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Congress on recess -- and the stump

Big doings in Michigan as primaries go 'boys vs. girls'

Congress on recess -- and the stump

By John Mercurio, Robert Yoon and Tory Flowers
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Welcome to the Week Ahead, the CNN Political Unit's weekly look at the key developments you can expect on the political horizon. With the help of sources across the country, we'll bring you the latest scoop on all the big political stories: the battle for Congress, the race for the White House in 2004 and much more.

There's lots of beach-walking, fund-raising and, in Florida Democrat Janet Reno's case, more river-paddling in politics this week -- the first full week of Congress's summer recess. There are jam-packed festivals celebrating everything from watermelon to mountain possum, and there's even a Philadelphia picnic being held in -- no joke -- New Jersey.

But don't let such frivolity distract you from the juiciest political event of the week, the Michigan primaries on Tuesday. Before your eyes glaze over, consider that two of the Democratic contests have developed into battles between organized labor and EMILY's List. Or, in the words of one Michigan Democratic operative, it's boys vs. girls.

Unions have come out strongly in favor of Rep. John Dingell, who faces a stronger-than-expected challenge in a newly drawn district from fellow Democratic Rep. Lynn Rivers, who has sought to counter Dingell's labor backing with at least $400,000 from EMILY's List.

EMILY's List, which raises money for Democratic women who support abortion rights, gave $1.4 million in 2000 to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan. The organization also is backing state Attorney General Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat who has taken a double-digit lead in the gubernatorial primary over union-backed Rep. David Bonior and ex-Gov. James Blanchard.

Al Gore
Al Gore  

Meanwhile, watch for continued fallout from Al Gore's move to distance himself from Democratic centrists, including his former running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut. Just days after he skipped the Democratic Leadership Council meeting in New York (while lunching just a few blocks away in midtown Manhattan) and met with labor leaders in Washington, Gore has penned an op-ed set to appear Sunday in a major newspaper in which he defends the populist message he embraced in the 2000 campaign.

Also next week, the Republican National Committee's 2004 convention site selection committee will check out the Ice Palace in Tampa, Florida, the Tropicana Field in nearby St. Petersburg, the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana and Madison Square Garden in New York. No official word on whether they're still considering two other proposals -- Miami, Florida, and Boston, Massachusetts -- but we hear Republicans have informally dubbed them second-tier options.

Saturday August 3

President Bush
President Bush  

* Bush in Maine: President Bush attends his first fund-raiser for Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Organizers expect 300 people to attend the $250-per-person event at the Black Point Inn in Scarborough, Maine. Last month, Collins raised about $50,000 at an event with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

* Unscheduled Driving: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, is hitting the road -- alone, again. His annual "unscheduled driving" trip started yesterday with no staff and no itinerary -- "just his sunglasses and map," an aide said. He'll hit 10 counties on his trip across the state, finishing up next Friday. And for those reporters who are special enough to tag along with the senator -- best of luck to you -- the senator has been known to get lost in the past on this trip.

* South Dakota's Big Three: One of the first stops on Daschle's trip will be the annual state fair in Huron, where he'll share the stage with the rest of the state's congressional delegation. Daschle, fellow Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson and his challenger in November, GOP Rep. John Thune, will talk agricultural issues at a 4-H congressional panel. Johnson and Thune also will also participate in the Dakota News Network's agriculture forum, which will also feature the candidates for the state's other major statewide offices: governor and the U.S. House. Later that day, Johnson will hold corporate accountability events in Hot Springs and Rapid City. He then heads to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to attend a Powwow. Johnson will have a community dinner at the reservation with his Democratic ticketmates Jim Abbot, the gubernatorial nominee, and Stephanie Herseth, the congressional nominee. Pine Ridge is located in Shannon County, the poorest county in the nation.

* Dean Beach Walk: Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vermont, campaigns for a local candidate on a beach in Long Island. Later that day, Dean plans to raise money for his presidential campaign committee.

