Rep. Christopher Shays (R) sought to put to rest rumors that he would run for governor or Senate if re-elected next month but in the process opened the door to a possible future run for mayor of Bridgeport.
“I would probably think about running for the mayor of Bridgeport,” Shays told several local reporters last week. “It is a city with so much promise.”
Shays repeatedly asserted that serving in Congress is still his preference and his staff attributed the comment to the hypothetical nature of the questions being asked.
Even so, Democrats tried to make political hay out the statement in hopes of bolstering the chances of Westport First Selectwoman Dianne Farrell (D), who is challenging Shays in the fall.
“Chris is a little bit more political than people give him credit for so I can’t imagine he would have said that off the top of his head,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Robert Matsui (Calif.) on Friday.
For the first time in the past eight years, Democrats are mounting a serious challenge to Shays in the Democratic-leaning 4th district, which gave then-Vice President Al Gore a 10-point victory in 2000.
— Chris Cillizza
Bush to Brew Up Cash for Coors’ Campaign
President Bush was scheduled to raise money for brewing magnate Pete Coors (R) Monday in Denver, one of only a handful of fundraisers the president has done for Congressional candidates this cycle.
The $1,000-per-plate fundraiser will provide a significant boost to Coors in the final three weeks of the race, with polling showing state Attorney General Ken Salazar (D) with a small but solid edge over the Republican.
The seat came open in March when two-term Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R) announced his retirement.
Democrats see the Colorado race as one of their best pickup opportunities in the country. It is one of three Republican open seats this cycle; the others are in Oklahoma and Illinois.
In the past two years, Bush has raised money for the re-election bids of Sens. Kit Bond (Mo.) and Arlen Specter (Pa.) as well as Reps. Richard Burr (N.C.) and George Nethercutt (Wash.), who are running for the Senate this cycle.
DSCC Kicks In $500K To Hoeffel Campaign
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last week contributed $500,000 in coordinated funds to Rep. Joe Hoeffel’s (D) bid to defeat Sen. Arlen Specter (R).
The money will go toward funding television ads.
“The DSCC has made a significant investment in Joe Hoeffel’s campaign because they know that Pennsylvanians have had enough of Arlen Specter and they’re ready for a change,” said Hoeffel campaign spokeswoman Kristin Carvell.
Most recent polling has shown the four-term Senator with a wide lead over the suburban Philadelphia Congressman, although a Keystone poll released last week showed Specter with a single-digit lead for the first time.
Under new campaign finance regulations, the DSCC can contribute up to $1.4 million in coordinated funds to Hoeffel. The committee can make unlimited independent expenditures on his behalf.
— Lauren W. Whittington
NRCC Hit on Jennings: Massachusetts Is Home
The National Republican Congressional Committee began airing an ad last week that paints Democrat Jon Jennings as a newcomer to Indiana who doesn’t share the same Hoosier values with residents of the 8th district. Jennings has been touted as a top-tier challenger to Rep. John Hostettler (R).
The ad notes that Jennings lived in Boston for more than 10 years and just registered to vote in Indiana last year. It also charges that Jennings “has taken more money from out of state than from families here in Indiana.”
The ad features numerous caricatures of Jennings dressed in Boston-themed outfits, and ends with his face superimposed over a Boston Red Sox player.
“The first Hoosier value is honesty,” an announcers says in the spot. “Apparently it’s not one that Jon Jennings learned in Boston.”
In response to the ad, Jennings’ campaign released a statement reiterating that he was in fact born and raised in Indiana and that he, like Indiana native and NBA superstar Larry Bird, went to Boston because he had the opportunity to work for the Celtics basketball team. He also said the ad shows how concerned Republicans are about the race.
“The simple fact that the NRCC is being forced to air advertisements at the beginning of October shows how worried they are about this race,” Jennings said. “They know that John Hostettler has done nothing to improve the lives of Hoosiers in the 8th district, and they know we are offering voters a positive message and a vision for the future.”
No recent polling has been made public in the contest. Hostettler had a bench warrant briefly issued for him last week after he failed to meet the deadline for paying court costs related to his conviction for carrying a concealed gun into Louisville International Airport.
In Ad, Majette Prefers Paper to China
Rep. Denise Majette (D) began airing her first television ads of the Senate campaign last week. The spot, titled “Plates,” features Majette in a kitchen talking about her proposals to pass a new GI Bill and to create a national lottery for education.
“The big money contributors all support the other guy. They have dinners on fancy china. In my campaign, we use these,” she says as she holds up a paper plate. “But that’s OK. I’ll be nobody’s Senator but yours.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Johnny Isakson (R) also launched a new ad last week, his second of the general election campaign.
“Every Child” focuses on education and features several teachers, parents and school kids. It touts his record as a past chairman of the state board of education and his role in helping to write the No Child Left Behind legislation.
The spot ran through the Columbus Day weekend in the Albany, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon and Savannah media markets.
AARP Responds to Ad, Reiterates Its Neutrality
The Georgia AARP released a statement last week reiterating its neutrality in the 12th district, after Rep. Max Burns (R) began airing an ad that the group says implies that it has endorsed his candidacy.
The ad, “Aunt Lou,” features the Congressman’s aunt talking about the Medicare reform legislation enacted by Congress last fall. Burns’ opponent, Athens-Clarke County Commissioner John Barrow (D), has been running an ad attacking the Republican for supporting the legislation.
“John Barrow is wrong,” she says in the ad. “The AARP and my Max Burns are right.”
“AARP does not support, or oppose, any candidate for political office,” Kenneth Mitchell, state director of the Georgia AARP said in a statement. “AARP is non-partisan, has no political action committee and is not a part of, or a contributor to, any fund for political candidates at any level of government.”
Mitchell said the group advised both national parties earlier this year to inform their candidates not to refer to or use the AARP name in any campaign material.
Ex-President, Ex-Coach Endorse in Senate Race
Both Sooner State Senate candidates are calling in the big guns as they seek to boost support for their campaigns.
Former President George H.W. Bush will campaign for former Rep. Tom Coburn (R) on Oct. 19.
Meanwhile, Rep. Brad Carson (D) was endorsed last week by former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer, who also coached the Dallas Cowboys.
Switzer called Carson a “good Oklahoma conservative” and “the only candidate in this race who we can trust to fight for Oklahoma.”
Switzer was scheduled to campaign with Carson at a tailgate last weekend during the Oklahoma-University of Texas football showdown.
Bush 41 Repays Favor to Senate Candidate
Republican Senate nominee Tim Michels served former President George H.W. Bush as commander of the Army Honor Guard in Washington, D.C., for two years.
Now Bush is returning the favor.
The 41st president is scheduled to headline a luncheon fundraiser for Michels on Oct. 21 at the Midwest Express Center convention hall in downtown Milwaukee.
The Bush appearance should help Michels in his uphill battle against two-term Sen. Russ Feingold (D).
Now a successful construction company executive, Michels put $1.5 million of his own money into his Republican primary victory last month. But he is hoping to limit his personal expenditures in the general election.
— Josh Kurtz