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State by state

Colorado

The field is rapidly clearing for Democrat Betsy Markey to take on Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) in 2008, as both of Musgrave’s 2006 general election challengers are now out of next year’s race.

Eric Eidsness, who took 11 percent of the vote as a Reform Party candidate in 2006, dropped out of the Democratic primary on Tuesday. His exit comes a week after 2006 Democratic nominee Angie Paccione exited the race.

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Paccione lost to Musgrave 46-43.

Markey served as Sen. Ken Salazar’s (D-Colo.) regional director until May and also is a businesswoman. Salazar has endorsed her candidacy.

— Aaron Blake



Massachusetts

Special-election candidate Niki Tsongas (D) launched her first television ad of the general election on Wednesday. In the ad, Tsongas calls for a fixed timetable to bring the troops home from Iraq.

Her Republican opponent, Jim Ogonowski, has tried to eat into the generally Democratic anti-Iraq war vote by saying he would bring home all the troops from Iraq and do it in a more responsible manner.

Tsongas and Ogonowski will vie for former Rep. Marty Meehan’s (D) seat on Oct. 16.

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—A.B.



Minnesota

Iraq veteran and former Watertown Mayor Steve Sarvi will file for the Democratic primary to take on Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) this week, Sarvi told The Hill on Wednesday.

“I’ve always had a process with this thing of taking it sort of step by step and seeing how it goes,” Sarvi said. “So the next step for us is to raise money and see what the reception’s like.”

Democrats are bullish about Sarvi, who said he would file either Wednesday or Thursday. They say his military background will help him cut into a major base of Kline’s support.

Kline is a retired Marine colonel who served as an aide to Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. He has carved out a reputation built on veterans’ issues.

Despite being a Democratic target, he has survived reelection bids with relative ease the last two cycles, winning both by 56-40 margins.

— A.B.



Montana

Sen. Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (D) doesn’t yet appear to face a strong challenge in 2008, but with a year to go before the election, he’s already launching campaign ads.

Baucus began running television and radio ads this week condemning President Bush’s veto of Congress’s recently passed State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) bill.

In the ad, Baucus introduces a young girl named Abigail and talks about working across party lines to provide her health insurance.

Former state House Majority Leader Michael Lange (R) is in the race, but national Republicans are still recruiting. Last week, 2006 candidate and former state Senate President Bob Keenan (R) was in Washington to meet with GOP leaders.
A big ad buy at this point could serve to scare off potential opponents. Baucus had $4.3 million cash on hand at the end of June.

— A.B.



New York

A local Republican county committee is attacking a likely challenger to Rep. Vito Fossella (R) with robo-calls, according to The Staten Island Advance.

The newspaper reported Wednesday that the borough’s GOP chairman, John Friscia, organized the calls, which took aim at Brooklyn City Councilman Domenic Recchia for his alleged silence about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to Columbia University.

Democrats seized on the comments as proof that Republicans are concerned about Fossella, who was reelected with his smallest margin ever last year, 57-43.

Recchia is expected to file papers for the race in the coming weeks.

— A.B.



Pennsylvania


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Freshman Rep. Jason Altmire (D) scored two political victories in fewer than 24 hours last week.

The House voted for an Altmire bill increasing the number of small businesses that can take advantage of a Small Business Administration (SBA) program offering venture capital funding. The bill also creates an “office of angel investment” to connect wealthy individuals to small start-up companies.

Altmire introduced another bill waiving fees for seniors who had not signed up for Medicare’s prescription drug benefit program. The Bush administration issued an executive order waiving the penalties.

Altmire, like most of the new class of Democratic lawmakers, is a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Frontline Program. As of June 30, Altmire had raised $615,000. His figures for the third quarter were not available on Wednesday.

Former Rep. Melissa Hart (R), whom Altmire defeated last year, is running for her old seat again and is among the 10 GOP candidates receiving assistance from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Challengers Helping Obtain the Majority Program (CHOMP).

—Jonathan E. Kaplan