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Indiana: Hostettler Has 32-Point Edge in New NRCC Poll

Indiana: Hostettler Has 32-Point Edge in New NRCC Poll

A new survey conducted for the National Republican Congressional Committee shows Rep. John Hostettler (R) well-positioned in his bid for re-election, even as Democrats are targeting the five-term incumbent this fall.

Hostettler led in a head-to-head matchup with Democrat Jon Jennings, 58 percent to 26 percent, according to a Tarrance Group survey.

The poll of 300 likely voters was conducted July 12-13 and had a 6 percent margin of error.

The survey also showed Hostettler had a 63 percent approval rating. Fifty percent of those surveyed said they would vote to re-elect him, while 33 percent said it was time for someone new. Republicans also held an 11-point advantage on the generic ballot in the new poll.

Jennings, a scout and former assistant coach for the Boston Celtics, outraised Hostettler in the second quarter of the year. However, Republicans are quick to note that the majority of that money came from outside of the state and district.

Hostettler, who has never been a prodigious fundraiser, has never won re-election with more than 53 percent of the vote. Last cycle, he took 51 percent against an underfunded and underhyped Democratic opponent.

— Lauren W. Whittington

Pennsylvania: Greenwood Wants State Senator to Succeed Him

As Republicans in Pennsylvania and on Capitol Hill await an expected retirement announcement from Rep. Jim Greenwood (R), the six-term incumbent was squiring the man he hopes will be his successor around Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

A knowledgeable source said Greenwood told Republican House leaders that he wants state Sen. Joe Conti (R) to take his Philadelphia-area seat.

Greenwood introduced Conti to Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and other GOP leaders, as well as officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee on Tuesday.

Conti, 50, is considered a moderate who, like Greenwood, supports abortion rights. He holds the state legislative seat once represented by the Congressman.

But an ideological battle appears to be brewing, as 8th district Republicans will have the final say on who will replace Greenwood on the ballot in November.

Conservatives appear to be lining up behind Bucks County Commissioner Mike Fitzpatrick, who opposes abortion rights, as their favored candidate to replace Greenwood.

Meanwhile, Democrats seem to be coalescing behind their nominee, Ginny Schrader, dismissing early speculation that they might look to push her aside in favor of another candidate. Schrader won the 8th district primary in April.

“Neither the governor nor I have any intention of doing that,” state Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

He added: “It’s an inherently difficult district. It’s not as competitive as it used to be. Whether resources can be mustered up to mount an effective campaign — that’s obviously up to the candidate and the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee]. But we have every intention of supporting Ginny on Election Day.”

Schrader’s campaign claimed it raised $20,000 overnight on its Web site in the wake of the Greenwood retirement speculation. Schrader had about $8,000 in her campaign treasury as of June 30 and showed about $6,000 in debt.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Greg Speed said the party is very optimistic about Schrader’s chances of winning an open-seat race in the 8th.

“We’ve had productive conversations with Ginny Schrader and are working with her to put together a strong campaign that can win this district,” Speed said.

The 8th district is made up primarily of Bucks County but also includes small parts of Montgomery County and the city of Philadelphia.

Greenwood has held the seat since 1992, but the swing district has voted Democratic in the past three presidential elections and heavily went for former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell (D) in the 2002 gubernatorial race.

— L.W.W.

Alaska: DSCC Begins Airing Bio Spot for Knowles

After watching its candidate take a drubbing in television advertisements aired by third-party groups, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee struck back Monday.

Through an independent group funded by the DSCC, as required by the new campaign law, former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) will benefit from a 30-second biographical spot that began running Monday.

Immediately, the campaign of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) accused Knowles of hypocrisy.

“Tony Knowles wasted no time today in breaking his New Year’s resolution to ‘publicly renounce’ any outside ad on his behalf,” the Murkowski campaign said in a statement. “In his own words, Tony has said that any candidate who can’t get third party groups … to pull their ads clearly isn’t effective enough. After so vehemently denouncing outside ads, is Tony now doubting his own credibility as a candidate?”

The Knowles campaign, which was unaware of the buy before it began — as required by law — made no apologies for hitting Murkowski for tolerating negative outside advertising while welcoming the DSCC’s help.

“Sen. Murkowski has had several opportunities to disavow third-party ads and she has refused,” said Matt McKenna, Knowles’ spokesman. “Our allies are not going to sit idly by while Murkowski’s special-interest friends attack Tony Knowles and distort his record.

“Outside groups have spent $500,000 attacking Tony Knowles … she brought this on herself” by not disavowing the earlier ads, including a series run by an independent group funded by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, McKenna said.

And in case there was any ambiguity McKenna added: “If Senator Murkowski is not going to voluntarily forgo assistance that is permitted under the law, neither are we.”

In another tussle over advertising, the Murkowski campaign said the Knowles camp should be subjected to higher television rates because it violated a provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.

Under the law, candidates must file a form with television stations 45 days before the primary stating that they will name their opponent in an ad and that they approve the message.

Failure to do so is supposed to result in the negligent campaign being charged a higher advertising rate (most stations discount political advertising).

A station failing to penalize the campaign would run afoul of the Federal Election Commission and result in the price difference being considered an illegal corporate donation to the candidate.

The Knowles campaign maintains the complaint is overblown and that the failure to file the form was an oversight.

