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Race to Replace Green in Wisconsin Gets Its First Democrat

A Democrat has announced his candidacy for the 8th district seat Rep. Mark Green (R) is vacating to run for governor.

Jamie Wall, a 33-year-old Green Bay businessman who has never before sought elective office, launched his campaign Sunday.

A business consultant and former Rhodes Scholar, Wall previously headed Wisconsin’s economic development programs through the state’s Commerce Department.

In becoming the first Democrat to enter the race, he cited his work helping businesses grow and adding jobs as the reason why he is qualified to sit in Congress.

On the Republican side, state Rep. Terri McCormick is the only announced candidate, though several others are still mulling the race, including Assembly Speaker John Gard.

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) recently attended a state Republican Party fundraiser with Green and Gard, though his presence was not intended to denote support for any single 8th district candidate.
— Nicole Duran

It’s the Pritts: Would-Be Candidate Drops Out

Drew Pritt (D), a former substitute teacher who announced his candidacy in the 5th district earlier this year, is no longer seeking to challenge Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R) in the Badger State.

Pritt’s recent announcement leaves University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee professor of Portuguese Brian Kennedy, who lost handily to Sensenbrenner last year, as the only candidate running on the Democratic side.
— N.D.

GOP Dropout Signals a Likely Beauprez Run

In the clearest sign yet that 7th district Rep. Bob Beauprez (R) is planning to enter the Colorado governor’s race, one of his main rivals — state Treasurer Mike Coffman — has dropped his bid for the state’s top office.

Coffman said that Beauprez possesses the “ability and the financial resources necessary to win” the governor’s race.

Privately, Republican strategists in Washington, D.C., acknowledge that barring a major change of heart, Beauprez will run for governor in 2006.

Such a move would create an open-seat race in the suburban Denver district he represents, which is one of the most closely divided along partisan lines in the country.

Beauprez won it in 2002 by just 121 votes over former state Sen. Mike Feeley (D). He won an easier victory in 2004.

Coffman plans to make a decision within the next month regarding his political future.

Many observers expect him to jump into the 7th district race, where he would join Colorado Commission on Higher Education Director Rick O’Donnell — the runner-up to Beauprez in the 2002 GOP primary — on the Republican side.

Among Democrats, former state Sen. Ed Perlmutter, former state Rep. Peggy Lamm and 2004 6th district nominee Joanna Conti have signaled their intention to run next year.
— Chris Cillizza

Reports: Redistricting Reform May Be Delayed

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) decision late last week to pull the plug on his pension reform proposal for state employees has political analysts suggesting that his overall reform package — including changing the way Congressional and legislative districts are drawn — may also be in jeopardy.

Schwarzenegger proposed several sweeping reforms in his January State of the State speech, including taking redistricting powers away from the Legislature and putting them with a panel of retired judges.

Supporters of the governor’s plan have been collecting petition signatures to put the redistricting measure on the November ballot. If it passes, new Congressional and legislative lines would have to be drawn before the 2006 elections.

Several articles in California newspapers during the past few days contained speculation that Schwarzenegger may soon be retreating on some of his other reform measures, including redistricting. Both the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle suggested that while the redistricting proposal has some popular support and is seen as a genuine good government measure, Schwarzenegger may have to relent on redrawing the lines before the 2010 Census.
— Josh Kurtz

Quarterback Sneak in Taylor’s House District?

Former NFL quarterback Heath Shuler, who did a three-year stint with the Washington Redskins in the mid-1990s, is eyeing a possible return to the nation’s capital — this time to a tonier address several blocks west of RFK Stadium.

Shuler is considering running as a Democrat against veteran Rep. Charles Taylor (R) in 2006, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported last week.

“He is considering it,” Randy Flack, a Shuler family friend and adviser, told the newspaper. “There’s a chance of him saying, ‘I am not interested.’ His main consideration is the fact that he has young children. He wants to be active in their formative years.”

Flack said that Shuler does not have a timetable for making an announcement, and also he held out the possibility that Shuler would spend his personal money if he entered the race.

Shuler, a star quarterback at the University of Tennessee, was Washington’s first-round draft pick in 1994. He ended his career in 1997, after one season with the New Orleans Saints.

Shuler, 33, moved to western North Carolina in late 2003. He still owns a real estate business based in Knoxville, Tenn., and has no previous political experience.

Tennessee Republicans tried to recruit Shuler to run for an open House seat in 2002, but he passed. That same year Shuler campaigned for then-Rep. Ed Bryant’s (R-Tenn.) unsuccessful Senate primary bid.

Taylor is currently in his eighth term and holds a powerful position as a cardinal on the Appropriations Committee.

A multimillionaire who primarily self-finances his campaigns, Taylor has been targeted by national Democrats in recent years but has continued to win re-election handily. Last year, he beat Buncombe County Commissioner Patsy Keever (D) 55 percent to 45 percent.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Despite No Challenger, Ensign Still Raises Cash

Sen. John Ensign (R) does not have a Democratic challenger yet, but that has not stopped him from fundraising for next year’s re-election campaign.

On Friday, partners with the Jones Vargas law firm in Reno will host a $500-per-person reception for the freshman Senator, the Ralston Report, a daily Nevada political tip sheet, has reported.
— N.D.

AP: Coleman Was Most Generous GOP Senator

Freshman Sen. Norm Coleman (R) was the most generous Senator to GOP candidates last cycle.

Coleman, who unsuccessfully sought to head the National Republican Senatorial Committee earlier this year, gave $200,000 to Republican candidates through his Northstar leadership political action committee, The Associated Press reported Saturday.
— N.D.

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