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Massachusetts: Candidates Have Equal War Chests for Special

In the 5th district special election contest, the initial fundraising numbers for the latest reporting period showed both Niki Tsongas (D) and Jim Ogonowski (R) with almost an even amount of cash on hand.

Ogonowski spokesman Barney Keller said his candidate had $221,120 in cash on hand for the days leading up to the Oct. 16 special election, compared with Tsongas’ $240,708.

Tsongas’ campaign, however, announced she raised more than $600,000 since the last required filing deadline on Aug. 15, while Ogonowski’s campaign said he raised $200,513 during that same period. In total, Tsongas has raised $1,866,974 and Ogonowski has raised $434,120.

The winner of the election will fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Marty Meehan (D), who resigned from Congress in July. If Tsongas is elected to the entirely Democratic Massachusetts delegation, she would be the first female Member representing the state in 25 years.

— Shira Toeplitz

Club for Growth Attacks Latta in New TV Spots

The Club for Growth began airing a TV ad last week for the 5th district special election chastising state Rep. Bob Latta (R) for his vote in favor of former Republican Gov. Bob Taft’s proposed budget, which, according to the club, included one of the largest tax increases in state history.

According to Andy Roth, the club’s director of government affairs, the ad buy started Friday and is scheduled to run for a week on both broadcast and cable television. Roth added in an e-mail that there’s a “high likelihood” that the ad buy will be extended past the first week.

The club has endorsed Latta’s main opponent, state Sen. Steve Buehrer (R), in the GOP primary. The special election to replace the late Rep. Paul Gillmor (R) is widely seen as a contest between Buehrer and Latta. The primary is set for Nov. 6 and the general election is set for Dec. 11.

Buehrer’s state Senate district comprises most of the 5th district, but Latta has some name identification from when his father held the Congressional seat before Gillmor. The district is a Republican stronghold, so the GOP primary is widely viewed as the contest that will decide the next Member.

— S.T.

Egland Reports Raising $70K for Primary Race

Iraq War veteran Eric Egland, challenging Rep. John Doolittle in the 4th district Republican primary, revealed last week that he raised $77,000 in the third quarter.

Egland jumped into the race one month into the Federal Election Commission reporting period. He had around $70,000 in cash on hand at the end of September.

“I’ve spent most of my life on military campaigns, not political ones, so this was a decisive first step,” Egland said in a statement. “The outpouring of financial support from the grassroots absolutely astounded me.”

Egland supported Doolittle in the previous cycle and even cut a television spot for him that ran during the home stretch of his narrow victory over Democrat Charlie Brown, who is running again this cycle.

The 4th district, which covers the suburbs and foothills just east of Sacramento, is solid Republican territory. However, the Justice Department investigation into Doolittle’s connections to jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff has put the Congressman at risk of losing to Brown should he win the Republican primary.

Doolittle’s fundraising through the first two quarters was disappointing. Through June 30, the Republican had raised less than Brown.

Former Auburn Mayor Mike Holmes also is running in the 4th district GOP primary. State Assemblyman Ted Gaines (R) has opened an exploratory committee and is considering a bid. Republican sources say former state Sen. Rico Oller (R) will run if Doolittle retires.

Oller was a candidate in the nearby 3rd district GOP primary in 2004, losing to now-Rep. Dan Lungren (R).

— David M. Drucker

Udall Reports $1M Haul as Poll Shows Tight Race

Rep. Mark Udall (D) raised more than $1.1 million in the third quarter for his Senate campaign, finishing September with more than $3.1 million in cash on hand.

Udall is set to face former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) in the general election. Schaffer’s third-quarter numbers were unavailable at press time.

“Considering the historic difficulties of fundraising in the 3rd quarter of an off-year, this is a monumental achievement that reflects the growing momentum and strength of Mark’s campaign for the United States Senate,” Udall campaign manager Mike Melanson said in a statement.

The race between Udall and Schaffer to replace retiring Sen. Wayne Allard (R) is expected to be a closely fought affair. An independent poll released Friday showed Udall with 36 percent of the vote and Schaffer with 35 percent. The poll of 504 registered voters, conducted Sept. 11-15 by Ciruli Associates, had a 4.4-point error margin.

— D.M.D.

Club for Growth, DSCC Immediately Hit Wilson

Even before Rep. Heather Wilson (R) announced Friday that she would run for Senate next year, the Club for Growth urged voters in the Land of Enchantment to reject her candidacy on the grounds that she is a tax-and-spend liberal.

Wilson was the first new candidate in the Senate race since Sen. Pete Domenici (R) announced Thursday that he would not seek a seventh term.

“New Mexico voters expect a U.S. senator who supports lower taxes, less wasteful spending, and a ‘just say no’ attitude towards special interests giveaways,” Club for Growth President Pat Toomey said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Heather Wilson’s record in the House leaves a lot to be desired. Last time I checked, supporting tax hikes, pork projects, and other liberal policies is not the mark of an economic conservative.”

Although the club did not express a preference for another Republican candidate, Rep. Steve Pearce (R) also is considering whether to jump into the Senate race, and according to sources Friday he was expected to announce his decision today. State Land Commissioner Patrick Lyons (R) also is eyeing the race.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also did not waste any time attacking Wilson, pointing out that she voted with President Bush 85 percent of the time.

Among Democrats, Rep. Tom Udall formally removed himself from consideration in the Senate race Friday, saying he was looking forward to accumulating seniority in the House and on the Appropriations Committee. With Gov. Bill Richardson (D) also unlikely to run as he continues to wage his campaign for the White House, attention at press time Friday was focused on Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez (D) and former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid (D).

Wilson’s decision to run for Senate is sure to change the dynamic in her already competitive Albuquerque-based House district.

— D.M.D.

Marshall, a GOP Target, Also May Face Primary

Macon Mayor Jack Ellis (D) announced last week that he is forming a fundraising committee and will soon embark on a listening tour of the 8th district in anticipation of a likely primary challenge to Rep. Jim Marshall (D).

Though Marshall’s conservative-leaning district continues to be a target of Republicans, the July primary would be Marshall’s first since winning his House seat in 2002.

Marshall is the previous mayor of Macon and beat Ellis in a 1995 race for the job. Ellis won the seat in 1999.

At a news conference, Ellis criticized Marshall for being one of eight Democrats to vote against the the State Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization bill and said Georgia’s 8th district needs “a real Democrat.”

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard is being touted as the Republicans’ top pick to take the seat in 2008, although former Rep. Mac Collins (R), who lost to Marshall by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2006, has not yet ruled out another shot at the seat.

— John McArdle

Investment Banker Is First to Challenge Dole

Jim Neal (D), an investment banker and political fundraiser, became Democrats’ first big hope at toppling Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) next year.

Neal announced last week that he plans to run for Senate. He said he would consider the possibility of spending some of his own money on the race.

Despite Dole’s perceived vulnerability, Democrats have failed to recruit a strong or wealthy — better yet, both — candidate who could deliver a formidable challenge to Dole. So far this cycle, Rep. Brad Miller (D) and Gov. Mike Easley (D) have turned down pleas from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to file for the primary.

— Matthew Murray

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