Former Rep. John Thune (R) challenged Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) on Tuesday to agree to a $10 million spending limit in their race this fall.
“I believe this is in the best interest of South Dakota citizens to limit campaign spending to $10 million,” Thune said in a statement.
Daschle is unlikely to accept the agreement as he has already spent $6.5 million on his campaign efforts from Jan. 1, 2003, through March 31, 2004.
Thune, on the other hand, has disbursed just $350,000 this cycle on the race.
A letter Thune sent to Daschle that cites several quotes from the Democratic Senator about the negative influence of money on politics.
The missive comes in response to Daschle’s call for Thune to agree to a ban on all third-party advertising in the state, a proposal the former Congressman rejected as impractical.
“My unprecedented efforts in 2002 to keep third party groups out of South Dakota were met with silence from you and defiance from extremist liberal groups that spent millions of dollars attacking me,” Thune wrote.
In 2002, Thune — then finishing his third term in the House — lost to Sen. Tim Johnson (D) by just 524 votes, the most narrow margin of any of the 34 Senate races that cycle.
— Chris Cillizza
Ethics Committee Has Disclosure Questions
The Senate Ethics Committee has asked former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys, one of three Republicans competing in the July 27 Sooner State Senate primary, for more information regarding millions of dollars worth of privately held assets, the Tulsa World reported on Tuesday.
The committee had questions about assets that Humphreys listed on his current financial disclosure form, the newspaper said. It is seeking information about three companies that Humphreys and his family have interests in, including the nature of the businesses and their underlying assets.
Humphreys reported his assets in one of the companies at more than $3 million.
Cleta Mitchell, a Washington, D.C.-based election lawyer working for Humphreys, said the former mayor believes he has already furnished the committee with sufficient information.
“There isn’t anything we have not disclosed,” she told the World.
In related news, the Humphreys campaign last week released a poll showing the former Oklahoma City mayor in a statistical dead heat with former Rep. Tom Coburn in the GOP Senate primary.
In a head-to-head matchup, Humphreys got 36 percent and Coburn 34 percent in the CMA Strategies Inc. poll.
State Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony (R) got 10 percent in the survey.
The polling memo accompanying the survey noted Humphreys has increased his name ID substantially in the Tulsa media market.
The poll of 400 likely GOP voters was conducted June 6-8 and had a 5 percent margin of error.
Meanwhile, Coburn is getting a boost from the Club for Growth, which on Friday launched an ad campaign praising the former lawmaker.
Club for Growth President Stephen Moore said the group bought $175,000 in ad time over eight days, the World reported. Moore also said as long as Coburn can avoid being swamped by Humphreys’ advertising he should win. Humphreys holds a large fundraising lead in the race.
“He is the more conservative of the two,” Moore told the newspaper, referring to Coburn. “That’s our view of the race, and we are helping any way we can.”
The ad notes that Coburn, an obstetrician and family physician, has delivered some 3,000 babies and that he left Congress after adhering to a self-imposed term limit.
Coburn recently went up his own ads in the race. Humphreys and Anthony have been on television for several weeks.
— Lauren W. Whittington and Josh Kurtz
Delahunt Challenger Ejected From Meeting
Republican Congressional candidate Mike Jones accused a Democratic official in the town of Scituate of abuse of power and interfering with his campaign.
Scituate Selectmen Board Chairman Richard Lane “instructed town officials and police to remove Mike Jones and four Jones for Congress volunteers from near the entrance to the town meeting [Monday] night at the Scituate High School,” Jones’ campaign charged in a news release Tuesday.
The campaign workers were legally distributing information to the South Shore town’s residents when Lane and police ordered them away from the building, the campaign contends.
Furthermore, police threatened to arrest the campaigners and Lane, who Jones says is married to a Massachusetts Democratic Party official, supposedly cursed at the group of campaign workers, which included teenagers.
“Lane abused his power and kept me from meeting the good folks that I hope to represent on public property, at a public meeting, and used the public servants of the police department for his political agenda,” Jones said.
Lane disputed Jones’ version of events.
