Burns’ Solicitation: Max Out, Take a Trip
Sen. Conrad Burns (R) must have heard the whispers that his 2006 campaign account was looking a little bare and decided to do something about it.
Burns sent an extensive solicitation recently asking supporters to max out in their contributions to him before the next reporting period, which closes March 31.
“By sending your $10,000 political action committee check or your $4,000 individual check today, you help discourage challengers, making the difference between playing defense and playing offense,” he wrote.
For their troubles, donors are invited to join Burns on one of five trips this year and next. They can choose among the Burns Winterfest in Big Sky, Mont., a pheasant hunt, a Napa Valley wine tour in California or two other events.
Those who give the maximum allowed by the Federal Election Commission may also choose five events in Washington, D.C., to attend this year and may bring five guests each.
Checks must be postmarked by March 31 to “confer benefits throughout the next two years,” the letter reads.
Burns began the year with about $740,000, a modest amount compared to some of his colleagues but not a bad start considering that campaign dollars go a lot further in Montana than they do most other places.
Four Democrats are looking at the race, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to target the 70-year-old Senator, who won re-election in 2000 with just 51 percent of the vote.
Those Democrats mentioned so far are state Auditor John Morrison, state Senate President Jon Tester, former state House Speaker Daniel Kemmis and Leo McDonnell, president of R-CALF, a national cattleman’s association.
— Nicole Duran
Wohlgemuth Doesn’t Want Edwards Rematch
Former state Rep. Arlene Wohlgemuth (R) will not seek a rematch against Rep. Chet Edwards (D) in 2006, choosing instead to focus on her work as a lobbyist.
Wohlgemuth won a contested GOP primary in 2004 but lost to Edwards 52 percent to 47 percent in the 17th district, which runs from the Dallas suburbs south and west to include College Station — home of the fighting Texas A&M Aggies.
Edwards was the only one of the five Democrats targeted by a Republican-led re-redistricting in 2003 to escape with a victory.
As a result of the new map, Republicans picked up five seats in the Texas delegation last November.
Despite her decision, Wohlgemuth said that Edwards “definitely will not have a free ride in 2006.”
One name mentioned is retired Army Col. Dave McIntyre, who just missed making the Republican runoff in 2004.
McIntyre has a strong base in Brazos County, which includes Bryan-College Station, in which he performed extremely well in 2004.
State Sen. Steve Ogden (R) is also a potential candidate.
Edwards presents a formidable challenge for any Republican. He is a solid candidate and an extremely aggressive fundraiser.
During the 2004 campaign, Edwards raised and spent $2.6 million. He had $4,500 on hand at the end of the year.
— Chris Cillizza
My 3 Jobs: Senate Race Not on Thompson’s List
Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson seems to have dashed Republicans’ distant hope that he might surprise most everyone and challenge Sen. Herb Kohl (D) next year.
The former Badger State governor recently accepted three big jobs.
He will assume the presidency of LaCrosse, Wis.-based Logistics Health Inc. He was also named a partner at the mega-lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld. And if that was not enough, he will be the independent chairman of the Deloitte Center for Health Care Management and Transformation — and hit the lecture circuit.
None of that is to say that if the former governor, who remains very popular in Wisconsin, wanted to launch a Senatorial or gubernatorial candidacy next year that he would have any problem getting a campaign off the ground quickly.
Republicans would love to see Thompson take on Kohl, the owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, but they likely will have to be content with a B-list candidate. No Republican has entered the Senate race yet.
House Democrats Join Forces to Blast Bush Plan
In an unusually well-coordinated effort, all six of the Free State’s Democratic House Members have scheduled town hall meetings in their districts this week and next for the expressed purpose of blasting President Bush’s proposed Social Security reforms.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D), who has held two of these meetings in the 8th district during the past several days, said their events are part of the larger Democratic effort to have a presence everywhere Bush goes to tout his plan.
“We’re meeting the president everywhere he goes,” Van Hollen said.
The coordinated Maryland effort is seen as helping to fulfill the promise state party leaders made that the Congressional delegation and other top elected officials would work more closely together. House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D) is spearheading the effort.
In addition to Van Hollen and Hoyer, Democratic Reps. Benjamin Cardin, Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and Albert Wynn are also hosting town meetings on Social Security.
— Josh Kurtz
Gay Marriage Ban Bill Called Pandering to Base
State Sen. Michele Bachmann (R) is pushing her signature issue in the statehouse as she prepares to run for Congress.
Bachmann is best known for trying to ban gay marriage. On Tuesday she reintroduced a bill decreeing that marriage may be only between a man and a woman, prompting the state Senate Majority Leader to accuse Bachmann of practicing the “politics of distraction,” according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Majority Leader Dean Johnson (D) said Bachmann is attempting to ban gay marriage and civil unions solely to shore up her political base — a charge she denied.
Bachmann is one of five Republicans seeking the 6th district seat being vacated by Rep. Mark Kennedy (R), who is running for the Senate next year.
Jay Esmay, a business executive and Air Force veteran, state Rep. Jim Knoblach, state Rep. Phil Krinkie and Cheri Pierson Yecke, former state education secretary, have all entered the race for the GOP nomination.
State Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R), Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer (R) and local Republican chairman Dan Nygaard are still mulling the race in the Republican-leaning district.
Child safety advocate Patty Wetterling (D) waged a competitive campaign against Kennedy last year but she currently is exploring a Senate bid, leaving St. Cloud Mayor John Ellenbecker and Ted Thompson, who was chief of staff to then-Rep. Bill Luther (D), as the most oft-mentioned potential Democratic candidates.