State by State: Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky

Georgia


Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard (R) may have some familiar company in his quest to challenge Rep. Jim Marshall (D) in 2008.

ADVERTISEMENT
Former Rep. Mac Collins (R), who lost to Marshall by fewer than 2,000 votes in 2006, yesterday told The Hill he’s “pretty well” decided about whether to make another run for the seat, but said he will not make any formal announcement until fall — likely late September or early October.

“I keep the cards close to the chest,” Collins said. “I just think it’s wiser to wait till a later date.”

Collins is friends with Goddard and said he valued the general’s service and his support last cycle. Collins said he has been playing phone tag with Goddard since announcing on Monday that he was forming an exploratory committee.

“That’s not the deciding factor with me at all,” Collins said.

— Aaron Blake


Republican state Sen. Jim Whitehead will begin running a radio ad today featuring well-known University of Georgia (UGA) football announcer Larry Munson, who asserts that Whitehead “bleeds red and black.”

Whitehead, the front-runner to replace Rep. Charles Norwood (R) in next month’s special election, could have something to prove in that regard.

In 2004, Whitehead remarked that the school was run by “a bunch of liberals” and that somebody ought to bomb everything except the football team, for which he once was an offensive lineman.

Whitehead made light of the comment last month, calling it a joke. But his opponents have sought to highlight it in order to diminish his support. Athens-based UGA is in the district.

A release from Whitehead’s campaign says the ad “demonstrates Jim [sic] deep devotion to UGA and the strong support he is receiving from the biggest supporters of UGA.”

Whitehead spokesman Joel McElhannon told The Hill that UGA alumni dominate the district and that his boss’s opponents have taken the comment out of context.

“But if any of them want to waste their time and money trying to drive that message in this campaign, we’ll be glad to let Larry Munson respond for us,” McElhannon said.

— Aaron Blake

Kansas

Former Rep. Jim Ryun (R) leads primary opponent and state treasurer Lynn Jenkins (R) 61-27 in a Public Opinion Strategies poll of likely GOP primary voters released yesterday by Ryun’s campaign.

The poll also showed Ryun with a 71-37 favorability advantage and a 92-41 lead in “hard” name ID — a measure of what percentage of voters know a candidate well enough to rate them favorably or unfavorably.

The poll surveyed 259 people in early May and has a margin of error of 6.2 percent.

Jenkins was reelected to her second term as treasurer last year and is seen as a strong opponent in Ryun’s quest to recapture his seat from freshman Rep. Nancy Boyda (D), who beat him by fewer than 10,000 votes in 2006.

“The numbers show that our message of keeping taxes low, curbing illegal immigration and committing to finding ways to make healthcare more affordable is clearly resonating,” Ryun said.

“We’ve yet to see an internal campaign poll done 14 months before an election that matters,” Jenkins spokesman Pat Leopold said. “The only poll that matters is the one taken last November, and Jim Ryun lost.”

— Aaron Blake


Kentucky

Former Rep. Anne Northup (R) lost her second election in six months on Tuesday, failing to force a runoff with Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) in the gubernatorial primary.

Northup won 36.5 percent of the vote to Fletcher’s 50 percent.

Northup surprised a lot of people in the Bluegrass State by challenging the embattled Fletcher shortly after losing her congressional seat to Rep. John Yarmuth (D).

On the Democratic side, former Lt. Gov. Steve Beshear finished first and avoided a runoff, securing 41 percent of the vote. Had he gotten less than 40 percent, there would have been a runoff.

— Sam Youngman


The divisions that played out in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary may be festering, as backers of Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) have launched an effort to draft former gubernatorial nominee Larry Forgy (R) to challenge Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) in a primary in 2008.

The Draft Forgy website (draftforgy.blogspot.com) started posting last week and since has been updating regularly.
Though McConnell has been publicly neutral in the gubernatorial race, the blog and others have accused him of privately backing Northup.

“Mitch McConnell failed Kentucky’s conservatives by undermining Governor Ernie Fletcher and backing former Louisville Rep. Anne Northup,” one blog post read. “Now his reelection numbers are well under 50 percent, and it’s time for the Republican Party to nominate a candidate who has a real chance to win in 2008. That candidate is Larry Forgy.”

Forgy, an attorney and the 1995 gubernatorial nominee, has been vocal in denouncing McConnell in recent weeks but has expressed little interest in returning to elective politics.

— Aaron Blake