State by state

NORTH DAKOTA

Republicans hope to have a candidate to challenge Sen. Kent Conrad (D) by the end of the week, a knowledgeable source close to leading Republicans said yesterday.



The source declined to identify the candidate but said this person has experience winning races. “There are some other people who are considering it who are outside the political arena,” he said.

Republicans also are optimistic that Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) will soon have a challenger. Possibilities include Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer, state House Majority Leader Rick Berg, Bismarck Mayor John Warford and state Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch.

Jason Stverak, executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party, said Pomeroy’s comments about Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean — in which the congressman suggested Dean “shut up” about the Iraq war — helped recruitment.

“You see evidence that the Democrats don’t have a cohesive strategy for winning the war on terrorism,” Stverak said. “You have continual indecision and infighting, whereas you have with the president a clear, cohesive strategy for winning.”

Pomeroy’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Craig, countered: “The war in Iraq is too important a topic for more of the same strident, partisan debate in the political gristmill.” 
Peter Savodnik

RHODE ISLAND

The battle between the conservative, pro-tax-cuts Club for Growth and the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership erupted in Rhode Island yesterday when the Club endorsed Cranston, R.I., Mayor Stephen Laffey, who is challenging Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R) in a GOP primary, and Main Street supported Chafee.

The Club also went head to head with Main Street in Pennsylvania last year, when then-Rep. Pat Toomey (R) challenged Sen. Arlen Specter (R) from the right.

Now Toomey is the Club’s president, and Rhode Island looks to be the Pennsylvania of 2006.

The Club endorsed Laffey yesterday. In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Toomey called the mayor a Reagan Republican and said Chafee “epitomizes the GOP’s waning commitment to limited-government economic freedom.”

Main Street’s executive director, Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, deplored the divisiveness of the primary and questioned Laffey’s commitment to tax cuts, saying he had backed a 13 percent supplemental property-tax increase on homeowners.
Peter Savodnik
 
MARYLAND

Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume needs cash for his Senate campaign — and he wants it by the end of the week.

The next filing deadline is not until the end of the year, but it may be tough to organize donations between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

“Since time is so critical, I ask that you send your support back to my campaign in the next five business days,” he wrote in an e-mail to supporters this past weekend.

Mfume faces an uphill money battle for the Democratic nomination against presumed Republican nominee Michael Steele, who is the state’s lieutenant governor.

Rep. Ben Cardin, the Democratic money leader, had raised $1.9 million by the end of September, about six times the $319,000 Mfume had collected.

Mfume estimated in his letter to supporters that he would need $4 million to win the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes.

“This next deadline is a crucial test of strength for my campaign,” he wrote. “It is incredibly important for me to raise the maximum amount possible in the next few days.”
Jonathan Allen

PENNSYLVANIA

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and his Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr., are accusing each other of breaking federal campaign laws.

The latest charge comes from Santorum’s camp, which says the Casey campaign has failed to disclose who paid for Internet banner ads reading, “Who Owns Rick Santorum? Click Here to Find Out.” In a statement issued last week, the Santorum campaign wrote, “The Casey campaign activities may be in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.”

Casey’s campaign manager, Jay Reiff, counters that the charge is “completely erroneous” and that it demonstrates a misunderstanding of the disclosure rules for Internet ads. Reiff also noted that the ads link directly to Casey’s website, which he said makes clear who is responsible for the ads.

The latest exchange follows weeks of attacks by Casey and his backers about pro-Santorum ads sponsored by Americans for Job Security (AJS). The Casey campaign seized on the fact that one AJS ad used footage also found in a Santorum campaign ad as evidence that the group is coordinating with the Santorum campaign. One Casey press release sarcastically asks, “Who is really paying for these ads — [disgraced lobbyist] Jack Abramoff?”

Casey has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, but both the AJS and Santorum’s campaign deny any direct link.
Jeffrey Young

OREGON

A leading Oregon Republican says his party is afraid to attack Rep. David Wu’s (D) character after a similar tactic backfired in 2004, suggesting the fourth-term Democrat may be coasting to reelection.

Jeff Smith, chairman of the Oregon Republican Party in the 1st District, recalled that GOP challenger Goli Ameri attacked Wu for his attempted sexual assault of an ex-girlfriend while in college, only to lose by 20 percentage points.

“He was able to parlay it into a positive, be apologetic and kind of whitewash the event itself,” Smith said.

Smith said no Republicans have officially entered the race. Without a serious ethics charge, Wu looks well positioned: His district backed Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) over President Bush in 2004, 55 percent to 44 percent. In 2000, the district gave Vice President Al Gore a six-point win.
Carrie Sheffield

WISCONSIN

Republican state Assemblywoman Terri McCormick, running for the 8th District, wants more tax cuts for Americans and more money for her district. She said that Wisconsin is near the bottom when it comes to funding for Medicare and Medicaid.

McCormick, on a recent swing through Washington, also stressed the importance of government transparency and bringing jobs to the northeastern Wisconsin district, which is being vacated by Rep. Mark Green (R), who is running for governor.

“We need more transparency, a lot less shenanigans,” McCormick said.

In her three terms in the state Legislature, McCormick has sponsored legislation to reform small-business regulation and increase tax credits for engine manufacturers and pushed property-tax relief for veterans.

McCormick faces state Assembly Speaker John Gard and retired Vietnam veteran Tim Laurie in the Wisconsin Republican primary. Democrats running for the seat include Steve Kagen, an allergist; Nancy Nusbaum, the executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Department’s Crime Victim Services; and Jamie Wall, who serves as Gov. Jim Doyle’s (D) administrator of the state’s economic-development programs.
Kelly McCormack