State by State: Pennsylvannia, Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon, Maryland

Pennsylvania

Freshman Rep. Joe Sestak (D), sure to be a top GOP target in 2008, told supporters in a fundraising e-mail this week that he hasn’t focused on his reelection war chest over the last three months.

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“Unfortunately, I have been late in turning to fundraising this quarter due to the demands of trying to be a good Congressman,” Sestak wrote. “I guess it means that I am doing my job.”

Whatever Sestak’s second-quarter numbers turn out to be, he was one of the top Democratic fundraisers in the first quarter.

In the first three months of the cycle, he pulled in about $450,000 despite not being a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline program, which protects vulnerable incumbents. Most Democratic freshmen are in the program.

No major challengers have entered the race yet.

— Aaron Blake



Georgia

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) comfortably leads the two Democrats who have stepped forward to challenge him, but his support for the current Senate immigration bill has pushed his approval rating down to 50 percent, according to a new Strategic Vision poll.

Chambliss leads DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones 55-31 and former television reporter Dale Cardwell 56-28. Jones has been in the race for months; Cardwell recently left his job to pursue a bid.

Both opponents have run to the right of Chambliss on illegal immigration, and only 23 percent of those polled supported a description of the Senate immigration bill.

Chambliss’s disapproval rating was 39 percent.

A poll conducted last month by InsiderAdvantage had Chambliss narrowly edging former Gov. Roy Barnes (D), who has shown no interest in the race. The race is not a top Democratic target.

— A. B.

Former Rep. Max Burns (R) has accepted a job at North Georgia College and State University, where he starts Monday. The move appears to make it unlikely that Burns will pursue a third straight race against Rep. John Barrow (D) in the 12th district.

Burns will head the school’s business administration department and is listed on its faculty page. An office spokeswoman said the move was several months in the making.

He lost to Barrow by less than 1 percent in 2006 after falling four points shy in 2004.

Burns announced his last candidacy in May 2005, meaning he would already be starting at a later date this cycle.

Burns declined to comment through his spokeswoman.

— A. B.



Maryland

Democrat Donna Edwards was scheduled to hold a fundraiser in Washington last night and will officially launch her primary campaign against Rep. Albert Wynn (D) on Saturday.

Edwards nearly pulled off a shocking upset last cycle, falling 50-46 to Wynn.

This cycle, the primary has been moved up to February. Wynn has already launched his campaign — a nod to Edwards’s strong showing in 2006 and her earlier start this time.

The kickoff will be held at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Md.

— A. B.



Oklahoma

State Sen. Andrew Rice (D) will step up his exploration of a bid against Sen. James Inhofe (R) and begin traveling the state, according to a statement he posted on a website seeking to draft him.

“Running for the United States Senate is difficult, and I have had several conversations about it with my wife and many of my friends and family,” Rice wrote on runandrewrun.com. “They are all very encouraging and supportive.”

Fellow state Sen. Kenneth Corn (D) also said last week that he will examine a bid at the urging of supporters, according to local reports. Corn, 30, was elected to the state House at the age of 22.

Rice’s older brother was killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Rice, 34, is in his first term in the legislature.
He told the Associated Press in mid-June that he hopes to make a decision “in the next month or so.”

— A. B.



Oregon

Radio talk-show host and former county commissioner Jeff Golden (D) is thinking about a run against Sen. Gordon Smith (R) in 2008, according to several reports.

Golden hosts a show on public radio and also writes books and a newspaper column.

He was a Jackson County commissioner in the late 1980s and lost a bid for state Senate shortly thereafter.

State Sen. Alan Bates (D) is also weighing a bid. Two members of the state’s Democratic delegation — Reps. Peter DeFazio
and Earl Blumenauer — have declined to run for the seat, as has former Gov. John Kitzhaber.

— A. B.

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