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NRCC Has 3-1 Cash Advantage Over DCCC

The House and Senate campaign committees filed their April fundraising reports last week, providing the latest indication of where both parties stand 18 months before the 2006 elections.

The National Republican Congressional Committee led all four campaign arms in available resources, reporting $9.6 million in cash on hand at the end of last month. Meanwhile, its Democratic counterpart ended April with a third of that total, $3.1 million, in the bank.

In April, the NRCC raised $4.9 million but spent $4.2 million. The NRCC recently restructured its contract with InfoCision, a telemarketing firm it paid $55 million to in the 2004 cycle, to scale back on expenses.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee took in $2.3 million and spent $1.9 million. Earlier this year the committee paid off a substantial chunk of the debt it shouldered after last cycle, but it was still $4 million in arrears as of April 30.

On the Senate side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee continued to lead its GOP counterpart in available cash.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee ended April with $5 million in cash on hand, compared to the DSCC’s balance of $7.4 million. The NRSC slightly outraised the DSCC for the month, $3.7 million to $3.3 million. The NRSC spent $1 million while the DSCC spent $1.6 million.
— Lauren W. Whittington

EMILY’s List Poll: Is Rep. Graves Vulnerable?

EMILY’s List thinks Rep. Sam Graves (R) is vulnerable next year, though he has no Democratic challenger yet.

The group commissioned a 6th district poll to test voters’ receptiveness toward a Democratic candidate and liked the results.

The GarinHartYang Research Group poll of 402 likely voters conducted March 28-30 with a 5 percent margin of error found that only 42 percent of respondents would like to see Graves re-elected next year. Thirty-four percent would prefer someone else, and 24 percent were undecided.

The pollsters note that while Graves received 64 percent of the vote to win a third term last year, 38 percent of those surveyed would support a Democratic candidate now. Thirty-two percent would back a Republican, and 30 percent were undecided.

EMILY’s List, which supports and recruits female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, attribute Graves’ perceived vulnerability to a decline in President Bush’s popularity. The 6th gave 57 percent of the vote to Bush last year, but now 41 percent of respondents hold a negative image of the president.

Graves is scheduled to hold a $1,000-a-plate fundraising lunch Wednesday at Signatures restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest.

— Nicole Duran

Democrat No Longer Tester(ing) the Waters

State Senate President Jon Tester said he will seek the Democratic nod in next year’s contest with Sen. Conrad Burns (R).

Tester recently met with Democratic officials in Washington, D.C., and said he will make a formal announcement next week, according to local newspaper accounts.

He will join the race despite the fact that state Auditor John Morrison is already campaigning for their party’s endorsement.

The presence of two heavy-hitting Democrats could complicate national party leaders’ efforts to unseat Burns, who they think is vulnerable. Nonetheless, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised about $30,000 at a Missoula fundraiser last week to put toward that effort, the Billings Gazette reported.
— N.D.

State Rep. Lindeen Eyes Challenge to Rehberg

A Democratic state legislator said she might take on Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) next year.

State Rep. Monica Lindeen told the Billings Gazette that she will meet with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee next month about the possibility.

Despite Rehberg’s impressive re-election numbers last year — he won with 64 percent of the vote — Lindeen said she thinks he is vulnerable. In 2000, Rehberg won the state’s lone seat in an open race that saw him capture just 51 percent.
— N.D.

Three Lawmakers Eye Race Against Musgrave

Three current or former state legislators are eyeing a challenge to two-term Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) in 2006, the Fort Collins Coloradan reported Sunday. At least one may be willing to defer to another if she runs.

State Rep. Angie Paccione (D) has already publicly declared that she is thinking of running for the seat. She plans to open an exploratory committee in two weeks and will make a final decision in August.

Paccione began to run for the open seat in 2002 but deferred to then-state Sen. Stan Matsunaka, who wound up as the Democratic nominee in 2002 and 2004.

“Now I’ve got the experience and the stature,” Paccione said. “I don’t see myself stepping aside for anyone at this point.”

