Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand (D) announced Wednesday that he would not seek re-election in November.
Marchand, 33, was elected mayor of the seacoast town in 2005. By forgoing another run, Marchand signaled that he will focus solely on his bid for the right to challenge Sen. John Sununu (R) next year.
Marchand does not have the Democratic field to himself, however. Katrina Swett, who is the daughter of Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and wife of former Rep. Dick Swett (D-N.H.), and Jay Buckey, a former astronaut, also are seeking the Democratic nomination.
Former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen’s shadow looms large over the Democratic primary as her entry into the race would certainly change a lot of people’s calculations.
Marchand already has said he would step aside for Shaheen, who has yet to say if she wants a rematch with Sununu. Sununu beat Shaheen, who was then governor, in the 2002 open Senate contest by 4 points.
Swett recently said she would be “very strongly inclined” to follow Marchand’s lead.
By leaving his post, Marchand is gambling that Shaheen ultimately will demur as he will hold no office come Election Day 2008.
— Nicole Duran
Ellsworth Quickly Hits Possible GOP Challenger
The name of a potential Republican candidate in the 8th district had barely surfaced when freshman Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D) decided to whack him.
Greg Goode (R), an administrator at Indiana State University, confirmed late last month that he has been approached by Republicans about running and is considering it.
Ellsworth, like fellow Hoosier freshman Joe Donnelly (D) and second-time freshman Rep. Baron Hill (D), are high on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s target list.
The Indiana Democratic Party just sent an e-mail to 10,000 Hoosier Democrats in which Ellsworth warned that “big Washington interests” will pour millions of dollars into “negative, nasty and false attacks against me” next year, the Evansville Courier & Press reported this week.
Furthermore, he criticized Goode for meeting with Karl Rove, President Bush’s top political strategist, and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), as well as Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan.
“Not even in the race yet and Greg Goode is already displaying all the lock-step characteristics that we spent two years fighting against in the 2006 election,” Ellsworth wrote.
Goode told the paper he was surprised Ellsworth “attacked a private citizen simply for considering a run for public office.”
Sparks Goes Out of Race to Challenge Sessions
In an unusual turn of events, the man most Democrats consider their strongest potential challenger to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) is deferring to another Democrat who most political insiders believe to be politically weaker.
State Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Ron Sparks (D) was quoted in several state newspapers Wednesday saying he has decided not to run for Senate because state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures (D) has told him that she will.
“I don’t want to divide the Democratic Party,” Sparks told The Associated Press.
Figures has not formally announced her candidacy. She told the Mobile Press-Register that she is in “deep prayer” over her 2008 plans.
National and state Democrats were very high on Sparks, who has won two statewide elections and traveled recently to Washington, D.C., to meet with Senators and officials at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Figures has not yet met with the DSCC, and Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham has warned that the national party won’t help a Senate candidate unless he or she has a proven ability to raise money and compete statewide.
“If they build it, they will come,” Turnham told the Press-Register. “But it’s got to be the right candidate doing the right thing. Just because someone’s passionate about running for Senate doesn’t mean help will come.”
— Josh Kurtz
Despite Rumors, Maffei Remains Locals’ Favorite
Like the Pussycat Dolls and The Velvet Underground, Syracuse Democrats are prepared to tell Dan Maffei, the 2006 challenger to Rep. Jim Walsh (R) who is planning to try again: “I’m Sticking With You.”
Maffei is set to be named Democrat of the Year by the Onondaga County Democratic Committee at a fundraising dinner in Syracuse tonight.
Maffei gave Walsh the closest race of his 10-term Congressional career last year, finishing just 2 points out of the money. But there are occasionally rumors in central New York that other Democrats might want to get into the race — including Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll (D), who surprised some local political observers when he opted not to run for the open Onondaga County Executive post this year. That decision prompted speculation that Driscoll might be eyeing the Congressional seat, especially if Walsh decides to retire.
But Maffei and Driscoll are friends and allies, and Maffei, a former Capitol Hill staffer, was in fact the manager of Driscoll’s re- election campaign in 2005. The mayor pledged to serve a full four-year term during the 2005 campaign.
“Driscoll and I are close,” Maffei said.
Former President to Headline Party Dinner
Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled on June 25 to headline a fundraiser for the state Democratic Party, with individual tickets priced at $200 apiece and corporate table sponsorships available at a higher, undisclosed amount.
The 2007 Heritage Dinner is slated for the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale. Proceeds from the fundraiser will indirectly benefit the state’s Democratic Congressional candidates, who include potentially vulnerable freshman Reps. Gabrielle Giffords (D) and Harry Mitchell (D).
— David M. Drucker
Club for Growth Spots Slam State Treasurer
The conservative, free-market-oriented Club for Growth has gone up with a two-week television ad buy slamming 2nd district Republican primary candidate Lynn Jenkins as a “tax hiker” Kansans can’t afford to send to Washington, D.C.
