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Frist to Hit the Road for Three Senate Candidates

While thousands of Democrats gather in Boston next week for their presidential nominating convention, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) will be on the road himself, stumping for three Senate candidates across the nation.

In his second major political trek as Majority Leader, Frist plans to travel to the home states of Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), former California Secretary of State Bill Jones (R) and Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.). Mixing in fundraising for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Frist will be doing events for each of the three candidates with exact locations and times next week still to be determined.

It will mark his second trip to California on behalf of Jones’ effort to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), who remains the favorite.

The first came during the Memorial Day recess when Frist hit six states in his first barnstorming tour for candidates. Frist, who held a fundraising breakfast for him in San Diego and whose political action committee gave Jones $10,000 last quarter, has yet to give the biggest financial lift to Jones, which is directing his top donors to bundle contributions to Jones’ campaign.

Bond and Bunning, on the other hand, have been among the top recipients of bundled contributions from donors to Frist’s Volunteer PAC, taking in about $130,000 and $110,000 respectively in 2003 and 2004. Bond faces Missouri state Treasurer Nancy Farmer (D), and Bunning is up against Kentucky state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo (D).

Both Bond and Bunning have huge fundraising advantages and are considered the favorites in their battles for re-election.
— Paul Kane

New Bowles Ad Touts His Role in Tobacco Vote

A new radio ad released by Erskine Bowles on the eve of the North Carolina primary touts the Democratic Senate candidate’s role in getting tobacco buyout legislation passed by the Senate last week.

The 60-second spot, titled “buyout,” features a Wayne County tobacco farmer who tells listeners that his future and the future of North Carolina communities depend on the buyout legislation.

“Thanks to Erskine Bowles we’re one step closer,” Jerry West says in the ad. “He helped convince Senators from across the country to pass a bipartisan bill with full support from Democratic Senators.”

Later in the spot, West delivers an appeal to voters across party lines, the same appeal that Bowles is counting on to push him to victory in November.

“Erskine’s a straight-shooter,” he says. “He doesn’t care if it’s a Republican or Democratic idea, just that it’s the right thing to do.”

A recent poll showed Bowles leading Rep. Richard Burr (R) by a 10-point margin.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Miller to NRA: Rescind Support for Murkowski

Former state Senate President Mike Miller (R) rolled out a list of political action committee endorsements recently in his efforts to attack Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) from the right, but one big group still eludes him.

The Free Congress Political Action Committee, the Home School Legal Defense Association PAC, Eagle Forum PAC and Concerned Women PAC have all joined the Alaska Right to Life Committee in supporting Miller in the Aug. 24 Republican primary. But the National Rifle Association continues to dog him.

The NRA endorsed Murkowski before Miller entered the race. Miller asked the gun owners’ group to reconsider but, according to a recent report in the Anchorage Daily News, his campaign does not hold out much hope.

In a recent radio ad Miller tried to paint Murkowski as being anti-NRA back in her days as a state legislator — the NRA supported her primary opponent in her 2002 state House re-election bid — but how much the attacks will resonate with the NRA on her side this time is unclear.

Miller also tried to gain traction against her on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage last week, but Murkowski ultimately supported the measure.

Nonetheless, Miller called upon Murkowski to “eliminate any ambiguity in her position by co-sponsoring the marriage amendment supported by President Bush.”

That call, which preceded another Miller radio ad accusing Murkowski of waffling on the issue because she did not reveal whether she would vote for the amendment until right before it came to the Senate floor, earned a terse response from the Murkowski camp.

“What part of ‘yes’ does Mike Miller not understand?” a Murkowski spokesman asked the Daily News.
— Nicole Duran

Cohen’s Ex-Manager Meets With Investigators

Failed Senate candidate Burt Cohen (D) and two former aides are under scrutiny by the FBI as part of its investigation into the sudden disappearance of his campaign kitty last month, reported Tuesday.

Cohen, his campaign treasurer and his former campaign manager, Jesse Burchfield, are being questioned about how campaign money was spent and how Cohen loaned his campaign money, the political Web site reported.

Cohen, a state Senator, aborted his year-plus campaign in June when Burchfield disappeared around the time Cohen discovered his war chest, which once boasted as much as $400,000, was empty. also reported that Burchfield recently met with federal investigators in Concord, his first sighting in the Granite State since Cohen pulled the plug on his long-shot bid to unseat Sen. Judd Gregg (R).

Doris Haddock, the 94-year-old campaign finance reform advocate known as Granny D, has been recruited to replace Cohen on the November ballot.
— N.D.

Bradley Foe Joins Chorus on DeLay Contributions

A Democratic candidate is trying to use the fundraising woes of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) against freshman Rep. Jeb Bradley (R) in the 1st district House race.

Bradley has received contributions totalling $15,000 from DeLay’s leadership PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority Political Action Committee, and Democrat Bob Bruce thinks he should give it back.

“It is this type of corrupted money that helped finance Bradley’s attack ads against [2002 Democratic nominee] Martha Fuller Clark,” Bruce, a software developer, complained in a news release.

“I plan on using my life experiences as a guide to provide a better way for the Granite State,” the former police officer concluded. Bradley’s campaign did not respond.

Bruce faces attorneys Justin Nadeau and Peter Duffy and party activist Travis Liles in the Sept. 14 primary.
— N.D.

Right to Life Committee Endorses Byrd, Martinez

The National Right to Life Committee endorsed former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez and state House Speaker Johnnie Byrd this week, lauding both GOP Senate candidates for their “pro-life leadership.”

The co-endorsement was viewed as a blow to the campaign of former Rep. Bill McCollum, who received the organization’s support in the past and during his failed 2000 Senate bid.

But McCollum’s position on embryonic stem cell research led to the group’s decision not to endorse him this year.

Martinez and McCollum are the leading Republicans in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Graham (D). The primary is Aug. 31, and there is no runoff in the state this year.

McCollum began airing his first statewide television ads on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, millionaire businessman Doug Gallagher, who is touting a recent poll that shows he has moved to third place in the race, will show a 15-minute campaign movie at a theater in Miami tonight. His campaign is hoping to expand the movie to screens across the state.
— L.W.W.