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First Poll in Pennsylvania’s 8th Shows Republican Lead

A new Democratic poll in the 8th district race to succeed retiring Rep. James Greenwood (R) showed Bucks County Commissioner Michael Fitzpatrick (R) with a substantial lead over attorney Ginny Schrader (D).

Fitzpatrick leads Schrader 46 percent to 34 percent in the Anzalone-Liszt Research poll. The survey of 500 likely voters was taken Aug. 25-30.

Republicans hand-picked Fitzpatrick after Greenwood withdrew from the race last month. Democrats, meanwhile, remain hopeful they can make the open-seat race competitive in the swing 8th district, and they found good news in the poll.

The survey found that Fitzpatrick has higher name identification than Schrader, but that neither is known to a majority of voters in the Bucks County-based district.

The issue of abortion figures to play a prominent role in the November contest. Schrader favors abortion rights, while Fitzpatrick does not.

According to the poll results, 54 percent of those surveyed identified themselves as favoring abortion rights. An additional 28 percent said they would support the procedure only in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.

The survey also found Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) led President Bush 48 percent to 44 percent in the district.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Democrats Say Business Group Is Violating Law

The Alaska Democratic Party has filed complaints this week against two independent groups running ads either on behalf of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) or against former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) in the tight Senate race.

In letters to the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service, the Democrats maintain that a new group calling itself Business Alaska Inc. has violated campaign law and run afoul of the tax code with its television and newspaper advertisements.

Furthermore, the party issued cease-and-desist complaints with the group’s treasurer and Alaska’s largest daily newspaper.

In its letter to the Anchorage Daily News, which published the group’s ad, Bridget Gallagher, the executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party, asked the paper to stop accepting “illegal campaign advertising from Alaska Business Inc.”

Gallagher maintains that the group’s sole purpose is to circumvent campaign finance laws — either it’s a corporation making an illegal campaign expenditure or it is a 527 that has violated FEC and IRS law by not properly registering with the watchdog and detailing its political activities.

Gallagher maintains that if the group intends to be one of the independent nonprofit groups often derided for their activity in political campaigns, it should have registered with both the FEC and IRS before it began airing television commercials in Alaska.

In a second complaint, the Democrats charge Americans for Job Security, a pro-business group that has run ads on behalf of Republicans in several battleground states, with similar violations.

Gallagher maintains that the Arlington, Va.-based group is actually a corporation that has made illegal campaign expenditures and that it too failed to file appropriate paperwork with the FEC. Furthermore, its most recent television advertisement did not contain the required disclaimer information, Gallagher charged.

Americans for Job Security denied any wrongdoing in an Anchorage Daily News article Wednesday. Business Alaska could not be reached for comment.
— Nicole Duran

Clooney to Headline Dad’s D.C. Fundraiser

Seeking to capitalize on his son’s star power, former news anchor Nick Clooney (D) will hold a Washington, D.C., fundraiser Sept. 19 featuring actor George Clooney to benefit his race for the open 4th district.

The event will be held at Lounge 201 on Capitol Hill.

To attend the private reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m., which offers a chance to get a “professional photograph with George,” requires a $2,500 contribution from political action committees and a $1,000 donation from individuals. A general reception from 7 to 9 p.m. requires a less substantial $500 contribution.

This is the latest in a series of receptions that the actor has held to benefit his father’s campaign.

As of June 30, Nick Clooney had raised roughly $825,000 for his campaign to replace Rep. Ken Lucas (D) in the Republican-leaning northern Kentucky district. He had $605,000 in the bank at that time.

His opponent, 2002 nominee Geoff Davis, had raised nearly $1.5 million by the end of June with $722,000 on hand.

Lucas has held the 4th district since 1998, when he won an open-seat race to replace now-Sen. Jim Bunning (R). It is seen as perhaps Republicans’ best pickup opportunity, however, as President Bush carried the seat in 2000 with 61 percent — his second-best showing in the state’s six Congressional districts.
— Chris Cillizza

GOP Official Targets Tauzins in FEC Filing

A member of the state Republican Central Committee has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission, accusing retiring Rep. Billy Tauzin (R) of attempting to transfer excess campaign contributions to Billy Tauzin III (R), who is seeking to replace him in the 3rd district.

Roger Hamilton Jr., the central committee member, has alleged that the Tauzins have the “intention of subverting the election law” after a comment the elder Tauzin’s spokesman made about what the Congressman would do with the money left over in his campaign account.

“There may be some winking and nodding but no deals,” spokesman Ken Johnson said at the time. Johnson insists his comments were taken out of context and that he emphasized no such deal-making would take place in this race.

Under federal law, the Congressman can contribute $2,000 for the primary and another $2,000 for a potential runoff to his son’s race; he can give another $10,000 total from his leadership political action committee.

As of July 17, the elder Tauzin had $846,000 on hand.

The Congressman has made no secret of his desire to help elect his son to replace him, urging his colleagues to give to Tauzin III’s campaign. By mid-July, more than 30 House Members had contributed to the younger Tauzin, though he had only raised $341,000 with $296,000 on hand.

The complaint does have a political element, as Hamilton is a supporter of state Sen. Craig Romero (R), who is also seeking to replace the elder Tauzin. Last week, 14 Republican state Senators lodged a complaint with the state GOP executive committee protesting its decision to formally endorse Tauzin III.

Democrats have three candidates of their own in the competitive district, led by former state Rep. Charlie Melancon.
— C.C.

LCV ‘Dirty Dozen’ List Focuses on Close Races

Six House Members, and one former Member who is running for Senate, have landed on the League of Conservation Voters’ “dirty dozen” list of candidates with the worst environmental records of the election cycle.

The list, which is to be formally released today, also includes President Bush and Vice President Cheney — marking the first time that a sitting president and vice president have been enshrined in the LCV’s Hall of Shame.

Of the seven current or former House Members included on the list, all but one are in tough races for re-election or Senate. Only the lone Democrat on the list, Rep. Colin Peterson (Minn.), is heavily favored in his race against Marshall City Councilman David Sturrock (R).

Also included on the list: Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.); Rep. Max Burns (R-Ga.); Rep. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who is running for Senate; Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Wash.), who is challenging Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.); Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.); and former Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).

The group is already running independent grassroots campaigns against Burr and Beauprez and is running anti-Bush ads in five swing states. The LCV plans to add three more incumbents to its dirty dozen list before the November election.
— Josh Kurtz