State by State


Businessman Tony Raimondo appears ready to enter the Democratic primary for retiring Sen. Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelGOP Senate candidate said Republicans have 'dual loyalties' to Israel White House aide moves to lobbying firm Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces MORE’s (R) seat, but former congressional candidate Scott Kleeb (D) said he is still looking hard at his options.

Kleeb was in town last week meeting with national Democrats to weigh a run in a race that already includes former Gov. Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsMeet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska Farmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World MORE (R).


“My meetings went terrifically well and the phone calls are going wonderful,” Kleeb said. “I haven’t made a decision yet … but I was very pleased with how everything went last week.”

Of Raimondo’s expected entry, he said: “I think he’s definitely moving in that direction, and I think that’s great. Choice is important, and that’s what elections are about.”

Kleeb expects to announce his plans in early February but suggested that announcement would come after the Feb. 5 presidential “national primary.”

— Aaron Blake

It’s no secret that Sen. Ben Nelson (D) and Chuck Hagel, his senior Republican colleague from the Cornhusker State, hold each other in minimum high regard as the result of political battles dating back to 1996, when Hagel defeated then-Gov. Nelson in a bitter Senate race.

But now there’s another Nebraska Republican who has incurred Nelson’s wrath. It’s Nelson’s successor as governor, Mike Johanns, who was named secretary of Agriculture in January 2005 after gaining Nelson’s support by assuring him he would remain in the job through the end of the Bush administration.

Johanns infuriated Nelson when he resigned his Cabinet post last fall to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Hagel.

“He told me it was the job he always wanted and I told Democratic senators that when I got them to vote for his confirmation,” Nelson said Wednesday after speaking at a breakfast on energy policy sponsored by The Hill. “Then he resigns to run for the Senate, and my Democratic colleagues all call me and say, ‘What happened? You said he was serious about being secretary of Agriculture.’ ”

Nelson hopes that Johanns will not win the seat in November, but if he does, don’t look for the relationship between Nebraska’s two senators to improve in 2009.

— Albert Eisele

New Mexico

Former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron will add her name to the crowded Democratic primary for Rep. Heather Wilson’s (R) House seat, she has told the Albuquerque Journal.

Vigil-Giron served two separate stints as secretary of state and three terms total. She left office at the end of 2006.

Former Albuquerque City Councilman Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Commerce Department to develop stats on income inequality Senators take fundraising efforts to Nats playoff games MORE and former state Health Commissioner Michelle Lujan-Grisham are among the candidates in the race on the Democratic side.

State Sen. Joe Carraro and Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White are the GOP candidates.

— A.B.

The Club for Growth announced Wednesday that it will back Rep. Steve Pearce (R) in the race for retiring Sen. Pete Domenici’s (R) seat.

Pearce is running against fellow Rep. Heather Wilson for the GOP nomination.

The Club appears set to hit Wilson hard over her voting record on taxes, saying she has broken a no-tax pledge on numerous occasions.

“As a representative, she has sided with the Democrats to increase taxes, increase spending and increase government’s intrusion in the marketplace,” Club President Pat Toomey said. “As a senator, we fear she will vote the same way. In contrast, Steve Pearce has been a reliable opponent of tax increases and has demonstrated a willingness to curtail the growth of government.”

— A.B.


New Hampshire 

Gary Dodds, a 2006 congressional candidate in the 1st district, went on trial this week on charges that he faked a disappearance to drum up publicity for his candidacy.

Prosecutors said that Dodds crashed his car and hid for 27 hours in April 2006 in an attempt to draw attention to his campaign. They also wanted to tell jurors that Dodds may have spent part of his disappearance with a woman he was having an affair with, but a judge has refused to allow any references to the affair.

Dodds lost the Democratic primary to now-Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. He is charged with falsifying physical evidence, a felony, and with causing false public alarms and leaving an accident scene, both misdemeanors. Dodds’s lawyer said that doctors had found that he had suffered a concussion, situational amnesia and frostbite after the crash and his disappearance.

— Walter Alarkon



The Cleveland Plain Dealer endorsed one of Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s (D) primary opponents Sunday, just days after the incumbent ended his presidential candidacy and refocused on his House seat.

