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Nation: House Democratic Frosh Hosting PAC Fundraiser

The 41 freshman Democrats in the House have formed a new political action committee, and the PAC is scheduled to have its first fundraiser Wednesday evening.

The Democratic Freshmen PAC is hosting its inaugural reception at Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill. Tickets cost $5,000 to become a member of the new PAC’s steering committee. PACs are being asked to pony up $2,500, and an individual ticket costs $1,000.

In a related development, new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) announced Monday that he has tapped Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) to head the DCCC’s Frontline program, which works to protect potentially vulnerable Members.

The DCCC is giving its Frontline members specific fundraising goals for the early part of the election cycle, ranging from $650,000 to $1 million for the amount of money they should have banked by June 30. Frontline members also are being told that they must put together aggressive outreach and volunteer programs as well as a vigorous fundraising schedule.

Van Hollen said he has asked veteran Democratic Members in tough districts, such as Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah) and Dennis Moore (Kan.), to serve as mentors to the Frontliners.

In a memo, Van Hollen said some potentially vulnerable Democratic freshmen, such as Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Harry Mitchell (Ariz.), Patrick Murphy (Pa.) and Heath Shuler (N.C.), already are battle-tested, “and head into 2008 with a more solid grasp of the political landscape of their districts and a strong understanding of what it takes to win.”
— Josh Kurtz

RNC Taps Beeson to Be Its New Political Director

Rich Beeson is expected to be named political director of the Republican National Committee this week, according to a source familiar with the hire.

Beeson served as the RNC’s political director for the Mountain region from 1998 to 2005. He worked as a fundraising consultant for the 2006 gubernatorial campaign of then-Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.).
— David M. Drucker

Clark, DSCC: We Want You to Oppose Surge

On the eve of President Bush’s State of the Union address, a key Democratic critic of the Iraq War sent out an e-mail to supporters of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, urging them to sign a petition opposing Bush’s proposed increase of 21,500 troops in Iraq.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, a 2004 Democratic presidential candidate who is weighing another White House bid, said Monday that the DSCC’s goal is to deliver a list of 100,000 surge opponents to the White House before the president’s speech tonight.

“Sending more American troops now would not do anything to fix the core political problems in Iraq,” Clark wrote.
— J.K.

Patton Boggs Hosting Fundraiser for Lampson

Rep. Nick Lampson (D) is wasting no time getting armed for what is expected to be a tough re-election bid in 2008.

Lampson, whose 22nd district leans heavily to the GOP, has a breakfast fundraiser scheduled for Wednesday morning at the offices of law and lobbying powerhouse Patton Boggs. Lampson’s campaign committee is asking for $1,000 for the event.

The Congressman had almost $198,000 in his campaign account as of Nov. 27, having spent about $3.5 million on his race to replace former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R).
— J.K.

Ex-Legislative Leader Eyes Allen’s House Seat

Would-be successors already are lining up to run for one of the Pine Tree State’s two House seats if Rep. Tom Allen (D) challenges Sen. Susan Collins (R) next year, as national Democrats would like.

Michael Brennan (D), the former state Senate Majority Leader, said he might run for Congress if Allen takes the Senate plunge.

Brennan, who did not seek re-election to the state Senate last year, also briefly considered taking on Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) in the previous cycle.
— Nicole Duran

Baker Still in Senate Mix as GOP Targets Landrieu

Rep. Richard Baker (R) might ask Pelican State voters to promote him to the Senate next year.

Baker, who had a chance at leading the House Financial Services Committee this year if Republicans had not lost control of the House in November, also might stay put.

Baker has been approached by “national party leaders” about challenging Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), but the former real estate broker has not acquiesced, said Michael DiResto, Baker’s spokesman.

“He’s grateful and encouraged that there are those who would support such an effort, but at this point he hasn’t yet had a chance to devote a lot of thought to the opportunity,” DiResto said.

Republicans are eager to recruit a top-tier challenger as they hope to make Landrieu a top 2008 target. Several prominent Republicans have been named as possible candidates, but none has declared an intention to run yet.
— N.D.

Bunning Snubs Fletcher, Backs Northup Instead

Sen. Jim Bunning (R) has decided to buck his state’s incumbent Republican governor, Ernie Fletcher, and endorse former Rep. Anne Northup (R) in her nascent gubernatorial bid, Northup’s campaign announced Monday.

Although Northup represented a Democratic-leaning Louisville-based district and was considered a moderate on economic issues, Bunning told a group of abortion opponents from Kentucky on Monday that the former five-term Congresswoman is a strong conservative.

“Lately I have put a lot of thought into how important it is for Kentucky to have a strong Republican that shares our values leading our commonwealth in Frankfort,” Bunning said in a statement. “I think Anne Northup would be the best Republican pro-life candidate to lead Kentucky forward.”

Northup narrowly lost re-election to her House seat to now-Rep. John Yarmuth (D) in November.
— D.M.D.