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NRCC Cash Edge Over DCCC Nears $10 Million

The House and Senate party committees filed May fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission this week, with House Republicans again leading the way in fundraising and cash on hand.

The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $7.3 million and spent $3.8 million in May and had $13 million left in the bank at the end of the month.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $2.7 million and spent $2.4 million, leaving $3.4 million in reserve. The DCCC also showed a remaining balance of $3.7 million in debts from last cycle.

On the Senate side, the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $3.3 million, spent $2.3 million and had $6 million in the bank on May 31. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ended the month with $8.9 million in cash on hand, after it raised $2.8 million and spent $1.3 million in May.

With the June 30 deadline for quarterly fundraising reports looming, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Wednesday — just a day after apologizing on the Senate floor for controversial remarks on prisoner conditions at Guantanamo Bay — issued an online fundraising plea to DSCC supporters.

“Journalists and political insiders will scrutinize these numbers and declare the first winners of the election cycle, without a single vote being cast,” Durbin warned.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Hoyer Pressures Madrid at Big DNC Fundraiser

With a thousand witnesses, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday night used the hard sell on state Attorney General Patricia Madrid (D), whom national Democrats are trying to convince to run against Rep. Heather Wilson (R) in 2006.

“Next time you see Attorney General Madrid, you tell her, ‘You know what? You’d be a great Member of the House of Representatives,’” Hoyer told the crowd during a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at the National Women’s Museum in Washington, D.C.

Hoyer said that Madrid has a bright political future, and could wind up in the Senate or as governor some day. But New Mexico Democrats have incumbents running for re-election to those positions next year.

“We want you to run for the House this time,” Hoyer told Madrid.

Madrid seemed to acknowledge her own political potential, telling the crowd that former President Bill Clinton, Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), and her predecessor, Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), all served as state attorneys general.

But asked about challenging Wilson in an interview later, Madrid, who is term-limited in 2006, would say only: “I’m just looking seriously at it. I’m looking at all my options.”

— Josh Kurtz

Frost Returns to the Fray, Calls Cuellar a Turncoat

Former Texas Rep. Martin Frost (D) issued a scathing indictment of 28th district Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) in a memo he sent to supporters Wednesday endorsing the primary candidacy of state Rep. Richard Raymond (D).

“It is now become widely known that Congressman Henry Cuellar has a long record of betraying his party,” Frost wrote in the missive, dated June 20. “I served in Congress for a long time and the only politician to which I compare Henry Cuellar is Phil Gramm.”

Gramm, a Texas Republican who retired from the Senate in 2002, switched parties in the early 1980s while still a House Member after Democrats accused him of passing along private materials to his Republican colleagues.

Frost, who actively backed Cuellar when he challenged Rep. Henry Bonilla (R) in 2002, cites Cuellar’s votes with House Republicans on several measures including the Real ID bill as evidence to question his party loyalty. Cuellar supporters note that 41 other Democrats supported that bill.

For their part, the DCCC will support Cuellar, an official said Wednesday.

Raymond and former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, whom Cuellar ousted in the 2004 Democratic primary, are weighing bids against the freshman.

Even though Frost served with Rodriguez from 1996 until 2004, he bypassed his former colleague for an endorsement because of geographic concerns. “Ciro must depend almost entirely on a voting block out of San Antonio that accounted for less than one-third of the vote in 2004 and could account for even less in 2006,” Frost wrote in the memo. “We should set our emotions aside and support the candidate with the best chance to win.”

— Chris Cillizza

Quan Gone, Endorses Lampson for DeLay Seat

Houston City Councilman Gordon Quan (D) dropped his candidacy for the 22nd district Monday, giving former Rep. Nick Lampson (D) a clear shot at House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R) in 2006.

Quan, who had formed an exploratory committee for the contest, said while polling showed him running even with Lampson, he wanted to avoid a “costly, divisive and lengthy” primary. Quan joins 2004 nominee Richard Morrison (D) on the sidelines; Morrison dropped from the race after Lampson decided to run.

DeLay continues to be dogged by questions surrounding his foreign travel and relations with embattled Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff — although most of that chatter has died down of late.

