Laura Burton Capps has left Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) office, where she served as communications director, to join the Ocean Conservancy as senior vice president of communications and outreach.
Burton Capps is the daughter of Rep. Lois Capps (D) and the wife of Bill Burton, who is spokesman for the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). The Ocean Conservancy bills itself as the largest conservation organization dedicated solely to preserving the ocean.
Sources familiar with Rep. Capps’ coastal 23rd district note that Burton Capps could be positioning herself to succeed her mother in Congress at some point, as the Ocean Conservancy deals with environmental issues that are of significant importance to voters in the Democratic-leaning Central California district.
“As a native of Santa Barbara, I grew up with the ocean and I’m proud to join the fight to protect it,” Burton Capps said in a statement.
Rep. Capps, 69, succeeded her husband in office in 1998. The Congresswoman won a special election to replace Rep. Walter Capps (D) in the old 22nd district after he suffered a fatal heart attack less than one year into his first term.
Meanwhile, the Ocean Conservancy also hired Dennis Takahashi-Kelso, bringing him on as executive vice president of conservation programs. Takahashi-Kelso previously served as program officer for marine fisheries conservation at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
— David M. Drucker
Calvert Says He’ll Seek a Ninth Term in House
Rep. Ken Calvert (R) announced last week that he will seek a ninth term in the House in 2008, the Press-Enterprise reported.
Calvert, who represents the solidly Republican 44th district, does not look to have any trouble holding onto his inland Southern California seat.
Although the Congressman has been investigated for possible ethics violations in regard to the sale of land he owned in his district, he has yet to suffer any political fallout.
Houston Defers to Andal, Boosting GOP Prospects
State Assemblyman Guy Houston has announced he will not run against former Assemblyman Dean Andal for the Republican nomination in the 11th district and the right to challenge freshman Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) in 2008.
According to the Stockton Record, Houston has opted instead to run for a seat on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.
Andal, the consensus Republican to challenge McNerney in ex-Rep. Richard Pombo’s (R) old district, now appears to have a clear path to the GOP nomination. The Republican did not officially announce his candidacy until June but still managed to bank $280,000 in the second quarter.
McNerney finished the period with $663,000 on hand.
Bush to Headline Aug. 27 Luncheon for Domenici
President Bush will be traveling to the Land of Enchantment on Aug. 27 to headline a lunch-hour fundraiser for Sen. Pete Domenici (R), who plans to seek a seventh term in 2008.
Bush will appear with Domenici at the home of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque Mayor Larry Abraham, who, according to the political blogs that first broke the news of the fundraiser, is a political independent.
The fundraiser — tickets range from $1,000 to $5,000 — will benefit the Domenici Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee set up by Domenici’s re-election campaign and the New Mexico GOP.
Democrats hope to run a vigorous challenge against the previously untouchable Domenici next year but have had trouble recruiting a top-flight candidate. So far, wealthy Santa Fe real estate man Don Wiviott, a political neophyte, heads the list of Democratic contenders.
— Josh Kurtz
Lamborn Runner-Up Cranks Up Primary Bid
Jeff Crank (R), a one-time aide to ex-Rep. Joel Hefley (R), filed papers last week setting up a rematch with freshman Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).
“It was time to make a decision,” Crank told The Denver Post. “I have gone every day now for I don’t know how many months with people saying, ‘Are you going to run? Are you going to run?’”
Crank finished just 900 votes behind Lamborn in the contentious, six-candidate GOP primary last summer to replace Hefley in the conservative Colorado Springs-based 5th district. Hefley, who was backing his former aide, pointedly refused to endorse Lamborn in the general election.
Many political analysts believe that Crank has a real shot of defeating Lamborn next year in a one-on-one contest. But retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bentley Rayburn, who finished third in the 2006 GOP primary, has yet to rule out a second run.
Lamborn spokesman Jon Hotaling called Crank’s decision “unremarkable news” and said it “certainly isn’t going to change the Congressman’s priorities.”
DCCC Hopes It Has Hit Jackpot With Peters’ Bid
Michigan Lottery Commissioner Gary Peters (D) announced last week that he will challenge Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R) in 2008, a recruiting coup cheered by national Democrats.