Knowles has since filed the paper work and the ad has always included the disclaimer that Knowles endorses the message, which is the key to being in compliance with the law, his campaign said.

As for being charged the higher rate, Knowles’ attorney says the provision does not apply because Murkowski and Knowles are not opponents yet.

Both have contested primaries Aug. 24, though Murkowski faces a more serious challenge in the GOP matchup than Knowles faces in his.

Alaska television stations have asked the Federal Communications Commission for advice in the matter, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Meanwhile, the Murkowski campaign got some good news when the Senate Ethics Committee dismissed a complaint against Justin Stiefel, her campaign manager and formerly her chief of staff in Washington, D.C.

Juneau resident Theodore “Chip” Toma had accused Stiefel of campaigning from Murkowski’s Senate office, which is a violation of Senate rules.

In a letter to Murkowski, the Ethics panel said it dismissed the complaint because it lacked “substantial merit.”

In a news release, Murkowski said she was vindicated.

“My staff has bent over backwards throughout this election year to avoid using Senate resources in any way for political purposes,” she said.

Meanwhile, Green Party Senate candidate Jim Sykes got a boost from presidential candidate and former Green Party nominee Ralph Nader.

— Nicole Duran

New York: Higgins Raising Money on Hill and in Boston

The Democratic frontrunner in the race to replace retiring Rep. Jack Quinn (R) in the Buffalo-area 27th district was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, raising money and meeting with party leaders.

State Assemblyman Brian Higgins (D) appeared at a Capitol Hill fundraiser Wednesday evening hosted by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.). Several other Members of the Empire State delegation were expected to attend.

Higgins, who is involved in a five-way primary, is also taking advantage of the Democratic National Convention in Boston to raise money. Higgins has a breakfast fundraiser scheduled for next Thursday at the Westin Copley Place Hotel.

The winner of the Sept. 14 Democratic primary will take on Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples (R) in what is likely to be one of the most closely watched House elections of the fall.

— Josh Kurtz

Kansas: K.C. Star Poll Has Taff With Big Primary Lead

Former Navy pilot Adam Taff held a 17-point edge over former Overland Park City Councilman Kris Kobach in their Aug. 3 Republican primary fight, according to a new independent poll on the contest.

Taff received 38 percent of the vote to Kobach’s 21 percent. State Rep. Patricia Barbieri-Lightner took just 4 percent.

Market Data Specialists conducted the poll for the Kansas City Star. It tested 274 Republican primary voters July 8-16 and carried a 5.9 percent margin of error.

The poll reaffirms Taff as the race’s frontrunner due in large part to name identification accrued from his 2002 challenge to Rep. Dennis Moore (D).

In that race, Taff fell 3 percent short of ousting Moore, who has held the Kansas City- based 3rd district since 1998.

The 3rd is one of the most Republican-performing districts in the nation held by a Democrat, but Moore has shown an ability to appeal to moderate Republicans and has benefited from divisive GOP primaries.

This cycle appears to be no different, as Taff and Kobach are slugging away at each other in the race’s final weeks. Taff is seen as the moderate in the field; Kobach the conservative.

Regardless of the eventual winner, Moore is in solid shape for the general election. He ended June with $1.1 million in the bank.

— Chris Cillizza

Florida: PAC Poll: McCollum Ahead in GOP Primary

A new survey just released by the Florida Medical Political Action Committee showed former Rep. Bill McCollum still maintaining a lead in the battle for the GOP Senate nomination.

The Florida Medical Association endorsed McCollum on Wednesday.

The poll, conducted by Alexandria, Va.-based GOP polling firm The Tarrance Group, found McCollum with 29 percent and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez with 21 percent.

Rounding out the Republican field, wealthy businessman Doug Gallagher got 9 percent, state House Speaker Johnnie Byrd got 7 percent and millionaire philanthropist Karen Saull got 4 percent in the survey.

The survey queried 502 likely primary voters July 13-14.

In a related development, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this week released a fundraising solicitation letter it has sent to Martinez. While such cross-party solicitations are often fodder for light items in political columns, this mailing was apparently no accident, and it may be used against Martinez by both his primary opponents and Democrats.

The reason? The solicitation makes reference to Martinez’s former stint as the president of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers — a group that is anathema to most Republicans — and the fact that he gave the DSCC $500 several years ago.

“As a past president of the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, you will agree that protecting such rights is a solemn duty of the U.S. Senate that can only be ensured under Democratic control,” DSCC Executive Director David Rudd wrote to Martinez.

Martinez’s GOP opponents have already hit him several times for his trial lawyer background. And the DSCC is trying to prove that whenever Republicans blast Democrats for their ties to trial lawyers, they are criticizing Martinez as well.

— L.W.W.

Illinois: Illinois GOP Waiting on State Sen. Dillard

State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R) said Wednesday morning that he had not decided whether to put his name forward as a possible replacement candidate for Senate.

Illinois GOP leaders had hoped that Dillard would say something definitive on Wednesday, but the state lawmaker — who is also part of the 19-member state GOP central committee that will determine who gets the Senate nomination — asked for another day.

“I will decide [Wednesday] and probably announce it [Thursday],” Dillard told The Associated Press.

The Illinois GOP is looking for a candidate to replace Jack Ryan in the open-seat Senate race against state Sen. Barack Obama (D). Ryan withdrew from the race last month in the wake of a sex scandal, but he has yet to file the papers to officially remove his name from the ballot.

— J.K.

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