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Illinois: McSweeney Airs First TV Ads of GOP Primary

Businessman David McSweeney (R) on Tuesday became the first Republican in the free-spending 8th district primary to begin airing TV ads.

McSweeney, one of five Republicans seeking to take on freshman Rep. Melissa Bean (D) next year, is running the 30-second spot on cable stations in the suburban Chicago district.

Produced by Jeff Norwood of Anthem Media, the ad touts McSweeney as “a successful businessman and a proven leader committed to our conservative principles.” It goes on to promote the candidate’s interest in lower taxes, economic opportunity and affordable health care.

“David McSweeney — the conservative leader we can trust,” is the ad’s tagline.

McSweeney may be the first Republican out of the gate with TV ads, but others are sure to follow soon. The race features several self-funders who have expressed a willingness to spend lavishly to become the Republican nominee.

The GOP field also includes businessman Ken Arnold, businesswoman Teresa Bartels, state Rep. Bob Churchill and lawyer Kathy Salvi. Whoever wins the March primary, Bean is liable to be the National Republican Congressional Committee’s No. 1 target this cycle.

— Josh Kurtz

Ford Beats All Comers in His Latest Senate Poll

Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D) has a decisive lead over his Democratic primary opponent and is clinging to a narrow lead over the three Republicans seeking the Volunteer State’s open Senate seat, according to a new poll conducted for Ford’s campaign.

The poll, conducted by Harrison Hickman and Eily Hayes of the Global Strategy Group, found Ford leading state Sen. Rosalind Kurita 70 percent to 15 percent among likely Democratic primary voters.

In a trial heat of general election matchups, Ford led former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker (R) 39 percent to 36 percent among likely voters. He bested ex-Rep. Van Hilleary (R) 40 percent to 38 percent, and he was ahead of ex-Rep. Ed Bryant (R) 38 percent to 37 percent.

The poll of 600 likely voters was conducted Oct. 13-20 and had a 2.5 percent error margin. It also found declining popularity for President Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) — another hopeful sign, the pollsters said, for Ford’s candidacy.

More significantly, Hickman and Hayes found that Ford suffered no damage in his popularity from the unflattering headlines earlier this year about his uncle, former state Sen. John Ford (D).

“At this early phase in the campaign, Harold Ford Jr. is well-positioned to be the next U.S. Senator from Tennessee,” they wrote.

— J.K.

GOP Delegation Helps Lamberti Raise Money

State Senate Co-President and 3rd district Congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti (R) is scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., today to raise money for his campaign to unseat Rep. Leonard Boswell (D).

The fundraiser, featuring all the Republicans in the Iowa Congressional delegation — Sen. Chuck Grassley and Reps. Jim Leach, Jim Nussle, Tom Latham and Steve King — is asking for $100 from individual attendees and $1,000 from political action committees.

Republicans consider Iowa’s 3rd district one of their top pickup opportunities in 2006.

“We’re very happy with the success of this fundraiser at this point in the cycle,” said Nathan Wurtzel of the Catalyst Group, the firm handling fundraising for Lamberti. “It’s early and we think the reaction we’re getting is strong.”

The event is being held at Shelly’s Back Room on F Street NW in downtown Washington. Wurtzel declined to discuss how much money this fundraiser will bring in, or what the targeted amount is.

— David M. Drucker

Wetterling Appeal Keys Off Kerry Iraq Statement

Democratic Senate candidate Patty Wetterling is hoping Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) can help her raise money.

Kerry, who carried Minnesota in his presidential bid last year, last week outlined a plan for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Wetterling, who ran unsuccessfully for the House last year, has called on President Bush to end U.S. involvement in Iraq by Thanksgiving next year.

Wetterling mentions both those facts in an appeal for “$1,000, $500, $250, $100 or $50,” her campaign sent out last week.

“My plan, like John Kerry’s, is a responsible one,” she declared.

She also asked potential donors to sign her petition to Bush regarding a Thanksgiving 2006 troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Meanwhile, her leading adversary for the Democratic nomination, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar, has a petition of her own and railed against high gas prices in a recent newsletter to supporters.

“Hey Washington, it’s getting cold in Minnesota! So it’s time for us to turn up the heat on the Republican leadership in Washington,” she said in an appeal to gain support for her effort.