* Wrestling and Golf. The International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa, is throwing a golf tournament -- that's right, a golf tournament. Rep. Greg Ganske, R-Iowa, a wrestler in high school now running for Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin's seat, plans to attend; so does Dan Gable, an Olympic wrestler from Iowa. Gable is helping Ganske's campaign. A Ganske aide confides, "I don't think the congressman was good as Dan Gable."

* Italians in Des Moines. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, will be eating lots of pizza and pasta today at the Festa Italiana. Apparently, there's a large number of Italians on the south side of Des Moines, and Harkin will be asking for their vote.

* Tennessee GOP Unity? Fresh off his double-digit win in Thursday's Senate primary, former GOP Gov. Lamar Alexander is scheduled to nab an endorsement from his primary foe, Rep. Ed Bryant,at a GOP unity event in Nashville. Both gubernatorial candidates -- Rep. Van Hilleary, the victor, and former state Rep. Jim Henry, a wealthy businessman who lost by a 2-1 margin -- also will attend. So will retiring Sen. Fred Thompson and the state's other senator, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Bill Frist. On the Democratic side, Rep. Bob Clement, who faced no major opposition in the Democratic Senate primary and stumped with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson on Friday, embarked upon a 10-day bus tour that will take him to more than 50 towns and cities.

* South Carolina Senate candidates Alex Sanders, the Democrat, and GOP Rep. Lindsey Graham, are scheduled to appear jointly before hundreds of county administrators in Hilton Head, South Carolina at what is being billed as a major political gathering.

* George P. Bush -- the twentysomething son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose good looks have made him the GOP's answer to the late John F. Kennedy Jr. -- will speak at the grand opening of the Florida Victory 2002 headquarters in Miami-Dade County. The Westchester grand opening is the first of seven planned in the Miami-Dade County area.

* Jeb Bush will attend the 33rd Annual Possum Festival in Wausau, Florida. Bush campaign aides tout the town of Wausau as the possum capital of the United States -- no joke -- and 5,000 people are expected to attend the festival.

* Um, New Jersey? They're Philly boys, but today former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell and current Philadelphia Mayor John Street are in New Jersey at the "Friends of John Street Summer Picnic." The two are just over the Delaware River in the Philadelphia suburb of Clementon. No Bloomberg-Giuliani relationship here: Street just gave fellow Democrat Rendell more than $100,000 last week.

* Fancy Farm Picnic. Anyone going through pork withdrawal now that Congress is in recess should head to Mayfield, Kentucky, for the annual Fancy Farm picnic, where 18,000 pounds of pork and mutton will be slowly cooked and served. The annual picnic was first held in the 1830s and has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest single-day picnic and barbecue. It is also the unofficial kickoff of the Kentucky political season. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and his wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, will attend, as will McConnell's Democratic opponent in November, Lois Combs Weinberg. Thousands of Kentucky political junkies are expected attend, some dressed in costumes spoofing their favorite (or least favorite) candidate.

* But Will They Teach Her the Secret Handshake? Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, addresses the Masons Grand Lodge Annual Session in Hagerstown, Maryland.

* Corn in the U.S.A.: Rep. Robert Ehrlich, R-Maryland, attends the Carroll County Corn Fest in Westminster, Maryland.

* Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher, the state's GOP gubernatorial nominee, will visit the Philadelphia Eagles' training camp at Lehigh University. Gov. George Pataki, R-New York, just visited the Buffalo Bills' camp.

David Bonior
David Bonior  

* With a little help from his friends: Rep. David Bonior, D-Michigan, has recruited five of his congressional colleagues to campaign with him in the final days before Tuesday's gubernatorial primary. Reps. Lynn Woolsey, D-California, Maxine Waters, D-California, Ed Pastor, D-Arizona, Eva Clayton, D-North Carolina, and Donald Payne, D-New Jersey will help Bonior stump in and around vote-rich Detroit all weekend.

