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Ohio: Governor Sets Dates for Special House Election

Gov. Bob Taft (R) on Tuesday set the date of the special election to succeed Rep. Rob Portman (R), who was sworn in as U.S. trade representative last week.

The primary will be held June 14, and the special general election will take place Aug. 2.

Already six Republicans and six Democrats have declared their candidacies for the Cincinnati-area seat.

The district heavily favors Republicans, and the winner of the GOP primary will be the odds-on favorite to win the seat.

Hamilton County Commissioner Pat DeWine (R), the son of Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), is the early frontrunner in the race.

Others seeking the GOP nod include former Rep. Bob McEwen, state Rep. Tom Brinkman and former state Rep. Jean Schmidt.

— Lauren W. Whittington

Brown Ends Speculation on a Gubernatorial Bid

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D), whose name is frequently floated for statewide office, has ended speculation that he might run for governor in 2006.

Brown, a former Ohio secretary of state, has represented the 13th district since 1992.

When Brown does vacate the seat, the Democratic-leaning swing district could see a competitive race to succeed him.

— L.W.W.

Texas: Quan Opens Committee to Explore DeLay Race

Houston City Councilman Gordon Quan became the latest Democrat to test the waters against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R), forming an exploratory committee for the race Tuesday.

“The 22nd district needs a fresh face and a new perspective,” Quan said in a news release. “The citizens of the 22nd district are not being fairly represented when their Congressman is spending all his time answering charges of ethics violations.”

Quan joins former 9th district Rep. Nick Lampson in the Democratic field. Lampson filed papers with the Federal Election Commission last week, which allows him to begin raising money for the race. A third candidate, attorney Richard Morrison (D), dropped his bid at around the same time Lampson entered the contest, citing familial obligations. Morrison held DeLay to 55 percent in 2004.

DeLay’s Houston-area district still tilts heavily to Republicans, but Democrats believe the ethical troubles surrounding his foreign travel and the ongoing charges of campaign finance violations can make the seat competitive.

— Chris Cillizza

Rhode Island: Poll: Chafee Leading Democrats but Below 50

A recent poll conducted by a local television station cannot be very heartening for Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R).

WPRI-Channel 12 in Providence tested Chafee against both Democrats who have declared their desire to challenge the freshman Senator next year.

In the poll, released Tuesday, Chafee did not reach the pivotal 50 percent mark, despite being matched up with two lesser-known opponents, and large percentages of Rhode Islanders are undecided a year and a half before the election.

Former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse sized up best. He trailed Chafee 41 percent to 31 percent with 27 percent of voters undecided.

Against first-term Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown, Chafee was supported by 44 percent of those surveyed, while Brown garnered 27 percent, and 28 percent opted not to state a preference.

The poll of 402 registered voters had a 5 percent error margin.

— Nicole Duran

West Virginia: Still Pondering, Capito Hits Lincoln Day Events

As she continues to ponder a Senate run, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R) was the keynote speaker at two Lincoln Day dinners outside of her 2nd district in the past week.

Capito addressed the Greenbrier County GOP’s annual fundraising dinner in Anthony on Saturday. On Monday night she keynoted the Raleigh County Lincoln Day festivities in Beckley.

Both counties are in the 3rd district, represented by Rep. Nick Rahall (D).

Capito is Republicans’ dream candidate to challenge Sen. Robert Byrd (D) in 2006. Byrd has not yet declared whether he will seek a ninth term but is gearing up for a competitive campaign.

Polling released by the National Republican Senatorial Committee in April showed Capito losing to Byrd by a 10-point margin in a hypothetical matchup.

Capito, who is in her third term, is expected to make a decision about the race in coming months.

— L.W.W.

California: Proven Fundraiser May Challenge Pombo in ’06

State Sen. Michael Machado (D) is contemplating challenging House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R) in 2006, the Stockton Record reported this week.

Democrats have long targeted Pombo, and the 11th district, in the San Joaquin Valley and East Bay, is competitive on paper. President Bush beat Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) there by 9 points in the 2004 presidential election.

But Pombo has racked up solid victories since his first close election in 1992.

Still, in Machado the Democrats would have a candidate who has shown an ability to raise a lot of money — he spent more than $4 million on a tough re-election bid last year — and is a proven votegetter in a district that overlaps with much of the 11th.

— Josh Kurtz

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