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Commanding Lead for Alexander Over Rivals in Louisiana

Rep. Rodney Alexander (D) holds commanding leads over all of his potential Republican opponents, according to a new poll conducted for his campaign.

Alexander’s strongest challenger in the Anzalone-Liszt Research survey is 2002 nominee Lee Fletcher (R), whom he beats 69 percent to 21 percent.

The freshman Democrat held a slightly wider 69 percent to 20 percent edge over former Rep. Clyde Holloway (R) and even larger margins of 71 percent to 17 percent and 76 percent to 10 percent over state Sen. Robert Barham (R) and former state Rep. Jock Scott (R), respectively.

Republicans have yet to field a top-tier candidate after failing to convince former 5th district Rep. John Cooksey to run again. Cooksey held the northeastern Louisiana seat from 1996 to 2002, when he left to make an unsuccessful Senate run.

Scott appears to be the most likely GOP candidate and is expected to formally announce his campaign later this month. He served in the state House from 1981 to 1987, when he lost a race for the state Senate.

If Scott enters the race, it would be his second Congressional bid.

In 1985 he ran in a special election to replace 8th district Rep. Gillis Long (D). Scott finished in second place behind Long’s widow. Holloway placed third in that race.

Coming into the 2004 cycle Alexander was seen as one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the country. He won a December 2002 runoff over Fletcher by just 974 votes in what is a Republican-leaning district.

Alexander contemplated switching parties earlier this year only to back away at the last minute.The polling memo argues that Alexander’s 78 percent favorable rating in the poll shows that “news coverage of a potential party switch has not hurt him.”
— Chris Cillizza

Boren Gets First Editorial Endorsement of Election

State Rep. Dan Boren (D) snagged the first newspaper endorsement of the election in the 2nd district race to replace Rep. Brad Carson (D). The Claremore Progress, which covers the third-largest city in the district, wrote that Boren’s pedigree — his father is a former Senator and governor and his grandfather was a Congressman — and his own skills merit the voters’ consideration.

“The name ‘Boren’ is imposing in Washington and the name alone would open many doors,” the July 3 editorial said. “But Dan Boren, a third generation figure of Oklahoma history, owns skills and positive political finesse to conquer all other landscapes for the good of humanity.”

Without naming her, the Progress took a dig at Boren’s principal Democratic primary opponent, former prosecutor Kalyn Free, noting that she is “backed largely by a single-issue, liberal Washington, D.C. lobby.” Free has been endorsed by EMILY’s List, the group dedicated to electing Democratic women who support abortion rights.

In a related development, Boren began airing a new 30-second TV spot on Sunday, which highlights his commitment to strengthening Social Security.
— Josh Kurtz

Frost Renews Debate Call in Letter to Sessions

Continuing to play the aggressor in his race against Rep. Pete Sessions (R), Rep. Martin Frost (D) renewed his call for a series of debates on Tuesday.

In a letter to Sessions, Frost wrote that “in these days of highly-charged partisanship on both sides of the aisle, we need to encourage the public to learn as much as possible about the candidates themselves.”

Frost offered no specific proposal but called for “several mutually acceptable dates and neutral forums” between now and Oct. 18 when early voting starts in the state.

This debate over debates is likely to take several weeks (if not months) to play out as both sides wrangle for the ideal situation for their candidate.

The race between Frost and Sessions is one of the most expensive and high-profile races in the country this fall.

After a Republican-led redistricting late last year left him without a natural district in which to run, Frost chose this north Texas seat that tilts decidedly toward the GOP.

Both men are raising massive amounts of money, bringing in better than $1 million each from April 1 to June 30.
— C.C.

Higgins Reports $300K Raised in Two Months

State Assemblyman Brian Higgins (D) on Tuesday became the first candidate in the race to replace retiring Rep. Jack Quinn (R) to release his second-quarter fundraising totals.

Higgins, the Democratic frontrunner, said he raised almost $300,000 since Quinn’s late April retirement announcement and reported having more than $275,000 on hand.

Higgins, the son and nephew of bricklayers who rose to prominence in local politics and the labor movement, said he was especially pleased to receive the support of several powerful unions. Democrats will need strong labor support to capture Quinn’s seat; the Republican incumbent succeeded in a Democratic district thanks to his close ties with organized labor.

