House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will stump this weekend for a duo of House candidates in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania, a major House battleground where four seats are in play this fall.
Saturday morning Pelosi will meet with supporters of attorney Ginny Schrader (D), who is seeking the 8th district seat of retiring Rep. Jim Greenwood (R).
In the afternoon, Pelosi will attend a rally for state Sen. Allyson Schwartz, the Democrat vying to succeed Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) in the northeast Philadelphia and suburban Montgomery County 13th district.
In between events, Pelosi and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) will headline a fundraising luncheon for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Philadelphia.
Although Pelosi won’t have time for an appearance in the swing 6th district, she plans to hold a conference call with reporters Thursday to discuss attorney Lois Murphy’s (D) race against freshman Rep. Jim Gerlach (R).
Pelosi is also planning to do an event with developer Joe Driscoll (D), who is seeking the Lehigh Valley-based seat being vacated by Rep. Pat Toomey (R), later this cycle.
All four Democratic candidates will attend the luncheon Saturday.
At a briefing with reporters Tuesday, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) noted the confluence of the White House, Senate and House battlegrounds in the greater Philadelphia area.
“That whole eastern part of Pennsylvania is a battleground for the president, for [Sen.] Arlen Specter [R] and quite frankly an opportunity for us,” Reynolds said.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Sandlin Maintains Slim Lead in His Newest Poll
Rep. Max Sandlin (D) holds a 4-point lead over former district judge Louie Gohmert (R) in the new 1st district, according to a poll conducted for his campaign.
Sandlin received 47 percent to 43 percent for Gohmert in the Bennett, Petts & Blumenthal survey. The poll, conducted Sept. 7-9, tested 400 likely voters. It carried a 5 percent margin of error.
This is the second publicly released survey in the race. A May Republican poll showed Gohmert with a 44 percent to 41 percent edge.
The East Texas 1st district was drawn by state Republicans in late 2003 and is one of five in the Lone Star State where a Democratic incumbent is seriously endangered.
More than half of the district’s population is new to Sandlin, including Smith and Gregg counties, both of which are Republican strongholds.
After a slow start, however, Sandlin has picked up steam, especially on the fundraising front.
As of June 30, Sandlin had $727,000 in the bank; Gohmert had a much less impressive $372,000 in the bank.
Hoping to make up that fundraising gap, the National Republican Congressional Committee has already reserved nearly $150,000 worth of television time for the race’s final weeks.
— Chris Cillizza
PIRG Leaflets Senator’s ANWR Press Event
Just as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) was telling a group of reporters on Tuesday that drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is vital to reducing U.S. gas prices, a representative of a consumer group was nearby, distributing information that would make both Murkowski and her opponent wince.
Murkowski, aided by National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen (Va.), spoke outside of a Capitol Hill Exxon station to decry high gas prices and complain that most Democrats oppose ANWR drilling.
Like Murkowski, her opponent, former Gov. Tony Knowles (D), is a strident proponent of more Alaskan oil exploration. But Republicans have continued to stress the issue, arguing that Knowles has been unable to persuade national Democratic leaders to adopt his positions on ANWR.
Quietly, while Murkowski was speaking, a representative of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group distributed information to reporters refuting both Murkowski’s and Knowles’ claims that ANWR is the answer to lowering gas prices.
Citing a U.S. Geological Survey study, the environmental group noted that there is enough oil in ANWR’s coastal plain to meet only six months’ of U.S. oil demands.
“Far too little to affect world oil prices,” the group’s fact sheet noted.
That is not exactly the message either candidate wants to send back home or to Congress as they push to open ANWR to drilling.
— Nicole Duran
Clay: Marshall Violated House Franking Rules
Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall’s GOP opponent filed a complaint with the House Administration Committee on Tuesday, charging that the freshman lawmaker violated House franking rules.
The complaint, filed by former Bibb County Commissioner Calder Clay (R) to the Committee on Congressional Mailing Standards, contends that Marshall used some of the same material on his Congressional and campaign Web sites — a breach of federal rules that prohibit resource sharing.
