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Dean Asks Supporters to ID Favorite Candidates

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) is holding a nationwide Internet vote among his supporters to choose two Senate candidates who will receive the largess of his massive online fundraising database.

“The incumbent and the challenger with the most votes at the end of balloting will win a national appeal from Governor Dean and Democracy for America,” according to an e-mail sent by DFA Wednesday.

Voting will last five days.

Earlier in the month, a Dean appeal on behalf of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.) netted $220,000 for his campaign in just three days. Dean has vowed to use a similar vote in the coming weeks to choose a Democratic House Member and challenger to recommend to DFA’s donor base.

In his unsuccessful campaign for president earlier this year, Dean shocked the political establishment by raising more than $50 million, largely through the Internet.

In the wake of that loss, Dean formed Democracy for America in early April to raise money for political candidates and for his political activities. He had raised $1.3 million through the group by June 30. He brought in an additional $500,000 through the soft-money, 527 arm of DFA.
— Chris Cillizza

New Polls Contradict Another in Senate Race

Two new polls in Colorado’s Senate race show the open-seat contest between state Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) and brewing magnate Pete Coors (R) as a dead heat.

Salazar held a 46 percent to 45 percent lead over Coors in a survey conducted by Floyd Ciruli for the Pueblo Chieftain. The poll was in the field Sept. 14-18, sampling 600 registered voters with a 4 percent margin of error.

A Tarrance Group poll paid for by the Coors campaign showed a similar margin, with Salazar at 46 percent and Coors at 44 percent, well within the survey’s 4.5 percent margin of error. The Tarrance poll was in the field Sept. 15-16, testing 500 likely voters.

Both of these polls come only days after a poll for the Rocky Mountain News was released that showed Salazar with a 53 percent to 42 percent edge.

While strategists on both sides believe Salazar has a lead at this point, it is generally seen as 2 points to 5 points.

The seat came open in March when Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) announced he would not seek a third term.

It is one of three Republican-held open seats this cycle; Democrats have five open seats.
— C.C.

Higgins’ Poll Shows He Has Narrow Lead

Fresh off his victory in a five-way Democratic primary last week, state Assemblyman Brian Higgins has opened up a narrow lead in the open-seat race to replace retiring Rep. Jack Quinn (R).

In a poll conducted for Higgins by Cooper & Secrest Associates on Sept. 15-16, the Democrat led Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples (R) 48 percent to 43 percent. The poll of 503 likely general election voters had a 4.4 percent error margin.

The Buffalo-area race is considered one of the true House tossups this cycle. Higgins’ small lead appears to be propelled by the sentiment of 76 percent of the district’s voters that Western New York is headed on the wrong track. Naples — who defeated Higgins in a race for comptroller 11 years ago — was known by 86 percent of the voters, while Higgins was known by 76 percent.
— Josh Kurtz

Sky Fades to Black for Wilderness Proposal

A bill to create a 106,000-acre wilderness area in Snohomish County that had become a hot-button issue in the Senate race between Sen. Patty Murray (D) and Rep. George Nethercutt (R) appears to be dead for now.

Nethercutt had tried to legislatively end-run Murray by crafting an alternative to her stalled Wild Sky Wilderness proposal.

Nethercutt’s bill was scheduled to be marked up by the House Resources Committee, where Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) has insisted on certain concessions, which Nethercutt sought to accommodate.

But on Wednesday, Rep. Rick Larsen (D), whose 2nd district encompasses the Wild Sky area, rejected Nethercutt’s proposal and Pombo pulled the bill from consideration as a result, effectively preventing any action on Wild Sky legislation this year, April Isenhower, Nethercutt’s Congressional spokeswoman, conceded.

“I am deeply disappointed that Wild Sky will likely not be preserved this year,” Nethercutt said in a news release. “I believe the environment should be something that unites us — not divides us.”
— Nicole Duran

Two Polls Reveal Edge So Far for McMorris

A new poll shows state Rep. Cathy McMorris (R) leading former hotel magnate Don Barbieri (D) by double digits in the race for the open 5th district seat.