Even with DeLay’s problems, Lampson faces an uphill fight in the suburban Houston seat. In 2004, President Bush won 64 percent in the district and the 22nd’s voters remain solidly supportive of Republicans from the local to the statewide level. DeLay is also a formidable fundraiser; he brought in nearly $460,000 in the first three months of the year. — C.C.

Defying Political Math, Yassky Seeks Owens Seat

New York City Councilman David Yassky (D) told the New York Observer this week that he would seek the seat of retiring Rep. Major Owens (D) in 2006.

Yassky becomes the third candidate to enter the Democratic primary for the central Brooklyn district that Owens has held since 1983. State Sen. Carl Andrews and Chris Owens, an HMO administrator who is the Congressman’s son, are in the race, and more could follow.

Significantly, Yassky would be the only white candidate in a district where 79 percent of the residents were minorities, according to 2000 Census figures. Asked about competing in a district that was created by the federal Voting Rights Act in the late 1960s to boost minority candidates, Yassky was unapologetic.

“Part of what [the Voting Rights Act] is trying to achieve is to have people of color in government, but the main goal is that people of color are represented and their voice is heard,” Yassky told the paper. “If I win, the voice of every part of the district will be heard.”

But in an interview with Roll Call this week, Andrews said his advantage is not race based, but due to the fact that his Senate district lies entirely within the 11th Congressional district — and that he represents 45 percent of the district’s voters. Yassky, by contrast, has just 9 percent of the Congressional district’s voters in his council district, Andrews said.

Andrews was in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss his candidacy with Members of Congress and Democratic interest groups. — J.K.

Entire GOP Delegation Hosts Event for Burns

Georgia’s entire Republican Congressional delegation will host a fundraiser later this month for former Rep. Max Burns (R), who is seeking to regain his old seat in 2006.

The $1,000-per-person reception at the Capitol Hill Club on June 29 will be headlined by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Peach State hosts are Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss and Reps. Nathan Deal, Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, John Linder, Charlie Norwood, Tom Price and Lynn Westmoreland.

Georgia Republicans redrew the state’s Congressional lines earlier this year and the map is currently awaiting approval by the Justice Department. Burns has said he will run against Rep. John Barrow (D), who defeated him in 2004, in the redrawn 12th district next year.

The district still favors Democrats but does not include Barrow’s Athens home. Barrow has said he would move into the 12th district to run if the new lines are implemented.

— L.W.W.

Wounded Sherwood May Draw Tough Foe

Luzerne County Commissioner Greg Skrepenak (D) and political science professor Christopher Carney (D) are both considering bids against Rep. Don Sherwood (R) next year, according to local press reports published this week.

Skrepenak, 34, is in his first term as county commissioner.

Carney, who has never run for political office, teaches at Penn State University’s Worthington-Scranton campus and is active in the Navy Reserves. He also played a controversial role in pre-Iraq war intelligence gathering. Carney was part of a small team of intelligence analysts that said they found evidence linking al Qaeda and former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Although Sherwood has not been viewed as particularly vulnerable since his 2000 re-election, Democrats now smell blood in the water after the 64-year-old Congressman recently grabbed unwanted headlines.

Sherwood garnered press attention back home and in Washington, D.C., earlier this year after a Maryland woman said that she carried on a years-long affair with the married lawmaker. The woman, Cynthia Ore, filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit last week alleging that the Congressman beat and choked her during their five-year relationship.

— L.W.W.

Two Democrats Prepare to Challenge Rep. Hart

Two Democrats are preparing to run against Rep. Melissa Hart (R) next year.

Businesswoman Georgia Berner and Jason Altmire, who will soon leave his position as vice president for government relations at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System, appear likely to seek the 4th district nomination next year.

Hart was first elected in 2000 and while the Pittsburgh-area seat still has a Democratic registration advantage, the Congresswoman has been easily re-elected there since, and the district voted 54 percent for President Bush in 2004.

— L.W.W.

CORRECTION:The June 23 “At the Races” item “Defying Political Math, Yassky Seeks Owens Seat,” incorrectly reported that Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) is due to appear at a Washington, D.C., fundraiser for New York Congressional candidate Carl Andrews.

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