Georgia Senate candidate joins Obama at Democratic fundraiser

Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond (D) opted to attend President Obama’s Atlanta fundraising event Monday despite not getting an initial invite.

Thurmond, the Democratic nominee for Senate, joined Atlanta-area Democratic Reps. David Scott and John Lewis, as well as southeastern Georgia Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. (D), at the event, according to the pool report. Rep.

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Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), who represents the nearby 4th district and was endorsed by the president during his primary, did not attend.

It’s questionable what Thurmond was able to get out of attending Obama’s speech. According to a transcript, the president simply noted that Thurmond was “in the house,” but didn’t go anywhere beyond that. Obama’s backing wouldn’t necessarily be a boon to a statewide candidate in Georgia, as the absence of former Gov. Roy Barnes (D), who’s running for his old job, and attorney general nominee Ken Hodges (D) suggest.

“I’d rather be with these folks, if you want to know the truth,” Barnes said of his absence while campaigning in Forsyth, Ga. “I’m not running for governor of Washington, D.C. I’m running for governor of Georgia.”

There had been some confusion surrounding the visit. Lewis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he learned secondhand of the trip. “They [White House officials] usually inform us,” he said. “It was unreal.”

A spokesman for Thurmond said he too was overlooked when the fundraiser was first announced.

The event raised some $500,000 for the Democratic National Committee, according to the report.

One other interesting point from Obama’s Georgia visit: He’s traveling with Patrick Gaspard, the White House director of political affairs.

Atlanta is the first of many August fundraising trips for Obama. He travels to Chicago on Thursday for an event with Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias. He’s then in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 9 to raise money for the party committees; in Los Angles on Aug. 16 for more fundraising; and will travel to Columbus, Ohio, and Miami on Aug. 18.

— S.J.M.


Kennedy won’t endorse in primary to fill his seat

Retiring Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) will remain neutral in the Democratic primary for his seat despite appeals for his backing from the two top Democrats in the race.

“I want to be able to be a uniter and join the Democratic forces at the end,” Kennedy said in an interview with The Hill.

There are four Democrats vying for the nomination in Rhode Island’s 1st district, led by former state party Chairman Bill Lynch and Providence Mayor David Cicilline. The primary is Sept. 14.

Just two days after Kennedy announced his retirement this past February, Lynch resigned as chairman of the state party and jumped into the race.

Kennedy said he has had a “great working relationship” with Lynch, who chaired the state party for 12 years before stepping down, but that he will not intervene in the primary.

“We’re very close, and I personally have great affection for him,” said Kennedy. “But I said to Bill that my No. 1 allegiance is to the Speaker of the House and I told David the same thing.”

In June, the state Democratic Party threw its support behind Cicilline at the party’s state convention.

Along with Lynch and Cicilline, the other two Democrats in the race are state Rep. David Segal and businessman Anthony Gemma.

On the Republican side, state Rep. John Loughlin is the leading candidate. Loughlin has already received campaign help from Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

— S.D.


Idaho candidate moves campaign office out of district to save money

State Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) has moved his campaign office out of the district he hopes to represent in order to save money.

His new office is in downtown Boise, according to a report from The Associated Press, and is no longer located within the confines of Idaho’s 1st congressional district, where he is challenging Rep. Walt Minnick (D). Idaho has two congressional districts; the boundary line cuts through western Boise.

In challenging Minnick, Labrador is taking on one of the GOP’s leading targets in 2010, but since defeating the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)-backed Vaughn Ward in a May primary, Labrador has struggled to raise money for the general election.

From May through June, Labrador raised just more than $101,000, and he reported less than $70,000 cash on hand. Minnick raised more than $290,000 during the same time and had more than $1.1 million on hand at the end of the second quarter.

Labrador’s name was also absent from the NRCC’s latest list of additions to its Young Guns candidate program. Labrador told an Idaho newspaper that he had decided to opt out of the program.

Labrador’s campaign told the AP he will have an office in the district “when Raul is elected to U.S. Congress.”

— S.D.

Gap closes in Colorado Senate primary

Former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) is in a dead heat with Sen. Michael Bennet (D) in the state’s Democratic primary, according to the latest poll numbers.

The poll shows the race has tightened considerably in the past few weeks. A Denver Post poll released Sunday (and conducted by Survey USA) has Romanoff leading 48 percent to 45 — within the margin of error.

Just two months ago, Romanoff was ahead of Bennet by more than 15 points. The senator has countered with his own internal numbers, but, in a danger sign for Bennet, they only have him ahead by four points.

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Romanoff, who sold his house last week to aid his campaign, faces an opponent who was sitting on more than $2.5 million as of his last Federal Election Commission filing. Bennet is poised to spend that money aggressively during the final stretch before the Aug. 10 primary.

Romanoff is trying to continue the trend of knocking off incumbent senators in primaries this cycle. Sens. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Bob Bennett (R-Utah) have already lost, while Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) narrowly survived her primary challenge.

— S.D.

Miller and D’Aprile are campaign reporters for The Hill.  They can be found on The Hill’s Ballot Box, located at thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box.