All seven members of the Senate Republican leadership hosted a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday for former Rep. John Thune (R) to benefit his bid to defeat Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) in the fall.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.), Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (Ky.), President Pro Tem Ted Stevens (Alaska), Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.), Conference Vice Chairman Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen (Va.) all attended the event.
The fundraiser also was co-sponsored by Team Thune, a group of Washington lobbyists who has been raising money for the former House Member over the past two years.
As of June 30, Thune had raised roughly $6 million in six months of active fundraising for the race.
In his 2002 race against Sen. Tim Johnson (D), which the Republican Member lost by 524 votes, Thune raised and spent $6 million total.
Daschle already had brought in $13 million as of June 30.
The Daschle-Thune showdown will eclipse all spending records in the state and is likely to be the costliest Senate race in the country, an amazing feat given that the state’s population is just 754,844, according to the 2000 Census.
Recent polling has shown the race closing.
— Chris Cillizza
Poll: Marshall Has Big Lead in Clay Rematch
A recent poll conducted for Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall’s campaign showed him up over Republican Calder Clay by a substantial 24-point margin.
Marshall led Clay 51 percent to 27 percent in the Mellman Group, Inc. survey.
The poll of 400 likely voters in the 3rd district was conducted Aug. 18-22 and had a 5 percent margin of error.
“Voters in Georgia’s 3rd district hold Marshall in high regard, and they give him good marks for the job he is doing in Congress,” the polling memo states.
Marshall began airing his first television ad last week, while Clay has yet to go on the air.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) will campaign with Clay this weekend.
Marshall beat Clay in 2002, 51 percent to 49 percent.
— Lauren W. Whittington
Hoeffel Kicks Off His First TV Ads of Election
Rep. Joe Hoeffel, the Democratic Senate nominee, kicked off his first television ad campaign this week, as he seeks to introduce himself to voters statewide.
The 30-second spot, which mentions Hoeffel by name eight times, is airing in all six of the state’s major media markets.
The ad describes Hoeffel as a strong supporter of Social Security and Medicare and in favor of a “common sense approach” to foreign policy.
“Hoeffel says President Bush’s economic policies are not working for Pennsylvania,” an announcer says in the ad. “Hoeffel’s top priority will be creating jobs and improving health care.”
Hoeffel faces an uphill battle against 24-year Sen. Arlen Specter (R), who is currently not running ads.
Specter spent almost $15 million during his April primary campaign against Rep. Pat Toomey (R).
Hoeffel, a three-term Congressman from the Philadelphia area, trails Specter by double digits in public polling that also shows Hoeffel is still unknown to almost one-third of the state’s voters.
National Constitution Party President Jim Clymer also has qualified for the November ballot in the Senate race. He recently began airing radio ads attacking Specter for being too liberal.
Narcotic Officers’ Group Backs Costa for House
In an announcement that should help dispel rumors that he is a former drug user, ex-state Sen. Jim Costa (D) this week was endorsed by the California Narcotic Officers’ Association in his bid to replace retiring Rep. Cal Dooley (D).
“Jim Costa is one of those guys who has been with law enforcement every step of the way,” said Michael Kennedy, president of the narcotic officers’ group, the largest law enforcement association in the Golden State.
Kennedy credited Costa for authoring the state’s “three strikes” legislation, and for writing bills to help police “go after” drug makers, sellers and abusers.
Costa, the frontrunner in the race to fill Dooley’s Central Valley seat, was hit hard by his Democratic primary opponent, ex-Dooley Chief of Staff Lisa Quigley, who reminded voters that police had once found drug paraphernalia in Costa’s home during the 1990s. She also highlighted his arrest for soliciting a prostitute in the 1980s. Those tactics didn’t prevent Costa from winning the primary easily, however.
So far, Costa’s general election opponent, state Sen. Roy Ashburn (R), has not used those embarrassing incidents against him. Costa is favored to win the seat, but Republicans consider Ashburn a strong contender, even though the district leans Democratic.
— Josh Kurtz
Cafaro’s Own Donations Lift Contributions Cap
Capri Cafaro, the independently wealthy 26-year-old Democrat challenging Rep. Steve LaTourette (R), triggered the “millionaires amendment” of the new campaign finance law last week.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Cafaro, whose developer family owns a string of shopping malls, contributed $800,000 of her own money to her uphill battle against the five-term incumbent.
As a result, LaTourette now can take advantage of a provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that is intended to help level the playing field for candidates running against wealthy opponents.
Individuals can now donate $6,000 to LaTourette instead of the usual $2,000 maximum.
It also removes the prohibition on party coordinated spending, meaning the National Republican Congressional Committee could spend unlimited amounts on LaTourette’s campaign if need be.
Anticipating Cafaro’s ability to give generously to her campaign, national Republicans and LaTourette have tried to bolster his war chest against Cafaro’s personal wealth.
He still leads her in cash on hand in the 14th district contest.
— Nicole Duran
In Senate Race, Battle Is Still for Second Place
The battle in the Empire State Senate race continues to be for second place.
A Quinnipiac Polling Institute survey released Tuesday showed Sen. Charles Schumer (D) holding an eye-popping 48-point lead over his Republican challenger, state Assemblyman Howard Mills.
The poll of 1,438 registered voters, conducted Sept. 2-7, showed Schumer favored by 61 percent of the respondents, Mills by 13 percent, and eye doctor Marilyn O’Grady, the nominee of the Conservative Party, the choice of 9 percent.
Even among Republicans, Schumer was the first choice, preferred by 36 percent of GOPers, to 33 percent for Mills and 12 percent for O’Grady. The poll had a 2.6 percent error margin.
“Watch for Republicans to make an extra push in this race — not to beat Schumer, but to avoid losing” to O’Grady, predicted Maurice Carroll, the director of the Quinnipiac poll.
Bad Speller Vandalizes Murkowski Office
A very bad speller dislikes Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) a great deal.
Someone spray-painted her Senate campaign headquarters in Anchorage with a vulgar and misspelled message Monday night.
“Lisa Murkowsky is a libural bitch,” the vandal stenciled in red spray paint, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Adding insult to injury, when campaign manager Justin Stiefel tried to identify the perpetrators using the rented building’s security camera, all he found were old images of Johnny Depp from his days on the Fox police drama “21 Jump Street” that launched his career. The show stopped airing in 1992.