Illinois: Potential Lipinski Foe Raises $140K Out of Gate

Posted July 18, 2007 at 6:01pm

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D) could have an expensive primary next year.

Mark Pera (D), an assistant state’s attorney in Chicago, raised more than $140,000 during his first quarter in the race.

Pera began July with more than $115,000 in the bank. Lipinski had almost $270,000 cash on hand.

Eager pols in the heavily Democratic 3rd district were none too happy when Lipinski’s father, former Rep. Bill Lipinski, won the Democratic nomination to seek a 12th term in 2004, then decided to retire and let Dan Lipinski replace him on the general election ballot.

The younger Lipinski had two primary opponents last year, but he sealed the nomination with 55 percent of the vote.
— Nicole Duran

Tinker Outraises Cohen in the Second Quarter

After raising $100,000 in just 30 days — more than her opponent raised in three months — lawyer Nikki Tinker (D) wants more for her bid to oust Rep. Steve Cohen (D) in next summer’s Democratic primary.

Tinker has drafted an e-mail appeal to her supporters, telling them of her fast fundraising start and asking them to help her keep up the momentum.

“I am humbled by the response and early grassroots support from so many of you,” Tinker wrote. “Your many kind words, gestures and prayers have lifted me, inspired me and will help me to win this race.”

Tinker finished almost 6 points behind Cohen in last year’s crowded open-seat Democratic primary, but this time she’s hoping the dynamics are different. In a majority-black district, Cohen was able to win in part because he was the lone top-flight white candidate in a race with many well-known black contenders.

Tinker is clearly calculating that she’ll be the only black challenger of note in 2008, making it more difficult for Cohen to hold on to the Memphis-based seat.

While Tinker was raising $100,000 and banking $103,000 through the end of June, Cohen raised $92,000 in the second quarter of the year and finished the month with $255,000 on hand.
— Josh Kurtz

Weiner Raises $2 Million for Likely Mayoral Bid

If there was any doubt that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) planned to run for mayor of New York again in 2009 — and that the city’s high rollers are taking him very seriously — it was dispelled in the latest campaign finance report he filed earlier this week.

Weiner raised a little more than $2 million in the first six months of the year, according to the report he submitted with the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Weiner spent almost $128,000 during that period, according to media reports, including $20,000 on a poll.

Of the other likely Democratic candidates for mayor — City Comptroller William Thompson, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión — only Thompson has raised more overall than Weiner, $3.1 million.

Weiner, a five-term Congressman, fell just short of making the Democratic primary runoff when he ran for mayor in 2005. The Democratic nomination should be much more valuable two years from now because popular Mayor Michael Bloomberg, elected twice as a Republican and now an Independent, will be term-limited.

Weiner, meanwhile, also continues to raise some money for his Congressional re-election campaign. He collected $40,000 from April 1 to June 30, spent $78,000 and had $201,000 left in his campaign account.
— J.K.

Hafer to Formally Open Bid to Oust Rep. Murphy

Government affairs consultant Beth Hafer (D) has her sights set on 18th district Rep. Tim Murphy (R), announcing Tuesday that she will officially kick off her campaign this fall.

“While the people and the families in our community have not changed, our Congressman no longer represents our values,” Hafer said in a statement.

Despite a blue wave that engulfed some of his fellow Pennsylvania Republicans in November, Murphy handily won re-election in his suburban Pittsburgh district, beating his Democratic opponent by nearly 16 points while garnering 58 percent of the vote.

Still, Democrats believe the right challenger will make him vulnerable. Hafer is the daughter of former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer, a moderate Republican-turned-Democrat.
— David M. Drucker

Retired Oil Man Eyes Domenici Challenge

Sen. Pete Domenici (R), who hoped that his strong fundraising performance in the second quarter of the year would dispel rumors that he may retire rather than seek a seventh term in 2008, may face a challenge from the right in next June’s Republican primary.