* Florida gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno, Democrat, will paddle the St. John's River in East Palatka, Florida.

* South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges, a Democrat, delivers a speech to the South Carolina Association of Counties.

* House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, just finished up a week of coast-to-coast fund-raising travel that took him to the districts of Reps. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kansas; North Carolina GOP Reps. Cass Ballenger and Sue Myrick; and candidates Chris Chocola of Indiana, Geoff Davis of Kentucky, John Kline of Minnesota, Dick Monteith of California and Steve Pearce of New Mexico.

Sunday, August 4

* Gore vs. DLC. Six days after Al Gore skipped the Democratic Leadership Council meeting in New York City, and three days after he met with labor leaders in Washington, a major newspaper will publish an op-ed in which Gore attacks the DLC and explicitly defends the populist campaign strategy he embraced in 2000.

* RNC 2004: The Republican National Committee is on the hunt for a city for the party's 2004 convention. The nine-member site selection committee will check out New Orleans, Tampa-St. Petersburg and New York -- currently seen as the RNC's frontrunner.

* Quiero sus votos: All three major candidates for New York governor -- incumbent Republican Gov. George Pataki and Democratic challengers Carl McCall and Andrew Cuomo -- will march in the Puerto Rican Day Parade in the Bronx. Pataki will later eat hot dogs on the Coney Island boardwalk and throw out the first pitch at the Brooklyn Cyclones game that night.

* Baucus Burger Bonanza: Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, kicks off the August recess by reaching out to voters in Livingston, Montana, with the first of 11 -- count 'em, 11 -- "Baucus Burger Bonanza" events this month. The meat-and-greet will feature a live band, face painting, bubbles, a clown, balloon animals and, of course, burgers. Free political advice to Baucus: Don't ask for a veggie burger. Free political advice to GOP Senate challenger Mike Taylor: Slip Baucus a veggie burger.

Monday, August 5

* Bush and Fisher: President Bush is back to raise money for Pennsylvania's Attorney General Mike Fisher, the Republican nominnee for governor. The campaign has sent out 4,000 invites. Tickets to the VIP reception are a cool $10,000, but tickets to the lunch are a mere $1,000. This is the second time the president has raised money for Fisher: Bush was just there in the spring in Philadelphia. At the last filing in June, Fisher had $5 million in cash on hand; Democratic candidate Ed Rendell had $1 million left after spending $18million in one of the most expensive and ugliest primaries in the country. The Rendell camp is not worried -- they know their candidate is widely known as one of the best fund-raisers in the business.

* Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot embarks upon a five-day trip across seven Western states. Racicot is planning to make stops in North Dakota, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

* Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Executive Director Howard Wolfson and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Jim Jordan will hold a pen-and-pad press briefing to discuss Democratic candidates and the August recess.

* Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, vice chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, will campaign with Senate candidate Mark Pryor across Arkansas. Pryor also will get an endorsement from a local firefighters' union in Jonesboro.

* Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, the most endangered Democratic gubernatorial incumbent in 2002, and Rep. Bob Riley, his Republican challenger, will hold their first televised debate. The hour-long faceoff is being broadcast on Alabama Public Television.

* Gov. Jim Hodges meets with teachers and will announce an education roundtable. Education has become a key issue in Hodges's increasingly competitive re-election campaign. President Bush traveled to South Carolina last week and raised nearly $1.3 million for former Rep. Mark Sanford, the Republican nominee.

Tuesday, August 6

* Primaries in Michigan, Missouri and Kansas.

* Michigan Primary. Voters head to polls today to whittle down the field in two big races: the Democratic primary for governor and the incumbent vs. incumbent matchup in the newly drawn 15th Congressional District. In the governor's race, U.S. Rep. David Bonior, former Gov. James Blanchard and state Attorney General Jennifer Granholm make up the Democratic field. Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus runs unopposed on the Republican ballot. Granholm leads in most polls and also in the money race, with more than $4 million raised for the campaign. She has blanketed the state with TV and radio ads attacking both Blanchard and Bonior. State Democrats believe that they will retake win governorship in November regardless of which Democrat wins the primary. In the 15th District, reapportionment pushed Democratic incumbent Reps. John Dingell and Lynn Rivers into a divisive primary for the House seat. After a full weekend of visits to churches and union halls in the heavily Democratic district, polls show a dead heat. Nasty ads are on the air. It's old labor vs. new moderate. Expect this one to go down to the wire.

