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Alaska: Berkowitz Enters Race for Young’s House Seat

Former state House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz (D) announced Wednesday that he is running for the the at-large Congressional seat currently occupied by embattled Rep. Don Young (R).

Berkowitz ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 alongside former Gov. Tony Knowles (D) but lost handily to the Republican ticket.

The other announced Democratic candidates are former Alaska Democratic Party Chairman Jake Metcalfe and 2006 nominee Diane Benson.

Berkowitz planned to make his announcement on a statewide television news broadcast live from Anchorage. In a phone interview, Berkowitz said he would have to raise about $1.5 million to $2.5 million to wage a competitive campaign against Young, who may have a primary challenge as well.

“I have a good chance against whoever it is,” Berkowitz said. “And I have a good chance because the campaign is going to focus on issues that matter to people.”

Young campaign spokesman Mike Anderson said “folks have been very courteous about calling Mr. Young and talking to him about” running in the primary.

“Whoever shows up, whoever his challenger is, it’s going to be tough one,” Anderson conceded. “But this is a marathon … and when the marathon is over with, Mr. Young expects to be the only person at the finish line.”

— Shira Toeplitz

Shays’ Foe Has Raised About $600K This Cycle

Jim Himes (D), the former investment banker who is seeking to unseat Rep. Christopher Shays (R), announced Wednesday that he raised more than $250,000 in the third fundraising quarter for a total of $600,000 raised so far this cycle. Himes’ campaign said he had about $535,000 in cash on hand on Sept. 30, including a little more than $5,000 in in-kind contributions from the candidate himself, mostly for travel expenses.

Shays’ campaign said the incumbent’s fundraising numbers will not be ready to be released until this weekend.

Himes has received financial support from House Democratic leadership, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.). The other announced Democratic candidate, attorney Lee Whitnum, did not respond to a request Wednesday for her fundraising information.

Shays is the only remaining Republican Representative in New England after the 2006 elections removed many of his colleagues from office.

— S.T.

Braley Gets by With a Little Help From Friends

It pays to be running for re-election in the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state.

Rep. Bruce Braley (D), who is seeking a second term in the Democratic-leaning 1st district, is bringing in the big guns to headline his third annual “Bruce, Blues & Barbeque” fundraising event.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), the presidential frontrunner, and another leading contender, former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), are set to show on separate days at what is a three-city, multi-day event.

Clinton is scheduled to headline the festivities on Nov. 4 in Davenport, while Edwards is scheduled as the marquee attraction on Nov. 11 in Dubuque.

A Braley aide declined to predict how much money the three-day event would raise but noted that last year’s one-day fundraiser featuring home state Sen. Tom Harkin (D) attracted 200 people. The Braley campaign expects “several hundred” attendees to show up for this year’s festivities.

The three-day event is designed to capitalize on the Iowa presidential nominating caucuses and help Braley expand his base of small donors. The price of admission is $30 for individuals, $50 for couples, $75 for families and $15 for students.

— David M. Drucker

Bruning’s War Chest Nears $1M for Senate Bid

State Attorney General Jon Bruning, running in the GOP Senate primary against former Gov. Mike Johanns, reported raising $222,506 in the third quarter of the year to finish September with $955,431 in cash on hand.

Bruning is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Chuck Hagel (R). In a shot at Johanns, who recently resigned as Agriculture secretary and officially launched his Senate bid this week, Bruning suggested that time has passed the former governor by.

“Republicans are ready for a change in the status quo — they’re looking to the party’s future, not to the past,” Bruning said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Democrats continue to wait on former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D), who is deciding whether to seek his old job in 2008.

— D.M.D.

Report: Fossella’s Foe Helped Him in ’04 Race

Republicans have accused New York City Councilman Domenic Recchia (D), who is poised to enter the race against Rep. Vito Fossella (R), of serving as a mole to Republicans during Fossella’s 2004 re-election race.

Quoting several sources who did not want to be named along with a former council colleague of Recchia’s, now-state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R), the Staten Island Advance reported this week that Recchia leaked information about Fossella’s challenger to the Congressman and his supporters.

“Domenic was always saying, ‘Vito’s gotta do this, Vito’s gotta do that,’” Lanza told the Advance. “He would tell me, ‘I like Vito. Vito’s a great guy.’”

But Recchia responded that he did not recall any such conversations with Lanza and said Republicans are spreading false information about him because they fear he can end Fossella’s decade-long Congressional career.

“Domenic Recchia could beat Vito Fossella,” he said. “They’re extremely nervous about that.”

— Josh Kurtz

That’s Risch: LG Throws Hat Into ’08 Senate Ring

Lt. Gov. Jim Risch (R) announced this week that he is running for the seat being vacated next year by retiring Sen. Larry Craig (R).

Risch announced earlier this year that he would run for Senate if Craig retired. The lieutenant governor is set to face former Rep. Larry LaRocco (D) in the general election. Risch beat LaRocco by 20 points in last year’s lieutenant governor’s race.

