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English Boosts NRCC Bid With Fundraising

If the race to decide the next chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee were based solely on individual fundraising from Tuesday night’s President’s Dinner, Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.) would win in a cakewalk.

Not that it is expected to be one of the key determining factors in the race, but English outraised both of his opponents for that job when it came to gathering dough for the annual NRCC-National Republican Senatorial Committee fundraiser headlined by President Bush.

According to informed sources, English raised $140,000 for the dinner, while the other two contenders for the NRCC post, Reps. Pete Sessions (Texas) and Tom Cole (Okla.), raised $65,000 and $50,000, respectively. Those numbers are still preliminary, however, because checks are still being counted.

NRCC spokesman Carl Forti said Wednesday that he could not discuss Members’ individual fundraising from the dinner.

The two committees raked in an estimated $23 million for the House and Senate campaign arms. The NRCC is expected to bank about $14 million of that total.

Many party insiders see Cole as having the best résumé for the job, although Sessions and English have been more aggressive thus far in campaigning for it. Sessions has not yet gone public with his bid but is actively seeking support.

Current Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) is in his second term heading the committee and cannot run for the post again in 2006.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Lott Hauls in $300,000 for Re-election Effort

Once the focus of intense retirement rumors, Sen. Trent Lott (R) sent another signal Monday night of his intentions to run for re-election, hosting his first big fundraiser of the election cycle inside the Beltway.

Lott had previously held big money events in Mississippi, but his fundraiser at the Hay Adams Hotel was his first major effort at raising cash in Washington, D.C. A source familiar with the event said Lott’s re-election committee took in more than $300,000.

That’s more cash than he raised in the entire first quarter of 2006, when he took in just $195,000, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Lott’s leadership political action committee, the New Republican Majority Fund, remains as active as ever, taking in more than $272,000 in just May, according to an FEC report filed Tuesday. The New Republican Majority Fund has raised $595,000 in the first five months of 2005, roughly the same amount he received in the first five months of 2003.

His haul from the Hay Adams event should guarantee that Lott’s campaign war chest climbs above the $1 million mark when his next Federal Election Commission report is filed in mid-July, covering the second quarter of the year. On March 31, Lott’s campaign had $884,000 cash on hand.

Lott has said he is preparing to run for re-election but left open the outside possibility that he could instead retire at the end of 2006.

— Paul Kane

Campbell Takes Lead in First Poll of Cox Special

State Sen. John Campbell (R) has jumped to an early lead in the yet-to-be-scheduled special election to replace Rep. Christopher Cox (R), according to a poll published Wednesday in the Orange County Business Journal.

But a substantial portion of the electorate remains up for grabs in a race that has yet to fully form.

In a survey of 325 likely special election voters conducted June 10-14 by Probolsky Research, a Laguna Hills-based Republican consulting firm, Campbell led the open primary field with 31 percent. College professor John Graham (D), who was trounced by Cox in the past two general elections and has not said definitively whether he will run in a special, took 22 percent.

Former state Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer (R) was the choice of just 8 percent, and 39 percent of those surveyed were unsure. The poll had a 5.5 percent error margin.

“Sen. Campbell’s significant lead is mainly due to the lack of another well-known GOP candidate,” said pollster Adam Probolsky. “The large undecided group of voters we’re seeing is not surprising given the fact that the campaign hasn’t even begun. It shows voters may welcome other candidate choices.”

A special election in the 48th district will be called if the Senate confirms Cox to be chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, as expected, but the timing is unclear. If no candidate in the all-party primary receives 50 percent of the vote, the top finishers from each political party advance to a runoff two months later.

Either way, a Republican is favored in the GOP stronghold.
— Josh Kurtz

Clinton Trounces Likely GOP Foes in New Poll

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) continues to hold large leads over her two potential general election opponents, according to a new independent survey on the race.

Clinton led Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro (R) 59 percent to 29 percent; she held a similar 58 percent to 28 percent bulge over lawyer Ed Cox (R), son-in-law to the late President Richard Nixon.

The poll was conducted June 6-10 by Siena College testing 622 registered voters with a 3.9 percent margin of error.

The survey also showed Clinton with very strong re-election numbers. Fifty-nine percent of those tested would vote to re-elect her, 34 percent would prefer someone else. Fully 60 percent had a favorable opinion of Clinton, while 33 percent had an unfavorable opinion.

Cox has formed an exploratory committee to look at the race and has signed on several advisers; Pirro is considering a trio of races in 2006 — Senate among them.

— Chris Cillizza

Six Colleagues Choose Roskam Over Pankau

State Sen. Peter Roskam (R) got the backing of six of his local colleagues on Wednesday, providing another boost to his bid to succeed retiring Rep. Henry Hyde (R) in the suburban Chicago 6th district.

Roskam was endorsed by GOP state Sens. Dan Cronin, Wendell Jones, Steve Rauschenberger, David Sullivan and Kay Wojcik as well as state Rep. John Millner, who will move up to the state Senate later this month. All of the lawmakers represent territory within the 6th district.

The lawmakers chose to support Roskam over fellow state Sen. Carol Pankau (R), who has also said she is running for Hyde’s seat.

“These Senators have their pulse on the issues that are important to every community and neighborhood in the 6th Congressional District,” Roskam said in a statement. “Their unequivocal support and early endorsement of my campaign sends a strong signal that they have confidence in my experience and leadership to represent the voters of this district in Washington.”

— L.W.W.

Redistricting Appeal Returned to High Court

A three-judge federal panel rejected an appeal last week to overthrow the new Texas Congressional map used in the 2004 election, setting the stage for a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The panel was forced by the Supreme Court to review its ruling last year that the map engineered by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) did not violate the Voting Rights Act.

“As the federal panel concluded once again, the Texas redistricting plan is entirely consistent with federal law and the United States Constitution,” said Texas state Attorney General Greg Abbott.

It is unlikely now that the Supreme Court will decide to hear the Democrats’ appeal.

The map drawn by DeLay and the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature laid the groundwork for an overhaul of the state’s Congressional delegation in the 2004 elections.

Even before a vote was cast, Rep. Ralph Hall (R) switched parties and Rep. Jim Turner (D) announced his retirement. Rep. Chris Bell (D) was soundly defeated in a primary in a redrawn Houston-area district, and then-Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D) narrowly lost his primary.

On Election Day, Democratic Reps. Max Sandlin, Nick Lampson, Martin Frost and Charlie Stenholm were all defeated due in large part to the new boundaries.

— C.C.

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