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Foxx Leads Robinson, Who Has High Negatives

A new poll in the 5th district GOP runoff showed state Sen. Virginia Foxx leading Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson by a 10-point margin.

Foxx was ahead 48 percent to 38 percent in the TelOpinion Research survey conducted for her campaign. Foxx and Robinson are squaring off in an Aug. 17 runoff after no candidate got more than 50 percent of the vote in a crowded and nasty primary last month.

While the poll showed both candidates have almost universal name recognition, a high percentage of those polled have an unfavorable view of Robinson. The results showed 39 percent had a favorable opinion of him, while 33 percent had an unfavorable view.

The poll of 400 “Republican respondents” was taken July 25-27 and had a margin of error of 4 percent.

— Lauren W. Whittington

New Independent Poll: Bond Holds 12-Point Lead

Sen. Kit Bond (R) held a double-digit lead over state Treasurer Nancy Farmer (D) according to an independent poll released late last week.

Bond took 51 percent to 39 percent for Farmer in the Research 2000 survey, which was in the field July 20-22. It tested 802 likely voters with a 3.5 percent margin of error.

Bond’s margin was 5 points fewer than in a similar survey conducted in January, although neither candidate has yet begun advertising campaigns.

Farmer is likely to be drastically outspent on television, since Bond ended June with $5.4 million in the bank compared to just $1.2 million for the Democratic candidate.

National Democrats believe that because Missouri will be one of 17 states targeted by both presidential candidates, Farmer will benefit from the turnout operation being put in place by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

Bond has never won a Senate race with more than 53 percent but seems to be in stronger shape this cycle than he has been in past years.
— Chris Cillizza

Kirk Contemplates a Second Senate Run

Former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk (D) said last week that he is not done with politics and is interested in making another run for the Senate.

“For me it’s not a question of if, but when,” Kirk told The Associated Press.

Kirk was the most highly touted Democratic Senate candidate last cycle but was unable to deliver on that promise at the ballot box.

He lost the open-seat race to now-Sen. John Cornyn (R) 55 percent to 43 percent, a margin much larger than most Democrats expected.

Kirk remains a rising star in the party, however, and could get his chance as soon as next cycle.

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) continues to flirt with a primary challenge to Gov. Rick Perry (R) in 2006, a scenario that would leave her Senate seat open.

Democratic Rep. Jim Turner, who is retiring from Congress after a Republican-led redistricting obliterated his 2nd district, has indicated an interest in either a run for Senate or governor down the line.

The leading Republican candidate to replace Hutchison would be current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. — C.C.

Sessions: Frost Franked Campaign Photo

Rep. Pete Sessions’ (R) campaign filed a complaint with the House Administration Committee on Thursday alleging that Rep. Martin Frost (D) illegally used a campaign photo in a piece of Congressional mail.

Under House rules, Members of Congress are not allowed to use campaign photos in mailings to their constituents, which are funded by taxpayer dollars.

It is not clear whether the committee will act. If Frost is found to have violated the strictures, he will have to pay back the cost of the mailing.

The complaint is simply the latest jab in what is expected to be one of the most expensive and nasty races in the country.

Following a Republican-led redistricting that parceled his old 24th district out among five new seats, Frost decided to challenge Sessions in the North Texas 32nd district.

While the seat does have a substantial Hispanic population, it tilts heavily toward Republicans.

Both men are raising massive sums of money. Sessions ended June with $2.6 million on hand; Frost had $1.65 million in the bank at that time.
— C.C.

Sheahan: McMorris Is Ducking GOP Debates

Two of the three GOP candidates seeking the nomination for the open 5th district seat are engaging in a series of debates, but a third candidate has so far ignored invitations to join them and countered with her own proposal.

State Sen. Larry Sheahan and local attorney Shaun Cross have scheduled three debates across the district beginning Thursday, but state Sen. Cathy McMorris is not scheduled to join, according to the Sheahan campaign.

“I am once again pleased that Shaun has agreed to join me in providing the citizens of the 5th district with a clear comparison of the candidates asking for their votes,” Sheahan said in a news release.

The Sheahan campaign sent letters to Cross and McMorris challenging them to a series of debates.

McMorris’ campaign has still not responded, according to Sheahan.

McMorris says in July she proposed three August debates, including a televised one, but the Sheahan campaign said McMorris was merely proposing debates that were already scheduled while still refusing to attend Thursday’s debate.

“In an effort to reach all the voters in the district the McMorris campaign has scheduled a district wide televised debate sponsored … on August 20th,” her campaign stated in a press release. “The McMorris team has also scheduled debates with the Spokane Chamber of Commerce on August 13th and in Walla Walla County on August 17th.”

Considering there is some overlap in the dueling debate proposals, it is unclear if all three candidates will appear at any of the six mentioned debates.

