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Poll Shows Ken Salazar With Double-Digit Lead in Colorado

State Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) held a double-digit lead over brewing magnate Pete Coors (R) in a new independent survey on the open-seat Senate race.

Salazar took 53 percent to 42 percent for Coors in the Rocky Mountain News poll, which was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm based in Alexandria, Va.

The survey was in the field Sept. 18 and 19 testing 500 registered voters with a 4.3 percent margin of error.

As expected, much of Salazar’s strength came in the state’s rural areas, where he received 59 percent to 35 percent for Coors.

In recent elections, Republicans have dominated in the rural areas as Democrats have nominated candidates based in the Denver area.

This time Coors is the candidate with the Denver base while Salazar has a strong base in the San Luis Valley in the state’s southern reaches.

Salazar also holds a huge lead in the Hispanic community (68 percent to 23 percent), an ethnic group that makes up roughly 17 percent of the state’s population.

The seat came open in March when Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) announced his retirement. Campbell, who switched parties in 1995, was the last Democrat to win a Senate seat in Colorado, in 1992.
— Chris Cillizza

NRSC Ad: Carson Left Of Kerry, Hillary Clinton

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is helping to fund a new ad that dubs Rep. Brad Carson (D) as a “big time liberal” who has opposed the president’s agenda more often than Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.).

“He’s voted for taxpayer-funded abortions. Is one of the biggest spenders in all of Congress,” an announcer ticks off in the ad. “Voted against passing welfare reform … Twice! And against Bush tax cuts.”

The spot concludes that Carson “may just be the most liberal politician in all of Oklahoma.”

The spot was paid for jointly by the NRSC and former Rep. Tom Coburn’s campaign.

A Carson spokesman said the liberal charge was hogwash.

“Tom Coburn is known for saying some crazy things, and calling Brad Carson a liberal may just be the craziest of them all,” the spokesman told The Associated Press.

Carson, meanwhile, is up with his own new TV ad that includes his wife, Julie. The spot also features audio of a recent Coburn comment in which he described the Senate contest as a battle of good versus evil.

“When Brad decided to run for the Senate, we thought we might hear some ugly things, but nothing like this,” Julie Carson says in the ad.

Brad Carson then adds: “This race isn’t between good and evil. And views like that only serve to divide us. It should be about helping Oklahoma — better jobs, health care, roads and education.”

Coburn, a family physician and obstetrician, has come under substantial fire in the past week after accusations arose that he sterilized a then-20-year-old woman without her written consent 14 years ago. Coburn has maintained he did nothing wrong, saying that he had her oral consent and that the two had discussed her desire to have the procedure during previous visits.

Vice President Cheney will campaign with Coburn later this week in Tulsa.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Dueling Polls Show That Murray Is Still Ahead

The Evergreen State’s Senate candidates continue to tout dueling polls that show the race tightening — but with Sen. Patty Murray (D) maintaining a respectable lead.

A survey conducted by Murray’s pollsters Fairbank Maslin Maulin and Associates showed her leading Rep. George Nethercutt (R) 53 percent to 40 percent.

The poll of 800 voters conducted Sept. 7-12 had a 3.8 percent margin of error.

That is a 10-point drop for Murray from the firm’s June poll, which showed the Senator leading by 23 points.

Earlier this month, the Nethercutt camp was cooing about a survey released by the GOP firm Strategic Vision showing the race in single digits.

That poll of 801 likely voters taken at the beginning of the month showed Murray leading 48 percent to 41 percent. It had a 3 percent error margin.

Nethercutt’s campaign noted that the polls come at a time when Murray has outspent Nethercutt $2.7 million to $624,000 between July 1 and Aug. 25 — but Murray also out-raised him during that period.

Murray also received an early endorsement recently from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The paper backed her for the general election before the state’s Sept. 14 primary.
— Nicole Duran

DCCC Sets Aside $406K for Ross’ TV Campaign

Democratic candidate Dave Ross is getting a big boost from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in his bid to win the open 8th district seat.

The DCCC is spending $406,000 on a media buy on behalf of the radio talk show host in the swing district, where it appears GOP candidate and King County Sheriff Dave Reichert has the early lead.

Over the weekend, the Washington Democratic Party filed an ethics complaint against Reichert, charging the sheriff with improperly using his county law enforcement office and workers to bolster his Congressional campaign.

The sheriff’s office issued a release highlighting Reichert’s work in the field — he chased two felons driving a stolen car, who were later arrested.

The Seattle Times took Ross and the Democrats to task for complaining about unfair publicity, noting that Ross gets promoted daily by his employer, KIRO-AM, as his talk show continues to run under his name while he is on a leave of absence to run for Congress.

“Wasn’t it odd Wednesday to hear Dave Ross the candidate being interviewed about his primary victory on Dave Ross, the show, albeit by a substitute host?” the paper asked Saturday, concluding that when Ross complains about Reichert’s show-boating “we think the candidate protests too much.”
— N.D.


