote to re-elect Gerlach.

Still, in a head-to-head matchup, Gerlach led Murphy, 45 percent to 24 percent.

The polling memo also highlights the fact that a paltry 21 percent of those surveyed could correctly name their representative in Congress, while 25 percent answered the question incorrectly.

“This is the first survey that this firm has conducted in at least the past decade in which more people volunteer someone other than the actual incumbent as representing them in Congress,” the polling memo states.

The poll of 601 likely voters was conducted June 3-4 and had a 4 percent margin of error.

The polling memo also argues that the political climate in the district is favorable for Murphy, a former president of NARAL Pro-Choice Pennsylvania who has close ties to Gov. Ed Rendell (D).

The “generic ballot” question posed in the recent survey showed a 16 point advantage for Democrats. The same question posed in June 2002 showed Republicans with a three-point advantage.

Gerlach narrowly beat attorney Dan Wofford (D) in an open-seat contest in 2002, winning 51 percent of the vote.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Romero Sees Hope in New Survey Numbers

Rep. Heather Wilson (R) held a 51 percent to 43 percent lead in a poll released Wednesday that had been commissioned by her Democratic rival, state Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero.

But her margin over Romero in the Albuquerque-based 1st district dropped to just 3 points among likely voters who were familiar with both candidates, the poll conducted by Decision Research found.

The poll of 600 likely voters, conducted June 9-12, had a 4 percent margin of error.

The poll found some hopeful signs for Romero, who lost to Wilson by 10 points in 2002. Only 44 percent of those surveyed said they would definitely vote to re-elect Wilson, while 34 percent said they would definitely vote for someone else.

Fully 90 percent of the voters said they recognized Romero’s name — a high figure for a challenger five months before the election. Given Romero’s drubbing at the hands of Wilson two years ago, however, that could be a double-edged sword.
— Josh Kurtz

Musgrave, Matsunaka Release Divergent Polls

Two new partisan polls in Colorado’s 4th district paint vastly different pictures of the re-election prospects of freshman Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R).

In a survey conducted by Moore Information for Musgrave, she held a 52 percent to 39 percent lead over 2002 Democratic nominee Stan Matsunaka. It was in the field May 26 and 27 sampling 300 likely voters with a 6 percent margin of error.

The release of Musgrave’s poll came in response to the release of a Democratic survey on Tuesday that showed her at 48 percent and Matsunaka at 45 percent. Ridder/Braden conducted the poll May 21-24 for a private client. It tested 400 likely general election voters with a 4.9 percent margin of error.

The eastern Colorado 4th district has a strong Republican tilt, as President Bush would have won it by 21 points in 2000. Bush led Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) 54 percent to 40 percent in the 4th district, according to the Ridder/Braden survey. He held a more commanding 53 percent to 34 percent lead in Musgrave’s poll.

Musgrave has quickly established herself as one of the most conservative members of the Republican Conference, emerging as the leading advocate for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Matsunaka has suggested that Musgrave’s single-minded focus on the issue puts her out of step with the residents of the district.

Matsunaka was seen as a top-tier candidate last cycle against Musgrave but took just 42 percent of the vote despite spending $960,000.

Musgrave had $523,000 in the bank at the end of March. Matsunaka had not yet begun raising money for his campaign at that time.
— Chris Cillizza

Granny D to Have D Field All to Herself

Doris Haddock, the campaign finance reform advocate known as “Granny D,” will be the only Democrat on the Sept. 14 primary ballot.

Two Republicans who changed their registration just before Friday’s candidate filing deadline were ruled ineligible to run as Democrats by the secretary of state, the Nashua Telegraph reported.

If either Dick Bosa or Katherine Houston had changed their affiliation before June 1, they could have remained on the ballot, the secretary ruled.

All three rushed to the courthouse before the 5 p.m. deadline as news broke late last Thursday that state Sen. Burt Cohen (D) was not going to challenge Sen. Judd Gregg (R) after all.

Cohen cited an unresolved “situation” within his campaign as the reason for aborting his year-long campaign.

Cohen has been mum about the circumstances, but his campaign money and former campaign manager are reportedly missing.
— Nicole Duran

Dean Likens Farmer’s Campaign to His Own

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean endorsed state Treasurer Nancy Farmer’s Senate bid Tuesday and will appear at several campaign events with the Missouri Democrat this weekend.

“I’m endorsing Nancy because her campaign picks up where mine left off — taking back our country and bringing real change to America,” Dean said in a release.

Dean will stump with Farmer in Kansas City and St. Louis over the weekend, holding separate fundraisers in each city.

Farmer faces an uphill challenge to defeat three-term Sen. Kit Bond (R) in the fall.

Dean’s endorsement is likely to help Farmer clear the major hurdle for her in the race — Bond’s huge fundraising lead.

Bond ended March with nearly $5 million on hand; Farmer had $900,000 in the bank.