* Missouri Primary. Democratic incumbent Sen. Jean Carnahan and GOP Rep. Jim Talent lead all polls in this year's Senate primaries, but the two do have some competition on Tuesday -- emphasis on some. Carnahan's rival, Darrel Day, is in jail, accused of stealing a sign from a tackle shop while on parole. Bond has been set for $10,000. Talent has four primary opponents: Joseph A. May, Martin Lindstedt, Scott Craig Babbitt and Doris Bass Landfather.

* Kansas Primary. Kansas holds primaries today for the House, Senate and governor. Sen. Pat Roberts faces no opposition in the primary, nor does he face any Democratic opponent in the general election -- no one had filed papers by the June 10 deadline. There is a more interesting race in the Republican primary for governor, where three candidates are duking it out.

* Vermont Gov. Howard Dean heads to Ottowa, in the Great White North, to meet with U.S. Ambassador to Canada Paul Celluci. Celluci is the former Republican governor of Massachusetts. After visiting with Celluci, Dean will spend the rest of the week in the northernmost reaches of Canada touring the ALERT facility, a national defense system.

* Farmfest Forum. Minnesota Republican Senate candidate Norm Coleman challenged Democrat Sen. Paul Wellstone to a fishing contest last week. Wellstone declined. So we probably won't be seeing that, but we will see the two candidates together for the first time at Farmfest. Organizers are calling it a forum "U.S. Senate Candidates' Forum on Agriculture and Rural Issues," but it's effectively the first debate between the two candidates."

* Nelson and Wellstone. This past week on the senate floor, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, told Wellstone that he would be stopping by his state on Tuesday. Wellstone didn't ask Nelson to come out to Minnesota, but he's coming anyway and now Wellstone is thrilled: They'll participate in "National Night Out" with law enforcement officials talking to their communities about public safety. Welcome to Minnesota, Bill.

Elizabeth Dole
Elizabeth Dole  

* North Carolina Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole will give a major policy speech on education in Winston-Salem. This is the second major policy speech the GOP hopeful has made during the Senate campaign. She made her first major policy speech in Hickory on drugs in mid-July.

* Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, receives an award from Juvenile Diabetes Reserach Foundation in South Portland.

* Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, the GOP Senate nominee, starts a two-day, 13-city bus tour through the Rio Grande Valley.

* South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges, a Democrat, and his GOP challenger, former Rep. Mark Sanford, are both addressing the Palmetto Agri-Business Council, a statewide group of agriculture business leaders. This will be the candidates' first joint appearance since Sanford won the GOP nod in a June 25 runoff.

* New York gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo heads to Israel for three days. He'll be back on Friday. Local television reporters and a dozen prominent Jewish-American leaders will travel with the Democratic candidate, who could meet with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during his visit.

Dennis Hastert
Dennis Hastert  

* House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, flies to Iowa to campaign for Rep. Jim Leach and Stan Thompson, who's running in the state's new 3rd district against Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell. Thompson has become a popular host of GOP luminaries in Washington. He recently hosted a fund-raiser with Vice President Dick Cheney and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, will campaign for him Thursday.

Wednesday, August 7

* Iowa State Fair Kickoff. The Iowa State Fair kicks off its 10-days run a parade attended by Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack. Both parties will have booths at the fair: Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Rep. Greg Ganske, also will have booths; Look for Sens. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, and John Edwards, R-North Carolina, and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Missouri, there next week.

