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Lampson’s Texas Campaign Take Tops Half-Million Mark

Former Rep. Nick Lampson (D) raised more than a half-million dollars for his attempt to topple House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R).

Since formally entering the 22nd district race on May 5, Lampson has raked in $503,000 with $485,000 left on hand, according to a financial report to be filed with the Federal Election Commission later this week. The report covers contributions and expenditures from April 1 to June 30.

“For Nick Lampson to raise this kind of money in just eight weeks is amazing and shows how dedicated he is to winning this race,” Lampson campaign manager Mike Malaise said Monday.

Regardless of how much money Lampson raises for the campaign, he is likely to be outdistanced by DeLay.

At the end of March, DeLay had $315,000 in the bank but he has shown a capacity to raise and spend millions from his perch in House leadership. In 2004, DeLay spent nearly $3 million to defeat attorney Richard Morrison (D), 55 percent to 41 percent.

In the same election, Lampson lost to now-Rep. Ted Poe (R) in a redistricting-forced matchup in the eastern Texas 2nd district despite spending $2.4 million. Lampson had held the 9th district seat since 1996.
— Chris Cillizza

Citizen Hopes to Serve Up Agassi as Porter Foe

An effort to draft tennis pro Andre Agassi to run for Congress next year is under way in suburban Las Vegas.

Gil Eisner, a Summerlin resident, has formed a citizens Congressional exploratory committee to try to lure Agassi, a Las Vegas native, into a run.

It is unclear whether the “unofficial movement to draft Andre Agassi for Congress” will work. Eisner would like to see Agassi, a registered Independent, run as a Democrat and challenge Rep. Jon Porter (R).

Democrats have had high hopes of knocking off Porter in the swing district but have been thwarted in their efforts. Last year gambling executive Tom Gallagher was high on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s list of potent challengers but finished a disappointing 14 points behind Porter.
— Nicole Duran

Businessman Joins GOP Race With Cunningham

Embattled Rep. Duke Cunningham (R) got his first Republican primary challenger last week. Businessman George Schwartzman, who runs a health records management company, announced that he would take on the eight-term Congressman in the June 2006 GOP primary.

Schwartzman did not mention Cunningham’s current legal troubles, according to an account of his announcement in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Cunningham is being investigated by federal authorities for his close ties to a defense contractor.

Instead, Schwartzman chose to attack the Congressman on ideological grounds.

“People have misconceptions that Republicans are real right wing,” he said. “But the fact of the matter is there’s a big middle ground and Mr. Cunningham doesn’t represent the overwhelming majority of people in his district.”

While it is hard to say whether Schwartzman would give Cunningham much of a race, his entry suggests that other Republicans in the San Diego-area 50th district may be waiting in the wings to see how badly the investigation into the Congressman’s financial affairs will hurt him.

Meanwhile, 2004 Democratic nominee Francine Busby, who is running for the seat again, announced last week that she raised more than $100,000 in the second quarter of 2005 — a performance she attributed in large part to voters’ disgust with the reports about Cunningham. She said that 98 percent of the contributions she received came from individuals, and that the contributions averaged $77.

“Citizens in this district have shown they are ready for someone who wants to clean up Congress,” Busby said. “I believe that people are responding to my message of bringing the values of honesty and integrity back to Washington.”

— Josh Kurtz

Watts, Carson Could Be On ’06 Statewide Ballot

Two former House Members could end up on the Sooner State statewide ballot next year.

Former Rep. Brad Carson (D) is being floated as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor, while ex-Rep. J.C. Watts (R) is considering challenging first-term Gov. Brad Henry (D).

A recent Consumer Logic poll showed Henry defeating Watts 49 percent to 34 percent in a hypothetical matchup. The poll was conducted June 23-27 for the Tulsa World and KOTV. It surveyed 750 registered voters and had a 4 percent margin of error.

The same poll also showed Henry’s statewide approval rating at 72 percent, with high marks from Republicans, Democrats and Independents.

Watts is still considering whether he will run while Carson’s name is being mentioned as a possible candidate for lieutenant governor, but he has said he hasn’t made any decisions about the future. In Oklahoma, the governor and lieutenant governor do not appear on the ballot together as a ticket, and the incumbent No. 2 is a Republican.

— Lauren W. Whittington

Crowley Unlikely to Follow Manton Again

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D) famously followed his mentor, former Rep. Tom Manton (D), into Congress in 1998 in an arrangement brokered by Manton — who also happened to be the powerful chairman of the Queens Democratic Party.

But Crowley is apparently not so interested in following Manton as county Democratic leader. Amid rumors that Manton is close to stepping down after more than 20 years in his party post, Jennifer Psaki, a spokeswoman for Crowley, told the Times Ledger newspapers of Queens recently that Crowley is unlikely to try to succeed Manton again. Psaki said Crowley is focused on his campaign to become vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

“It would be hard to play both roles,” she said.

