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South Dakota: Thune to Host Kickoff Fundraiser for His PAC

Sen. John Thune (R) will hold a kickoff fundraiser May 18 in Washington, D.C., for his new leadership political action committee.

The event, which will benefit Thune’s Heartland Values PAC, will be attended by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.), Senate Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.), Senate Vice Chairwoman Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) and Republican Policy Committee Chairman Jon Kyl (Ariz.).

The fundraiser is twofold; guests attending the reception at Charlie Palmer Steak are asked to give $1,000, while those staying for the dinner at the Capitol Hill restaurant must pony up $5,000.

Thune is one of the fundraising stars on the Republican side following his defeat of then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D) last November. In that race, Thune raised $16 million in just over 10 months.

He formed the leadership PAC in January.

— Chris Cillizza

Virginia: Lawyer Files Papers to Challenge Rep. Davis

Rep. Tom Davis (R) will have a Democratic challenger come Election Day 2006.

Andrew Hurst, a litigation partner in the Washington, D.C., and Falls Church offices of Reed Smith, has just filed to run for the Democratic nomination in the 11th Congressional district, which Davis has represented for six terms. So far, Hurst, a New Jersey native who has never run for public office, is the only person to file for the Democratic race.

“I’ve never liked the way Tom Davis ran things around here,” said Hurst, 35, who has worked at the law firm since 1995. “He’s more like a kingmaker. I haven’t liked the way he and [House Majority Leader] Tom DeLay and others in Congress do business.”

Robert White, Davis’ press secretary said: “Congressman Davis will run a vigorous campaign as he always does. He looks forward to the race and the opportunity to discuss his strong record.”

Even though he’s a political newcomer, Hurst said he’s qualified because of his experience on behalf of clients as well as work he did on the national finance committee for the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

While Davis has piled up big victories, the Northern Virginia district has become a battleground in presidential elections, giving President Bush a 1-point victory over Kerry last year.

Hurst said he filed early so he could start raising money. “As a newcomer, I have a lot to do to beat Tom Davis,” he said.

When it comes to campaign issues, Hurst said he plans to focus on campaign finance and ethics matters.

Hurst added that he plans to put a statement on his Web site that says “lobbyists exercise undue influence” in Congress and trade “money and favors for legislation.”

“There are a lot of good bills and ideas that don’t get addressed because every decision is made politically,” he said.

— Kate Ackley

Nevada: Heller Leads D. Gibbons in GOP Primary Survey

Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller leads former state Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons in a new poll of Republican primary voters in the 2nd district.

An independent Strategic Solutions poll of 325 Republicans, conducted April 27, showed a plurality of voters, 43 percent, were undecided. Heller garnered the support of 28 percent of those who made a decision, while Gibbons was backed by 16 percent. State Assemblywoman Sharron Angle got 8 percent and state Controller Kathy Augustine took just 3 percent, the Ralston Report, a Nevada political tip sheet, reported.

The margin of error was 5.6 percent.

Gibbons is the wife of Rep. Jim Gibbons (R), who is expected to vacate his seat to run for governor next year.

— Nicole Duran

Kansas: Ryun, Kline Rule Out Run for Governor in ’06

Republicans lost two more potential gubernatorial candidates Tuesday when Rep. Jim Ryun and state Attorney General Phill Kline took their names out of contention.

Ryun, who has held the 2nd district since 1996, posted a message on his Web site informing supporters he will not challenge Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D).

He did take time to attack Sebelius, saying that she is “out of step with a majority of values that Kansans hold dear.”

Kline, who ran unsuccessfully for the 3rd district in 2000, was elected the state’s top cop in 2002. He said Tuesday he plans to seek re-election to that post in 2006.

Rep. Jerry Moran, who was considered Republicans’ strongest gubernatorial candidate, took himself out of the race last week.

Among the GOPers still considering the race: state House Speaker Doug Mays, Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins, and state Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt.

— C.C.

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