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Oregon: Treasurer Reiterates His Disinterest in Senate Bid

Democrats continue to get the cold shoulder in their search for a challenger to Sen. Gordon Smith (R), as one candidate high on their list reiterated his unwillingness to run and declined even to say he is giving it consideration.

In the wake of Rep. Peter DeFazio (D) saying Friday he has decided unambiguously against challenging Smith in 2008, one potential candidate valued by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — state Treasurer Randall Edwards (D) — repeated his refusal to run.

A spokesman for Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D), another potential candidate the DSCC is after, said the Congressman is entirely focused on his legislative duties and giving no thought to political matters.

Blumenauer campaign manager Willie Smith said the Congressman is concentrating on the Farm Bill and his new slot on the House Ways and Means Committee, adding: “He hasn’t been focused on politics, because for him the decision doesn’t have to be made right away.”

Ley Garnett, a spokesman for Edwards, said the treasurer’s decision not to run, in part because he has young children and the fact that his family loves living in Portland, has not changed.

“I can’t imagine anything that would change his stance,” Garnett wrote in an e-mail.

Democratic strategist Steve Novick announced his Senate candidacy last week. But he never has run for office and is not considered a top-tier challenger to Smith, who has done well in previous elections garnering the support of Democratic and independent voters.
— David M. Drucker


Bruning, Hagel Sniping After Bruning Touts Poll

State Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) said in an interview Monday that he is moving closer every day to pulling the trigger on challenging Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) in the 2008 Senate primary, pointing to a poll that showed him leading the incumbent by 9 points in a hypothetical matchup.

The survey, commissioned by Bruning, had him in front of Hagel 47 percent to 38 percent, with 15 percent undecided. It also showed that only 38 percent of respondents believed Hagel deserved another Senate term, while 49 percent said someone new should be given a chance.

“I am strongly considering a run for Senate. And every day that goes by that consideration gets stronger,” Bruning said.

Bruning said he’ll continue to raise money for his exploratory committee over the summer, and make a final decision on whether to run later this year. The poll of 404 likely Republican primary voters was conducted by Dresner, Wickers & Associates from April 10-16, and had a 4.3 percent margin of error.

Bruning said Hagel has hurt himself politically in Nebraska with his constant and harsh criticism of President Bush’s Iraq War policy.

Hagel, the attorney general argued, angered Nebraska Republicans in particular when he aligned himself with Senate Democrats to help them pass a supplemental war funding bill that included a timeline for withdrawing from Iraq.

Kevin Chapman, Hagel’s political director, called Bruning’s criticisms “laughable,” and accused the attorney general of being “a chameleon” and a party-switcher.

“Jon Bruning has repeatedly told people, including Senator Hagel, both publicly and privately that he would support Senator Hagel for re-election or president,” Chapman said.

“Records and facts do matter. Senator Hagel has compiled one of the most conservative voting records in the Senate over the last 10 years,” Chapman said. “Last year, Senator Hagel’s voting record was the most supportive of President Bush in the Senate. … It’s laughable that Jon Bruning is claiming to be more Republican than Chuck Hagel.”

Bruning said many Nebraska Republicans feel that Hagel has left the party. Bruning added that Hagel’s indecision on running for president or re-election in 2008 has helped to damage his image, as proven, in Bruning’s opinion, by the results of the poll.

“From the discussions I’m having,” Bruning said, “I’m not sure that that [damage] is reversible.”
— D.M.D.

Cantor Helps Buchanan Retire His Hefty Debt

With little cash, heavy debt and an expensive re-election campaign a near certainty, freshman Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) is enlisting the fundraising help of GOP House leadership to pay his campaign’s pile of bills.

Buchanan, who narrowly defeated Christine Jennings (D) in November in the still-contested 13th district House race, is holding a $1,000-a-head fundraising luncheon on Thursday at the Capitol Hill Club. The featured attraction at the lunch will be House Chief Deputy Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.).