Crowley has two additional reasons for not wanting to be party leader. Under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, Members of Congress are no longer allowed to raise money for party committees. And while he continues to live in Queens, thanks to redistricting, a solid chunk of Crowley’s district is in the Bronx.

— J.K.

Roemer to Remain Out Of Politics, for Now

Former Rep. Tim Roemer (D) said last week that he won’t challenge Sen. Dick Lugar (R) in 2006.

Roemer, a former member of the 9/11 commission, said he was honored by the encouragement he had received over the past few weeks as he contemplated a Senate run.

“Thinking of my four young children reminds me that, at this important stage in their lives, my most important job is to be the best husband and father I can possibly be,” Roemer said in a statement. “Therefore, this is not the right time for me to run for the Senate.”

Roemer heads the Center for National Policy, and he also unsuccessfully sought the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee earlier this year.

— L.W.W.

Snubbed in Senate Race,Hafer Eyes House Run

Former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer (D) is considering a run against Rep. Tim Murphy (R) next year, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported.

Hafer, a Republican turned Democrat, also once served as state auditor general and was all but in the 2006 race against Sen. Rick Santorum (R) before party leaders coalesced behind her successor, current state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. (D), as the ideal Santorum challenger.

Murphy was first elected to the Pittsburgh-area 18th district in 2002 and has faced only nominal opposition.

“I’m not a candidate but I haven’t ruled it out,” Hafer told the newspaper. “I need to talk to the governor; it’s easy to get into a race, but it’s tough to get one up and running.”

If she does decide to run, Hafer could get strong support from EMILY’s List, a group that was encouraging her Senate bid earlier this year.

State Sen. Sean Logan (D), whom top Democrats had been wooing to run against Murphy, recently decided not to enter the race.

— L.W.W.

DFL Senate Candidates Are in the Money for ’06

The two women vying for the Democratic nod in next year’s Senate race continue to be among the best fundraisers in the country this cycle.

Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar said she raised $650,000 for the quarter ending June 30, while child safety advocate Patty Wetterling raised more than $420,000, according to her campaign. Klobuchar will show $1.1 million in the bank on her July 15 report, while Wetterling will only post about $375,000.

Real estate developer Kelly Doran (D), who entered the race more recently, wrote himself a $250,000 check and collected about $61,000 from individuals, The Associated Press reported last week. Philanthropist Ford Bell (D) has raised about $100,000, while Independent candidate Jack Uldrich collected about $2,500.

Rep. Mark Kennedy, the lone Republican candidate, has not released his numbers yet.

All are hoping to replace retiring Sen. Mark Dayton (D) in 2006.
— N.D.

Hill Staffer Contemplates Challenging Rep. Obey

A Capitol Hill staffer is contemplating a challenge to veteran Rep. David Obey (D) next year.

Nick Reid, the 25-year-old press secretary to Rep. Jim Ryun (R-Kan.), said he may move home to central Wisconsin to take on Obey, The Associated Press reported last week. He has formed an exploratory committee, allowing him to raise money for a possible campaign.

Obey won an 18th full term last year — meaning he has been in Congress almost 12 years longer than Reid has been alive — with 86 percent of the vote.

Before working for Ryun, Reid worked at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

— N.D.

Attorney Eyes Reichert;Democrats Hunt(er)ing

An attorney has launched an effort to unseat freshman Rep. Dave Reichert (R) in the suburban Seattle 8th district.

Randy Gordon of Bellevue is making his first run at elective office, the King County Journal reported last week.

Democrats have high hopes of knocking off Reichert, the former King County sheriff, but he has been raising money at a pitched pace and trying to build a profile as a moderate to insulate himself politically in the swing district.

Reichert won the seat in a tough contest against local radio talk show host Dave Ross in one of last year’s marquee races. Ross has expressed no interest in running again.

National Democrats are still courting state Rep. Ross Hunter (D), but he has yet to commit to a Congressional bid.

— N.D.

Senator Shows Talent For Re-elect Fundraising

Freshman Sen. Jim Talent (R) has plenty of money banked to take on whichever Democrat finally decides to run against him next year.

Talent told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he closed the quarter ending June 30 with $3.4 million in the bank.

He raised $2.5 million during the three-month period, $1.2 million of which was brought in at June 2 fundraiser headlined by President Bush.

Missouri Auditor Claire McCaskill (D), who narrowly lost last year’s governor’s race, has yet to say if she will enter the race, but she is the Democrats’ top hope. No other Democrat has announced a candidacy, though the national party wants to target Talent.

— N.D.

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