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Jane Abraham Decides Against ’06 Senate Run in Michigan

Jane Abraham, wife of former Sen. Spencer Abraham (R), has decided against avenging her husband’s 2000 loss to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), according to Republican sources.

Abraham had explored the idea of returning to Michigan and seeking the GOP nod to run against Stabenow next year.

Her decision comes on the heels of news from the Rev. Keith Butler (R), a former Detroit city councilman, that he had raised more than $800,000 for his Senate candidacy as of June 30.

Despite Butler’s solid financial showing, some GOP leaders are still trying to lure Domino’s Pizza CEO David Brandon into the Senate race. Several other lesser known candidates are also seeking the Republican nomination.

Stabenow will show in her Federal Election Commission report due Friday that she raised $1.4 million in the three months ending June 30 and that she has banked almost $4 million for the cycle.

A recent survey of 934 Michiganders conducted June 29 through July 7 by EPIC/MRA of Lansing showed that 47 percent believe Stabenow is doing a good job while 37 percent do not. Still, 51 percent of those surveyed like her while 24 percent held an unfavorable opinion of the freshman Senator. Nineteen percent had no opinion.

— Nicole Duran

Report: Rowley Eschews Professional Operatives

Former FBI agent Coleen Rowley (D) appears to be shunning professional help in her first bid for elected office.

Rowley, who came to national prominence when she penned a memo criticizing the FBI’s efficacy before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, hopes to topple Rep. John Kline (R) in the Gopher State’s 2nd district.

According to the Politics in Minnesota newsletter, “she is dismissing all traditional political consultants for her own advice.”

The newsletter cited her appearance at a Fourth of July parade “wearing a hand painted T-shirt that said ‘Rowley for Congress’ on the front and ‘Always Try’ on the back.

“The ‘Always Try’ appears to be an emerging campaign slogan — it is also on her Web site. Rowley … will not do herself any favors if she ignores good experienced Minnesota political advice,” the newsletter warned.

— N.D.

Poll: Voters Like Senator But Prefer Challenger

The newest Quinnipiac University poll showed that Sen. Rick Santorum (R) continues to be vulnerable to defeat next year, although it also reveals that potential voters maintain a relatively favorable view of him.

Santorum trailed state Auditor Bob Casey Jr. (D) 50 percent to 39 percent in the most recent survey of 1,639 registered voters taken July 6-10.

A Quinnipiac poll done in April showed Casey leading 49 percent to 35 percent.

The latest survey also showed Santorum with a 51 percent job approval rating. Forty-five percent of respondents said that they believe the two-term Senator deserves re-election, while 38 percent said he does not.

“Sen. Santorum is clearly vulnerable to a challenge from a popular Democrat,” said Clay Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “But his job approval and favorability ratings are holding up well despite negative media reports.”

Meanwhile, Santorum was buffeted Wednesday by national Democrats, outraged over his remarks in The Boston Globe that the sex scandals involving Catholic priests in Boston were due in part to that city’s sexual permissiveness.

“Rick Santorum owes an immediate apology to the tragic, long-suffering victims of sexual abuse and their families in Boston, in Massachusetts, in Pennsylvania and across the country,” Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said on the Senate floor.
—Lauren W. Whittington

Owens Keeps Promise, Works to Beat Ex-Foe

Last year, when New York City Councilwoman Yvette Clarke was challenging veteran Rep. Major Owens (D) in the 11th district Democratic primary, he vowed revenge.

“As a matter of honor, I have to make sure she doesn’t get re-elected” to the council in 2005, Owens told Roll Call.

Now, according to Crain’s New York Business, the Congressman, who is giving up his seat at the end of next year, is doing just that. An Owens aide is heading the campaign of a community activist who is challenging Clarke in the Democratic council primary, the newspaper reported.

Owens is also working to defeat another councilman, Kendall Stewart, who endorsed Clarke in the 2004 Congressional primary. Owens, Crain’s reported, called Stewart a “slumlord.”

Clarke is expected to seek Owens’ seat next year in a primary against his son, HMO administrator Chris Owens, state Sen. Carl Andrews, and City Councilman David Yassky. Councilwoman Tracy Boyland, who also sought the Congressional seat last year, and state Assemblyman Nick Perry are also contemplating running for the seat in 2006.
— Josh Kurtz

Top Democrats Want Redistricting Off Ballot

The presiding officers of the California Legislature will go to court today in an attempt to be added to the state attorney general’s lawsuit that seeks to throw Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) redistricting reform initiative off the November ballot, the Sacramento Bee reported Wednesday.

State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D) and state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D) agree with Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) that the redistricting measure, Proposition 77, should not go before voters because the wording on the petitions used to place the initiative on the ballot differed slightly from the text submitted to Lockyer’s office for official review.

In a lawsuit filed last week, Lockyer argued that the initiative, which changes the way Congressional and legislative lines are drawn, should be removed from the ballot because proponents failed to follow normal procedures.

“It’s not a partisan issue for him — it’s a matter of policy,” a Lockyer spokesman told the Bee.

Nuñez and Perata said they would file a separate suit if they were not allowed to join Lockyer’s case.

Schwarzenegger and a coalition of reform groups wants to take redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature and give the responsibility to a panel of retired judges. The governor publicly says he would like to see Congressional and legislative boundaries redrawn before the June 2006 primaries.

A lawyer for the reform advocates acknowledged that there was a discrepancy between the wording on the petitions and the documents submitted to Lockyer, but argued that the differences were minor and did not affect the substance of the ballot question.

California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson (R) — who presides over state elections and was appointed by Schwarzenegger earlier this year — plans to keep the measure on the ballot unless a court orders it off.
— J.K.

Peace Candidate Joins Democratic Senate Race

Another Democrat has entered the hunt to take down Sen. Conrad Burns (R) in 2006.

A former state lawmaker who opposes the Iraq war, Paul Richards told local reporters Tuesday that if he is elected, he would stage a hunger strike in the Senate cafeteria if the war has not ended. He joins Clint Wilkes, a relatively unknown Bozeman Internet consultant, state Senate President Jon Tester and state Auditor John Morrison in the Democratic race.

Morrison announced this week that he had raised more than $400,000 for his effort as of June 30.

National Democrats think Burns is vulnerable next year and hope to keep the primary civil so that the nominee can capitalize on the state’s recent willingness to elect Democrats and Burns’ ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

— N.D.

Two More Democrats Join 3rd District Contest

Two more Democrats have entered the race to replace Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D) in the 3rd district.

State Sen. Paula Hollinger, a 24-year veteran of the Legislature, announced her candidacy Wednesday in front of the Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore. Hollinger, 64, is a registered nurse. Earlier this month, former Missouri Rep. Bill Burlison, who now serves as an Anne Arundel County councilman, said that he would run.

Burlison represented southeastern Missouri from 1969 to 1981, losing his seat in the Republican landslide of 1980 by 10 points to Bill Emerson (R). He lived in Maryland for much of his Congressional tenure and stayed there after his loss.

Burlison was elected to the County Council in 1998 and is term-limited in 2006.

Hollinger and Burlison join former Baltimore Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson and state Del. Neil Quinter in the Democratic primary. At least three other Democrats continue to contemplate the race.

“I’ll outwork them all,” Burlison vowed in an interview with The Capital newspaper. “I’ve got more experience than any of them.”

Meanwhile, Republicans continue to search for a viable candidate in the Democratic-leaning district. The Gazette newspaper reported last week that GOP leaders recently approached 71-year-old former Lt. Gov. Melvin Steinberg (D) about switching parties and seeking the seat as a Republican, but that is considered a long shot at best.
— J.K.

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