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California: Schipske Ships Out of Special House Election

Long Beach City Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske (D) on Monday aborted her planned run for the 37th district seat left open by the death of Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D).

Schipske said in a prepared statement released just hours before the deadline to file for the race that she dropped her plan to run after being implored by her constituents to remain on the council. Schipske ran for Congress in 2000 in the old 38th district, losing to then-Rep. Steve Horn (R) by just 1 point.

“I have been overwhelmed by phone calls and e-mails from Long Beach residents asking that I forgo my Congressional campaign so that I could continue what they referred to as the ‘good work’ I had begun over this past year,” Schipske said.

The overwhelmingly Democratic seat is scheduled to be filled via a June 26 open primary special election, with the two leading candidates now appearing to be state Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D) and state Assemblywoman Laura Richardson (D). Valerie McDonald (D), daughter of the late Congresswoman, also is planning to run.

If no candidate garners more than 50 percent of the vote in the June 26 primary, the top vote-getter from each party will advance to an Aug. 21 runoff.
— David M. Drucker

Physician Says He Can Cure What Ails Senate

Steve Sauerberg, a family physician from La Grange, announced Monday that he would seek the Republican nomination to take on Sen. Dick Durbin (D).

Sauerberg said that “a lifetime of serving others translates well to curing what is wrong with career politician Dick Durbin and his out-of-touch liberal values.”

He joins party activist Norm Hill and trucker Mike Psak in the race for the GOP nomination. Republicans are hoping to find a higher-profile challenger, but so far none has emerged.
— Nicole Duran

Barnes Makes Bid Official, Ties Graves to President

Democrats got their preferred candidate in the 6th district Monday, when former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes (D) announced she’d challenge four-term Rep. Sam Graves (R) next year.

Standing outside her mother’s home in St. Joseph, Barnes took several swipes at Graves and President Bush.

“Sam Graves has voted 95 percent in favor of Bush policies, so for me he represents the Bush administration,” Barnes said, according to an online account in The Kansas City Star. “I think people across northwest Missouri are fed up with the way in which the Bush administration and Sam Graves have been handling not only the war, but many other issues.”

In an interview with the Star on Monday, Graves appeared to shrug off the challenge, saying he couldn’t think of many differences between himself and the former mayor. But in the paper’s print edition Monday, a Graves adviser made clear that the Republicans will try to associate Barnes with the city she led for eight years.

“Sam Graves represents the values of the 26 counties of the 6th district,” said the adviser, Jeff Roe. “She represents the values of the 26 blocks of downtown Kansas City. She will have a very difficult time convincing people in St. Joseph and the Northland that downtown Kansas City should get a second member of Congress.”

Barnes’ predecessor as mayor of Kansas City, now-Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D), represents the adjoining 5th district in Congress.

In addition to her announcement speech in St. Joseph, Barnes was scheduled to stump in Maryville, Chillicothe and Platte County on Monday.
— Josh Kurtz

NRA Akin to Re-elect Safe GOP Congressman

The National Rifle Association’s political action committee was scheduled Monday to hold a “shoot out” fundraiser for Rep. Todd Akin (R).

The Akin Shoot Out, set for the Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in suburban Maryland, included a trap, skeet and sporting clays event followed by a luncheon. It was asking for $2,500 from sponsors, $1,000 from political action committees and $500 from individuals.

Akin won re-election in the 2nd district last year with 61 percent of the vote and at this point looks to be in good shape for re-election.
— D.M.D.

Whitehead on the Air; Keyes Stumps for Greene

State Sen. Jim Whitehead (R) began running a radio ad this week to boost his campaign to win the 10th district special election necessitated by the death of Rep. Charlie Norwood (R).

In the 60-second spot that is running districtwide, Whitehead evokes the memory of the late seven-term Congressman.

“Georgia’s lost a great Congressman and I’ve lost a great friend,” Whitehead says in the ad. “Now, I can’t be Charlie Norwood, but I can be Jim Whitehead. And I’ll fight just as hard as Charlie did for lower taxes, a stronger economy and to control our borders so that our county is more secure.”

An announcer in the ad also touts the 65-year-old candidate’s biography, including the fact that he was an offensive lineman for the University of Georgia football team. The 10th district includes the college town of Athens.

Whitehead is the prohibitive frontrunner in the June 19 all-party special election. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a July runoff will be held.

He also received the endorsement of the Concerned Women of America Political Action Committee this week.

“Jim has a proven and truly outstanding record on issues of concern to traditional values voters,” CWPAC Executive Director Mike Mears said in a statement.

Meanwhile, one of Whitehead’s opponents is getting help from former U.N. special Ambassador Alan Keyes.

Keyes is headlining a series of fundraisers in the district next week for Bill Greene (R), the founder of Tickets for three events on May 22 and 23 are $25 and $150 for a May 23 dinner in Braselton.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Ex-Rep. Schaffer Finally Makes Senate Bid Official

The Republicans have a Senate candidate. Again.