But the Coloradan reported that state Rep. Wes McKinley (D) is also pondering the race. McKinley, a self-described “Bible-thumpin’, whiskey-drinkin’, gun-totin’ Democrat,” sought the 4th district seat as an Independent in 1996. McKinley told the paper he may defer to Paccione if she runs.

“We’re talking about which one of us would make the better candidate,” he said.

Ex-state Sen. Peggy Reeves (D) told the newspaper she is also “mulling over” a Congressional run.

Sen. Wayne Allard (R) is scheduled to hold a fundraiser on Musgrave’s behalf this evening at the Capitol Hill Club.
— Josh Kurtz

Dunne Deal: State Sen. Prepares for House Race

State Sen. Matt Dunne became the first Democrat to enter the race for the seat being vacated by Rep. Bernie Sanders (I) but promised to defer to the state Senate leader if necessary.

Dunne told the Vermont Guardian last week he would not make a formal announcement until the fall. He also said that he would bow out if state Senate President Pro Tem Peter Welch got into the Democratic primary.

Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle, former Lt. Gov. Doug Racine, former state Senate leader Peter Shumlin and Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell are all mulling Democratic bids as well. On the Republican side, Vermont National Guard Adjutant General Martha Rainville, Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie and former state House Speaker Walter Freed are considering running, as is state Rep. David Zuckerman of the Progressive Party.

Sen. Jim Jeffords (I) is retiring at the end of the 109th Congress, and Sanders is seeking his seat.
— N.D.

NARAL Throws Weight Behind Chafee Early

Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) got a boost in what is expected to be a tight battle for re-election next year when NARAL Pro-Choice America announced last week that it would back him.

The group passed over two Democratic candidates who also support abortion rights in order to back Chafee early.

“We need Lincoln Chafee’s sensible, moderate Republican voice,” NARAL President Nancy Keenan told the Providence Journal.

Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown and former state Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse are both seeking the Democratic nomination for the right to challenge Chafee.

Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey is still considering taking on Chafee in the Republican primary.
— N.D.

Race for the Green (Seat) Loses One Contender

State Rep. Steve Wieckert has opted against seeking the Republican nomination for the 8th district seat being vacated by Rep. Mark Green (R) next year.

Wieckert had been bullish on his chances but ultimately decided not to join the field that could include state Assembly Speaker John Gard and state Rep. Terri McCormick in the Republican primary.

Political newcomer Jamie Wall is seeking the Democratic nomination, and a local police officer, Rich Langan, said he might too, according to the Appleton Post-Crescent.

Green is running for governor.
— N.D.

Primary Date Next Year Could Still Be Changed

Although a measure to move up the 2006 primary date stalled in the final hours of this year’s General Assembly session, legislative leaders say there is a real possibility of revisiting the issue early in the 2006 session — in time to change the date next year.

State House Speaker Michael Busch (D), who had been one of the impediments to the primary date change in the last session, told The Gazette newspaper last week that he would be more comfortable with the move if the public was given sufficient time to weigh in on the proposal. He proposed holding public hearings on the plan this fall.

Several Democrats in Annapolis and on Capitol Hill are eager to move the primary from September to June, arguing that the change would give their Senate and gubernatorial nominees sufficient time to recover from what are bound to be bruising and expensive primaries.

“It’s a high priority for everybody,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. told The Gazette. “The Republicans on Capitol Hill are using every tool they have to command leverage. The Democrats have been pacifists.
— J.K.

She Had No Stomach for Congressional Run

Scratch one potential candidate from the race to replace Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D) next year.

State Del. Shane Pendergrass (D) told The Baltimore Sun on Sunday that she opted out of the race following a gut check — literally.

“I figured I would know in my gut what to do, and after having a stomachache for two weeks, it went away instantly,” Pendergrass said of her decision to skip the Congressional election.

Del. Neil Quinter (D), who represents the same Howard County district as Pendergrass, has already taken steps to run. Also pondering the race on the Democratic side: Baltimore Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson, Del. Jon Cardin (the Congressman’s nephew), state Sen. Paula Hollinger and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens.
— J.K.

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