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Michigan: Lottery Chief May Enter Election Game of Chance

State Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters (D) made the rounds in Washington, D.C., last week as he ponders a bid for the 9th district seat held by Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R).

The former state Senator will resign his post Aug. 10 so he can teach political science at Central Michigan University.

National Democrats hope to convince Peters to quit that job before he even starts.

Knollenberg won an eighth term last year with just 51 percent of the vote against a little-known opponent.

“Democrats across the board are very enthusiastic about Gary Peters,” said Ryan Rudominer, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman.
— Nicole Duran

Democrat Concedes, Seat Will Stay in GOP Hands

The results of last week’s 10th district special election were certified Monday, confirming that former state Sen. Jim Whitehead (R) will face off against physician Paul Broun (R) in the July 17 runoff.

Democrat James Marlow, who was third and just 198 votes behind Broun, said he would not ask for a recount even though he is entitled to one under state law.

Whitehead is still considered the overwhelming favorite to win the runoff and succeed the late Rep. Charlie Norwood (R), who died in February.

Turnout for the runoff is expected to be in the single digits.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Lampson Raises Specter of Rove in Latest Appeal

Rep. Nick Lampson (D) is passing the hat again, this time sending an appeal for campaign funds to fight off chief White House political guru Karl Rove and his “henchmen.”

In an e-mail fundraising letter last week, Lampson — who represents the solidly conservative 22nd district — asked for money to combat the National Republican Congressional Committee. The NRCC already has dropped radio spots and robocalls against Lampson in an attempt to weaken him politically in advance of the 2008 elections.

In this latest fundraising appeal, which angles to bring in as much money as possible before the June 30 deadline for second-quarter contributions, Lampson accuses Rove and his “cronies” of engaging in illegal campaign tactics.

“I need your support to defeat these dirty political tricks,” Lampson wrote.

The Republicans still haven’t settled on a preferred candidate to challenge Lampson, who won the suburban Houston district in 2006 partly because there was no Republican opponent on the ballot.

Former Rep. Shelley Sekula Gibbs (R), who served for three weeks at the end of last year after after winning a November special election to fill out the remainder of ex-Rep. Tom DeLay’s (R) term, was a write-in candidate on the regular 2006 ballot and lost to Lampson by 10 points.

She is running for the GOP nomination to the 22nd district in 2008, but Republican insiders are hoping to recruit a candidate that they believe would have a better shot against Lampson.
— David M. Drucker

Wealthy Businessman Sets Sights on Dreier

Wealthy businessman Russ Warner (D) announced this week that he is making a run at Rep. David Dreier (R) in the suburban Southern California 26th district.

The 26th district leans Republican, and Dreier beat Democrat Cynthia Matthews last year by 19 points while garnering 57 percent of the vote. But Warner believes Dreier’s support for the Iraq War and voters’ general distaste for all things Washington, D.C., is his ticket to an upset.

“I think you have to make the race very much a referendum on Dreier and that he’s been in D.C. for 28 years,” said Warner’s general consultant David Hamrick. “He’s become partisan and focused on his role in partisan leadership rather than on what people care about in his district.”

Republicans note that Warner failed last year to get through the Democratic primary.

“Warner didn’t have enough support to get on the ballot in the general election in 2006, and he certainly can’t stand up to Dreier’s record on border security, encouraging economic growth and delivering for the district,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Julie Shutley said. “Russ Warner has already demonstrated he knows how to lose, and 2008 won’t be any different.”

Warner is facing attorney Hoyt Hilsman in the Democratic primary. Hilsman, who grew up in D.C., now works as a journalist and a screenwriter, according to the biography on his campaign Web site.

Dreier is serving his 14th term representing the conservative district of foothills and burgeoning tract-home-filled suburbs about 50 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Hamrick said Warner is going to report second-quarter fundraising of about $100,000 and should close the period ending June 30 with about $150,000 in cash on hand. He said Warner has donated only about $20,000 to his campaign since the beginning of the cycle.

However, Warner still has a big mountain to climb if he is to match Dreier on the financial front. The Congressman finished the first quarter of this year with almost $2 million on hand.
— D.M.D.

Courtney Uses NRCC Attack to Raise Money

Every Member of Congress is sending last-minute fundraising appeals to help bolster their second-quarter numbers, but freshman Rep. Joe Courtney’s (D) stands out.

The 2nd district Congressman, who won his seat with the narrowest victory of the year, begins his request for campaign contributions by responding to criticism from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“I was barely able to take off my coat in Washington before the NRCC renewed their negative attack campaign with a robocall,” he wrote in an e-mail. He then printed the NRCC script and stressed that the Democrats’ budget does not raise taxes.

The NRCC bombarded Courtney’s district, as well as those of many of his freshmen classmates, during the week Congress adjourned for Memorial Day.

The NRCC said its phone calls, e-mails, radio ads and the like hit their mark.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee disputes that and says many targets actually received a fundraising boost as a result of the blitz.
— N.D.

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