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Connecticut: Courtney Says NRCC Rebuke Is Unwarranted

The National Republican Congressional Committee criticized 2nd district Democratic candidate Joe Courtney last week for accepting campaign contributions from an indicted state contractor,William Tomasso, but Courtney said the NRCC’s finger wagging is unwarranted.

Courtney is making a second bid against Rep. Rob Simmons (R). When he lost in 2002, he accepted contributions totaling $1,000 from Tomasso.

Tomasso was indicted last September, but Courtney said he had already closed his old Congressional campaign committee by then. He reformed his committee July 6 and promptly wrote Tomasso a check for $1,000, well before the NRCC’s Aug. 29 news release.

“They’re telling me to do something I already did,” Courtney said.

Meanwhile, Courtney will be the beneficiary of a fundraiser in East Haddam on Saturday featuring former Gov. Lowell Weicker (I).
— Nicole Duran

Harwell Ends Senate Bid But Eyes Governor Run

State Rep. Beth Harwell (R), a former state GOP chairwoman, announced Wednesday that she has suspended her Senate campaign.

Harwell had been considered a second-tier candidate in the crowded GOP primary field seeking to succeed retiring Sen. Bill Frist (R) in 2006.

“We have been pleased with the level of financial and political support the committee has received, but at the end of the day my family and I have determined that this is not the race for us,” Harwell said in a statement. “We have quality Republican candidates running for the Senate, and I am convinced one of them will be our next United States Senator.”

Harwell’s departure from the Senate race leaves former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker and former Reps. Ed Bryant and Van Hillary battling for the Republican nod.

Rep. Harold Ford Jr. is the leading contender for the Democratic Senate nomination, although he must first get past a primary with state Sen. Rosalind Kurita (D).

— Lauren W. Whittington

Minutemen Founder Enlists With Spencer

It was bound to happen: The anti-immigration activists who call themselves the Minutemen and have set up armed sentries along the U.S.-Mexico border, are planning to do the same along the U.S.-Canada border in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New York.

And just as sure as this group will get plenty of media attention for its controversial work, it will also find politicians eager to attach themselves to the cause.

The first to do so in the Empire State is former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, one of three Republicans seeking to challenge Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) next year. On Wednesday, Spencer was touting his endorsement from Chris Simcox, co-founder of the group.

“I urge every American who is concerned about border security and defending sovereignty to support John Spencer for U.S. Senate,” Simcox said in a statement.

Spencer plans to show his support for the group by attending a meeting the Minutemen are holding Saturday at an American Legion Hall in Babylon on Long Island.

“They truly are patriots for their efforts on behalf of this nation,” he said.

— Josh Kurtz

Redistricting Measure Approved for Fall Ballot

Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R) announced this week that a constitutional amendment designed to take the power of redrawing legislative districts away from lawmakers and give it to a nonpartisan panel has qualified for the November ballot.

The initiative is being pushed by Reform Ohio Now, a coalition primarily made up of Democrats, organized labor and watchdog groups.

However, the measure is among those being challenged in court by a former Republican state Senator. The case is set to be heard today in a Columbus courtroom.

If the amendment is allowed to stand, Ohio voters will decide this fall whether the redrawing of state and Congressional boundaries should be done by an independent commission instead of partisan lawmakers.

And if the measure were to pass, Ohio Republicans would be almost assured of losing seats. The GOP currently holds a 12-6 advantage over Democrats in the key presidential swing state’s House delegation.

— L.W.W.

On Gard: Assembly Speaker Enters Battle

State Assembly Speaker John Gard (R) officially entered the race to succeed Rep. Mark Green (R) in the 8th district this week.

The 41-year-old Gard has served in the Assembly since 1987 and was elected Speaker in 2003.

Announcing his candidacy at a time when many lawmakers shied away from politics, Gard noted the havoc Hurricane Katrina wrecked on the Gulf Coast last week.

He likely will face state Assemblywoman Terri McCormick in the Republican primary.

Already four Democrats have thrown their hats in for the open seat: Steve Kagen, a doctor; retired police officer Rich Langan; former DePere Mayor Nancy Nusbaum; and business consultant Jamie Wall.