Retired oil company executive Spiro Vassilopoulos told New Mexico political blogger Joe Monahan this week that he is taking steps to run against Domenici. Vassilopoulos, who spent his teen years in Iran, told Monahan that Domenici’s recent criticism of the Iraq War, along with his moderate stance on immigration reform, is primarily what’s motivating him to consider making the race.

Vassilopoulos said Domenici’s call to change course in Iraq “was pure poison for our guys” serving there.

Although it is difficult to imagine Vassilopoulos inflicting much damage on Domenici in a primary, the very fact that there is some dissent in the GOP must encourage Democrats, who are continuing to search for a top-flight challenger and privately hope that the 75-year-old Senator decides to retire.

In a conference call with New Mexico radio reporters this week, Domenici, who raised more than $600,000 in the second quarter of the year, said he did not know Vassilopoulos and was unfazed by the prospect of a primary challenge.

“I don’t believe he’ll run,” the Senator said. “Let’s see. I’m glad to have anybody who adds to the competition. … If he wants to run, good luck to him.”

Stevens’ Ratings Drop in Latest Statewide Poll

The approval ratings for veteran Sen. Ted Stevens (R) have taken a serious nose dive, according to a recent poll.

Forty-four percent of the 461 Anchorage voters surveyed July 1-7 told Ivan Moore Research, an independent pollster who has worked for Democratic candidates, that they had a negative view of the 83-year-old Senator. An equal percentage had at least a “somewhat” positive opinion of Stevens, while 11 percent had no opinion.

The poll, which had a 3.6-point margin of error, comes as a political corruption investigation in Alaska approaches its 11th month. The wide-ranging federal probe has reached Stevens and his son, former state Sen. Ben Stevens (R), though neither has been indicted.

National and state Democrats are trying to entice Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D) into challenging Stevens next year.
— N.D.

Local Councilman Joins Race for Hunter’s Seat

Santee City Councilman Brian Jones (R) has joined Duncan D. Hunter (R) in the race to replace retiring Rep. Duncan Hunter (R), with Jones posting a second-quarter fundraising report showing $51,000 on hand.

Hunter, the Congressman’s son, closed the second quarter with $53,000 in the bank. He currently is deployed to Afghanistan on combat duty as a Marine Reservist.

Other Republicans are expected to join Jones and Hunter in the GOP primary race for the 52nd district nomination. The seat is solid Republican territory, and the winner of the GOP primary is expected to cruise to victory in the general election.

The elder Hunter, who is in the midst of a long-shot bid for president, has said he will retire regardless of the outcome of his presidential run.
— D.M.D.

New Study: PAC Giving Has Spiked This Cycle

A new study released Wednesday by the Campaign Finance Institute shows that total political action committee contributions to incumbent House Members have not only grown significantly since 2000 but have disproportionately spiked in the Democrats’ favor.

“Maybe this should not be so surprising,” CFI Executive Director Michael Malbin said in a statement, “[that] the money flow shifts with agenda control.”

But the numbers are nevertheless stark.

According to the CFI, Democratic Members of Congress collectively raised $41.3 million from PACs during the first six months of 2007, for an average of $180,000 per Member. Republicans, who are out of power on Capitol Hill for the first time since 1994, raised almost $24.4 million, an average of almost $122,000.

In the first six months of 2006, Congressional Democrats took in $31.5 million in PAC money while Democrats raised $21.6 million. Six years earlier, Democrats raised $16.1 million while the GOP took in more than $15.9 million.

“Issue groups get an early start on fundraising efforts in order to [help] vulnerable Members they want to support,” Malbin said in an interview. “The business groups have always wanted to get in early, too, not so much in terms of [helping members] to win the next election so much as having a good relations with the officeholders.”

While it may be obvious why Democrats are getting much more PAC money than in the recent past, Malbin said he could not say why overall PAC giving has gone up so much this cycle.
— Emma Dumain