The winner of the Sept. 14 primary is almost certain to face former hotel company executive Don Barbieri (D) in what is expected to be a close contest.

Rep. George Nethercutt (R) gave up the seat to run for the Senate.
— Nicole Duran

Poll Shows Romero Gaining on Wilson

State Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero (D) is in a statistical dead heat in his quest to unseat four-term Republican Rep. Heather Wilson in the Albuquerque-based 1st Congressional district, according to a poll released by the Democratic challenger’s campaign last week.

The 600-sample survey, conducted July 22-26 by Bob Meadow and Steven Van Tassell of Decision Research, showed Wilson leading Romero 49 percent to 45 percent among likely general election voters. The poll had a 4 percent margin of error.

The findings also showed Wilson’s re-elect numbers declining slightly from 44 percent in June to 42 percent in July, while Romero’s favorables had increased by 4 points to 42 percent. Moreover, the poll indicated that voters’ preference for a generic Democratic Congressional candidate had expanded to a 7-point margin, and that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had pulled ahead of President Bush among likely 1st district voters.

Despite these optimistic numbers, Romero, who Wilson defeated by 10 points in 2002, has lagged far behind in the money chase. Wilson had a whopping $1.2 million on hand through June 30 compared to Romero’s campaign war chest of $321,000.

Romero, who skipped the Democratic convention last week to campaign and raise money in the conservative-leaning district, last month picked up the endorsement of the MoveOn political action committee, which supports progressive candidates. In an odd state constitutional twist, the fact that Romero was a no-show at the Democrats’ Beantown powwow left him with the brief, roughly four-hour honor of serving as New Mexico’s acting governor on July 26, while Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron was attending a meeting in Arizona and both Gov. Bill Richardson and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish were in Boston.

Meanwhile Wilson, a key Bush administration ally, is scheduled to speak at the GOP confab in New York later this month.
— Bree Hocking

Poll: Vitter Leads Democratic Opponents

Rep. David Vitter (R) continued to hold a sizeable lead over his three Democratic opponents in the open-seat Senate race, according to a new independent survey.

Vitter took 36 percent to 19 percent for state Treasurer John Kennedy, 18 percent for Rep. Chris John and 6 percent for state Sen. Arthur Morrell.

The poll was conducted the week of July 12 by the Market Research Institute.

It tested 600 likely voters with a 4 percent margin of error.

Little has changed since similar polls in May and March as none of the candidates have begun advertising.

Under Louisiana law, all of the candidates will run in an open primary on Nov. 2; if none receives 50 percent of the vote, the top two votegetters, regardless of party, advance to a Dec. 4 runoff.

Vitter and John are the frontrunners to advance to the likely runoff given their current cash standing. Vitter had $3.4 million in the bank on June 30 while John had $2.5 million.
— C.C.

Walrath to Appear on November Ballot

Former Cayuga County Legislator David Walrath will appear on the November ballot regardless of whether he wins his Sept. 14 primary challenge to 11-term Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R).

Walrath last week won the endorsement of the New York Conservative Party, guaranteeing him at least one ballot line.

Walrath, who pulled a surprising 47 percent of the Republican primary vote against Boehlert two years ago, was also the Conservative nominee in 2002, taking 22 percent as Boehlert’s only general election challenger.

Boehlert’s re-election chances this November are a little less clear cut, assuming he wins the primary, because this time he faces a Democratic challenger: Utica College professor Jeffrey Miller.
— J.K.

Hamel Wants Debates in Each of 11 Counties

Republican Congressional candidate Brian Hamel recently challenged his opponents to a series of 11 debates in each of the northern-tier 2nd district’s 11 counties.

Hamel, currently on unpaid leave from his post as president and CEO of the Loring Development Authority, is vying to unseat freshman Rep. Mike Michaud (D) in what is one of the more competitive districts in the country.

“Voters in every market deserve more than one opportunity to compare our qualifications and skills for the office,” Hamel wrote in a July 22 letter to Michaud, adding that he was “flexible regarding the time, location, and format.”

A similar letter was also sent to long-shot contender Carl Cooley, a former teacher and sheep farmer running on the Socialist Equality Party ticket.

The candidates are currently scheduled to face off only once before November’s general election at an Oct. 15 forum on Maine Public Television.

Ric Tyler, a spokesman for the Hamel campaign, said no response to the proposal had been received from either the Michaud or Cooley campaigns as of last Friday.

To date, Michaud, a former mill worker and state Senator, has maintained the advantage in the race. Through June 30 he showed $587,000 in his campaign account compared to $284,000 for Hamel. And a poll conducted by Strategic Marketing Services in June showed Michaud leading Hamel 49 to 24 percent, with 27 percent undecided. That poll had a 7-percent margin of error.
— B.H.