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Nation: New Groups Want Iraq Issue to Influence Races

Two new organizations dedicated to supporting U.S. military involvement in Iraq and advocating against pulling out before a military victory is achieved are launching, including a 501(c)(4) that plans to run television advertising and a political action committee intent on supporting House candidates.

Victory Caucus, formed by a collection of right-of-center Internet bloggers, has incorporated as a 501(c)(4). VictoryPAC, scheduled to register with the Federal Election Commission by the end of this week, was founded by a blogger who describes himself as a liberal Democrat who disagrees with his party on Iraq.

“I’m a firm believer that my party is being delusional in terms of how to deal with this issue,” said Marc Danziger, who is based in Los Angeles and blogs at “What we can probably do is have an impact on five to 10 races around the country.”

Danziger is modeling VictoryPAC, which he said has $25,000 in pledges, after EMILY’s List, which backs Democratic women.

His goal is to raise up to $150,000 for the cycle and donate as much as $5,000 each to around 10 House candidates — whether Democrats or Republicans — who oppose pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq before the country is able to sustain and defend itself from interior and exterior threats.

Because Danziger has been unable to find a Democratic consultant willing to handle the PAC’s political work, he is reaching out to Republican operatives.

Victory Caucus, which originally intended to recruit and donate to both House and Senate candidates who support keeping U.S. troops in Iraq until the war is won, instead decided to form a 501(c)(4). As such, the political activities the group can engage in are limited, although it can accept unlimited donations and does not have to disclose its contributors.

Running television commercials and print ads are among the many tools Victory Caucus plans to employ in its attempt to influence the national debate on Iraq, said one of the group’s founders.

— David M. Drucker

New Radio Ads Target Senators on Labor Vote

A business coalition on Monday dropped another round of radio and television ads, this time targeting Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) and urging them to oppose a bill that would revise labor regulations to allow workers to forgo secret ballots when voting whether to unionize.

The ads, paid for by the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, also are running in Maine, though in that spot the group urges people to call Sen. Susan Collins (R) and thank her for opposing the bill, which already has passed the House and has been dubbed the Employee Free Choice Act by Democrats.

Both Collins and Pryor are up for re- election next year; Collins faces a tough challenge from Rep. Tom Allen (D) in her Democratic-leaning state, and Republicans believe Pryor could be vulnerable. Nelson won a second six-year term in November.

“Our coalition plans to hold Senators accountable for their vote and educate them with the facts,” CDW spokesman Todd Harris said in a statement.

Labor leaders say opponents of the bill are not concerned with workers’ rights but rather want to stifle the power of unions and their role in protecting employees.

If the bill passes the Senate and is signed by President Bush — the latter is very unlikely — workers would have the option of checking a card when voting on whether to unionize, though they still could choose to vote via secret ballot if they prefer.

— D.M.D.

Club for Growth Hits Ryun’s Primary Foe

The Club for Growth took a swipe at state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins (R), although it maintains this does not mean the organization has decided to back former Rep. Jim Ryun (R) in next year’s 2nd district Republican primary.

Ryun is gunning to challenge Rep. Nancy Boyda (D) and get his old job back. But first, he has to get through Jenkins, whom the Club for Growth in a press release labeled as “addicted to tax hikes.”

“We haven’t made any official decision on this race yet, but one thing is clear: We plan on letting Kansas Republicans know about Lynn Jenkins’ liberal tax-and-spend voting record,” Club for Growth spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said.

Jenkins has opened an exploratory committee but does not yet have a full campaign operation up and running. Ryun, meanwhile, has been campaigning since December and raised $171,494 in the first quarter to finish with $256,471 on hand.

Kansas Republicans have been hurt in recent elections by the split between the moderate and conservative wings, and the same scenario could play out in the 2nd district.

— D.M.D.

Ehlers Hosts Low-Dollar Fundraiser in His District

Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R) is hosting a breakfast for his 3rd district constituents May 14 in Grand Rapids.

For $25 voters can get a Congressional update from the man who sits in the seat once held by the late President Gerald Ford.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee officials have said they will target GOP-held seats in the Wolverine State especially hard after seeing a number of political novices almost pull off upsets against established incumbents in 2006.

Even Ehlers’ district, which went 59 percent for President Bush in 2004, is in the DCCC’s sights, committee spokesmen have said.

— Nicole Duran

Frisco Kid Seeks Gold in Hall’s House District

Former Frisco Mayor Kathy Seei (R) announced last week she has opened an exploratory committee and is examining challenging Rep. Ralph Hall (R) in next year’s 4th district GOP primary.

Hall, who turned 84 on Thursday and is a former Democrat, already signaled his intention to run for re-election. But that isn’t stopping Seei.

“Common sense would tell you that when you find yourself in a U.S. Congressional district with a popular incumbent who has served for 26 years, you would not think about running for Congress,” Seei said in a news release. “But sometimes, when you go deep inside yourself to your core values, you discover what you’re called to do doesn’t always make sense on the surface.”

The east Texas 4th district delivered 65 percent of its vote for Hall last year, suggesting Republicans have little to worry about, even if Seei upsets Hall in the primary in 2008.

— D.M.D.

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