“Jack Quinn’s cultivation of labor support over the years is a testament to the vital role of working families in Western New York,” Higgins said.

However, one union that will not be supporting Higgins — at least in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary — is the West Seneca Police Benevolent Association. That union this week cast its lot with one of Higgins’ primary opponents, West Seneca Town Supervisor Paul Clark.

Chautauqua County Executive Mark Thomas is the other leading Democrat in the Congressional race. Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples is the overwhelming favorite to be the GOP nominee.
— J.K.

Levetan Says She’s Best for Stopping McKinney

A recent poll conducted for state Sen. Liane Levetan buttresses her argument that she is best equipped to deny ex-Rep. Cynthia McKinney the Democratic nomination in the race to replace Rep. Denise Majette (D).

A survey conducted for Levetan by Cooper & Secrest on June 17 and June 19-20 found Levetan and McKinney tied in a Democratic primary matchup with 30 percent each. Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard was next with 17 percent, followed by state Sen. Connie Stokes with 5 percent, state Sen. Nadine Thomas with 3 percent, businessman Chris Vaughn with 1 percent, and the rest undecided.

The poll of 505 likely voters in the July 20 primary had a 4.4 percent error margin.

Beyond the initial matchup, the poll found that more voters chose Levetan as their second choice in the race than any other candidate — suggesting that she is well-positioned should she head to a runoff with McKinney, the controversial former Member who was defeated by Majette in the 2002 primary.

“These findings confirm that this election is heading towards a runoff,” the pollsters wrote.
— J.K.

Gaming Honcho Takes Swipe at Gallagher

Rep. Jon Porter (R) hauled in about $100,000 at a fundraiser hosted by MGM Mirage chief Terry Lanni last week.

According to the Ralston Report, a Nevada political tip sheet, the gambling chief executive officer did not have kind words for Porter’s Democratic rival in the 3rd district, former gaming executive Tom Gallagher.

While Ralston was unable to verify exactly what was said, Lanni reportedly made it clear that most gaming officials are not supporting their former colleague.

As if to counter the criticism, Gallagher on Tuesday announced that he would be launching his third ad of the campaign. Geared to seniors, the ad focuses on Gallagher’s ability to negotiate a fair contract with union workers that secured their health benefits while he was CEO of Park Place Entertainment in Las Vegas.
— Nicole Duran

UAW and NEA Group Back Moore in Primary

A trio of endorsements have come down recently in the race to replace retiring Rep. Jerry Kleczka (D) in the 4th district.

The United Auto Workers are backing state Sen. Gwen Moore (D), as is the National Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education, an offshoot of the larger NEA.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Corey Hoze is being backed by Black America’s Political Action Committee.

Hoze faces attorney Gerald Boyle in the Sept. 14 primary, while Moore has to get past state Sen. Tim Carpenter, state Rep. Shirley Krug and former Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Matt Flynn for the Democratic nod.
— N.D.

Chamber of Commerce Prefers Foe to Kildee

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is backing former police officer Myrah Kirkwood (R) in her long-shot effort to unseat 28-year incumbent Rep. Dale Kildee (D).

“Myrah Kirkwood is pro-business, pro-jobs and pro-taxpayer,” the group’s president said.

Kildee won re-election in 2002 with 92 percent of the vote.
— N.D.

Poll: Would-Be Senate Spoiler May Be Spoiled

Democrats’ dreams of being aided by a conservative third-party candidate in their quest to defeat four-term Sen. Arlen Specter (R) are far from being realized — at least according to a poll conducted for Constitution Party candidate Jim Clymer.

The poll, first reported last week on, showed Specter with a whopping 52 percent to 23 percent lead over the Democratic nominee, Rep. Joe Hoeffel, in the Senate race. Clymer, who has yet to formally earn a place on the November ballot, got just 2 percent.

The poll of 631 voters, conducted June 6-17 by Neighborhood Research, had a 3.9 percent margin of error.

The poll did have some encouraging data for Clymer — and for Democrats, should the race tighten. Asked whether they were more or less likely to support a candidate who opposes abortion rights, 49 percent said more likely and 28 percent said less likely. Clymer is the only anti-abortion rights candidate in the race.
— J.K.