Arizona-Democrats have cleared the field in AZ-1 for Paul Babbit, the brother of former Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt. P. Babbitt, a former Mayor of Flagstaff and a Cococino County Supervisor, is backed by Governor Janet Napolitano and the first female Governor of the state, Rose Mofford. His website is http://www.babbittaz.com. The Republican incumbent, Rick Renzi, won unimpressively with 49% in 2002 against a scandal-plagued and little-known opponent, who dropped out a few days ago to back Babbitt. This seat is a marginal one (I think Gore carried it, but don't quote me on that), but Babbitt's name recognition and Renzi's weak hold on the district give Babbitt a great shot at winning the seat.
Also in Arizona, 2nd district Congressman Trent Franks will face a primary challenge from two Republicans. Rick Murphy, a Radio Broadcasting Executive, is the more serious one. Murphy's website doesn't list the issues, but he can't be worse than Franks, who is one of the most conservative GOPers in the House. This is heavily GOP seat, but Randy Camacho, who lost 59-37 to Franks in 2002, is running again.
In Florida, there is talk that former Congresswoman Karen Thurman may attempt a comeback in 2004, and run for her old seat, FL-5. She lost 48-46 to Ginny Brown-Waite, after being drawn into a less favorable district than she was used to. Should Thurman run, this race will be competitive-if not, Brown-Waite will likely win in 2004 and beyond.
In Georgia, another Democrat is running for the US Senate. Gary LeShaw, a former DeKalb County Magistrate and an attorney, has announced he will run for the Democratic nomination to succeed Zell Miller. Democrats are still trying to get a top-tier challenger into the race. Among the choices are State Labor Commissioner Mike Thurmond, Cookie Company CEO Michael Coles, wealthy attorney Jim Butler, and Congresswoman Denise Majette. If the Democrats cannot find a strong challenger by the April 30th deadline, then LeShaw is likely to be the nominee, and will probably lose in November.
In Illinois's Democratic Senate primary, Comptroller Dan Hynes snagged the AFL-CIO endorsement. However, State Senator Barack Obama (whose mentor was the late,great Paul Simon) won the AFCSME endorsement. The race seems to be wide open right now, although a pecking order would have Hynes and Obama at the top.
In Iowa, ex-State Senator Art Small is running for the US Senate against Chuck Grassley. Small would be a sacrificial lamb against Grassley, but SOS Chet Culver and Lt. Governor Sally Pederson are both considering bids.
In Louisiana, there is the potential of five competitive races in 2004: The Senate race and four House races (the 1st, the 3rd, the 5th and the 7th). The Senate race so far has Congressman Chris John and Congressman David Vitter running. Other Democrats considering a bid are former AG Richard Ieyoub, CEO Jim Berhnard, Jr. and State PSC Commissioner Foster Campbell. In the 1st district, a GOP-leaning one, Republicans are likely to have a crowded field-so far, five Republicans are considering bids, include Bobby Jindal (2003 Guv nominee) and Suzie Terrell (no ID required). The Democrats may have a strong challenger for the seat. Una Anderson,the VP of the Orleans Parish school system, is considering a bid. She's pro-life, but otherwise is a centrist (consider her in the mold of Kathleen Blanco).
In the Third District, it appears that Billy Tauzin may wait until January to leave the House. January 2005, that is. Tauzin is still likely to be chosen for a high-profile CEO job (I think it's the Motion Pictures industry), but he may wait until his term ends to take the job. Since the district is competitive on a national level, Democrats will have a great shot at the seat. In the 5th district, still no word on who the GOP nominee will be against Rodney Alexander. Several GOPers are in consideration-former Congressman John "Diaper Head" Cooksey is one of them. In the 7th, State Senators Willie Mount (a woman) and Don Cravins are running as Democrats to succeed John, while David Thibodeaux is running for the GOP.
In Minnesota, Teresa Daly is running against Congressman John Kline. Daly, a Burnsville City Councilwoman, kicked off her campaign on January 7th. Also, Janet Robert, who lost to Mark Kennedy 57-35 in 2002, is running again against Kennedy. Daly is thought to have a slim chance against Kline, while Robert, who ran a nasty campaign in 2002, is unlikely to win.
In Nevada, State Teacher's Union Executive Director Ken Lange may run in NV-3 against Congressman John Porter as a Democrat. Porter won easily in 2002 against a scandal-plagued Democrat (who recently was indicted on corruption charges)with 56%, but will likely get a tougher challenge this time. In the Senate race, three GOP statewide office holders are considering bids against Harry Reid-Controller Kathy Augustine, SOS Dean Heller, and State Treasurer Brian Krolicki. Rich Ziser, an anti-gay activist and conservative leader in Nevada, is the only GOPer actively running so far.
In Ohio,the filing deadline has come and gone. Suprisingly, the Ohio Democratic Party found candidates to challenge every GOP incumbent in the House, except for Steve Chabot in OH-1. The strongest ones are Political Consultant L. Jane Mitakides in OH-3 (Mike Turner), Robin Weirauch, a Think Tank official in OH-5 (Paul Gillmor), and Ed Jerse, a State Rep. in OH-14 (where Congressman Steve LaTourette has been damaged by a messy divorce). In the Senate race, State Senator Eric Fingerhut faces a frequent candidate, Norbert Dennerll (a former councilman from Cleveland), while Senator George Voinovich faces a retired USAF officer, John Mitchell, another frequent candidate.
In Pennsylvania, three Democrats are considering a bid against Congressman Jim Greenwood. The strongest one would be Jules Mermelstein, an Upper Dublin Town Councilman and an attorney. Also considering bids are former Republican candidate Tom Ligenfelter, who drew 40% in a primary against Greenwood in 2000, and Virginia Schraeder, an attorney and 2002 State Rep. candidate. Should Mermelstein run, Greenwood might have to work for reelection a little. He drew 62% in 2002, however, so he'd likely win.
In PA-15, the Democrats are still trying to get State Senator Lisa Boscola into the race. Boscola, a popular moderate, would be a good candidate, but at this late stage faces an uphill battle against State Senator Charlie Dent, a moderate Republican (who, btw, is not a lock in the GOP primary).
Finally, watch out for Montana in 2004. Democrat Brian Schweitzer has broken all records in his gubenatorial campaign, and so far leads in the polls. Also, former Congressman Pat Williams is considering a comeback in 2004. He retired in 1996, and Rick Hill won the seat. Now occupied by Denny Rehberg, it would be a tough fight for Williams. However, he remains a popular Democrat in a GOP-leaning state, and so cannot be ruled out as a potential upset should he run.
That's this week's Yellin Report-I'm Stephen Yellin. Thanks for reading.