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Kennedy Pays Himself Back Before Senate Run

Rep. Mark Kennedy (R) appears to be tying up some loose ends on the campaign finance front in preparation for a 2006 Senate run.

Along with filing a year-end report this week for his successful 2004 re-election campaign, he recently paid off personal loans and closed his 2000 campaign committee.

Kennedy had still owed himself $94,300, plus 5 percent interest, from his first Congressional contest.

He paid himself back just before Christmas and closed the books on that campaign and terminated the committee, leaving him with just his 2004 committee to use as a Senatorial springboard if he decides to challenge Sen. Mark Dayton (D) in two years.

As of the end of the year, Kennedy had just $66,000 in that account after political neophyte Patty Wetterling (D) made him spend $2.3 million to beat her in November. Wetterling is contemplating another race for Kennedy’s House seat, whether he runs for Senate or not.

— Nicole Duran

Bill Would Create New Study of Redistricting

Despite the fact that the last round of redistricting in 2002 yielded the Democrats two extra seats in Congress from the Free State, two Democratic state lawmakers have introduced a bill in the Legislature to study redistricting in Maryland, with an eye toward reforming the process.

The bill would create a 15-member commission to examine the way Congressional and legislative redistricting is handled in the state and recommend changes. The bill calls for commission members to be appointed by the governor and the presiding officers of the state Senate and the House of Delegates.

Redistricting is handled in Maryland by the governor and the Legislature, and is always a nasty, partisan affair. After the 2000 Census, then-Gov. Parris Glendening (D) and Democratic lawmakers drew a Congressional map that helped now-Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) and Chris Van Hollen (D) win seats that previously had been held by Republican incumbents, giving Democrats a 6-2 edge in the House delegation.

But Glendening’s legislative map wound up in court and was drastically redrawn by the state Court of Appeals.

Ironically, the House and Senate sponsors of the redistricting bill come from the legislative district that Van Hollen represented in Annapolis before he was elected to Congress.

The bill does not appear to be aimed at Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich, who has been feuding with Democratic legislative leaders lately. Even if Ehrlich is re-elected in 2006, the next round of redistricting won’t take place until 2011 or 2012, when he will have left office.
— Josh Kurtz

Filner Faces Primary From Longtime Rival

Rep. Bob Filner (D) appears to be headed to a nasty Democratic primary rematch in 2006 with term-limited state Assemblyman Juan Vargas, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on Tuesday.

The two originally squared off in 1992 for an open seat. Filner won 26 percent in a crowded primary field; Vargas finished fourth with 19 percent.

Vargas then won an election to succeed Filner on the San Diego City Council, and in 1996, Filner beat Vargas 55 percent to 45 percent in another Democratic Congressional primary.

But the San Diego-based 51st district has changed substantially since 1996, and now has a 53 percent Latino population. The new lines were apparently drawn in the Legislature at Vargas’ insistence, the Union-Tribune reported.

Vargas told the newspaper that Filner is “out of step with the district,” arguing that the Congressman is too liberal, even though the 51st is a Democratic stronghold. But Filner defended his record.

“He says he’s a moderate,” Filner said. “I don’t know what the hell that means. Is he going to be moderate in working for jobs and education and health care? My district wants someone who will fight for the things we need.”
— J.K.

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