The town clerk asked Jones to move his sign, in accordance with town policy, and to make sure he and his aides did not block entrance to the meeting, Lane said.
Jones agreed until he discovered that Lane’s wife is a Democratic Party official, Lane said.
“I came back outside and his aide started copping an attitude,” Lane said. “I gave what I got,” he said admitting he used profanity.
“He’s picking a fight about my wife. It’s a sad commentary that this is what he decides to focus his efforts on,” Lane said.
Jones is challenging Rep. Bill Delahunt (D) in the 10th district, which runs south of Boston to Cape Cod.
Things went slightly better for Jones earlier this month when Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) went to Hyannis to stump for him. For $40 supporters cruised Hyannis Harbor with Jones and Granger aboard the MV Patience.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and John Sununu, who was then-President George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff, have also appeared on behalf of the young lobbyist.
— Nicole Duran
Barrow Launches Ads; Haines Gets Business Nod
Athens-Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow, the nominal Democratic frontrunner in the 12th district House race, announced Tuesday that he is launching TV ads in the three media markets in the district.
“What these ads will allow us to do is to take our message of fighting for working families and never giving up directly to the voters of the 12th district,” Barrow said in a statement.
The ads will appear on Savannah, Augusta and Athens TV stations.
In a related development, the Savannah Morning News reported Tuesday that the Savannah Business League’s political action committee, an organization of more than 40 black-owned businesses, has endorsed Barrow’s principal Democratic primary opponent, former state Sen. Doug Haines.
Attorney Tony Center, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination in 2002, is also competing in the July 20 primary.
Center said the business league endorsed Haines simply because Haines agreed to pay for some of the organization’s services during the campaign.
The primary winner will face freshman Rep. Max Burns (R) in a district that is one of national Democrats’ top targets this year.
Use of Old Quotes Sign of ‘Desperation’: Welch
State Sen. Bob Welch (R) accused Sen. Russ Feingold (D) of taking a 10-year-old statement out of context and demanded an apology from the campaign finance reform advocate.
Feingold reportedly jokingly told fellow Democrats at their state convention that his three GOP opponents actually support him.
To laughter, he produced a check from auto dealer Russ Darrow to Feingold’s last campaign. He also said that construction company executive Tim Michels has co-opted the Senator’s position on health care in a recent campaign ad.
But he kicked off the speech by reading a quote from Welch in which the state lawmaker said of Feingold: “I think Russ Feingold is doing a fine a job as a Senator. He’s interested. He’s out talking to people. He’s getting input. You can tell he wants the job to do something. He has an agenda he’s trying to accomplish to make the world a better place.”
Feingold then said, “It’s very touching to have a person say that,” the Wisconsin Radio Network reported. “And who do you think said that? State Sen. Bob Welch!”
Tuesday Welch’s campaign said his words were taken out of context from a 1994 Madison Capital Times interview.
His campaign provided the entire transcript, which included such statements as: “Russ Feingold and I disagree on almost every issue that’s important.”
A Welch spokesman then accused Feingold of “desperation.”
“It is the height of desperation to misquote a 10-year-old interview in an effort to paint Bob Welch as anything other than a rock-solid conservative with a 20-year record to back it up,” Mike Prentiss said.
In response, the Feingold campaign “simply” offered another quote from Welch praising Feingold — “and we thank him for it,” the campaign stated. Feingold’s staff excerpted a 1994 radio interview in which Welch said, among other things, “clearly, he’s a liberal, I’m a conservative but I don’t think people in Wisconsin are all that ideological.”
Welch’s campaign has also released its first advertisement, long after both of his primary opponents first went on the air.
Welch, who trails millionaires Darrow and Michels in the money chase, will only show the ad on his Web site for now.
“… [W]e feel that Web-based ads are an effective way to continue communicating with voters during the summer months, when TV viewership is lower,” Prentiss said, promising an “aggressive” broadcast and cable TV advertising campaign closer to the Sept. 14 primary.
‘Joe Six-Pack’ Wu Blasts Silver-Spoon Opponent
Rep. David Wu (D) said his GOP opponent is a silver-spoon immigrant.
