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Case, Raising Money, Keeps Options Open

Rep. Ed Case (D) is wasting no time gearing up for re-election.

Case is hosting his first fundraiser of the 2006 cycle later this month in Hawaii. He is asking for $2,000 per table of 10 at the dinner, to be held March 31 at the Royal Hawaii Hotel, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu.

Case, who was elected to a second full term with 63 percent of the vote in November, is the most junior member of Hawaii’s long-serving delegation and has expressed interest in moving up to the Senate or possibly into the governor’s mansion.

He told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin last week that he would definitely pursue a Senate race if one of the Aloha State’s veteran Senators moved on or retired, but he did not rule out challenging Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) or Gov. Linda Lingle (R) next year. Case unsuccessfully sought the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2002.

“I haven’t ruled out running for governor, Senate or re-election,” the paper quoted him as saying.

Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) was just re-elected overwhelmingly last year.
— Nicole Duran

NEW MEXICO
Recess Over, Wilson Raising Money in D.C.

Rep. Heather Wilson (R), a perennial Democratic target, will turn her attention to raising money today, with two fundraising events planned.

Both events carry $1,000 price tags.

At noon, lobbying powerhouse Dutko Worldwide will host a Capitol Hill luncheon on the Congresswoman’s behalf.

And even though she recently lost a key assignment on the Armed Services Committee, Wilson will be feted in the evening at a fundraiser aimed at attracting defense industry donors. Industry lobbyists Paul Heilig and Doc Syers will serve as hosts of the affair, which will take place at Andale on Seventh Street Northwest.

After enduring several nailbiters, Wilson won her past two races — both against then-state Senate President Pro Tem Richard Romero (D) — by 10 points. Still, Democrats are once again likely to devote major resources to recapturing the Albuquerque-based 1st district seat, even though they have no strong candidates running yet.
— Josh Kurtz

Former Democrat Says He’ll Take on Bingaman

A controversial former state Senator told the Albuquerque Tribune recently that he is planning to challenge Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) in 2006.

Former state Sen. Tom Benavides, a Democrat turned Republican who was the Democratic nominee against Sen. Pete Domenici (R) in 1990, and captured just 27 percent of the vote, called Bingaman out of touch with the state.

“I don’t like his philosophy,” Benavides said of the four-term Senator. “He hasn’t done anything for New Mexico.”

Benavides is hardly the marquee candidate the GOP is hoping to attract to the Senate race.

A real estate broker and lobbyist who spent 16 years in the Legislature, Benavides is best known for the eye patch he wears and for his longstanding campaign to name a portion of the Albuquerque region Benavides County, after his ancestors who settled there generations ago. He once introduced a bill to legalize betting on ostrich races.

Benavides attempted a political comeback in a state Senate race last year, losing to a Democratic incumbent.

“It was good practice, and it got me some exposure,” Benavides told the Tribune.

Benavides, who spent just $38,000 on his 1990 Senate race, said he plans to raise about $4 million for the Bingaman challenge and will use his own money if necessary.

National Republicans are hoping to lure Rep. Heather Wilson (R) into the Senate race, but she is far more likely to seek re-election and wait for a Senate vacancy. Other potential GOP candidates include former Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley, state Rep. Dan Foley and 2002 gubernatorial nominee John Sanchez.
— J.K.

PENNSYLVANIA
Fattah in No Hurry to Decide on Mayor’s Race

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D) will decide by the end of this year whether he’ll run for Philadelphia mayor in 2007, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Monday.

Regardless of his decision, he said he will seek re-election to his 2nd district seat in 2006.

“I am accelerating my process of talking to people about the [mayor’s] race, and I’ve been more than pleased with the level of potential support I’ve found in diverse elements of the Philadelphia community,” Fattah told the newspaper.

Fattah’s statement comes on the heels of a primary threat from Philadelphia NAACP President Jerry Mondesire, who recently said he would challenge the Congressman next year unless he quells speculation about his interest in the mayoral race, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported recently.

“He’s a 300-pound gorilla in a small cage, playing games for his own agenda,” Mondesire recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s arrogant.”

Mondesire argues that Fattah’s interest in the race has essentially frozen the organizing efforts of other black candidates mulling a run, a list that includes a city councilman and a state legislator. Mayor John Street (D) is term limited.

Fattah said he’d welcome a challenge from Mondesire.

“I ran against incumbents to get into the state House, the Senate, and the Congress,” Fattah told the Daily News. “I’d be the last person to say someone shouldn’t run.”

Because the mayoral race is held in an off-election year, Fattah would not be forced to relinquish his Congressional seat unless he wins.
— Lauren W. Whittington

RHODE ISLAND
Abortion Rights Groups Picket Langevin Event

Abortion rights advocates signaled they will not give Rep. James Langevin (D) a pass if he opts to challenge Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) next year.

About 40 activists picketed his big Providence fundraiser Monday night, assailing him for not supporting abortion rights, the Providence Journal reported Tuesday.

Langevin is supposed to decide on the race by April 1, but groups such as EMILY’s List have already expressed displeasure that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee seems to be lining up behind Langevin, despite his abortion stance and the presence of Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown (D), who supports abortion rights, in the Senate race.

Chafee also supports abortion rights.

The protest comes on the heels of a New York Times article that highlighted a letter to the DSCC penned by Victoria Hopper, wife of actor Dennis Hopper, and signed by 16 other Hollywood donors, expressing their primary support for Brown and their opposition to a Langevin candidacy on the basis of the abortion issue.

The DSCC has been encouraging Langevin to run, but the abortion rights groups are saying that he cannot count on their money if he does.

Nonetheless, flanked by Sen. Jack Reed (D) and Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D), Langevin raised about $250,000 Monday night, according to the Journal.
— N.D.

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