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California: Richardson Poll Shows She Has Edge in Special

State Assemblywoman Laura Richardson (D) was leading in the race to replace the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D) in the 37th district special election, though a significant percentage of voters remain undecided, according to a poll released Saturday by her campaign.

The survey of 400 likely voters, conducted June 5-7 by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates, showed Richardson leading state Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D) 25 percent to 16 percent, with 35 percent undecided. Millender-McDonald’s daughter, Valerie McDonald (D), was third with 7 percent.

The poll’s margin of error was 4.9 points.

The special election is set for June 26, with the top vote-getter in each political party proceeding to an August runoff if the winner does not garner more than 50 percent of the vote.

However, the overwhelming Democratic lean of the district will virtually ensure that the Democrat who advances to the runoff wins that contest.

“Clearly Laura’s message about ending the war in Iraq and bringing our priorities back home to rebuild our communities, protect our schools and neighborhoods from gangs and providing high quality healthcare to all Americans is resonating with voters,” Richardson campaign consultant John Shallman said in a statement.

Richardson was scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., this morning for, among other things, a Capitol Hill fundraiser at Bullfeathers co-hosted by Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters (Calif.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Al Green (Texas) and Edolphus Towns (N.Y.).

Nine of the candidates in the special election have committed to participate in a debate on Thursday evening at Cabrillo High School in Long Beach. The debate is co-sponsored by the Long Beach Democratic Club, Charter Communications, the cable TV franchise in Long Beach that will air the debate, and the Long Beach Post, an online publication.

— David M. Drucker

Showing Hand, Boehner to Host Goddard Event

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) will headline a Washington, D.C., fundraiser later this month for retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard (R), who is seeking to build a war chest for his campaign against Rep. Jim Marshall (D).

The event comes as former Rep. Mac Collins (R) still has not ruled out another run against Marshall and is a sign that Republican leaders are ready to stand solidly behind Goddard as the party’s preferred nominee against Marshall. GOP leaders have tried unsuccessfully to recruit Goddard to run in the past.

The June 21 event will take place from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Capitol Hill Club. Suggested contributions are $1,000 for political action committees and $500 for individuals.

The race in the 8th district is expected to be a major battleground next fall. Marshall is a top target for Republicans after he won re-election in 2006 by less than 2,000 votes against Collins.

— Lauren W. Whittington

Iraq War Vet Will Enter Reynolds Race on June 26

Jonathan Powers (D), an Iraq War veteran who has run a war relief organization for Iraqi children since returning stateside in 2005, will formally announce on June 26 that he is challenging powerful five-term Rep. Tom Reynolds (R) in 2008.

Powers is filing paperwork for a Congressional bid and will launch his candidacy at Clarence Town Park in his hometown.

“I’m excited to begin a conversation with Western New York families about the real change we can create by restoring leadership and accountability that emphasizes competence and results,” Powers said in a statement released Friday evening. “Washington is broken. If we’re going to change Washington, we need to change who we send to Washington.”

After gliding to three easy victories, Reynolds had two close calls in 2004 and 2006 against wealthy factory owner Jack Davis, who switched parties to become a Democrat just so he could run against the Congressman.

Powers is not personally wealthy but has some experience raising money and, according to Democratic insiders, already has put together an aggressive fundraising plan. He is also almost 50 years younger than Davis.

— Josh Kurtz

Justice for Jefferson Calls Indicted Rep. ‘Scapegoat’

A group called Justice for Jefferson will hold a news conference Wednesday condemning the FBI and Justice Department for using indicted Rep. William Jefferson (D) as a “scapegoat.”

Noting that Jefferson easily won re-election in the New Orleans-based 2nd district last year, the group accused the law enforcement agencies of trying to influence last year’s election.

“These agencies have used their vast financial resources to manipulate the media,” the group claimed in a news release. “Remember that in 2006, the FBI, Justice Department and major local media determined that they would decide who represented our citizens in Congress.”

Because numerous Congressmen have had their business dealings scrutinized by the FBI and Justice Department, “why is there no focus on them?” the group asked.