The Survey USA poll, conducted on behalf of KHQ-TV and taken Saturday through Monday, showed McMorris leading Barbieri 53 percent to 39 percent. The poll of 700 voters had a 3.8 percent error margin.

Many pollsters question Survey USA’s automated telephone methodology. But the results jibe with Monday’s National Republican Congressional Committee poll that showed McMorris leading by 12 points. 

“This third-party poll validates what we have known; Cathy McMorris is a great candidate with a commanding lead,” NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) said in a news release. 
— N.D.

Ever a Target, Northup Enjoys 7-Point Lead

A new independent poll shows Rep. Anne Northup (R) with a 7-point lead over her Democratic challenger but below the crucial 50 percent threshold.

Northup received 47 percent in the Bluegrass poll, which was conducted for the Louisville Courier-Journal, to 40 percent for Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk Tony Miller (D).

The poll was in the field Sept. 10-19 — an unusually long time — and tested 545 registered voters with a 4.2 percent margin of error.

Northup has been one of Democrats’ top targets since 1996 but has always managed to win in this Louisville-based district. The district is the most Democratic in the state, having given then-Vice President Al Gore 50 percent in 2000.

Northup has never received more than 53 percent of the vote, which she won in the presidential year of 2000.

She is one of the strongest fundraisers of either party. At the end of June, Northup had $1.75 million on hand compared to $461,000 for Miller.
— C.C.

Democratic Poll Shows House Race a Pick ’Em

Former gaming executive Tom Gallagher (D) commissioned a poll showing him statistically tied with freshman Rep. Jon Porter (R) in the Silver State’s competitive 3rd district.

The poll of 405 voters conducted Sept. 14-15 by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group with a 5 percent error margin showed Porter leading Gallagher 47 percent to 44 percent.

Gallagher’s poll comes on the heels of a Las Vegas Review-Journal survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research showing Gallagher trailing by 11 points. Porter had the support of 51 percent of voters compared to Gallagher’s 40 percent.

That poll of 300 voters with a 6 percent error margin showed Gallagher picking up steam on Porter. The newspaper’s July poll had Gallagher down 24 points.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in the swing district but not by much. Forty-one percent of registered voters are Democrats, 39 percent are Republicans and 20 percent are neither, the newspaper reported.
— N.D.

Leader Will Meet With Isakson Fans Saturday

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) will stump this weekend for Rep. Johnny Isakson (R), the leading candidate to succeed retiring Sen. Zell Miller (D).

Frist will appear in Atlanta at a grassroots organizational meeting for Isakson supporters Saturday.

“The only way to get across the finish line in November is to run every single day like we’re behind, and that is exactly what we’re going to be doing,” Isakson said in a statement.

Isakson faces Rep. Denise Majette (D). Most polls have shown the Republican with a commanding lead in the contest, but hovering at or near the critical 50 percent mark.

A recent Democratic poll showed Isakson, who was recently endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, leading by a slim 4-point margin.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Michaud Foe Hoping Bush Appearances Help

Brian Hamel, the Republican vying to unseat freshman Rep. Mike Michaud (D), should get a boost today when President Bush arrives in the sprawling northern-tier 2nd district for a rally at the Bangor International Airport.

Today’s event will mark the fifth visit by a high-profile Bush administration official to the district since March. To date, Bush, Vice President Cheney, first lady Laura Bush and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card have all made appearances. A fundraiser for Hamel hosted by Card last month raked in more than $15,000. Meanwhile, Commerce Secretary Don Evans is expected to headline an event for Hamel Sept. 28 in Boston.

The swing 2nd district is a target of national Republicans and is viewed as the most winnable district for the Bush-Cheney ticket in Maine — where electoral votes are awarded statewide and by district.

In an effort to increase his name ID, Hamel went up in the Bangor and Presque Isle media markets with a TV spot last week — the first of three ads the campaign plans to roll out over the coming weeks.
— Bree Hocking

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