Jenkins, the state treasurer and former state legislator, is battling ex-Rep. Jim Ryun for the GOP nomination and the right to face Rep. Nancy Boyda (D), who ousted Ryun this past fall. The $75,000 buy is slated to run on broadcast and cable television stations in the Kansas City and Topeka media markets.
The Jenkins campaign did not respond to an e-mail and a phone call requesting comment.
“In Kansas, when we fill up our tanks, we pay a Lynn Jenkins gas tax. At home, we pay a Lynn Jenkins property tax. When we buy groceries, we pay a Lynn Jenkins sales tax,” says an actor to open the ad, as he fills up a car with gas and unloads groceries as home. “Yup, Lynn Jenkins voted for higher Kansas gas taxes, property taxes and sales taxes.”
Canseco Ads Flooding Airwaves, Mailboxes
Attorney Francisco “Quico” Canseco is after the GOP nomination in the 23rd district and is already dropping mail and running radio ads in an effort to introduce himself to voters and pave the way for a general election matchup with Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D).
Bexar County Commissioner Lyle Larson (R) continues to consider running and has been to Washington, D.C., to discuss a bid with Republican leaders. But Canseco, who is spending his own money even as he solicits contributions, went up on the San Antonio radio waves May 15.
The longtime Republican activist is now on his third radio spot, having also dropped three district-wide direct-mail ads.
“I’ve done a very good job of getting the Republican base on board, and I believe I’m going to win the primary,” Canseco said this week in a telephone interview.
Rodriguez in a December 2006 runoff ousted then-Rep. Henry Bonilla (R) in the 23rd district, which was redrawn last summer after the Supreme Court ruled that its boundaries violated provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
However, it is a still a GOP-leaning district and Canseco said he can beat Rodriguez by offering Republican and like-minded voters a candidate they can warm to.
“If they are presented with a Republican they can get excited about — one that represents their values … that’s how I beat Ciro,” Canseco said.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not sound concerned about a Rodriguez-Canseco matchup — should one materialize.
DCCC spokeswoman Kyra Jennings said Rodriguez “is well-liked, and the district is responding to how effective he’s been in Congress.” Facing Canseco, she continued, “wouldn’t be a real challenge.”
Rodriguez, not known for his fundraising prowess, closed the first quarter of 2007 with a healthy $356,000 on hand and $37,724 in debt. He raised raised $221,000 for the period ending March 31. Canseco did not report any fundraising activity in the first quarter and declined to reveal how much he has contributed to his own campaign thus far.
State GOP Mailer Hails Senators on Immigration
The Texas Republican Party on Wednesday sent out via e-mail a fundraising appeal praising Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) and John Cornyn (R) for rejecting comprehensive immigration reform, saying the money generated will help fend off “the phony attacks and false promises of the Left.”
“Senators Cornyn and Hutchison voted against an ill-conceived immigration bill — drafted by liberal Democrat Teddy Kennedy — which would have been a disaster for Texas and America,” the appeal reads. “Senators Cornyn and Hutchison supported us. Now we need to support them.”
The e-mail asks prospective donors to contribute anywhere from $25 to $100, or “whatever amount is right for you.”
Hutchison won re-election to a fourth term last year. Cornyn is seeking a second term in 2008. Thus far, his only opponent is wealthy San Antonio trial attorney Mikal Watts (D), who recently announced he was seeding his campaign with $3.8 million, the same amount Cornyn reported banking at the end of the first quarter.
Webb Surrogate Bests Allen’s in Senate Primary
A proxy battle carried over from the 2006 Senate race was decided this week, with the candidate backed by now-Sen. Jim Webb (D) defeating the incumbent Democratic state Senator who was unable to win forgiveness for his controversial endorsement of then-Sen. George Allen (R) last year.
State Del. Donald McEachin defeated longtime state Sen. Benjamin Lambert III in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the majority-black, Richmond-area seat.
In accepting defeat, Lambert acknowledged that his endorsement of Allen was what ultimately cost him his job and he lamented that he might have gotten more support in return from the Republicans.
“I thought the Allen folks would have helped me more, but it didn’t work out that way,” he said Tuesday night, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Meanwhile, Webb actively worked on McEachin’s behalf, fundraising for him as well as cutting advertisements and recorded phone messages.
“Jim Webb did everything we asked him to,” McEachin said at his victory party.
Elsewhere in notable primaries Tuesday, Richmond-area state Sen. Walter Stosch (R) survived a tough challenge with the assistance of Allen, who endorsed him in radio ads. Former Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) and ex-Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.) endorsed Stosch’s opponent.
Also, Jill Holtzman Vogel (R) won the Republican nomination in the race to succeed state Sen. Russell Potts (R) of Winchester. Vogel is the wife of Washington, D.C., lobbyist Alex Vogel, a former aide to then-Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and one-time counsel at the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
— Lauren W. Whittington