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Hilleary Poll Shows He Leads GOP Senate Field

Former Rep. Van Hilleary (R) released a poll Monday that showed him comfortably ahead of the other three GOP candidates considering a bid for the soon-to-be vacant seat of Sen. Bill Frist (R).

In a head-to-head matchup with Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker, the presumptive GOP frontrunner, Hilleary led 41 percent to 11 percent.

With former Rep. Ed Bryant and state Rep. Beth Harwell included in the trial 2006 matchup, Hilleary received 31 percent to 18 percent for Bryant, 8 percent for Corker and 2 percent for Harwell.

The poll was conducted by the Anderson Group Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, testing 400 likely primary voters with a 4.9 percent margin of error.

The strong showing for Hilleary is the direct result of his high-profile gubernatorial race in 2002, which he lost to Gov. Phil Bredesen (D).

Hilleary and Bryant are friends from their days in Congress and would not likely run against each other. Bryant has just set up a Web site for a possible Senate run.

In a three-way primary matchup without Bryant included, Hilleary led with 38 percent to 9 percent for Corker and 4 percent for Harwell.

The race could grow even more complicated if Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) decides to make a bid, a decision that is expected this week.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Harold Ford Jr. is the odds-on favorite, although state Sen. Rosalind Kurita has also said she will run.

— Chris Cillizza

New Senate Candidate Coming to D.C. Today

Fresh off his announcement last week that he would run for the Senate in 2006, the Ocean State’s secretary of state, Matt Brown (D), scheduled a trip to Washington, D.C., today, where he is expected to meet with party leaders, consultants and potential supporters.

With Rep. Jim Langevin (D) still contemplating whether to run for the seat held by Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R), Brown got an early jump on the race for the Democratic nomination, signaling his intention to run through e-mails to supporters and conversations with Rhode Island journalists.

“I know the challenges people are facing every day, and the politicians in Washington are not getting the job done for them,” Brown told the Woonsocket Call.

His announcement came as officials at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are trying to lure Langevin into the race, co-sponsoring a D.C. fundraiser for the Congressman Feb. 16.

While recent press accounts in Rhode Island suggest that Langevin is likely to enter the contest, Brown’s candidacy is a reminder that the three-term Congressman will not have an easy path to the Democratic nomination. Brown, 35, is an aggressive campaigner who knocked off his predecessor in a Democratic primary in 2002.

Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty (D) and state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (D) have also been mentioned as possible Senate candidates in 2006. But a spokeswoman for Fogarty told the Call that Fogarty would support Langevin if the Congressman runs for Senate and would consider running for his House seat if he does.

Meanwhile, Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey continues to be mentioned as a possible GOP primary challenger to Chafee, who is far and away the most moderate Republican in the Senate.
— Josh Kurtz

Pallone Sets Up Senate Campaign Web Site

Ramping up his effort to win a Senate appointment early next year, Rep. Frank Pallone (D) launched a new campaign Web site last week.

In a news release announcing the site,, Pallone called the site an “online home for New Jersey progressives” and said it will also be used to organize Democratic activists around the state.

Pallone is openly campaigning for an appointment to the Senate, in the event Sen. Jon Corzine (D) wins the state’s governorship in November 2005.

If elected, Corzine would appoint his Senate replacement, who could then run for a full term in November 2006.

Pallone was the first Member of the state’s Congressional delegation to endorse Corzine, who appears likely to coast to the Democratic nomination now that acting Gov. Richard Codey (D) has said he will not run. Recent polls have shown Corzine leading potential Republican gubernatorial nominees.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Bouchard Hopes There’s a New Sheriff in Town

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard (R) told a Detroit radio station Monday that he will be a candidate for Senate next year.

“Now is the right time to move forward,” Bouchard, a former state Senator, said on WJR-AM.

Bouchard becomes the second Republican to formally enter the race to take on Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) in 2006. National Republicans believe the freshman Senator is vulnerable but have been unable to lure a big-name GOPer into the race thus far.

Bouchard, 48, was appointed as sheriff in Oakland County, which is home to many of Detroit’s northern suburbs, in 1999. He was elected to the position in 2000 and 2004.

Industrial engineer Bart Baron is the only Republican to have formally entered the race. The Rev. Keith Butler, a former Detroit city councilman, has set up an exploratory committee. Former Rep. Nick Smith (R), who retired at the end of 2004, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.
— J.K.

Hoyer Formally Douses Governor Speculation

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D) last week formally threw water on the rumor that he was considering running for governor in 2006.

“If I wanted to run for governor, I could make a good case why I would be a good candidate,” Hoyer was quoted as saying in Friday’s Gazette of Politics and Business. But he went on to say: “I want to make this very clear. I’m not running for governor now, and I’m not running in the future.”

As they look to unseat Gov. Bob Ehrlich, the first Republican governor in the state in more than 30 years, some Democrats have suggested that Hoyer, with his decades of public service and proven votegetting ability in conservative Southern Maryland, would be a good nominee.

While he won’t be a candidate for governor, Hoyer vowed to be a broker and peacemaker in what is likely to be a spirited Democratic primary contest between Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley.

“I certainly don’t fear a contested primary,” O’Malley told The Gazette. “I think Steny Hoyer will make sure it’s not a divisive primary.”
— J.K.

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