* Republican National Committee Chairman and former Montana Gov. Marc Racicot returns to his home state to campaign for state Sen. Mike Taylor, who's challenging Democratic Sen. Max Baucus. Racicot and Taylor have a lunch event in Great Falls and a press conference in Missoula, and Racicot will attend a Taylor fund-raising dinner that evening in Missoula. Taylor may have a tight schedule this day, as the Montanta state Legislature will likely still be in special session. The Taylor campaign says that Taylor will be able to attend the Racicot events and still tend to the special session.

* Colorado Senate Forum: U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colorado, and his Democratic rival Tom Strickland will both address the Colorado Forum, a private group of business leaders.

* House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, campaigns for state Tax Commissioner Rick Clayburgh, who's posing a serious challenge to Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-North Dakota; and for GOP Rep. Lee Terry in Omaha, Nebraska.

* The only two Republicans in Oregon's congressional delegation, Sen. Gordon Smith and Rep. Greg Walden, attend a community picnic in Haines, Oregon.

Thursday, August 8

* DNC in Vegas. The Democratic National Committee opens its three-day summer meeting in Las Vegas. Thursday's events include the Hispanic candidates' lunch with reporters, a Hispanic caucus forum discussing the DNC's Hispanic Outreach Project. Other caucus meetings are also scheduled. Watch for Democrats to highlight their support from unions and Hispanic groups. But don't look for a Democratic cattle call -- Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, is the only 2004 aspirant expected to drop by.

* Wellstone and business? That's right -- Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minnesota, is bringing in business leaders - a group you wouldn't normally associate with the liberal senator - to gear up for his launch of business leaders for Wellstone next week. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, a pro-business Democrat, is coming in to help with the launch.

* Smith-Sununu Forum: Last week New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith issued a challenge to his GOP primary opponent, Rep. John Sununu. Smith wants 20 debates across the state -- two per county, Lincoln-Douglas style. Sununu has declined. One chance would be tonight, at the Seacoast Federation of Women Senatorial Forum in Stratham, New Hampshire. The two will take questions from the audience but will not be allowed to ask questions of each other.

* Get on the bus: Another busload of seniors seeking cheaper prescriptions will make its way to Canada under the auspices of a U.S. Senate candidate. This time it's Sen. Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota. Johnson will be on the bus in the South Dakota leg of the trip, but will hop off before the bus reaches the border. The bus departs Sioux Falls from the Center for Active Generations and returns the next day.

* Colorado Senate candidate Tom Strickland, a Democrat, attends an evening "Sportsmen for Strickland" meet-and-greet in Vail.

* South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges attends the midnight football practice with Lou Holtz, coach of the USC Gamecocks.

* Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is campaigning in Tampa Bay and Miami.

* House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, addresses the Montana Legislature and will campaign for Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Montana, in Helena.

Friday, August 9

* North Carolina GOP Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole holds a small-ticket barbecue at Ralph L. Fike High School in Wilson County.

* Women For Strickland: U.S. Senate hopeful Tom Strickland, D-Colorado, attends two "Women for Strickland" fund-raisers. In the morning, he heads to the Flying Dog Ranch in Carbondale for morning coffee with women supporters. The suggested contribution is $25 (hope it's premium blend). Strickland then heads to Aspen for a box lunch with women supporters. The event is $35 per person.

* Speaker Dennis Hastert campaigns for Rep. Butch Otter, R-Idaho, in Boise and Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Washington, in Seattle.

Saturday, August 10

* Mr. Edwards Goes to Washington: Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, addresses Washington State Democrats at their annual Warren G. Magnuson awards dinner in Seattle.

Tim Hutchinson
Tim Hutchinson  

* Watermelon in Arkansas: Everyone who's anyone in Arkansas politics will be at the annual watermelon festival in Hope, Arkansas, the biggest and most politically important festival in the state and an essential stop for any aspiring politician. Incumbent Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson and his Democratic challenger, Mark Pryor, will be there; so will Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee and his Democratic challenger, Jimmie Lou Fisher.




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