The specific material in question is a photo of the Congressman and the logo that bears his name.
A Marshall spokesman called the charges “ridiculous,” noting that the Congressman’s mug shot and signature are public domain.
Last month, Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) agreed to personally refund the cost of a taxpayer-funded handbill because it contained a photograph used on his campaign Web site. Frost’s opponent, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), filed a complaint similar to the one Clay has filed, but the commission found there was no willful violation and dismissed the case.
Clay lost to Marshall by a slim margin in 2002, a terrible year for Democrats across the state. So far this cycle, both parties are keeping an eye on the race but it has yet to develop into a top-tier contest.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) will campaign with Clay in the Macon-based district on Saturday.
Right-to-Life Group Takes Ad Fight to High Court
Wisconsin Right to Life has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to allow it to run ads against Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in his re-election campaign.
The anti-abortion group made its appeal last week after a three-judge panel ruled that it could not run ads naming Feingold, in accordance with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
Ads by outside groups are banned 30 days prior to a general election under the new law, which Feingold co-sponsored. The group would like to spend $100,000 working for Feingold’s defeat. Four Republicans competed Tuesday for the right to challenge Feingold, but the winner was not known as of press time.
Another Poll Shows Carson With Slim Lead
A second poll in as many weeks in the Sooner State Senate race showed Rep. Brad Carson (D) with a narrow lead over former Rep. Tom Coburn (R).
The Wilson Research Strategies poll, commissioned by NEWS9, found Carson with 39 percent and Coburn with 37 percent in a hypothetical matchup. Independent Shelia Bilyeu got 6 percent. The poll of 500 likely voters was conducted Sept. 10-12 and had a 4 percent margin of error.
The poll was conducted before accusations surfaced this week that Coburn, an obstetrician, may have filed a fraudulent Medicaid claim in 1990 after sterilizing a 20-year-old woman without securing her written consent as required by law.
The revelations, first aired in the online magazine Salon on Monday, had not received widespread attention in Oklahoma as of Tuesday, but several national media outlets were expected to pursue follow-up stories.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) — who is also a physician — is scheduled to campaign in the state with Coburn on Friday.
King, Invoking Father, Launches Radio Spots
Former state Rep. Gary King (D) launched his first radio ad of the general election Monday in his quest to knock off freshman Rep. Steve Pearce (R).
The minute-long spot, which is running throughout the massive 2nd district, features a man and a woman who are conversing in a restaurant about the shaky economic climate.
“While families struggle to make ends meet, Congress votes again and again to protect lobbyists and big corporations,” the man says.
“But we can send someone to Congress who’s on our side,” the woman says. “Gary King.”
The ad then attempts to link King to his father, popular former Gov. Bruce King (D), with the man saying that the candidate learned from his father that, “when you see your community in trouble, you come to its aid.”
By airing the ad, King is beginning to try to engage the voters after what has been a very quiet summer in the potentially competitive district. Pearce, who took 56 percent of the vote in 2002, is still the favorite at this point.
— Josh Kurtz
Stork Expected to End House Campaign Soon
Democratic nominee Jim Stork is expected to officially drop out of the race against Rep. Clay Shaw (R) this week, citing failing health.
Stork, the former mayor of Wilton Manors, suspended his campaign in mid-August to undergo tests because he was feeling fatigued. Stork will make the announcement Thursday, at which point it will be up to Democratic leaders in the district to pick a ballot replacement.
Democrats have reportedly reached out to Rep. Peter Deutsch (D), who lost a Senate primary last month and is retiring, and 34-year-old entrepreneur Jeremy Ring, but both have indicated they have no interest in running. That leaves state Sen. Ron Klein (D), who is apparently still interested.
Stork, who is openly gay, had been able to tap a national fundraising network and had given Democrats some hope that 2004 might be the year they finally ousted Shaw.
After a close call in 2000, the 12-term incumbent from Ft. Lauderdale was easily re-elected in 2002 against a highly touted Democratic recruit.