One thing that you can say for former Rep. Bob Barr is that he’s a party man through and through. With Sen. Zell Miller retiring, Georgia politicos and national Republicans figured Barr would immediately jump into the ring to scare off potential competition.
Barr lost his House seat in the 2002 Republican primary against John Linder, after the Georgia legislature had reconfigured state districts and forced the two into a race against each other. Linder was re-elected. Barr joined up with colleague Dick Armey and signed on as a consultant to the American Civil Liberties Union.
But Barr knows he probably isn’t the White House’s first choice to run for Miller’s Senate seat, though he had decent relations with the Bush team during their short time working together.
Thus far the highest profile Republican announced to run for Miller’s seat is Rep. Johnny Isakson, who holds the seat formerly held by Newt Gingrich. The White House continues to look at the potential Senate race with interest, as it is one of the party’s best pickup possibilities in 2004. Rumors continue to swirl around state party chief Ralph Reed, who has said he isn’t interested in running, but who remains in the White House mix if only because of his national reputation and his ability to fundraise across the country.
So with Isakson as the only announced runner, Barr is moving in at least to fill Isakson’s slot. It now appears that Barr will run for the solidly Republican 6th congressional seat Isakson currently holds.
For Republicans it’s a win-win situation. They get a high-name ID candidate for the 6th, who should win easily, while improving GOP chances of winning the Senate seat by cutting the amount of potential intramural party infighting leading into the primary. And of course, it means the party gets one of its conservatives back where he belongs.
While Sen. John Kerry‘s presidential campaign continues to hum along in its front-runner of the month mode, his fellow Democratic contenders — and the Bush re-election team — are waiting for the announcement they feel surely will be coming from the liberal Massachusetts Democrat: that’s he’s going to take his campaign off the books, decline federal matching funds and go private. That’s the same approach the Bush team took in 2000 to great success, breaking all fundraising records for a presidential run.
Kerry married well when he caught the eye of Teresa Heinz, whose late husband, Republican Pennsylvania Sen. John Heinz, was scion to the condiment empire.
Thus far, Kerry has said he plans to run his campaign within the guidelines for federal matching funds, and that he would not use his wife’s wealth for the campaign, unless his competition — Democrat or Republican — made personal attacks against him or his wife. How gallant.
Now it appears Kerry, who has enjoyed a good opening month since formally announcing his candidacy, is looking to big-foot his competition early and take his campaign in a direction that surely will affect his Democrat competition. According to several Kerry campaign sources, the candidate is mulling over the notion of just giving up the ghost and announcing early that he’ll take the campaign private.
No other announced candidate has the kind of personal wealth to compete with Kerry. And his national fundraising team is solid, perhaps superior to that of several competitors: former Vermont Gov. Howie Dean, Sen. John Edwards, and Rev. Al Sharpton. Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sen. Joe Lieberman, who lately has been snapping up staff from the 2000 Gore campaign and former Clinton aides, are perhaps best positioned to compete against Kerry, but still can’t match his bank account.
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