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In Mississippi, Lott’s Top Political Aide Becomes Chief of Staff

Sen. Trent Lott (R) recently named Bret Boyles, his top political aide and fundraiser, to be his new chief of staff.

Boyles first joined Lott’s staff as a mailroom clerk almost a decade ago and went on to serve as deputy chief of staff before founding his own consulting firm, the Principles Strategy Group, last fall. Since then, the 32-year-old operative has continued to serve as Lott’s chief fundraiser and as the executive director of his leadership political action committee, the New Republican Majority Fund.

“Bret brings to my chief of staff’s position solid administrative and political energy gleaned from coming up through the ranks in my Senate office,” Lott said in a statement.

Boyles, who hails from Hattiesburg, succeeds William Gottshall, who is leaving the office after seven years to become the first executive director of the Trent Lott Leadership Institute at the University of Mississippi. Gottshall, 61, is a fraternity brother of Lott’s from their days at Ole Miss.

Lott has not yet announced whether he will seek a fourth term in 2006. He had been widely expected to run again but in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed his Pascagoula home and ravaged his state’s Gulf Coast region, he recently said he is undecided about his future.

— Lauren W. Whittington

Paccione, DCCC Choice,to Challenge Musgrave

State Rep. Angie Paccione (D) announced late last week that she would enter the Democratic primary for the House seat held by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R), much to the delight of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“The people of the 4th CD cannot endure another term of Marilyn Musgrave,” Paccione said in a written statement. “She has grown too close to the special interests in Washington.”

Paccione was re-elected to her second term in the Colorado House last year and serves as chairwoman of the Majority Caucus.

The announcement released by her campaign touted her bipartisanship and record of “getting things done.”

“It’s about what’s right, not who’s right,” Paccione said.

Musgrave, who won re-election in 2004 with 51 percent of the vote — 7 points behind President Bush’s performance — could face two opponents in the Republican primary. Republican officials are confident the seat will remain in GOP hands.

— David M. Drucker

Online Newspaper Ads Promote Owens’ Record

Online readers of The Baltimore Sun and The New York Times — at least those who logged on from computers in Maryland — have been treated to pop-up ads in recent days from the political committee of Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens (D).

The ads are seen as the latest indication that Owens, who is term-limited in 2006, will seek the open 3rd district seat being vacated by Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D).

The ads invite readers to learn about Owens’ record and ask for their opinions on several issues.

Owens has been weighing bids for several offices. But she ruled out a Senate run earlier this year, and would not run for state comptroller unless the position becomes vacant. She also might be tapped as a candidate for lieutenant governor, but she has no say over that.

Half a dozen Democrats are either running already for Cardin’s seat or contemplating getting in.

— Josh Kurtz

Kuhl Oils Fundraising Machine at Watkins Glen

When they yell “start your engines” at the Indy Grand Prix at Watkins Glen Raceway this weekend, freshman Rep. Randy Kuhl (R) will be revving up his fundraising machine.

Kuhl is using the weekend-long pageant of races at the storied track for a $1,500-a-ticket fundraising event.

Kuhl, who spent $937,000 to win the open 29th district seat last year, has been lapping many House freshmen on the fundraising front. He had $350,000 in the bank as of June 30.

Kuhl’s leading opponent so far is Eric Massa (D), a Navy officer and one-time top aide to retired Gen. Wesley Clark. Massa is scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., later this week to meet with Democratic leaders and party strategists.

Samara Barend, the Democratic nominee in 2004 who finished 10 points out of the money, also could run.

— J.K.

Dubie Lights Up Senate Exploratory Committee

Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie (R) has narrowed his options.

Since Sen. Jim Jeffords’ (I) April retirement announcement had a chain reaction that threw open the Green Mountain State’s Congressional delegation, speculation has abounded that Dubie would seek either the open Senate or House seat.

Dubie announced last week that he formed an exploratory committee for the Senate race and will take up to a month to decide whether he will make the race.

He joins software company CEO Richard Tarrant in the exploratory phase, while state Sen. Mark Shepard and failed 2004 Congressional candidate Greg Parke are already seeking the Republican Senate nomination.

Dubie’s news came within days of Maj. Gen. Martha Rainville’s (R) decision to form an exploratory committee for the state’s lone House seat.

Rainville, the Vermont National Guard’s adjutant general, became the first Republican to move toward a House run.

Rep. Bernie Sanders (I) is leaving the House in hopes of succeeding Jeffords in the Senate.

— Nicole Duran

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