Bunning Has Big Lead, Mongiardo Goes on TV

Sen. Jim Bunning (R) continues to hold a commanding lead over physician Daniel Mongiardo (D), according to a new independent poll.

Bunning took 51 percent to 34 percent for Mongiardo in the Bluegrass poll, which was conducted by The Courier-Journal in Louisville. The survey was in the field Sept. 10-15, testing 657 likely voters with a 3.8 percent margin of error.

To this point, Bunning has had an easier re-election race than expected given the tightness of his open-seat victory in 1998.

In that race, Bunning beat then-Rep. Scotty Baesler (D) by fewer than 7,000 votes.

In the six years since, however, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) cruised to re-election and Republicans took back the statehouse for the first time in four decades.

Hoping to remedy his deficit in the polls, Mongiardo has launched a flight of television commercials aimed at introducing himself to the state’s voters.

The bio ad reveals that Mongiardo was “first in his family to attend college and then [University of Kentucky] Medical School.”

The commercial also touts Mongiardo’s support for “affordable improved health care and more good paying jobs — not overseas — but here.”

Mongiardo has largely self-financed his campaign to this point, but still trails Bunning badly in the fundraising chase.

At the end of June, Bunning had $3.9 million on hand to Mongiardo’s $624,000.
— C.C.

Nussle Acknowledges Gubernatorial Ambitions

Publicly acknowledging what has long been an open secret, Rep. Jim Nussle (R) said late last week that he is contemplating a run for governor in 2006.

“Yes I have thought about it, but it’s too early to do anything about it,” Nussle told The Associated Press.

Nussle is considered the frontrunner for the open-seat race next cycle and has already begun traveling the state in preparation for a statewide bid. He has held the eastern Iowa 1st district since 1990. In 2002, he was heavily targeted by national Democrats but won a convincing 57 percent to 43 percent victory.

Currently the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Nussle’s term expires in 2006, perfect timing for a gubernatorial bid.

Though current Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) is not term-limited out of office in 2006, he has pledged not to serve a third term.

Aside from Nussle, attorney Doug Gross (R) is also considering a run. Gross ran against Vilsack in 2002, losing that race 53 percent to 45 percent. Among Democrats, Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson and Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver are the leading candidates.
— C.C.

Obama Leads Keyes by 45 Points in Senate Poll

The newest independent poll conducted in the Illinois Senate race continued to show the contest to succeed retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R) out of reach for the GOP.

State Sen. Barack Obama (D) led conservative talk show host Alan Keyes (R) 68 percent to 23 percent in a Research 2000 poll, conducted for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOV-TV. The poll of 800 likely voters was conducted Sept. 14-16 and had a margin of error of 4 percent.

While 63 percent of those surveyed had a positive view of Obama, only 22 percent said they had a favorable impression of Keyes, who moved to the state after party leaders selected him to run. More than twice that number, 54 percent, said they viewed Keyes negatively.

Obama, who has maintained large double-digit leads in other polls, had a 26 percent unfavorable rating.
— L.W.W.

Future Shock: McCarthy Already Beat Garner

As she prepares for her general election showdown with Hempstead Mayor James Garner (R), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D) can take comfort in this little-noticed fact: She has already beaten him.

Ignored in all the coverage from last week’s state primaries was McCarthy’s victory over Garner in the Independence Party primary in the 4th district. McCarthy, in fact, won by an almost 2-1 margin: 252 votes to 130.

Republicans once had high hopes for Garner, who is president of the National Conference of U.S. Mayors. But McCarthy has a solid fundraising advantage and Democrats generally run well in her Long Island district.
— Josh Kurtz

Bond Retains Big Lead; Farmer Has Done No TV

A new independent survey shows Sen. Kit Bond (R) with a solid 15-point lead over state Treasurer Nancy Farmer (D).

Bond had 53 percent to Farmer’s 38 percent in the Research 2000 survey, which was sponsored by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The poll was in the field Sept. 13-16, sampling 801 likely voters, and had a 3.5 percent margin of error.

Farmer remained an unknown commodity to roughly 40 percent of those tested, who had no opinion of her.

Thanks to a major financial advantage, Bond has been on television for several weeks reacquainting himself with voters while Farmer has yet to run a campaign commercial.

Bond had $5.4 million in the bank as of July 14; Farmer had $1.2 million on hand at that time.
— C.C.

Woe to GOP: Host Helps Democrats Raise $250K

Republicans may not feel welcome in Lake Wobegon anymore.

That’s because its creator, Garrison Keillor, who spins tales of his utopian town weekly on National Public Radio’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” would fill its town council with Democrats.

The famous Minnesotan has been raising money for the state Democratic Party and its local and Congressional candidates.

So far, he has raked in $250,000 for Democratic candidates, WCCO-TV in Minneapolis reported.

He has helped Rep. Betty McCollum and Democratic Congressional candidates Leigh Pomeroy, Patty Wetterling and Deborah Watts, who are challenging GOP Reps. Gil Gutknecht, Mark Kennedy and Jim Ramstad respectively.

Keillor just also recently penned a book titled “Homegrown Democrat.”
— N.D.

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