The amount of money Sen. Max Baucus (D) raised in the second quarter undoubtedly will make it harder for Republicans to attract a top-tier candidate to challenge him next year.
Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, raked in $1.6 million from March 1 to June 30. He banked $4.3 million to spend on his effort to win a sixth term next year.
Cumulatively, Baucus has raised $6 million since the midterm elections. That is as much as Montana’s senior Senator raised in total for his 2002 re-election, according to his campaign.
State Rep. Mike Lange (R) entered the race just days before the filing period ended. Nonetheless, GOP leaders are still searching for a better-known candidate.
— Nicole Duran
Members Help Hunter’s Son Raise Money for Bid
Marine Reservist Duncan D. Hunter (R), seeking to replace his father, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R), in the 52nd district, is scheduled to pass the hat for campaign funds on Saturday but will not be in attendance as he currently is on combat duty in Afghanistan.
However, Hunter’s wife, Margaret — as well as four House Members who are backing the candidate — will be at the event to pick up the slack.
“I am overwhelmed by the support we are receiving, not just from Members of Congress, but from the people of the 52nd District and of San Diego County,” Margaret Hunter said in a statement.
The July 14 brunch fundraiser at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego features GOP Reps. Jim Saxton (N.J.) and Trent Franks (Ariz.) as special guests, with California Republican Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce also set to attend. The Hunter campaign is asking $250 for an individual ticket and $2,300 for a table of 10.
Congressman Hunter, who is running for president, has announced his intention to retire upon the conclusion of his current term regardless of how he fares in the presidential race.
Thus far, no other Republican has announced for the GOP-leaning 52nd district besides Hunter’s son, although others have said they might run.
— David M. Drucker
GOP Contender’s Firm Donated to Democrats
Wealthy businessman Dan Meuser (R), who is close to announcing his intention to challenge Rep. Christopher Carney (D) in the 10th district, apparently has donated money over the years to Democratic candidates via a political action committee controlled by his company.
The Pennsylvania Democratic Party in a news release this week sarcastically thanked Meuser for supporting Democrats in 2004 and 2006.
The aspiring Republican Congressional candidate’s firm, Pride Mobility Products, donated during each of the past two cycles to Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D) — whom the National Republican Congressional Committee is hoping to target — as well as to eight other Democrats.
Kanjorski, who represents the 11th district, received $5,000 during that period from Pride Mobility Products’ PAC. Other Democrats receiving relatively modest contributions included then-Rep. Chris John (La.) and Reps. Mike Ross (Ark.) and Charlie Rangel (N.Y.).
Additionally, then-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) and Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) also were on the receiving end of the company’s PAC donations.
NRCC spokesman Ken Spain dismissed the news as inconsequential, asserting that the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s decision to make an issue of the contributions is proof that Democrats are concerned about Carney’s political future.
“The fact that Democrats are already trying to go after Dan Meuser only proves how worried they are about Chris Carney’s ability to defend his abysmal record and hold on to his seat,” Spain said.
Kirk Has Big Haul, but Challengers Do, Too
Rep. Mark Kirk (R) knows he’s a marked man and is raising as much money as possible to defend his 10th district seat.
Kirk’s second-quarter total of $616,000 could put him at the top of House Republicans’ fundraising list — candidates do not have to file their latest report with the Federal Election Commission until Sunday.
Kirk, who is a top Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee target, had $1.1 million in his war chest as of July 1.
Democrat Dan Seals, Kirk’s long-shot opponent last year who surprised everyone by winning 47 percent of the vote, took in more than $250,000 in the second quarter. That put him slightly behind first-time candidate Jay Footlik, who is challenging Seals for the Democratic nomination.
From March 1 to June 30, Footlik raised $286,000. He began July with nearly $270,000 in the bank.
Seals had $265,000 in his war chest as of July 1.
Though many national and local Democrats feel Seals earned a rematch, Footlik’s apparent fundraising abilities could make him a formidable primary, and general election, opponent.
Well-Funded Himes Now Seen as Likely Shays Foe
Jim Himes’ strong second-quarter fundraising showed that the local Democratic Party official could give Rep. Christopher Shays (R), a perennial Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee target, yet another tough race.
As of June 30, Himes collected more than $350,000 since entering the race in mid-April. He had $313,000 in cash on hand.
