By The Hill Staff - 04/07/08 06:26 PM EDT
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) is up with a TV ad focusing on his constituent work on behalf of workers in a Paducah, Ky., gaseous diffusion plant who were exposed to radiation.
The ad, featuring four former plant workers exposed to the radiation, began airing Monday in Louisville and Lexington.
Several Democrats are vying to unseat the four-term senator, with the top two apparently headed for an expensive primary.
In a statement, Fischer said, “We have set our sights on ditching Mitch in November.”
Fischer faces wealthy businessman Bruce Lunsford, the pick of national Democrats, in a primary.
Recent Federal Election Commission data show McConnell has over $7 million in cash on hand.
— Andy Barr
State Rep. Don Cazayoux (D) leads former Senate candidate Woody Jenkins (R) 49-44 in an internal poll released by Cazayoux’s campaign Monday.
The Cazayoux-Jenkins tilt was one of two Louisiana special-election match-ups set after Saturday’s primary runoffs.
Cazayoux’s lead in the poll closely mirrors other previously released polling on the head-to-head race. His poll was conducted in mid-March by Anzalone Liszt, which surveyed 500 likely special-election voters.
Jenkins won the GOP primary in former Rep. Richard Baker’s (R) Baton Rouge district, defeating businesswoman Laurinda Calongne 62-38, according to unofficial totals from the Louisiana secretary of state.
He will face Cazayoux, the favorite of national Democrats, who defeated fellow state Rep. Michael Jackson 57-43.
Baker’s district has proven conservative in the past, but questions about Jenkins’s viability and a flood of new residents following Hurricane Katrina make the special election the next big special of the 2008 cycle.
It will be held May 3.
GOPers will try to avoid losing a second conservative district to a special election this cycle. They previously lost former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s (R-Ill.) seat to now-Rep. Bill Foster (D) in March.
In the other match-up determined Saturday, state Sen. Steve Scalise (R) is a heavy favorite to join Congress later this month in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) former House seat.
Scalise won the Republican primary as expected, 58 percent to 42 percent, over state Rep. Tim Burns. He will face Democrat Gilda Reed for Jindal’s 1st district seat in one of the most conservative House districts in the country.
That election will also be held May 3.
— Aaron Blake
State Treasurer John Kennedy (R) outraised Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in the first quarter, gaining some momentum in what has turned out to be the GOP’s one good takeover opportunity in the Senate this year.
Kennedy brought in about $1.4 million, compared to more than $1 million for Landrieu, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Landrieu should maintain a large cash advantage, though, when the reports are filed with the Federal Election Commission. She had about $4.1 million at the end of 2007.
Kennedy should add to his impressive fundraising April 22 when President Bush pays a visit for a fundraiser. Kennedy was recruited for the race by former top Bush adviser Karl Rove.
GOP candidates in other races have raised upwards of $1 million with Bush’s help.
— Aaron Blake
The conservative Club for Growth’s political action committee on Monday endorsed real estate developer Matt Shaner in the crowded GOP primary in retiring Rep. John Peterson’s (R) district.
Though none of the candidates have voting records, the Club said in a memorandum that Shaner’s top two competitors “show definite signs of weakness on economic issues,” specifically the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“Derek Walker, a financial consultant, is opposed to NAFTA and is an unabashed supporter of wasteful pork barrel spending,” the Club said. “The other candidate, Jeff Stroehmann, is a proud protectionist, advocating policies that would cripple central Pennsylvanian exports.”
Shaner has emerged as a well-funded candidate in the race thanks to his personal fortune. He has self-funded more than $1.2 million for the race.
— Aaron Blake
A topsy-turvy week in the Senate race here came to a close Monday with Republicans finally settling on a candidate after a flurry of uncertainty.
As of Monday’s filing deadline, businessman Andrew Unanue became the GOP standard-bearer after biotech executive John Crowley said Sunday that he would pass on the race.
Unanue entered the race two weeks ago as a replacement for businesswoman Anne Estabrook (R), who left the race in March. But his campaign got off to a rocky start thanks to Democratic attacks on his lack of New Jersey residency and personal history. Unanue has admitted to showing up to work hung over and has been arrested for drunk driving.
Unanue was expected to drop out to pave the way for Crowley, who was reconsidering a previous decision not to run after being recruited by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee.
Crowley said he had too many other obligations, including to his family and his work.
Several county GOP chairmen, whose endorsements carry lots of weight in New Jersey politics, were preparing to switch their support from Unanue to Crowley before Crowley decided not to run.
Democrats face a high-profile primary after Rep. Robert Andrews (D) on Wednesday resisted a chorus of opposition from the party establishment and entered the primary against Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Battle lines are still being drawn in the two-month sprint to the nomination.
State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio and Professor Murray Sabrin are also in the race on the Republican side.
— Aaron Blake
Andrews’s wife, Camille Andrews, filed to run for his House seat on Monday as a placeholder while local Democratic leaders sort through other candidates.
The Democratic chairmen of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties issued a joint statement saying Camille Andrews would replace her husband on the ballot.
The Newark Star-Ledger reported Monday, citing anonymous sources, that she might wind up being more than a placeholder, though, and the statement appears to leave open the possibility of her actually running for the seat.
Rep. Andrews on Monday struck down speculation that his wife was entering the race so that he could return to his House seat if he were to lose the Senate primary to Lautenberg.
“I’m running to win the Senate primary. I’m thoroughly committed to it,” he told the blog PolitickerNJ.com.
“Win or lose, I’m not running for the House.”
Camille Andrews is an associate dean at Rutgers University-Camden.
Lautenberg campaign manager Brendan Gill said the move “doesn’t pass the smell test,” and that it represents “old school politics that the voters of New Jersey are sick and tired of.”
— Aaron Blake
Iraq veteran Doug Denneny faces two high-profile opponents in the Democratic primary for retiring Rep. Tom Davis’s (R) seat, but he’s got some big-name supporters of his own.
Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) became the fourth House member to endorse Denneny’s bid on Monday, joining freshman Reps. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) and Phil Hare (D-Ill.).
Denneny, who has served as a military fellow on Capitol Hill, faces former Rep. Leslie Byrne and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly in the June 10 primary.
— Aaron Blake