Klobuchar has begun a “gas price gougers” petition addressed to “the chairmen of the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee.”

Klobuchar wants Congress to enact a “truly comprehensive national energy policy.” She also wants Congress to “stop rewarding big oil at the expense of working families and small businesses in Minnesota.”

— Nicole Duran

Wealthy Businessman Seeking to Oust Sanchez

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) won her last two elections by 20 points and 16 points, respectively; but she could face a tougher challenge next year if her potential Republican challenger can continue self-funding his campaign at the healthy clip reported at the end of September.

Businessman and financial analyst Tan Nguyen (R) donated $269,000 to his campaign to date, and reported having $202,601 in cash on hand at the end of this year’s third- quarter reporting period. Nguyen also reported a smattering of small donations in his Federal Election Commission report.

California Republican political consultant Allan Hoffenblum, while noting that he does not know anything about Nguyen, said any district won by President Bush has to be considered competitive, at least in an era of highly gerrymandered seats.

Bush won the district by 1 point last year, after losing it in 2000 by 15 points.

“Orange County Republicans have long considered this seat competitive, one they could get back if they recruited the right candidate,” said the Los Angeles-based Hoffenblum, who is also co-editor of the California Target Book, the Golden State’s version of the Almanac of American Politics. “The Target Book has the race on its watch list.”

Sanchez raked in $145,264 in the third quarter, to finish with $1.14 million in cash on hand. By all accounts, she retains a sizable lead over Nguyen in fundraising, and brings to her effort the power of incumbency.

Sanchez also maintains another $56,000 in the bank from two other candidate committees, according to FEC reports.

If Nguyen can tap Republicans interested in seeing the GOP take back former Rep. Bob Dornan’s old Orange County seat — as well as the Vietnamese community — for significant financial support, he might be able to force Sanchez to engage in more than just token campaigning next year.

— D.M.D.

Consumer Reports Stars in Campaign Mailing

Montana Auditor John Morrison (D) is playing up his consumer-friendly credentials as he vies for the Democratic Senate nomination next year.

In a campaign update, Morrison points out how he was featured in a September Consumer Reports piece warning about health insurance scams. As auditor, Morrison oversees insurance and securities regulation for the Treasure State.

In the report, Morrison detailed several popular bogus pitches that have enticed consumers into buying worthless health insurance coverage. He also offered several tips in detecting fake plans.

Morrison faces Montana Senate President Jon Tester (D) for the right to challenge Sen. Conrad Burns (R) next year.

— N.D.

DCCC Seeks Gains From Abramoff Hearing

With the Senate scheduled to convene another hearing today into the business practices of disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is seeking to make political capital by demanding that two powerful Ohio Republicans return campaign contributions they received from Abramoff.

The DCCC on Tuesday issued a news release noting that Reps. Bob Ney and Ralph Regula have taken $4,750 and $1,000 respectively from Abramoff — and that Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) recently returned a $2,000 contribution from the lobbyist.

“If even Republican Sen. Jim Talent has distanced himself from Jack Abramoff by returning his tainted money, why haven’t Bob Ney and Ralph Regula?” asked DCCC Communications Director Bill Burton.

The missive was the latest in the DCCC’s attempts to illustrate a “culture of corruption” engulfing Republicans on Capitol Hill.

— J.K.

Wyden Playing Sugar Daddy to Committee

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) really wants Democrats to take back the Senate next year. And he is putting his money where is mouth is.

Wyden, who easily won a third term last year with 63 percent of the vote, is matching every donation to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee between Monday and Nov. 7. The dollar-for-dollar match will be made with money from Wyden’s own campaign fund.

It was part of a DSCC kickoff of a campaign to raise $365,000 — $1,000 for every day until Election Day 2006 — by Nov. 7.

As DSCC vice chairman, Wyden said he asked the committee to launch the special fundraising drive. In the pitch he says: “So far this year, the DSCC’s success in fundraising and organizing — coupled with the country’s increasing dissatisfaction with Republican leadership in Washington — has made it difficult for them to recruit top-tier Senate candidates in a number of key states. That means that next year is shaping up to be a great one for Democrats.”

Wyden had almost $1.5 million in his campaign account at the end of September.

— N.D.

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