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The unofficial Congressional campaign of former state legislator Dawn Gibbons seems pretty official these days.

Last week the wife of Rep. Jim Gibbons (R), who is all but officially running for governor next year, was the beneficiary of a Washington, D.C., fundraiser hosted by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Gibbons hopes to win her husband’s 2nd district seat next year, though technically she is only exploring the option right now.

Donors had to pay $500 per individual or $1,000 per political action committee to help the noncandidate at the reception, which was held Wednesday at the National Mining Association’s headquarters.

Coincidentally Young, along with House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) and Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah), are officially lined up to support Dawn Gibbons, should she run for the seat, according to her exploratory committee Web site.

As Nevada columnist Jon Ralston noted in his political tip sheet, the Ralston Report: “So all these folks are on board the Dawn Gibbons Congressional train? Really?

“Good for other Republicans [who have expressed an interest in the seat] to know, including Secretary of State Dean Heller (R) and others who might be considering the race, such as Assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R), who apparently can’t count on the backing of” some key state legislative leaders.

“I just hope the Congressman realizes that if he changes his mind now and tries to run for re-election, his wife has a lot of support sewn up — including key Congressmen he works with who apparently don’t believe he is just exploring the governor’s race — and would be the favorite to beat him,” Ralston concluded.
— Nicole Duran

Heinz Says He’s Not Ready to Take On Hart

Chris Heinz, the stepson of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), officially declared this week that he will not challenge Rep. Melissa Hart (R) next year.

The 32-year-old Heinz was considered state and national Democrats’ dream candidate to take on Hart, who has never faced a stiff re-election challenge in her Pittsburgh-area district.

Heinz, the son of Teresa Heinz Kerry and the late Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.), said there were other things he wanted to do in his life right now, but he did not close the door on a future run.

“I’m definitely not doing it in 2006,” Heinz told The Associated Press. “I’ve thought about it in my life, but it’s just not right at this particular time.”
— Lauren W. Whittington

Appointment to Boost Mayor’s Political Profile

In a development that could have implications for Golden State Congressional races, Fresno Mayor Alan Autry (R) was appointed last week to serve on a key U.S. Commerce Department advisory committee.

Autry, a former football player and actor who is widely touted as a future candidate for House and Senate, was named to the Commerce Department’s Secretarial Advisory Committee for the Strengthening of America’s Communities Initiative. The committee, which held its first meeting last week in Fresno, should provide Autry with an additional credential — and platform — as he charts his political future.

“The work they will do is vital to the state of our economy,” said Rep. George Radanovich (R), who recommended Autry for the post.

It is not clear what the future holds for Autry. He lives in Radanovich’s House district and is unlikely to want to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), who appears unbeatable, in 2006.

But a new Congressional district in the Central Valley could be crafted in the next round of redistricting. And Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) may seem like a more appealing target than Feinstein in 2010.
— Josh Kurtz

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