In its endorsement of Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, the paper’s editorial board said constituents “need to replace [Kucinich] with someone who can combine many of Kucinich’s best traits with a focus on this region that Kucinich, unfortunately, has lost.”

“There are three other challengers in the March 4 primary, but make no mistake, it was Cimperman’s combination of energy, campaign cash and community support that convinced Kucinich he had to make getting reelected to Congress his priority,” the paper added.

Two other candidates are also running in the primary.

— A.B.

In the first seven weeks of his campaign, Ohio state Sen. Steve Stivers (R) has raised over $400,000, setting the stage for another expensive slugfest for Ohio’s 15th district.

Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy has raised $384,659, according to her September filing reports, while her debt totals $62,464.

In 2006, Kilroy lost by under a percentage point to Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), who outspent her by nearly $2 million.

The race was one of the most expensive of the last election cycle. Pryce announced her retirement from the 110th Congress last August.

“I am deeply gratified by the incredible support my campaign has received in such a short span of time,” said Stivers, who entered the race on Nov. 5. “Clearly, people believe in the strength of my candidacy and the importance of my message. While I got a late start in this race, there is no doubt that I will have the means to communicate my common-sense message to the voters.”

— Jackie Kucinich


New Jersey

Medford Mayor Chris Myers continues to rack up important endorsements in the GOP primary for retiring Rep. Jim Saxton’s (R) seat.

The Camden County Republican Committee backed Myers instead of Ocean County freeholder Jack Kelly on Tuesday.

Myers already was backed by Saxton and the GOP in Burlington County, which makes up a large part of the district.

Kelly has the support of Rep. Chris Smith (R) and the Ocean County GOP, which rivals the impact of Burlington County.

— A.B.

New York

Dan Maffei, the Democrat who nearly beat Rep. James Walsh (R) in 2006 and is running again this year, may face a challenge for his party’s nomination.

Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll is considering a bid now that Walsh has announced his retirement. Driscoll’s spokeswoman Colleen Deacon said that the two-term mayor will have more information by mid-to-late February.

Driscoll had previously said that he would serve out his final term, which ends in December 2009.

Maffei came within 3,000 votes of defeating Walsh in 2006. Sensing a pickup opportunity with Walsh’s retirement, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named Maffei last week to its Red-to-Blue Program for targeting open seats.

Maffei on Wednesday also received the endorsements of 21 of New York’s 23 Democratic House members.

The most prominent names mentioned as possible Republican candidates are William Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga County District Attorney, and Maggie Brooks, Monroe County Executive.

— W.A.

West Virginia

Despite Republican efforts to target Sen. Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D) this year, it looks like he’s getting a pass.

Republicans failed to field a serious challenger in the race by the filing deadline, which was Saturday at midnight.
Rockefeller’s 2002 opponent, Jay Wolfe, is the only Republican running. He raised less than $200,000 and fell to Rockefeller 63-37 six years ago.

Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoGaetz: Some lawmakers reviewed transcript at White House On The Money: Trump takes aim at China in UN address | Consumer confidence fell as trade tensions rose | Senate proposes billion for Trump border wall Senate proposes billion for Trump border wall MORE (R), who is the party’s top hope for the state’s two Democratic-held Senate seats, again passed on the race, as did former Rockefeller and Sen. Robert Byrd (D) opponent John Raese (R), who fell badly to Byrd in 2006 but could at least self-fund a campaign.

— A.B.


Democrat Gary Trauner and former state Treasurer Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisLiz Cheney and Rand Paul extend war of words Pressure rises on Cheney to make decision Former GOP Rep. Cynthia Lummis files to run for Wyoming Senate seat MORE (R) are in a statistical tie in the race to replace retiring Rep. Barbara Cubin (R), according to a poll conducted for the Casper Star-Tribune.

The Mason-Dixon survey polls Lummis as the GOP front-runner with 31 percent in a crowded field, but in the general election, Trauner takes 41 percent to Lummis’s 40 percent.

Trauner also had higher name recognition than Lummis — 80 percent to 70.

No other Republican in the race registered in double digits. Former Justice Department official Tom Sansonetti, who along with Lummis was one of three finalists for the Senate appointment that went to John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoConservation gains in Senate bill would help all Americans To stave off a recession, let's pass a transportation infrastructure bill Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US MORE last year, is second with 9 percent.

— A.B.