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N.Y.’s McNulty Denies Rumors That He’s Retiring

Rep. Mike McNulty (D) last week denied rumors that have been circulating in Albany-area political precincts that he plans to abandon his bid for a ninth term and pave the way for the son of his predecessor to succeed him.

“It’s all fiction; it’s not going to happen,” McNulty told the Albany Times-Union in its Friday edition.

Because he suffers from post-polio syndrome, an affliction that saps his energy, the 56-year-old Congressman is the frequent subject of retirement rumors. According to the Times-Union, one scenario had McNulty announcing his retirement soon and maneuvering to have Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton succeed him as the Democratic nominee.

Stratton’s father, Sam Stratton, held the Albany-area seat from 1958 to 1988, and his surprising retirement announcement during his re-election campaign paved the way for McNulty, then a state Assemblyman, to win the seat.

McNulty is heavily favored over Guilderland attorney Warren Redlich in November.

— Josh Kurtz

A Dining Companion Boosts Senate Underdog

State Republican leaders tried their best to boost the prospects of their flagging Senate nominee, state Assemblyman Howard Mills, during the Republican National Convention last week.

Gov. George Pataki (R) gave two rousing speeches to the state delegation on Mills’ behalf, and GOP Chairman Sandy Treadwell said: “Everywhere he goes, [Mills] impresses the audience, and he is running a great race.”

But Mills hasn’t been impressing enough people, apparently. A recent poll showed Sen. Charles Schumer (D) with a whopping 49-point lead over the Republican. Mills was not helped by the fact that the Conservative Party nominee, Marilyn O’Grady, was taking 9 percent of the vote.

Still, Mills remains optimistic, pointing to the parallels between his campaign and Pataki’s upset victory over then-Gov. Mario Cuomo (D) in 1994.

He noted that he has at least one advantage over Pataki: Pataki himself.

In 1994, Mills said, Pataki had to buy his own sausage and pepper sandwich at the state fair in Syracuse — a culinary delight that is compulsory for all Empire State politicians. This year, Pataki accompanied the 39-year-old lawmaker to the fair and bought him the sandwich.

A harbinger of better things to come?

“This is a tough uphill battle,” Mills said. “But I undertake this campaign with great optimism and great enthusiasm.”
— J.K.

Candidates Release Dueling Poll Results

As former Rep. John Thune (R) made the rounds at the GOP convention in New York City last week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee released a poll showing that he had moved into the lead in his race against Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D).

Thune took 50 percent to 48 percent for Daschle — well within the poll’s 4.4 percent margin of error, but worthy of note since it is the first survey this cycle to show the challenger leading the incumbent.

Public Opinion Strategies conducted the poll Aug. 24-26 of 500 likely voters.

Within 24 hours, the Daschle campaign released a survey showing the Democrat maintaining a 53 percent to 45 percent edge.

That poll, which was conducted by Al Quinlan, was in the field Aug. 25-30, testing 600 likely voters.

What both surveys agreed on was that a remarkably small number of South Dakota voters are undecided about the race. In both polls, only 2 percent said they had not yet picked a candidate.
— Chris Cillizza

Fingerhut Walks, Enjoys Scenery, Poll Bounce

It looks as if Democratic Senate candidate Eric Fingerhut’s stunt of walking across Ohio has helped the long-shot candidate’s chances in his bid to unseat popular Sen. George Voinovich (R) in the Buckeye State.

A mail poll of 3,176 registered Ohio voters conducted Aug. 18-28 by the Columbus Dispatch showed that the state Senator had gained on Voinovich, though he still trailed by double digits.

The poll showed Voinovich leading by 14 points, 45 percent to 31 percent, down from a 21-point lead in the July poll. The poll had a 2 percent error margin.

Fingerhut, who spent 22 days on the heel-toe express chatting up voters and racking up positive press coverage, finished a 335-mile journey across Ohio Thursday with a rally in Cleveland.
— Nicole Duran

Boswell Has Edge in Rematch Poll

Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) holds a commanding lead in his rematch against attorney Stan Thompson (R), according to a recent poll conducted for his campaign.

Boswell received 55 percent of the vote to 35 percent for Thompson in the Anzalone Liszt Research survey. It tested 500 likely voters Aug. 22-25 with a 4.4 percent margin of error.

The poll showed Boswell outperforming a generic Democrat by 10 points, while Thompson underperformed a generic Republican by 9 points.

Although this Des Moines-based 3rd district is competitive between the parties, Boswell appears to have a much stronger grasp on it this cycle.

In 2002, after a nonpartisan redistricting process had forced him to move from the rural southern Iowa seat he had held since 1996, Boswell was a top GOP target. Thompson ran a solid if unspectacular campaign but was heavily outspent by the incumbent. Boswell won 53 percent to 45 percent.

Thompson immediately announced his plans to make a rematch but has generated little excitement this time around from national Republicans.
— C.C.

It’s Official: Granny D Is Granny D, Legally

Democratic Senate candidate Doris Haddock has adopted her nickname of “Granny D” as her official moniker.

The 94-year-old advocate got permission from a Granite State judge on Aug. 19 to formally drop her birth name of Ethel Doris Haddock for the nickname she became known by during her cross-country walk on behalf of campaign finance reform a few years back.

Granny D replaced state Sen. Burt Cohen on the Democratic ballot after Cohen dropped out of the race when financial irregularities surfaced in his campaign.

She faces heavily favored Sen. Judd Gregg (R) in November.
— N.D.