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TENNESSEE: Hart Wins Primary, but Tanner to Cruise in Nov.

Perennial candidate James Hart, who has advocated the debunked theory of eugenics, won the 8th district Republican primary against a write-in candidate Thursday and will face Rep. John Tanner (D) in the fall.

Hart won with 83 percent over financial analyst Dennis Bertrand, who ran as a write-in after no other Republicans filed to challenge Hart before the deadline.

“I didn’t expect to win,” Hart told The Associated Press. “I thought their network would beat my ideas.”

Among Hart’s ideas is that blacks and other minority groups should be prevented from reproducing.

He also carries a pistol and wears a bullet-proof vest on the campaign trail.

Hart has no chance of victory over Tanner in a seat that takes in much of western Tennessee.

Tanner has held the district since 1988 and had $675,000 on hand through July 16. Hart, meanwhile, had not filed a financial report with the Federal Election Commission.

Elsewhere in the Volunteer State, 2002 nominee Janice Bowling (R) easily won her primary to set up a rematch with Rep. Lincoln Davis (D) in the 4th district.

Last cycle Davis won the open-seat race 52 percent to 46 percent while outspending Bowling at a better than 2-to-1 clip.

While the district is competitive between the parties, Davis is a strong favorite in the fall.

— Chris Cillizza


Harris’ Opponent Asks For Ethics Investigation

Days after Rep. Katherine Harris (R) found herself in hot water for telling some of her constituents about an alleged terror plot in Indiana, one of her Democratic opponents is calling on the House ethics committee to investigate whether the Congresswoman disclosed classified information.

At a GOP rally in her district last week, Harris told the audience of 600 that the United States has thwarted some 100 terrorist attacks, specifically pointing to a possible terrorist plot in Indiana.

She revealed that a man of Middle Eastern heritage had been arrested for plotting to blow up the Midwest power grid in an Indianapolis suburb, and she said hundreds of pounds of explosives were found in his home. Harris said she had gotten the information from the mayor of Carmel, Ind., while she was in the Midwest recently.

The mayor and other officials in Indiana denied knowing anything about such a plot or the arrest and later said there is no evidence to back up Harris’ claim.

Democrats, including 13th district candidate Christine Jennings, immediately seized on the incident. Jennings is vying in the Aug. 31 primary for the right to face Harris in November.

Jennings sent a letter last week to the chairman and ranking member of the ethics panel asking for an investigation into Harris’ disclosure.

“If Rep. Harris revealed classified information it is a serious breach of our national security and the rules of the House,” Jennings wrote in the letter.

In a statement Wednesday, Harris stood by her disclosure and reiterated the need to remain vigilant in fighting terrorism.

“I was told in an open, group setting that a recent situation threatened a Midwestern community and that it had been diffused,” Harris said. “I regret that I had no knowledge of the sensitive nature of this situation and any undue concern this may have caused.”

— Lauren W. Whittington

Saull Quits Primary To Succeed Graham

Meanwhile, the crowded race to succeed retiring Sen. Bob Graham (D) in the Sunshine State became slightly less so last week as wealthy businesswoman Karen Saull (R) dropped out of the race.

Saull, who had done little public campaigning since entering the race in May, told a Florida newspaper she ended her bid because she was “closed out” of serious consideration for the GOP nomination.

Two days later, she endorsed former Rep. Bill McCollum, who has led most polls thus far.

McCollum, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez and millionaire businessman Doug Gallagher are the leading Republicans vying in the Aug. 31 primary.

On the Democratic side, former state Education Commissioner Betty Castor and Rep. Peter Deutsch are the top contenders.

— L.W.W.


McInnis Could Leave Before Term Is Up

Rep. Scott McInnis (R) hinted late last week that he would likely resign his seat after Congress adjourns this fall.

“Though I haven’t made up my mind yet, that would be more of a period of time that I would consider, when they’ve adjourned for the elections and adjourned for the year,” McInnis told the Denver Post.

Congress is slated to adjourn Oct. 1 but may have stay beyond then or return after the election if appropriations bills or other legislative matters are not completed.

McInnis will leave Congress after six terms representing the Western Slope 3rd district. He is set to take a job in the Denver office of Hogan & Hartson, a huge law and lobbying operation.

Whether McInnis resigns from the seat or simply retires makes little practical difference.

Gov. Bill Owens (R) has already said he would not call a special election to replace the Congressman with so little time remaining before Nov. 2, and a contested race is already under way to replace him in this swing district.

Democrats have unified behind state Rep. John Salazar while Republicans play host to a five-way primary on Tuesday.

McInnis is seen as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2006 when Owens will be term-limited out of office.

— C.C.


Knowles, Murkowski Running Neck-and-Neck

Mirroring preceding polls in the closely watched Senate race, former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) leads Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) by 2 points, a statistical dead heat, in the latest survey.

The July poll was performed by Anchorage-based pollster Ivan Moore on behalf of KTUU-TV and showed Knowles leading 46 percent to 44 percent.

While essentially tied in the polls, Knowles did end up on the winning end in a query to the Federal Communications Commission prompted by the Murkowski campaign.

The FCC ruled that despite failing to file a form required by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act on time, the Knowles campaign should not be subject to higher television advertising rates.

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).

The Knowles campaign did not file the paper work when it began a new spot last month but quickly did so when the discrepancy was noticed even though the ad did not name a primary opponent.

The FCC chalked the matter up to an honest mistake.