Himes caught a break recently when state Rep. James Shapiro announced he would not seek the 4th district Democratic nomination.
Shays, who has not filed his latest fundraising report yet, had $185,000 in his war chest when the quarter started April 1.
Shays was New England’s only Republican Congressman who was not swept from office during last year’s Democratic wave.
After two close calls, Democrats would like nothing more than to dislodge the veteran lawmaker from his Democratic-leaning district.
Udall’s Quarterly Take Tops Million-Dollar Mark
Rep. Mark Udall (D) announced this week that he raised more than $1.1 million during the second quarter of this year for his 2008 Senate bid, banking almost $2.5 million.
Former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R), who like Udall is vying to replace retiring Sen. Wayne Allard (R), has yet to reveal his second-quarter haul. Pat Fiske, Schaffer’s campaign spokesman, declined to provide any details when questioned about the matter on Tuesday.
Both Udall and Schaffer appear to have a clear path to their parties’ respective nominations.
Attorney Awash in Cash, but Challenger Emerges
Attorney Mikal Watts (D), who already has pumped nearly $10 million of his own money into his bid to oust Sen. John Cornyn (R), announced this week that he raised an additional $1.1 million from outside sources during the second quarter of this year.
Watts, who has set aside $3.8 million for the primary and $6.2 million for the general election, first might have to get by state Rep. Rick Noriega (D), who is poised to launch an exploratory committee that would allow him to raise money for a possible Senate run.
Democrats in Washington D.C., are high on Watts, who is a major party donor, but Noriega has the support of grass-roots Democrats in Texas.
Cornyn’s second-quarter numbers were unavailable. But the first-term Republican banked a healthy $3.8 million at the close of the first quarter.
New Web Site Hits Smith on Ties to Bush Policies
Beaver State Democrats can’t seem to find the high-profile incumbent-killer they’re looking for to take on Sen. Gordon Smith — but that isn’t stopping them from targeting the two-term Republican.
The Oregon Democratic Party this week unveiled www.stopgordonsmith.com, a Web site designed to highlight Smith’s legislative record, particularly his past votes in support of the Iraq War.
Smith has since disavowed his support for President Bush’s Iraq strategy, but Democrats claim his stance is hypocritical and contend that his endorsement of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president is proof that he hasn’t actually changed his view on the war.
Meanwhile, the Democrats’ only announced 2008 Senate candidate is attorney and longtime Oregon policy wonk Steve Novick. Novick has been involved in several ballot initiative campaigns in Oregon and previously served as the policy director for now-Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s (D) 2002 gubernatorial campaign.
Novick, who was in Washington, D.C., this week meeting with liberal interest groups — but not with Democratic officials — said in an interview that he had raised about $194,000 during the second quarter of this year. Smith’s second-quarter numbers were unavailable, but he banked $2.8 million to close the first quarter.
With Election So Far Off, Vitter Has Time to Mend
The revelation this week that Sen. David Vitter (R) was a client of the “D.C. Madam,” real name Deborah Palfrey, certainly set Capitol Hill and Cajun tongues wagging, but it is unclear how much damage his admission and apology will do to his career.
Vitter is not up for re-election until 2010.
“It’s interesting politically; there is really kind of a double-standard on these issues,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. “Republicans seem to be held to a higher standard — especially if they champion these issues — than Democrats, and voters do remember that.
“He is going to have re-establish the trust of the voters,” added Perkins, who served in the Louisiana Legislature with Vitter and is friends with the first-term Senator.
As long as politicians are contrite and seek private and public “redemption” for their adultery, American voters have proved they are rather forgiving, Perkins said.
But that could change depending on the circumstances, he conceded.
Vitter’s 2004 Senate race was dogged by rumors that he had an ongoing relationship with a New Orleans prostitute. After raising more than $700,000 for a gubernatorial campaign, then-Rep. Vitter bowed out of the 2003 gubernatorial race citing “family concerns.”
On Tuesday, Jeanette Maier, who admitted in 2003 to running a New Orleans brothel, told The Times-Picayune that Vitter frequented her establishment starting in the mid-1990s and ending before federal agents raided it in 2001.
Some Christian groups, whom Vitter has depended on for political support in the past, may not be as forgiving as Perkins.
He already angered a number of them when he endorsed former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s (R) presidential campaign earlier this year.