Rep. Ernest Istook (R) is scheduled to arrive in Louisiana this morning to tour the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and visit the 2,000 Oklahoma National Guardsmen participating in rescue and relief efforts in New Orleans.
“Our troops from Oklahoma have kept New Orleans safe from looters and criminals while disaster officials assess damage and figure out how to rebuild,” Istook said in a written statement. “This is a national tragedy and I’m proud to see us playing such a prominent place in this national response.”
Istook is visiting in an official capacity, but the trip could pay political dividends.
The Congressman, who is considering a run for governor, is set to take a 45-minute flyover of New Orleans and then meet with Oklahoma guardsmen in the city’s Garden District. The Congressman also is due to be briefed by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, with his day ending in Oklahoma City, where he will tour a relief center for evacuees.
“As a member of the Homeland Security subcommittee I feel it’s important to find the flaws in our emergency response plan so we can fix them and make sure something like this never happens again,” Istook said.
— David M. Drucker
Lieutenant Governor Ponders Istook’s Seat
Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and state Rep. Kevin Calvey (R) are considering a run for Rep. Ernest Istook’s seat should the Republican Congressman vacate it to run for governor in 2006, The Oklahoman newspaper reported Wednesday.
Fallin recently decided against running for governor herself.
“I would certainly look at the opportunity to run for Congress,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anyone who would know the district as well as I would because I grew up in the district.”
Calvey, an attorney, said he has sent an e-mail to constituents asking them for their opinion on whether he should run for Oklahoma’s 5th district seat.
“It’s something I’ve had a number of people ask me if I would do,” he said.
Democrat Bert Smith, a teacher in Oklahoma City, has announced he is running for the seat.
House Conservatives Back Campbell in Special
State Sen. John Campbell (R) has picked up yet another endorsement in his run to fill the 48th district House seat vacated by Rep. Christopher Cox (R) — this time from the House Conservatives Fund.
The fund, a political action committee run by a group of House Republicans dedicated to electing more conservatives, announced this week that it would donate $5,000 to the Orange County Republican’s campaign, the maximum allowed by law.
“In the 48th district, John Campbell is the one true conservative Republican running,” said Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.), the fund’s honorary chairman.
Campbell’s top competitor to replace Cox, who resigned to assume the chairmanship of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is former state Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer (R), a moderate who has been endorsed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
EMILY’s List Designates Murphy a Top Priority
EMILY’s List, the largest political organization supporting Democratic women who favor abortion rights, announced this week it has endorsed attorney Lois Murphy (D) in her rematch with Rep. Jim Gerlach (R).
Murphy garnered 49 percent of the vote against Gerlach in 2004, and their rematch in the suburban Philadelphia 6th district is expected to be one of the most competitive and closely watched contests of 2006.
“Her tremendous performance in 2004 proved that Jim Gerlach is extremely vulnerable and that this will be one of our best opportunities to add a new Democratic seat to Congress,” EMILY’s List President Ellen Malcolm said in a statement. “EMILY’s List considers this to be one of its top priority House races and our membership will lend all its considerable strength to seeing that Lois Murphy is victorious.”
— Lauren W. Whittington
Schrader Abandons Idea Of Fitzpatrick Rematch
Attorney Ginny Schrader (D) announced this week that she is ending her campaign for the Democratic nomination in the 8th district.
Schrader lost to now-Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R) in an open-seat contest last November. Although Fitzpatrick won with 55 percent of the vote, the district went for Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) over President Bush in the presidential contest.
Schrader’s exit from the race leaves Iraq War veteran Patrick Murphy, former Bucks County Commissioner Andy Warren and veteran Paul Lang vying for the chance to take on Fitzpatrick. Warren, a Republican-turned-Democrat, recently left his job as Philadelphia regional director of the state Transportation Department.
Businesswoman Robin Wiessmann (D) announced last week that she would not run.
Kathy Salvi Joins Race to Take On Rep. Bean
Attorney Kathy Salvi (R), the wife of unsuccessful 1996 Senate nominee Al Salvi (R), formally launched her bid to unseat freshman Rep. Melissa Bean (D) on Tuesday.
This is her first run for elected office. Al Salvi, who also ran for secretary of state in 1998, had been eyeing the race but deferred to his wife, a former public defender.
Kathy Salvi, 46, joins investment banker David McSweeney and businesswoman Teresa Bartels in the GOP race. Bartels has yet to formally announce her candidacy but is raising money for the race.
All three candidates have the ability to either partially or fully self-fund their campaigns, and the GOP primary is expected to be expensive and bloody. Both McSweeney and Salvi have said they plan to spend at least $1 million of their own money on the race.
Other Republicans still considering running, include state Rep. Bob Churchill.