“Frankly, I am a Joe six-pack immigrant and I’m running against a pearls-and-diamonds immigrant,” Wu told Fox News.
Wu, a Taiwanese immigrant, is running against political novice Goli Ameri, an Iranian immigrant, in the Beaver State’s competitive 1st district.
“Its just plain silly, Goli and her family lost everything in the 1979 revolution,” Ameri spokesman Hap Hinman said.
“I’m sure we’ll hear a lot of silly things out of him,” Hinman added. “He’s out of touch with the majority opinion in the district.”
Republicans are high on Ameri, who owns a telecommunications consulting firm, and they think she can give the three-term Congressman a run for his money.
Hoeffel Gets Sierra Club Backing Over Specter
The Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club this week endorsed Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) in his bid to unseat four-term Sen. Arlen Specter (R).
Hoeffel aides told The Associated Press that the Sierra Club endorsement is the first the campaign has received from a major special interest group in the general election.
Hoeffel used the occasion to link Specter, a political moderate, with the more environmental positions of President Bush, which are anathema to most conservationists. He accused Specter of adhering to Bush’s “radical environmental agenda.”
The Sierra Club has more than 25,000 members in the Keystone State.
Edwards Aids Wynn for (Fill in the Blank) Race
With Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) considered a shoo-in for re-election this year, talk is already turning to 2006, when Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D), who sets a longevity record for the Free State every day he serves in the Senate, will be up for a sixth term.
Sarbanes, who will be 73 in two years, has not yet said what he will do then. But Rep. Albert Wynn (D) is getting ready, just in case — even though he doesn’t talk about it much.
Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) was the featured attraction at a $1,000-a-plate breakfast fundraiser for Wynn in Greenbelt on Friday. More than 400 people attended.
Edwards was repaying Wynn a debt of gratitude for all the Congressman’s help during the presidential primary season; Wynn was one of Edwards’ earliest and most prominent Congressional supporters outside of the Tar Heel State.
Speculation about Edwards’ future was topic A, as it is everywhere he goes these days. Wynn said that while he’d love to see Edwards on the Democratic ticket this year, “that choice is not in our hands.”
But though there has been plenty of speculation about Wynn lately, Edwards made no mention of it.
“Let’s make sure we send this man back to the United States Congress,” he said.
That shouldn’t be a problem. But waiting around could be. A Senate vacancy in Maryland may not happen until well into the next decade.
State AFL Prefers Daly Over Kline in 2nd District
The Minnesota AFL-CIO is supporting Teresa Daly (D) in her effort to unseat freshman Rep. John Kline (R) in the Gopher State’s 2nd district.
“She will fight to protect workers’ pensions, overtime pay and health care coverage,” the laborers’ president said in a statement.
Daly sits on the city council in suburban Burnsville, outside of the Twin Cities.
Kline beat then-Democratic Rep. Bill Luther in 2002, 53 percent to 42 percent, to win the seat.
Liberal Group to Aid 10 House Candidates
21st Century Democrats, a liberal Washington, D.C.-based organization that provides field operations and foot soldiers to political candidates up and down the ballot every cycle, has weighed in with the 10 House campaigns it plans to aid this year.
The list includes two potentially vulnerable incumbents, four challengers to GOP incumbents, and four candidates running in competitive open seat races.
The incumbents are Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), who won his Eastern Long Island seat by 2,700 votes in 2002, and new Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.), who won a close special election two weeks ago and could face a tough battle for a full term.
The challengers are former Flagstaff Mayor Paul Babbitt, who is challenging freshman Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.); former Boston Celtics scout Jon Jennings, who is running against Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.), a frequent Democratic target; attorney Lois Murphy, who is challenging freshman Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), and New Mexico state Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero, who is in a rematch with Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.).
The open-seat candidates are businessman Don Barbieri, the likely Democratic nominee in the race to replace Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.); former Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver, who is competing in the Democratic primary to replace Rep. Karen McCarthy (D-Mo.); former prosecutor Kalyn Free, the underdog in the Democratic primary to replace Rep. Brad Carson (D-Okla.), and Pennsylvania state Sen. Allyson Schwartz, the Democratic nominee in the race for the Philadelphia-area seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D).