It was not clear whom the committee represents, but New Orleans attorney Danatus King is serving as its spokesman.

— Nicole Duran

Young Attorney Enters Race Against Souder

Indianapolis attorney Michael Montagano (D) has decided to take on Rep. Mark Souder (R) in the Hoosier State’s 3rd district.

Montagano, who graduated from Indiana University’s law school last year, is not daunted by the district’s overwhelming preference for Republicans — President Bush won 68 percent of the vote there in 2004.

Souder, who has held the seat since 1995, had won re-election with 60 percent of the vote or more from 1998 until last year, when he took just 54 percent as three of his Hoosier State GOP colleagues went down in defeat.

— N.D.

Husband-and-Wife Duo Wants to Unseat Bean

Bill and Randi Scheurer want to unseat Rep. Melissa Bean (D) so badly that both have decided to run against her.

Bill Scheurer, running under the Moderate Party banner in the 8th district, won 5 percent of the vote in last year’s three-way race, which Bean won with 51 percent of the vote.

Scheurer’s showing was enough to win his Moderate Party status as an established party in the exurban Chicago district.

He plans to run again in November 2008 as the party standard-bearer.

Despite her husband’s plans, Randi Scheurer is challenging Bean for the Democratic nomination.

Both Scheurers are using their opposition to the Iraq War as a basis for their candidacies.

— N.D.

Local Official Wants to Run Against Manzullo

Municipal officeholder Robert Abboud (D) told the Illinois Northwest Herald this week that he is “fairly certain” he will take on Rep. Don Manzullo (R) in the 16th district.

“I’m concerned that we’re not going in the right direction as a country and I’m at a point in my life that I can no longer sit back throwing things at the TV,” the Barrington Hills Village president told the paper.

The 16th is slightly less Republican than the 8th — President Bush won the 16th with 55 percent in 2004, while he won the 8th with 56 percent — but Manzullo has never had a close race.

Going back to 1992, when he was first elected, he won 56 percent of the vote. Last year he won re-election with 64 percent.

— N.D.

Tinker Seeks Primary Rematch With Cohen

Setting up a potentially racially charged contest, attorney Nikki Tinker (D) last week filed papers to challenge freshman Rep. Steve Cohen (D) in the August 2008 Democratic primary.

Tinker, a lawyer for Pinnacle Air in Memphis, was the runner-up to Cohen in last year’s crowded open-seat primary, which Cohen won with 31 percent of the vote. In a district where about 60 percent of the population is black, many black leaders believe Cohen won the Democratic primary simply because he was the only major white candidate running against several strong black opponents.

Tinker’s ability to beat Cohen this time may rest on the number of black candidates who decide to run in the primary. The Memphis Flyer reported last week that state Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D), who is black, is pondering the race. And Jake Ford, a scion of the powerful Memphis political family who ran as an Independent last year for the seat his father and brother once held, told The Commercial Appeal last week he has not ruled out running in 2008.

“I’m basically allowing the incumbent to pretty much, like, give him enough rope and let him do it to himself,” Ford said.

Cohen has worked hard to ingratiate himself with black voters, and last year mused that he might want to join the Congressional Black Caucus — though caucus rules would have prevented him from doing so.

— J.K.

Businesswoman Talks to Schumer About Senate

Businesswoman Eileen Brady (D) told the Willamette Week newspaper that she has been contemplating a 2008 run for Senate for the past six months and is talking to state and national Democratic leaders about the race.

According to The Oregonian, Brady was scheduled to be in Washington, D.C., on Monday to meet with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.).

Democrats thus far have struck out in their attempt to find a high-profile challenger to two-term Sen. Gordon Smith (R), but Brady, the personally wealthy founder of the New Seasons natural food chain, could fit the bill.

“It seems obvious we need a strong candidate,” Brady told Willamette Week. “I’ve always wanted to run for office as soon as our children were grown and out of college.”

The lone Democrats in the race so far are attorney and party activist Steve Novick and Ty Pettit, a medical equipment manufacturer. State Sen. Alan Bates (D) also is contemplating a run.

— J.K.

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