Meanwhile, McSweeney announced this week that he has suspended his campaign fundraising efforts for the remainder of the month so that his supporters can donate to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. To make up the difference, he contributed $250,000 in personal funds to his campaign.
Bean is a top target for Republicans after she defeated 17-term Rep. Phil Crane (R) last year in a suburban Chicago district that voted 56 percent for President Bush.
State Senator Will Run if Andrews Moves On
If Rep. Rob Andrews (D) runs for Senate next year, state Sen. Stephen Sweeney (D) will seek the Congressman’s 1st district seat, the Cherry Hill, N.J., Courier Post newspaper reported this week.
The future of Andrews and those seeking to replace him depends on Sen. Jon Corzine (D) and whether he wins the New Jersey governor’s race, which the latest polls indicate is likely.
In addition to Sweeney, state Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D) has indicated a desire to run for Andrews’ seat. No Republicans have expressed an interest in running in the heavily Democratic district.
Chafee Secures Funds from RNC, Tops Poll
Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) has passed his first intraparty test since gaining a primary challenger.
The state Republican committee agreed to accept $500,000 from the Republican National Committee earmarked for Chafee.
Rhode Island National Committeeman Robert Manning had threatened not to sign off on the contribution — a move necessary to secure the funds — but conceded after the central committee voted 130 -46 to approve it, the Providence Journal reported this week.
Manning is a political ally of Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey (R), who is opposing Chafee for the Senate nomination.
The vote came as Laffey launched an $80,000 television advertising campaign Tuesday.
The ad follows a script more suitable for an Independent candidate than a conservative Republican, as it blames both Republicans and Democrats for “the mess” in Washington, D.C.
Laffey, a former investment banker, also contributed $360,000 of his own money to kick-start his campaign.
Brown University released a poll Wednesday showing Laffey trailing Chafee in the primary. Chafee led Laffey 44 percent to 24 percent among likely Republican primary voters, however, only 11 percent of Rhode Islanders are registered Republicans.
Thirty-two percent of the 209 potential GOP primary voters polled Saturday and Sunday were undecided.
— Nicole Duran
2 Democrats Seeking to Challenge Rep. Reichert
Two Democrats want to take on freshman Rep. Dave Reichert (R) next year, but neither is the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s first choice.
Darcy Burner, a former mid-level manager at Microsoft, and Bellevue, Wash., attorney Randy Gordon have both filed to run as Democrats, the Seattle Times reported Wednesday.
The DCCC has been trying to coax state Rep. Ross Hunter (D), who is personally wealthy, into the race.
National Democrats had high hopes of capturing the swing 8th district last year when longtime Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R) announced her retirement but they were thwarted by Reichert, then the popular sheriff of King County.
Since then, Republican leaders have been working overtime to help Reichert build up an intimidating campaign war chest.
Rainville Pours $4,000 into Exploratory Effort
Maj. Gen. Martha Rainville (R) has formed a committee to explore the possibility of seeking Vermont’s lone House seat next year.
Rainville, adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, established the exploratory committee with $4,000 from her own pocket, the Rutland Herald reported Wednesday.
Rainville becomes the first Republican to take such a step. Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie (R) has been mentioned as a potential House or Senate candidate, though he has yet to say if he will seek either office.
Both seats are open, as Sen. Jim Jeffords (I) is retiring and Rep. Bernie Sanders (I) is vacating his House seat to run for the Senate.
State Senate President Pro Tem Peter Welch (D) has formally entered the race while former state Sen. Peter Shumlin may still challenge him for the Democratic nod.
Republicans think they have a good shot at capturing the seat with Rainville in the race. Before she declared herself a Republican, both the Republican and Democratic state parties tried to coax her to their side.
Legislative Leaders Back Quinter in House Bid
State Del. Neil Quinter, one of several Democrats seeking to replace Rep. Benjamin Cardin in the 3rd district next year, has scheduled his first major fundraiser of the campaign.
The evening reception is scheduled for Sept. 26 at a restaurant in Baltimore’s Little Italy neighborhood.
The venue is not insignificant: Quinter represents Howard County in the Legislature, the smallest component of the multi-jurisdiction 3rd district. Also significant are the fundraiser’s sponsors: state House Speaker Mike Busch (D) and three of the five state House committee chairmen.
Quinter is competing for the seat against former Baltimore Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson (D), Anne Arundel County Councilman Bill Burlison (D) — a former Congressman from Missouri — and state Sen. Paula Hollinger (D).
Investment banker Oz Bengur (D) has set up an exploratory committee for a likely run, and at least three other Democrats are eyeing the seat: Jon Cardin, the Congressman’s nephew, Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens and lawyer John Sarbanes, son of retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D).
— Josh Kurtz