Green is vacating his seat to run for governor. Although Democrats have high hopes, his district trends Republican. — N.D.

Despite Hafer’s Move, Democrats Vow Fight

Former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer (D) announced last week that she will not run for Congress in 2006.

Hafer had been considered the Democrats’ best shot at generating a competitive race against sophomore Rep. Tim Murphy (R), who has faced only nominal opposition in his previous two contests.

Hafer, a Democrat-turned-Republican who earlier this year had contemplated challenging Sen. Rick Santorum (R) in 2006, said she wanted to spend more time building her newly formed consulting business.

“When you run for office, it’s a year out of your life, and you have to give it 100 percent,” Hafer said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I couldn’t do both.”

Early last month it appeared as if Hafer was all but in the race; she had filed a campaign committee with the Federal Election Committee and had met with Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C.

Despite Hafer’s announcement, national and state Democrats are vowing that another strong challenger will emerge, reiterating their belief that Murphy is vulnerable.

Allegheny County Clerk of Courts George Matta is the only other Democrat who has been mentioned as a possible candidate.

— L.W.W.

Hastert Raises Money For Larsen Challenger

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) headlined a fundraiser for first-time candidate Doug Roulstone (R) last month.

Roulstone, a businessman and Navy veteran, is challenging Rep. Rick Larsen (D) next year.

For $1,000 per couple, people could lunch and have their picture taken with Hastert at the Everett Events Center. Lunch without the picture was available for $200 per person.

As of June 30, Roulstone had raised almost $50,000.

“This is a campaign on the move and could be the surprise of the 2006 cycle,” Washington Republican Chairman Chris Vance wrote in a memo announcing the Hastert visit.

After barely surpassing 50 percent in his first two elections, Larsen won a third term last year with a more comfortable 64 percent.

— N.D.

Howard Jarvis Group Backs Campbell in 48th

The state’s most illustrious anti-tax organization has jumped into the special election to replace Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox, who just resigned from Congress.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has endorsed state Sen. John Campbell (R) in the race to fill the open 48th District seat.

“John Campbell is a proven tax fighter and one of our best friends in the California Legislature,” association President Jon Coupal said in a written statement. “We need John Campbell working for us in Washington, D.C., where he can take on the big spenders.”

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has been a strong supporter of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who also has endorsed Campbell.

— David M. Drucker

GOPer May Challenge Musgrave in Primary

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) could be facing a primary challenge next year, the Ft. Collins Coloradoan reported last week.

Eric Eidsness, a Ft. Collins resident who served in the Reagan administration, told the newspaper he plans to form an exploratory committee.

“I’ve talked to a number of people who are interested, as I am, in a change of leadership,” he said. “There are a lot of disaffected Republicans in the region who feel the party has left us.”

Former state Rep. Bill Kaufman (R) of Loveland is also considering challenging Musgrave.

Musgrave, who sponsored a constitutional amendment to ban members of the same sex from marrying each other, won re-election in 2004 with 51 percent of the vote.

— D.M.D.

DSCC, NRCC Maintain Cash-on-Hand Leads

The House and Senate campaign committees last month filed their fundraising reports for July, showing that Senate Democrats and House Republicans still lead in the chase for 2006 cash.

On the Senate side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee continues to outraise its GOP counterpart.

The DSCC raised $2.5 million in July and spent $1.5 million, leaving $16.2 million in reserves.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $2.1 million and spent $1.5 million. The NRSC, which recently hired a new finance director, ended the month with $8.7 million in the bank.

On the House side, the National Republican Congressional Committee took in $4.6 million in July and spent $3.4 million. The committee showed a balance of $17.5 million on July 30.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $1.2 million in July and had $8.2 million in cash on hand after spending $2.3 million in the period. The committee still has $3.3 million in debts from the previous cycle.

The reports also reflected how much each House committee spent on the Aug. 2 special election in Ohio’s 2nd district.

The NRCC reported spending more than $418,000 on independent expenditures against Democrat Paul Hackett and just more than $30,000 in support of GOP nominee Jean Schmidt. Meanwhile, the DCCC spent $252,000 in independent expenditures against Schmidt, who eventually won the race to succeed former Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

— L.W.W.

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