Peters, a former state Senator who narrowly lost a statewide bid in 2002, had been heavily wooed to run by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Knollenberg had a much-closer-than- expected contest in 2006, defeating former talk-radio host Nancy Skinner (D) by just 5 points.
The 9th district suburban Detroit seat, anchored by Pontiac and Farmington Hills, has become very competitive swing territory even though Knollenberg has not had a contested race in years. The district voted narrowly for President Bush in 2004.
Skinner, who was underfunded and received no attention from national party leaders last go round, has yet to decide whether she will run again next year. She also unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Senate nomination in Illinois, where she was living at the time, in 2004.
Peters lost a race for state attorney general by 1,500 votes in 2002.
Mike Brownfield, Knollenberg’s campaign manager, said Peters will have a difficult time distancing himself from Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), who is unpopular in many polls, and with the Democrats in Congress who are seeking tougher emissions standards for the automobile manufacturers.
“If Gary Peters wants to represent this district, will he toe the line with Nancy Pelosi and the liberals who want to destroy the auto industry?” Brownfield said.
— Lauren W. Whittington
No Favorite of Leaders, Attorney Seeks Rematch
Stephen Harrison (D), the Brooklyn attorney who finished 14 points behind Rep. Vito Fossella (R) in 2006 despite a Democratic wave in the Empire State, announced last week that he would seek a rematch.
Clearly Harrison is hoping the events of last week do not prove to be a metaphor for his campaign: He was forced to put off his announcement by a day after a rare tornado hit Brooklyn.
Harrison emerged as the nominee in the Staten Island-Brooklyn district in the previous cycle only after a raft of better-known Democrats took a pass on the race. By getting in early he is clearly hoping to stake his claim on the 2008 nomination and do better on the fundraising front than he did last time; Fossella outspent Harrison $1.7 million to $132,000.
But Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee officials have been talking to New York City Councilman Dominic Recchia (D) about the race. City Councilman Michael McMahon (D) and state Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D) have refused to take their names out of consideration for 2008, though neither is seen as likely to run.
DCCC Targets a Dozen GOP Moderates in Ads
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is on the air in a dozen House districts this week, running radio ads criticizing moderate — and potentially vulnerable — Republican incumbents for continuing to support President Bush’s Iraq War policies.
The targeted incumbents are Reps. Christopher Shays (Conn.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Joe Knollenberg (Mich.), Mike Ferguson (N.J.), Heather Wilson (N.M.), Jon Porter (Nev.), Jim Walsh (N.Y.), Deborah Pryce (Ohio), Phil English (Pa.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.), Tim Murphy (Pa.) and Dave Reichert (Wash.).
The short ads are running on drive-time radio and are being aired right before or after the stations run their traffic and weather reports. The ads are scheduled to run at least until Wednesday.
Gerlach — the only one of the targeted Republicans without a viable challenger already in the race — was quick to hit back, calling the ads hypocritical and “disgusting.”
Noting that he and fellow moderate Republicans had recently offered an amendment to adopt the Iraq Study Group’s proposals for troop withdrawal, which was rejected by House Democratic leaders, Gerlach said, “I can only guess that they needed today’s political ad more than they needed to find a bipartisan solution to Iraq.”
Pro-War Veterans Group Launches TV Ads on Iraq
With anti-war groups launching myriad attack ads and public actions targeting Congress during the summer recess, a veterans group that supports continued military involvement in Iraq also is going on the offensive.
Beginning today, the group Vets For Freedom is airing TV ads in four states — two to thank Senators for their continued support of the Iraq War and two to pressure Senators who are seen as swing votes when it comes to further war funding.
The “thank you” ads are aimed at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has been targeted by various anti-war groups and is up for re-election next year, and Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.). The other ads, titled “Don’t Surrender,” are aimed at Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Sen. John Warner (R-Va.), who is up for re-election in 2008 but may choose to retire.
The ads go hand-in-hand with a new grass-roots strategy that Vets For Freedom is launching in 25 states designed to tell Members that the Iraq War is winnable and worth fighting.
“We will not let paid political partisans co-opt the Iraq War debate,” said Pete Hegseth, executive director of Vets For Freedom.