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Nation: EMILY’s List Endorses Three House Freshmen

EMILY’s List, the organization dedicated to electing women Democrats who support abortion rights, has bestowed its first three Congressional endorsements of the 2008 cycle on three freshmen who could face tough re-election battles next year.

The group announced Wednesday that it is backing Reps. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.). The three Members are sitting in districts that lean Republican in presidential elections; Gillibrand and Shea-Porter ousted incumbents last year, while Giffords won an open seat.

“All three of these women outperformed strongly rooted Republican opposition in November by impressing their future constituents with smart agendas and realistic goals,” EMILY’s List said in a statement.

Republicans may target all three seats next year. Ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-N.H.) may seek a rematch with Shea-Porter, and in the upstate New York 20th district, several Republicans, led by wealthy former state GOP Chairman Sandy Treadwell, are queuing up to take on Gillibrand. In Arizona’s 8th district, state Senate President Tim Bee (R) is mentioned as a possible challenger to Giffords.

An early endorsement by EMILY’s List should provide these incumbents with plenty of fundraising help and added campaign infrastructure, among other services.

— Josh Kurtz

Governor: Redistricting Reform Deal Still Possible

Redistricting reform is far from dead and a deal with Democratic legislative leaders on a remap plan could be announced soon, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said this week while in Washington, D.C.

Schwarzenegger said overhauling how California draws its House districts “absolutely” remains a priority for him. The governor, elected to a second term in November, said he is working with Democratic and Republican leaders of his state’s Democratic-controlled Legislature, and hopes the negotiations will yield an agreement soon.

“We are working on that right now,” Schwarzenegger said Tuesday while speaking to reporters in the Capitol. “As a matter of fact, I think within the next few weeks we will have a proposal.”

Since winning a recall election in 2003, Schwarzenegger has lamented the effects of political gerrymandering on California’s Congressional districts, saying they create officeholders who are more interested in playing politics than in compromising for the common good.

His solution has been to take the power to draw House district boundaries out of the hands of the Legislature, in favor of a nonpartisan commission. His first crack at that goal failed, when a proposed state constitutional amendment he pushed for was defeated by the voters in a 2005 special election.

A similar plan that was backed by Schwarzenegger — and that had the nominal support of Democratic legislative leaders — died last year in the Legislature. His latest attempt also could find rough-going, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) and leading California Democrats helped bankroll the successful campaign to defeat his 2005 measure, and there is no sign that their opposition has abated.

California’s House Republicans also are largely opposed to redistricting reform, and are likely to sit on their hands at best if Schwarzenegger succeeds in bringing another proposed state constitutional amendment to the ballot. Rep. Kevin McCarthy is one of the few Golden State Republicans who is likely to support redistricting reform if it goes before the voters.

Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that his recent push for “post-partisanship” should not be interpreted as a sign that he will not aggressively support GOP candidates and raise money for Republicans this election cycle.

The governor said his call for politicians to move beyond party loyalties and work together is meant to apply after an election is over. It is at that point that the Democrats and Republicans who won the election should emphasize working together over political gain.

“It’s very important that you never misunderstand what I’m saying,” Schwarzenegger said.

“I always said you don’t have to give up your ideology, and believing in what you believe in,” he continued. “I can still help some Republicans to get elected, someone else can still help a Democrat to get elected. But when they are elected, they should always remember that the ultimate principle is [that we] are a public servant and not a party servant.”

— David M. Drucker

Press Secretary Snow Raising Cash for Drake

Sophomore Rep. Thelma Drake (R) will receive some fundraising help later this month from White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

Snow is scheduled to join Drake at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Virginia Beach on March 30. Ticket prices start at $125 and go up from there.

Drake struggled to win re-election last year in a district that leans Republican in presidential races, taking 51 percent of the vote against Virginia Beach Commissioner of the Revenue Phil Kellam (D).

But it isn’t clear whether the Democrats will target her again in 2008. If they do, they probably will pressure Kellam to try again.

After spending more than $2.3 million on her re-election, Drake finished 2006 with just $3,400 in the bank. Kellam, who spent more than $1.5 million, ended the year with $60,000 in cash on hand but with $160,000 of debt.

— J.K.

Dole’s Popularity Drops in Latest Democratic Poll

You can’t beat somebody with nobody, but if Democrats had somebody, they just might be able to upset Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) next year.

A poll released Wednesday by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee suggested that Dole, once an iconic figure in the Tar Heel State, could be vulnerable.

The poll of 606 likely voters, conducted Feb. 7 and 8 for the DSCC by Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, found that only 35 percent of those surveyed said they would definitely vote to re-elect Dole in 2008. Another 26 percent said they would consider somebody else, while 23 percent said they would definitely vote for someone else.

But when it came to Dole’s job performance, the first-term Senator did somewhat better. Forty-nine percent of the survey’s respondents termed her performance as excellent or good, while 46 percent described it as poor or fair.

The poll had a 4.1 percent margin of error.

Despite whatever good news the poll brought national and state Democrats, they still don’t have a challenger to Dole lined up — yet. If the Garin-Hart-Yang poll tested the Senator against any potential challengers, the Democrats aren’t saying.

— J.K.

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