Facing what likely will be a tough re-election contest next year, Rep. Sam Graves (R) is enlisting all the help he can get trying to build on his narrow fundraising advantage.
Graves, who is being challenged by popular former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes (D), hosted a fundraiser Monday featuring Vice President Cheney, who still appears to be a popular draw among the GOP’s conservative base, despite the White House’s sagging popularity.
Democrats used the Cheney fundraiser to tar Graves as too close to Republican leaders.
“Only if you’re as loyal to the Bush administration and as out of touch as Sam Graves, would having Dick Cheney in town to jump-start your sputtering campaign be a plus,” said Doug Thornell, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Graves and Cheney are too much alike — both symbols of the past and taking Missouri and the country in the wrong direction.”
Barnes made a big splash earlier this summer, when she raised more than $300,000 during her first fundraising cycle.
— Matthew Murray
Ex-Rep. Daub Makes His Senate Bid Official
Former Rep. Hal Daub (R) hopes the third time will be the charm: He announced Monday that he would seek the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel (R).
In a statement that preceded a two-day swing through the state Monday and Tuesday, Daub made it clear that he’ll emphasize his conservative credentials in pursuit of the Republican nomination.
“Nebraskans should know that I oppose an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, that I favor a tough immigration policy that emphasizes securing our borders, and that I believe there are sensible, simple ways to preserve Social Security and Medicare,” he said.
Daub, 66, who served in Congress from 1981 to 1989, is making his third Senate bid. He lost the Republican primary for an open seat in 1988 and was the GOP nominee in 1990, losing to then-Sen. Jim Exon (D). The former Congressman later spent three terms as mayor of Omaha.
Daub joins a Republican field that includes state Attorney General Jon Bruning. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, a former governor, also is seriously eyeing the race. Johanns was in Nebraska on official USDA business over the weekend but also attended a Republican gala that included naming the state GOP headquarters after him.
Democrats are awaiting word from former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) about whether he’ll seek the seat that his friend and fellow Vietnam veteran Hagel has held for the past 10 years.
— Josh Kurtz
Hagel Boosts His Fellow War Skeptic Gilchrest
After hosting a smaller gathering for moderate Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R) in the 2006 cycle, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) — who, like Gilchrest, is a leading anti-war voice among Congressional Republicans — will headline Gilchrest’s annual bull roast fundraiser on the Eastern Shore on Saturday.
A spokesman for Hagel said the two lawmakers have been “good friends for a long time,” and Gilchrest’s chief of staff, Tony Caligiuri, said the men often talk with each other on legislative issues that come across their desks.
“They’ve kept in touch on policy issues on Iraq and some of the international relations issues that have come up, and they’ve periodically talked in dealing with some of the votes before Congress in the last year or so,” Caligiuri said.
Gilchrest has fended off a string of conservative primary challengers in recent years for his 1st district seat, and in 2008 he’s already facing Baltimore County state Sen. Andrew Harris (R) and Joseph Arminio (R), the co-founder of the advocacy group the National Coalition for Defense.
Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) is aiding Harris’ campaign effort, and though he has stopped short of endorsing Harris outright, Ehrlich announced last week that he’ll be hosting a fundraiser for the state lawmaker in mid-October.
— John McArdle
Northup Helps GOPer Who Wants Her Old Seat
One time gubernatorial candidate and former Rep. Anne Northup (R) was scheduled to host a fundraiser Monday night for Erwin Roberts (R), who is taking on freshman Rep. John Yarmuth (D) in the 2008 battle for the seat that Northup lost in 2006.
Roberts is a former assistant U.S. attorney and one-time director of the state Office of Homeland Security. The 35-year-old attorney resigned from his position as personnel cabinet secretary for embattled Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) more than a year ago. Northup lost to Fletcher in the Republican primary for the gubernatorial seat this spring.
While several other names have been mentioned as possible GOP contenders for the Louisville-based House seat, Roberts has moved forward with his fundraising since announcing his candidacy earlier this summer. A little more than a month after announcing his candidacy, Roberts reported that he had brought in more than $43,000 in receipts.
The Louisville-based district leans Democratic in presidential elections, which is why it is not as high on the Republican wish list as some of the other districts that Democrats captured from the GOP in November. But national Republicans still are high on Roberts.
“The [National Republican Congressional Committee] does not pre-primary endorse. … [But] we think Erwin Roberts would make an excellent candidate and even better Member of Congress,” NRCC spokesman Ken Spain said.
Councilman Explores Race Against Fossella
New York City Councilman Dominic Recchia (D) has taken a step closer to challenging Rep. Vito Fossella (R) next year. Recchia, the Staten Island Advance reported Sunday, has formed an exploratory committee and will begin raising money for a possible House bid.
Although the majority of the 13th district’s voters live in Staten Island and Recchia represents Brooklyn in the council, party leaders believe the councilman’s status as an Italian-American and political centrist with a proven track record of fundraising would make him competitive against Fossella.
But if Recchia runs, he would probably face a Democratic primary with attorney Steve Harrison, who as the 2006 nominee took 43 percent against Fossella despite operating on a shoestring budget. Harrison told the Advance he has no intention of deferring to Recchia.
“The question is, ‘Why?’” Harrison said. “I’m the one who established the beachhead against Vito Fossella.”
Meanwhile, Recchia’s Council colleague, Michael McMahon (D), who had also been contemplating the Congressional race, all but took himself out of contention.
“I haven’t said anything definitively, but I’ve formed no campaign committees and I have not raised any money. You can read the tea leaves there,” McMahon told the Advance.
Stymied Mayor Helps Lautenberg Re-election
This was the year Michael Wildes (D) expected to be running for the House.
The Englewood mayor had it all figured out. In 2008, he reasoned, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), who by then would be 84, would be ready to retire. And Rep. Steven Rothman (D) would be one of the many Democrats seeking to replace him, leaving his House seat open for Wildes to pursue.
But it didn’t turn out the way Wildes had planned.
Lautenberg is asking voters for another six years, despite the fact that he’ll be 90 when his term ends. And Rothman as a consequence is staying put.
So Wildes, loyal party man that he is, will host a fundraiser for Lautenberg’s re-election in Englewood on Sept. 30. The Sunday brunch costs a minimum of $250 to attend.