Buchanan, the central Florida Republican who succeeds ex-Rep. Katherine Harris (R), reported having just $10,000 in cash and a whopping $1.5 million in debt after the first quarter of 2007. He spent more than $5 million of his own money on a 369-vote victory, which Jennings still is contesting in the courts and before the House Administration Committee.
— Matthew Murray

Fortune Cookie Says Sali Debt Will Shrink

In a fundraiser scheduled for today at Hunan Dynasty restaurant on Capitol Hill, freshman Rep. Bill Sali (R) is asking supporters to help him retire a campaign debt of more than $200,000.

Billed as a debt-retirement luncheon, the noontime event is asking for $1,000 from political action committees and $500 from individuals. Sali represents the solidly Republican 1st district, and should be well-positioned for re-election despite a closer than expected win in November over attorney Larry Grant (D).

Sali, who beat Grant by 5 points, raised $86,731 in the first quarter of this year, to finish with nearly $70,000 on hand and almost $229,000 in debt. Grant is expected to try again in 2008.
— D.M.D.

DSCC Tries to Gin Up Challenger With Poll

A new poll commissioned by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is being billed as proving that Sen. John Cornyn (R) could be vulnerable against a Democrat in 2008, when the first-term Senator is up for re-election.

The Hamilton Beattie & Staff survey of 800 registered voters described as “likely” to vote was conducted April 11-15. It showed Cornyn to have favorable/unfavorable rating of 41 percent to 19 percent, with 39 percent of respondents saying they were not familiar enough with him to rate him either way.

The poll, with a 3.5 percent margin of error, had Cornyn leading a generic Democrat in a hypothetical re-election race 47 percent to 38 percent, with 15 percent undecided.

No candidate has emerged as of yet to challenge Cornyn. But the DSCC argues the poll’s findings show Cornyn is vulnerable to the “right kind” of Texas Democrat.

Cornyn spokesman Brian Walsh said Democrats’ failure to recruit a candidate prove that the DSCC’s poll is really a ploy to raise money from Texas Democrats to use in races in other states.

“National Democrats are eager to soak Texas trial lawyers for big donations to be used in other states. This poll is a part of their tactics,” Walsh said. “They know Sen. Cornyn is in very solid shape in Texas, as evidence by their recruiting failure thus far.”
— D.M.D.

Knollenberg, a Target, Hosts Two Fundraisers

Now that Democrats have put a big, fat target on his back, Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R) is stepping up his fundraising activity.

Knollenberg has a fundraising lunch scheduled for Wednesday and a breakfast fundraiser on Thursday. Both events are taking place on Capitol Hill.

Running against an underfunded talk radio host, Knollenberg took just 52 percent of the vote in 2006 after running up considerably higher victory margins in previous election cycles. This year, Democrats are trying to persuade State Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters (D), a former state Senator and 2002 Democratic nominee for state attorney general, to challenge the Congressman.

Knollenberg raised $264,000 in the first three months of 2007 and finished March with $280,000 in the bank.

His suburban Detroit district is fairly competitive in presidential elections.
— Josh Kurtz

McConnell Outscores GOP in Poll He Paid for

Despite the shaky outlook overall for Republicans in the Bluegrass State, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R) campaign says a recent survey showed that the Minority Leader is somewhat immune from current party woes.

A McConnell-sponsored Voter/Consumer Research telephone survey of 602 voters, conducted April 9-11, suggested that about half of Kentucky voters agree “things in the Commonwealth have gotten off on the wrong track.” Support for President Bush continued to sag, according to the survey, hovering around 40 percent.

But in light of these woes, the study also found that 55 percent of Kentucky voters supported McConnell’s performance on the job.

The survey also tested some negatives on Louisville millionaire businessman Charlie Owen (D), rumored to be taking on McConnell in 2008. Responding to leading questions from the pollster, more than half of those surveyed agreed that Owen’s age (he is 70) and lack of experience would make them less likely to support the challenger.

The survey’s margin of error was 4 percent.
— M.M.

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