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Redistricting Case Sent Back to 3-Judge Panel

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ordered a three-judge federal panel to review the Republican-led Texas redistricting plan, handing Democrats a minor psychological victory — even though any subsequent ruling will not affect the 2004 election.

The Supreme Court decision to force a lower court to review the Congressional lines following a Democratic lawsuit is the latest in more than two years of back and forth over the configuration of Texas’ House districts.

After taking over the state House in 2002, Republicans reopened the map drawn by a federal judge and rejiggered the lines to endanger eight Democratic Members.

Two have already lost in primaries while five others — including former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Martin Frost — are facing difficult re-election races. Rep. Jim Turner (D) is retiring.

In a statement released Monday, Frost said that “we had known from the day the map was drawn that it was controversial.” He also emphasized that any changes in the districts would not go into effect until after 2004.

At the center of the dispute over the state lines is the allegation by Democrats that the new map was drawn solely for political reasons. Faced with a similar question in Pennsylvania, the court left open the possibility that a map could be overturned due to overt partisanship.
— Chris Cillizza

Michaud, Republican Trade Charges Over Ads

Although freshman Rep. Mike Michaud (D) is believed to be leading Republican challenger Brian Hamel in the contest for the northern 2nd district seat, that hasn’t stopped things from getting ugly.

In recent weeks the two campaigns have sparred over the truthfulness of their respective ads. On Saturday, the Hamel camp for the first time expanded its ad buy to the Portland media market, which covers only about 15 percent of the sprawling district. This week, the campaign sent out an e-mail plea to supporters, requesting donations so that the ad, scheduled to air for one week, could run for a second week.

“If we raise $60,000 … I’m confident we can fund our budget,” Hamel’s campaign manager Ben Golnik wrote in the e-mail. “If we don’t, we could be forced to ‘go dark’ in the final days — leaving Mike Michaud alone on the airwaves.”

On Monday, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) is slated to headline a $25 per person breakfast fundraiser for Hamel in Bangor.
— Bree Hocking

Senator Clinton to Host a Second Higgins Event

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is scheduled to host a second fundraiser for state Assemblyman Brian Higgins, the Democrat seeking to replace Rep. Jack Quinn (R) in the Buffalo-area 27th district.

Clinton and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) will headline an Oct. 26 fundraiser for Higgins in Manhattan. The former first lady already hosted a fundraiser for Higgins in her Washington, D.C., home in late September.

The race between Higgins and Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples (R) is considered one of the true tossups of the cycle.

On Monday, Higgins appeared with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in front of the General Mills factory in Buffalo to criticize Naples for her opposition to raising the minimum wage. Naples, meanwhile, pledged Monday to vote against any attempts to privatize Social Security.
— Josh Kurtz

Giuliani Starpower to Shine on Rep. Shays

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) will travel to Stamford Friday to raise money for Rep. Christopher Shays (R) as the Congressman seeks to beat back his first serious challenge in several cycles.

The event, which will be held at the Westin hotel in Stamford, is the second appearance by a national Republican figure on Shays’ behalf in recent weeks. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) stumped for Shays earlier in the month.

The attention being paid to Shays comes as a result of the campaign being mounted by Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell (D) and the Democratic tilt of the southwestern Connecticut 4th district.

As of Sept. 30, Farrell had raised $1.25 million for the race with $422,000 left to spend. Shays has turned on the fundraising spigot himself with $1.7 million raised and $879,000 on hand at the end of last month.

Though Shays has held the seat with relative ease since winning a 1987 special election to replace the late Rep. Stewart McKinney (R), the district favors Democrats.

In 2000, then-Vice President Al Gore won it by 10 points over George W. Bush.

A recent poll done by the University of Connecticut showed Shays with a 44 percent to 37 percent edge over Farrell.
— C.C.

Nethercutt Wants Debate to Be Broadcast Again

In a twist on the “debate over debates” common to campaigns, Rep. George Nethercutt (R), attempting to highlight the scarcity of one-on-one encounters between himself and Sen. Patty Murray (D), has offered to pay half the cost of rebroadcasting their first debate.

The catch — he wants Murray to pay the other half (while making it seem as if Murray is ducking debates).

“Friday’s debate was a rare opportunity for Murray and me to discuss the issues facing our state and nation,” Nethercutt said during a conference call with reporters Monday. “It’s not fair to the voters in Yakima, Tacoma, or Walla Walla where there have been debate offers but Murray has refused to accept the challenge.”

Murray did not immediately respond.
— Nicole Duran