— Nicole Duran


Conservative Clymer Joins Senate Showdown

Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) received several pieces of good news last week in his bid to oust veteran Sen. Arlen Specter (R), as he collected a couple of key endorsements and a conservative third-party candidate qualified for the ballot.

Hoeffel was endorsed by the Human Rights Council, a national pro-gay and lesbian group, as well as the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police. Both groups have supported Specter in the past.

HRC, which backed Specter in his noncompetitive 1998 re-election race, has supported Hoeffel since his failed 1996 run for Congress.

In issuing the endorsement, HRC President Cheryl Jacques called the three-term Congressman “an unwavering ally to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.”

The Philadelphia FOP went a step further in its endorsement, criticizing the four-term incumbent and former district attorney in the city.

“Arlen Specter may have been a district attorney three decades ago, but over the past four years, he’s clearly allowed ideology and politics to get in the way of fulfilling his responsibility to police in Philadelphia,” said Robert Eddis, president of Philadelphia Lodge No. 5. “Our city and our state need a Senator who won’t rubber stamp budgets that slash funding for community policing. Joe Hoeffel will be that kind of leader and that kind of Senator.”

Specter released a statement saying he was “surprised” by the FOP’s endorsement reversal, considering he has had a strong relationship with the city’s police department for decades.

“I intend to talk to them about it,” Specter said. “I intend to carry the issue to the men and women in the ranks.”

But in a move that could prove most detrimental to Specter’s re-election chances, National Constitution Party Chairman Jim Clymer qualified to run in November.

Clymer will be the only anti-abortion rights candidate on the ballot in the fall, and Democrats are hopeful that he will pull enough Republican support from Specter to propel Hoeffel to victory.

Specter, a GOP moderate, eked out a primary win against conservative Rep. Pat Toomey (R) in April.

The last time Specter faced a competitive challenge, in 1992, he won 49 percent of the vote against a Democrat and a Libertarian Party candidate.

— L.W.W.

South Dakota

Cheney, Pryce Boost Herseth Challenger

Two Republican luminaries raised money in the state last week to benefit the House campaign of state Sen. Larry Diedrich (R).

Vice President Cheney traveled to the state Tuesday and held several events in Sioux Falls to aid Diedrich.

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio) was in Aberdeen the following day holding breakfast and lunch fundraisers for Diedrich.

Diedrich narrowly lost a June 1 special election to Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D) but is pursuing a rematch in the fall.

“The people of South Dakota left no doubt that they consider Larry a principled, serious leader with everything it takes to serve this great state in Congress,” said Cheney.

Following his special election defeat, Diedrich was diagnosed with a leaky heart valve and underwent surgery. He has only recently returned to the campaign trail.

As a result, Herseth held a solid cash edge at the end of June.

She ended the period with $380,000 in the bank compared to $152,000 for Diedrich.

— C.C.


Democrats Get Backup Candidate in 5th District

Former state Theresa Gerratana (D) entered the race Wednesday as a last-minute replacement to take on 5th district Rep. Nancy Johnson (R) in the fall.

“Nancy Johnson has got to get the message that she is not in touch with her constituents,” said Gerratana at a rally Wednesday.

State assistant Attorney General Robert Marconi, the endorsed Democratic candidate, dropped out of the race last week. He had raised just $11,000 at that time. Johnson had $1.4 million in the bank at the end of June.

Gerratana held a New Britain-based House seat from 1992 to 2002, during which time she chaired the Human Services Committee.

Drawn to be a “fair fight” seat in the 2001 redistricting process, Johnson crushed Rep. Jim Maloney (D) 54 percent to 43 percent — outspending him by roughly $1.7 million.

Johnson has held a western Connecticut Congressional seat since 1982 and is seen as one of the leading moderates among House Republicans.

— C.C.


Murray Launches Bid, Shadowed by Nethercutt

Sen. Patty Murray (D) officially kicked off her re-election campaign last week and her presumed opponent, Rep. George Nethercutt (R) responded with a counter-rally and a new radio advertisement.

While Murray greeted about 1,100 supporters to a Thursday breakfast in Seattle’s football stadium, Qwest Field, Nethercutt held a press conference across the street in the Safeco Field baseball park.

Murray waited until the August recess to truly begin her bid for a third term, while Nethercutt has been stumping and hammering away at her for months.

She has held a double-digit lead in polling and has a significant cash advantage over Nethercutt, but Republicans are optimistic that the “giant killer” Nethercutt — so named for his 1994 defeat of then-House Speaker Tom Foley (D) — can pull of a repeat performance.

Murray’s kickoff came a day after a Seattle weekly newspaper questioned her relationship with SSA Marine, a Seattle-based cargo handling company.

Murray has worked tirelessly to bolster port security and on other port-related issues.

The Seattle Weekly notes that her husband is an employee of SSA Marine and that Murray has received small donations from the company and an executive while helping steer federal dollars the company’s way.

Murray and the company told the paper there is nothing improper about the relationship.

Murray has never “singled out” the corporation for federal appropriations, an SSA spokesman told the paper.

— N.D.

Club for Growth Backs McMorris Over Rivals

State Rep. Cathy McMorris has received the backing of the Club for Growth and the Washington Farm Bureau political action committee in her bid for the GOP nomination in the open 5th district.

McMorris is locked in a tight race with state Sen. Larry Sheahan and attorney Shaun Cross in the Eastern Washington district.

The winner of the Sept. 14 primary will square off against former hotel chain executive Don Barbieri (D) for the right to replace Nethercutt, who is surrendering the seat to challenge Murray.

— N.D.

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