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California: New PAC Targets Lewis; Democrats Crown Prince

A political action committee intent on targeting Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) has been formed by Democrats based in the Congressman’s 41st district.

Blue County PAC, named because its goal is to turn Republican-leaning San Bernardino County Democratic, is scheduled to hold its inaugural fundraiser on Wednesday, where it will unveil Democratic activist Tim Prince as the choice of local Democrats to challenge Lewis.

Patrick Kahler, the controlling officer of Blue County, said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has told Democrats in San Bernardino County that the committee’s No. 1 target in California in 2008 is Lewis, the ranking member on the Appropriations Committee and the subject of an ongoing Justice Department investigation.

Blue County is hoping to raise a little more than $5,000 on Wednesday for Prince’s campaign. Prince, an attorney, also serves on the San Bernardino County Democratic Party Central Committee.

“This is the first legitimate candidate we’ve run in years,” Kahler said.

Despite legal issues that stretch back well before the November elections, the conservative 41st district, located about 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, re-elected Lewis with 67 percent of the vote, suggesting Prince has a tall order in front of him.

Lewis is the only GOP Congressman listed as a target on Blue County’s Web site, although he is not the only GOP Member to represent a portion of San Bernardino County — Rep. David Dreier is another. Meanwhile, the PAC also lists as targets a host of state and local offices currently held by Republicans.
— David M. Drucker

McInnis Files Paperwork for 2008 Senate Election

After indicating for nearly three months that he was going to run for Senate next year, former Rep. Scott McInnis (R) made it official last week, filing his statement of candidacy and statement of organization, an official in the Senate Office of Public Records confirmed Monday.

McInnis, who is now permitted to raise money for his bid, is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Wayne Allard (R), who is retiring at the end of his current term. Democrats are clearing the field for Rep. Mark Udall, but former Rep. Bob Schaffer and retired Air Force Major Gen. Bentley Rayburn are both considering joining McInnis in the GOP primary.

With nearly $1 million on hand in his old House campaign account, McInnis is seen as currently having the upper hand among Republicans in a Senate contest that is likely to be among the most heavily targeted in the country. McInnis has been in the process of assembling a campaign team and trying to secure commitments from Colorado’s top GOP donors.
— D.M.D. and Matthew Murray

Would-be Successors to Meehan Are Mobilizing

Despite swearing to Roll Call last month that he “has no interest” in the chancellor’s job at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Rep. Marty Meehan (D) is one of three finalists for the position. He will learn his fate on March 14, when the university announces its choice.

Meehan assured the search committee that he would take the job if chosen, The Boston Globe reported last week.

That stands in contrast to Meehan’s claims just before The Boston Globe reported Jan. 31 that he was being interviewed for the position.

On Jan. 29 he told Roll Call: “I think they’re people in my district who think I’d be good for a lot of jobs, and they want my job so they throw my name out there for everything under the sun. The only problem is I have no interest.”

Scads of Bay State pols are eager to assume the 5th district seat Meehan has held since 1992.

State Rep. Barry Finegold (D) made his ambitions known before the selection committee even confirmed that Meehan, an alumnus, was a candidate for the job.

Other Democrats lining up are: Niki Tsongas, widow of the-late Sen. Paul Tsongas (D-Mass.); state Reps. James Eldridge and James Miceli; Middlesex Sheriff James DiPaola; and David O’Brien, a housing developer.

Republicans also are eager for a special election in the Lowell-based district that Sen. John Kerry (D) and former Vice President Al Gore each won with 57 percent of the vote in the last two White House elections.

Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan (R) and Charles McCarthy (R), whom Meehan beat 60 percent to 34 percent in 2002, are both said to be interested.

Meehan has stockpiled $5.4 million in his campaign war chest since 2004 in hopes of competing for an open Senate seat that never materialized.
— Nicole Duran

FEC Questions Putnam’s Recent Campaign Filings

The Federal Election Commission is giving Rep. Adam Putnam, the House Republican Conference chairman, until March 2 to explain alleged irregularities on three late-cycle campaign finance disclosure statements.

The agency wrote Putnam’s campaign Jan. 30, asking it to give back or explain why two individuals and a political action committee appeared to contribute thousands of dollars too much to his re-election committee. The FEC also chided Putnam’s campaign for keeping sloppy accounting records, for not properly identifying other campaign contributors and for possibly failing to file proper disclosures for last-minute contributions.

Putnam coasted to a fourth term in November, garnering nearly 70 percent of the vote against two independents. Putnam raised roughly $1.1 million and had $466,000 on-hand at the end of the cycle, according to CQ’s PoliticalMoneyLine.
— M.M.

Burton in the Rough: Primary Foe Emerges

Rep. Dan Burton (R) probably wishes politics, like golf, offered mulligans.

Outraged by news that Burton missed 19 votes last month to participate in a celebrity golf tournament in California, Republican John McGoff, a former Marion County coroner, announced last week that he wants Burton’s job.

Voters “are tired of career politicians in Washington who are out of touch with the voters back home,” McGoff told The Indianapolis Star. “They want integrity restored to Congress and they realize that starts here.”

Burton first won election to the solidly Republican 5th district in 1982. He has faced primaries numerous times throughout his career, including in 1998 when it was revealed that he had fathered an illegitimate son. McGoff could be a tough opponent but faces the sizable war chest Burton — the state’s longest-serving Congressman — usually maintains.

Burton began the year with more than $700,000 in his campaign account.
— N.D.

Sununu, Gregg See Their Ratings Sag in UNH Poll

Sen. John Sununu (R) has seen his popularity in the Granite State drop.

The latest Granite State Poll revealed that only 45 percent of voters held a favorable opinion of the first-term Senator. Last year more than 50 percent of voters did.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center conducted the poll of 538 state residents on Feb. 1. The survey was sponsored by WMUR-TV and had a 4.2 percent error margin.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R) also saw his popularity decline in a state that replaced its two GOP Congressmen with Democrats last November.

Sununu’s would-be Democratic rivals are wasting no time criticizing the 42-year-old incumbent’s record.

Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand (D) — the first to declare his candidacy — already has begun issuing news releases critiquing the Senate’s youngest member.

Katrina Swett (D), daughter of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), also has entered the race while Gary Hirshberg (D), founder of Stonyfield Farm yogurt, has set a March 5 deadline for himself to decide whether or not to run.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee already has named Sununu a top target.
— N.D.

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