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Wyoming: State GOP Expected to Vote on Senate Tonight

The Wyoming Republican Party is scheduled today to recommend three candidates to replace the late Sen. Craig Thomas (R). Those names will be forwarded to Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D), who will select a new Senator in the next few days from among the three finalists.

In a public session set to begin this morning, the 71-member central committee of the state GOP will hear from 30 individuals who hope to replace Thomas. Once the field has been pared to eight, a more involved examination of the candidates will ensue.

According to the procedure established by the Wyoming Republican Party, each of the eight candidates will be permitted to have a third party deliver a nominating speech, after which time the candidates will offer their own remarks and engage in a question-and-answer session with central committee members.

The three finalists selected via successive rounds of secret-ballot voting will be forwarded to the governor. State law requires him to choose Thomas’ replacement from among them, and to do it within five days of receiving the list from the state GOP.

The person Freudenthal selects will serve through November 2008 and must stand for election then if he or she wants to serve the remainder of Thomas’ term, which runs through 2012.
— David M. Drucker

Firefighters Are Hot for Oropeza in House Special

State Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D) picked up an endorsement over the weekend from the International Association of Firefighters as she continued to battle state Assemblywoman Laura Richardson (D) in the campaign to replace the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D).

With the June 26 special election looming and the two frontrunners Oropeza and Richardson sparring over the veracity of their respective polls, Oropeza announced she has received potentially key backing from the IAFF, including three of the union’s local chapters based in Los Angeles County.

“Senator Oropeza has demonstrated her commitment to public safety and the firefighters, and I know she will be a champion in Congress,” IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said in a statement.

With Richardson leading by 9 points in an early June poll conducted by her campaign and already having secured the backing of the AFL-CIO-affiliated Los Angeles Federation of Labor, support from the IAFF could be key for Oropeza. IAFF backing includes the endorsements of the Long Beach Firefighters Local 372; Los Angeles County Firefighters Local 1014; and Los Angeles City Firefighters Local 112.

Meanwhile, the two campaigns continued to argue this past weekend over polling, with Oropeza’s camp last week releasing a month-old poll to counter claims by Richardson’s team that the Assemblywoman had the upper hand in the race.

The Richardson campaign promptly responded to the poll by mocking Oropeza’s decision to release month-old numbers, saying it proves she is in trouble.

“Jenny’s obviously struggling to show some viability as her campaign plummets,” John Shallman, Richardson’s chief strategist, said in a statement.
— D.M.D.

Talk-Show Host Quits, Eyes Hunter House Seat

Conservative talk-radio host Mark Larson (R) acknowledged late last week that he is considering running for Congress in the 52nd district, and he stoked the rumors by resigning from his show effective immediately.

Larson said he plans to make a decision by July 4 and said in a brief e-mail interview that his ties to presidential candidate and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) will come into play, as Hunter’s son, Marine Reservist Duncan D. Hunter (R), already has announced for the seat and is campaigning in absentia while on deployment in Afghanistan.

“I really want to work through things and decide by July 4,” Larson said. “I thought that would be an appropriate deadline.”

The San Diego-area 52nd district is safe Republican territory, and the winner of the June 2008 primary should cruise to victory in the general election. Rep. Hunter still could change his mind and file for re- election but has said that assuming he isn’t elected president, he will retire upon the conclusion of his current term, his 14th in the House.

In addition to Larson, a few wealthy businessmen have indicated that they might join the fray. One, Ken King (R), said earlier this year that he plans on running, although his prospective campaign has yet to launch.
— D.M.D.

Lawyer is 2nd Democrat to Challenge English

Attorney Tom Myers has announced he is running in the 3rd district Democratic primary and hopes to earn the right to challenge Rep. Phil English (R) in November 2008.

Myers, on the board of the YMCA of Greater Erie, will first have to get by Erie County Councilman Kyle Foust (D), who was recruited into the race by Democrats on Capitol Hill and already has launched his campaign.

“Phil English is part of the problem in Washington, not part of the solution,” Myers said in a statement.

Despite facing token opposition, English won re-election in the Republican-leaning 3rd district last year by a far smaller margin than in previous cycles, and Democrats feel he would be vulnerable against a well-funded challenger. In the previous cycle, English outspent retired school administrator Steve Porter (D) $1.4 million to $63,000.
— D.M.D.

Kissell Mixes Net Cred With Establishment Aid

Larry Kissell (D), the teacher who lost to Rep. Robin Hayes (R) by just 330 votes in November despite almost no help from national Democrats, is looking to re-establish his net-roots cred despite now being the favorite of the party establishment as well.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) is holding a conference call with Kissell this week, trying to enlist small-time donors to sign on to a $33.30 per month installment plan for Kissell through ActBlue. The Web site, a political action committee, bundles small- dollar contributions to Democratic candidates.

“I’m hoping to hear from teachers, mill workers, nurses, doctors, dock workers, cops, construction workers, senior citizens … (maybe even a lawyer or two), who never even considered giving $500 or more to a campaign before, but know now that they can and be appreciated and heard!” Kissell said in an e-mail.

Van Hollen’s participation in the Kissell fundraising drive is just the latest example of the help the challenger is getting from national Democrats. In April, former DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) headlined a Kissell fundraiser in Raleigh, just before the party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.
— Matthew Murray

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