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For GOP This Recess, Sports and Fundraising

While most Members will spend the duration of the Memorial Day district work period back home, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) has plans to stay in Washington, D.C., for at least one night to raise some cash for his re-election campaign.

Gingrey is hosting a fundraiser Wednesday night at RFK Stadium, because his hometown team, the Atlanta Braves, will be playing the Washington Nationals.

The reception starts at 6 p.m., with the first pitch at 7:05. Tickets are $1,000 per person or $1,500 per couple.

Gingrey spent almost $2.3 million and got 57 percent of the vote against an underfunded challenger in 2004, but he isn’t likely to need that much money next year.

If the state’s new Congressional lines are approved by the Justice Department, Gingrey will be running for re-election in a solidly Republican suburban Atlanta seat. He had $250,000 in the bank on March 31.

Meanwhile, a number of Gingrey’s GOP colleagues are taking advantage of the recess week to host fundraising excursions back home.

California Rep. Duke Cunningham (R) and his political action committee will host his annual two-day golf and deep sea fishing trip in San Diego. Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), meanwhile, will take in some campaign cash at a golf and family trip to Pennsylvania Dutch Country in Lancaster.

On Friday, Nevada Sen. John Ensign (R) and Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) will hold the “Ensign Porter Open” at the Southern Highlands golf course in Las Vegas.

The following day, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) is hosting the first Michael Burgess Lone Star Golf Tournament at the Cowboys Golf Course — billed as the world’s first NFL-themed golf course.

Also on Saturday, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) is hosting a fundraiser at Kenny Chesney’s “Somewhere in the Sun” tour concert at FedEx Field outside of Washington, D.C.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Possible Boehlert Foe to Open Campaign Office

Former Seneca Falls Mayor Brad Jones appears to be stepping up his activities as he contemplates a Republican primary challenge to Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R) in the 24th district next year.

Jones, who created an exploratory committee earlier this year and has not formally declared his candidacy, plans to open a campaign headquarters in Seneca Falls in early June, according to his campaign Web site. He has also been making the rounds of Republican and Conservative Party gatherings in central New York.

If Jones, a businessman who is chairman of the Seneca County Industrial Development Authority, makes the race, it will mark the third cycle in a row that Boehlert has faced a challenge from the right.

In the 2002 GOP primary, Boehlert barely held off then-Cayuga County legislator David Walrath, though he defeated him more handily in their 2004 rematch. In both 2002 and 2004, Walrath appeared on the general election ballot as the nominee of the Conservative Party.

Boehlert, first elected in 1982, continues to anger conservatives with his moderate positions on social policy. Just last week he voted in favor of the bill to increase federal funding for stem-cell research.

— Josh Kurtz

Poll Shows Lukewarm Support for Redistricting

Only one-third of Golden State adults support Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) desire to hold a special election this fall on his proposed government reforms — including a measure to change the state’s redistricting process.

A slightly higher percentage favors redistricting reform.

In a poll conducted May 10-17 and released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California, 33 percent of California adults supported Schwarzenegger’s call for a special election this fall.

Sixty-one percent said they’d rather wait to vote on the governor’s proposed reforms in June 2006, the next regularly scheduled statewide election.

The poll of 2,003 adults had a 2 percent error margin.

The timing of the election on Schwarzenegger’s proposals is critical, especially for his redistricting plan. Schwarzenegger wants to take the responsibility for drawing Congressional and legislative district boundaries away from the Legislature and place it with a panel of retired judges. And he wants the new lines drawn before the 2006 elections — even though his elections administrator has expressed doubt that the new lines can be implemented in time for the 2006 primaries.

The survey respondents were largely split on the overall question of redistricting reform. Forty-one percent said they would vote for Schwarzenegger’s measure if it appeared on the election ballot, and 39 percent were opposed. The rest were undecided.

But only 36 percent said they thought the redistricting process needed major changes, while 28 percent said it needed minor tweaking. Another 24 percent said they thought the system is fine the way it is.

State elections officials are currently evaluating whether advocates for Schwarzenegger’s reforms have collected enough petition signatures for a special election in the fall. If the answer is yes, Schwarzenegger has the option of calling for one.
— J.K.

Developer to Formally Enter Senate Race Soon

Getting a late start on his Democratic competitors, real estate developer Kelly Doran is moving quickly to officially enter the race for the seat being vacated by Sen. Mark Dayton (D).

He will formally announce his candidacy Sunday, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported last week.

Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobachar, child-safety advocate Petty Wetterling and veterinarian Ford Bell are already seeking the Democratic nomination.

“Obviously, we don’t have the name recognition of some of the other candidates, but I think at the end of the day we’ll be able to drive an issues-orientated campaign and the people can decide who they think is best qualified to serve them in Washington,” he told the paper.

Rep. Mark Kennedy is the consensus candidate on the Republican side.
— Nicole Duran

Ex-FBI Whistleblower Eyes Kline Challenge

The former FBI agent who became known to the nation when she criticized the bureau’s efforts leading up to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist strikes is considering challenging Rep. John Kline (R).

Coleen Rowley told local newspapers last week that she is seriously considering a run as a Democrat in the Gopher State’s 2nd district.

She retired from the FBI at the end of last year, a move that frees her up to campaign.

Last year’s Democratic nominee, Burnsville City Councilwoman Teresa Daly, who took 40 percent of the vote in the district south of the Twin Cities, is reportedly mulling a rematch as well.
— N.D.

Democrat Files to Run Against Rep. Gutknecht

Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R) could face a challenge in his bid for re-election from a local teacher.

Tim Walz, a National Guard veteran, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune last week that he intends to take on the six-term Congressman in the southern Minnesota 1st district.

He has launched a Web site, filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission and begun raising money, the paper reported.

He said he will take issue with Gutknecht’s broken pledge to seek no more than six terms in the House.

Gutknecht reversed course on the promise, saying that incumbency is advantageous to constituents.
— N.D.

Allen Wades Into GOP House Primary Thicket

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) is backing a former political associate in the crowded Republican primary to succeed Rep. Mark Kennedy (R).

He is backing former Minnesota Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

Allen had appointed Yecke to the Virginia Board of Education when he was governor and she was an Old Dominion resident.

There are currently five Republicans seeking their party’s nomination in the conservative 6th district.

— N.D.

Report: Steele to Create Exploratory Committee

Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R) plans to set up an exploratory committee for a possible Senate run in 2006, The Gazette newspaper reported Friday. An announcement should be coming in the next several days.

The newspaper said that Steele met recently with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairwoman Elizabeth Dole (N.C.) to discuss the open-seat race to replace retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D). According to the paper, state Republicans have commissioned a poll that shows Steele running within the margin of error of the leading Democratic contenders.

Rep. Benjamin Cardin and ex-Rep. Kweisi Mfume are already in the Democratic race, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen is expected to decide by the end of June whether or not to get in. Sources told Roll Call last week that Van Hollen recently commissioned a poll of his own and is analyzing the results.
— J.K.  

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