Former Rep. Bob Schaffer, who lost to beer magnate Pete Coors in the 2004 GOP Senate primary, announced his candidacy Saturday at the Boulder County Republican Lincoln Day dinner, the Rocky Mountain News reported Monday.

“After considerable assessment, I’ve decided I’m going to begin putting a campaign together to run for the United States Senate,” Schaffer told the gathering.

Earlier this year, former Rep. Scott McInnis (R) announced he intended to run for Senate, only to drop out of the race weeks after launching his exploratory committee.

Schaffer sent mixed signals since the beginning of the year regarding his intentions for the 2008 Senate race and denied as recently as last month that he had decided to run for Senate. That denial followed a story in a Colorado newspaper that quoted Centennial State GOP activists saying Schaffer told them he was going to run.

If Schaffer stays in the race and secures the GOP nomination, he likely will face Rep. Mark Udall (D) in the general election race to replace retiring Sen. Wayne Allard (R).
— D.M.D.

Heimlich Maneuvers to Oust Schmidt in Primary

Phil Heimlich last week became the first Republican to announce that he will challenge Rep. Jean Schmidt in the GOP primary — but he is unlikely to be the last.

Schmidt has not solidified her base since winning 31 percent of the Republican vote to earn the right to square off against Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett in the August 2005 special election held to replace former Rep. Rob Portman (R). Portman vacated the 2nd district seat to become the U.S. trade representative.

Schmidt did not reach 50 percent in last year’s primary and beat Democrat Victoria Wulsin by only 1 point.

Given her weak general election performances in an otherwise reliable Republican district, she has become a target within her party.

State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, failed 2006 gubernatorial nominee Ken Blackwell and Iraq War veteran Brad Wenstrup all are mulling the GOP nod.

Heimlich, a former Hamilton County commissioner, surprised other Republicans with his decision to run. If any other Republican insists on going forward, Schmidt could survive to face Wulsin again.

Jeff Sinnard, who lost to Wulsin last year, is seeking a rematch in the Democratic primary, but Wulsin is heavily favored.
— N.D.

Franken Takes Political Act Across State Lines

Minnesota Senate candidate Al Franken (D) headlined the state Democratic Party’s Founder’s Dinner in neighboring Wisconsin on Monday night.

The former “Saturday Night Live” writer, who’s competing against wealthy attorney Mike Ciresi for the Minnesota Democratic Party’s endorsement and the right to challenge Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), was scheduled to be the special guest at the $100-a-person reception in Milwaukee.

For $250, donors could attend a “pre-event” as well as the reception.
— N.D.

Boustany Hails Mudbugs at Capitol Hill Event

Rep. Charles Boustany (R) is holding his third annual Mudbugs & Beer Mugs fundraising tonight.

The Capitol Hill reception celebrates “mudbugs,” which is slang for crawfish.

Boustany is asking $250 from individuals and $1,000 from political action committees wishing to be sponsors. Individual attendees pay $30 and PAC tickets cost $500.

Boustany has no opposition yet in the southwest 7th district.
— N.D.

DCCC: Republicans Had Their Worst Week Ever

Did Republicans just have their “worst week ever?”

That’s the message the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hopes to make stick following a spate of votes in the House last week.

“If you look at the whole constellation of votes from this week, the Republicans sent a very clear message to their constituents that they are out of touch, not just on Iraq but on a whole range of other issues,” DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) said Monday.

While the DCCC continues to attack Republicans over the Iraq War emergency spending bill, which the House approved for a second time Thursday, it has increased its focus on domestic issues in recent days.

The committee aims to highlight what it sees as “wrong” Republican votes on a range of domestic items, including a spending bill to fund agricultural disaster assistance; the Intelligence authorization bill, including operations as well as an amendment to eliminate a National Intelligence Estimate on global climate change and another regarding warrantless wiretapping; the Homeland Security Department Authorization, including funding for first-responders and a provision on locating child sexual predators; as well as a committee vote on the National Defense Authorization Act.

“Friday capped off the single most perilous week for House Republicans since the beginning of this Congress,” said a Democratic aide, who asked not to be identified. “Their votes last week revealed how estranged they are from the American people.”

But while the committee aims to stir up media coverage aimed at those Members it perceives as vulnerable — “They’ve provided a lot of fodder for both radio and print and television ads,” asserted the Democratic aide — the Democrats’ campaign arm is remaining off of the airwaves for now.

Instead, the DCCC is focused on issuing a scattershot of news releases to highlight those votes, targeting Members including GOP Reps. Virgil Goode (Va.), Dennis Hastert (Ill.), Jerry Lewis (Calif.), Marilyn Musgrave (Colo.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Jean Schmidt (Ohio), Tim Walberg (Mich.), Dave Weldon (Fla.) and Don Young (Alaska).

But National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ken Spain dismissed Democratic assertions, stating: “Last week House Democrats gutted the Homeland Security bill, reinstituted Clinton-era intelligence cuts, and voted to ration funds our troops. They’re right that this was a bad week for us, especially since their political ineptitude usually leads them to inflict more damage upon themselves.”
— Jennifer Yachnin

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