Sen. Mike Crapo (R) is serving as co-chairman of Risch’s Senate campaign. Gov. Butch Otter (R), a former Congressman, is endorsing Risch and indicated he was set to appoint the lieutenant governor to replace Craig in the Senate when it appeared that the Senator was going to resign at the end of September.

Craig has since reversed his decision to resign. The decisions to resign had stemmed from his arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting. Craig pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct and has since tried unsuccessfully to have that guilty plea overturned.

— D.M.D.

Democrat Joins Race for Capito Seat, Slaps DCCC

After officially announcing last week that he will challenge state Sen. John Unger in the Democratic primary in West Virginia’s 2nd district, attorney Thornton Cooper (D) acknowledged Wednesday that he faces a “very uphill battle,” even before he gets to the general election against four-term Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R).

Unger’s entry into the race over the summer was widely considered to be a recruiting coup for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But Cooper, who hails from south Charleston and is a member of the Kanawha County Democratic Executive Committee, said Wednesday that he’s extremely disappointed that the DCCC was so quick to get behind Unger before a primary was allowed to develop in the district.

“They decided who they wanted to anoint to be the Democratic Party nominee,” said Cooper, who is spending about $10,000 of his own money on the race and says he won’t be contributing to the DCCC this cycle. “There’s no reason for them to get involved. … They should restrict themselves to supporting the people who win the primaries.”

Cooper — a former state public service commissioner who is running on a platform that includes raising the minimum wage, providing universal health care and getting U.S. troops out of Iraq as soon as possible — said that with the eastern panhandle of the district becoming a growing Republican area, “somebody from Kanawha County or a county adjacent to it has a much better chance of beating Ms. Capito.”

Kyra Jennings, a spokeswoman for the DCCC, said the committee will let voters decide who is the strongest challenger, but added, “So far, we’ve been impressed by Senator John Unger’s strong grass-roots support and his backing by state and local leaders.”

— John McArdle

Smith’s Cash on Hand Eclipses Foe’s by 20-1

State Speaker Jeff Merkley (D) reported raising $294,000 since jumping into the Senate race approximately midway through the third quarter.

Sen. Gordon Smith (R), meanwhile, enjoyed another stellar quarter, raising $827,000 to enlarge his war chest to $4.04 million.

Merkley’s campaign said most of the $294,000 the Democrat raised — $240,000 — came in post-Labor Day. Merkley closed the third quarter with $215,000 in cash on hand.

Merkley campaign spokesman Russ Kelley said the Democratic candidate’s donors are “helping this campaign build the kind of strong grass-roots organization it’s going to take to defeat Gordon Smith and his special interest money machine.” According to Merkley’s campaign, 720 individual donors — including 583 Oregonians — contributed to the Democrat’s effort. Of the $294,000 he raised, $250,000 came from individual donors, with $60,444 originating from 458 online donors.

Smith spokesman R.C. Hammond said his boss is prepared for a tough race, whether his challenger is Merkley or long-shot Democratic primary candidate Steve Novick, an attorney and policy adviser to numerous Democratic campaigns in Oregon.

“Sen. Smith will be very prepared to face whoever emerges from the May primary,” Hammond said in a statement.

— D.M.D.

Businessman Meuser Set to Run for Carney’s Seat

Wealthy businessman Dan Meuser (R) announced this week that he has filed paperwork to run in what is already a crowded Republican contest to face Rep. Christopher Carney (D) in the 10th district. Meuser owns and manages Pride Mobility Products, a company with more than 1,000 employees in northeast Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, businessman Chris Hackett (R) announced that he had $245,000 in cash on hand at the end of the third reporting quarter, $100,000 of which came in the form of a loan from the candidate himself.

A Carney spokesperson said the campaign has raised $800,000 so far this year and is on track to raise $1 million by the end of the year.

Retired teacher Don Ely (R) also has announced he is running, while former New Jersey state Sen. John Scott (R) and former TV weatherman Vince Sweeney (R) are said to be considering bids.

— S.T.

More GOP Members Targeted by SCHIP Ads

In the week since a coalition of liberal advocacy organizations and labor unions launched their new “campaign to save children’s health care,” the list of Members being targeted for voting against the State Children’s Health Insurance Program has grown from 17 to 22.

New donations in the past week have allowed for additional ads that urge the Members to override President Bush’s veto of the SCHIP bill. With a budget of more than $1.25 million the ads will run in the Members’ home districts over the next two weeks, said Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change, which is one of the more than half-dozen groups that are sponsoring the SCHIP campaign.

Woodhouse said Wednesday that his organization has raised several hundred thousand dollars in the week since the original ads began to appear and that the issue is quickly becoming “a cause celebre for a lot of people.”

Americans United for Change is now sponsoring ads targeting GOP Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Ginny Brown-Waite (Fla.), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Ric Keller (Fla.). Rep. John Peterson (R-Pa.) also is now targeted in ads by the interest group USAction/True Majority.

— J.M.

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