Dean raised better than $50 million for his Democratic presidential candidacy — although he ultimately lost the nomination to Sen. John Kerry (Mass.).

Since that loss, however, Dean has shown that his potent fundraising network can be mobilized to benefit other candidates.

Through his new Democracy for America political action committee, he has already endorsed dozens of candidates including Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama, the favorite to win retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald’s (R) seat this fall.
— C.C.

Third Democrat Set to Enter Open-Seat Race

State Rep. Damon Baldone is set to become the third Democrat in the open-seat race for the southeastern Louisiana 3rd district.

Baldone will formally announce his candidacy this weekend, joining former state Rep. Charlie Melancon and former U.S. Senate aide Charmaine Caccioppi on the Democratic side. Lobbyist Billy Tauzin III, the son of retiring Rep. Billy Tauzin, and state Sen. Craig Romero are in the race for Republicans.

Under Louisiana law, all of the candidates will run in an open primary on Nov. 2. If no one receives 50 percent, the two top votegetters, regardless of party, advance to a Dec. 4 runoff.

Baldone was elected to the state House in 2001 representing a Houma-area district.

It looked as though he would pass on the race when state Sen. Reggie Dupre, who also has a political base in that area, entered the contest. But Dupre surprisingly dropped out of the contest in April, reopening the door for Baldone.

Tauzin III had a large lead in all early polling in the race, likely due to his name identification and positive associations with his father.
— C.C.

Ex-Rep. White Supports Tebelius in GOP Race

Republicans vying for the nomination in the crowded, four-way 8th district primary are busy racking up endorsements.

Former Rep. Rick White (R-Wash.) weighed in last week on behalf of GOP National Committeewoman Diane Tebelius.

White represented the adjacent 1st district, some of which was absorbed into the 8th after redistricting, from 1994 to 1998.

Meanwhile, state Senate Majority Floor Leader Luke Esser has won the backing of the Washington State Patrol Troopers Association, the Washington Firearms Rights Coalition and Western Fish & Wildlife Federation, among others.

Esser also recently received an award from the National Federation of Independent Business for being a “guardian of small business.”

KING-TV in Seattle released a poll last week showing King County Sheriff Dave Reichert besting all his GOP competitors with 58 percent support from GOP voters.

A large number, 24 percent, were undecided, while 8 percent were backing Esser and 7 percent were with Tebelius.

A fourth candidate, Bellevue City Councilman Conrad Lee, had 4 percent support.

The survey of 509 certain GOP voters conducted June 1-3 by Survey USA had a 4.5 percent error margin.

The group also tested the Democratic candidates and found radio talk show host Dave Ross leading with 45 percent, followed by interior designer Heidi Behrens-Benedict who has run unsuccessfully for the seat three times, with 25 percent.

Former RealNetworks executive Alex Alben, who has been in the race the longest, only had the backing of 8 percent of Democratic voters, while 22 percent were undecided.

Many of the candidates dismissed the poll, as the firm uses an automated polling method that many experts say is less reliable than traditional polling methods.

Both parties hope to capture this open seat that is being vacated by retiring Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R).
— N.D.

EMILY’s List Endorses Moore for Kleczka Seat

EMILY’s List has endorsed state Sen. Gwen Moore in her quest for the Democratic nomination in the open 4th district race.

“As a young, single mother, she put herself through college and began her career working on behalf of her community, spearheading economic and community development projects,” the group, which strives to get Democratic women who support abortion rights elected, stated in its announcement.

In the Democratic field, State Rep. Shirley Krug also hopes to succeed retiring Rep. Jerry Kleczka (D), as do state Sen. Tim Carpenter and former state Democratic Party Chairman Matt Flynn.

On the other side of the abortion wars, Wisconsin Right to Life has endorsed Corey Hoze, a former Health and Human Services official, in the GOP primary.

Hoze faces attorney Gerald Boyle in the Sept. 14 primary.

Teacher Brian Verdin is running as a Green Party candidate.

A recent poll found Moore leading her Democratic competitors. Moore had the support of 20 percent of voters, followed by Carpenter with 14 percent, Flynn at 13 percent and Krug at 12 percent. Forty-one percent of voters were undecided in the EMILY’s List poll conducted by Cooper & Secrest Associates. The margin of error was 4.4 percent; 500 likely Democratic voters were queried.
— N.D.

U.S. Chamber Abandons McCollum for Martinez

Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez (R) this week scored the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in his bid to become the Sunshine State’s next Senator.

“Mel has earned the U.S. Chamber’s endorsement because we believe he will support business, both large and small, on issues such as taxes, health care and legal and regulatory reform,” said Bill Miller, U.S. Chamber vice president and political director.

Martinez is squaring off against five other Republicans in the Aug. 31 primary, although his leading opponent for the nomination is former Rep. Bill McCollum.

The chamber supported McCollum in his unsuccessful 2000 Senate bid.
— L.W.W.