House Watch: Updates From Ohio and N.M.
Although the 2006 battle for control of the House of Representatives doesn't have the sexiness of the struggle for the Senate, every day there are key developments in congressional districts that bear noting. Here are two:
The leading name to replace Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in the solidly Democratic 13th District is former representative Tom Sawyer (D). Sawyer held the neighboring 14th District from 1986 until 2002, when the Republican-led redistricting divided his base of support; he lost a Democratic primary to Rep. Tim Ryan (D).
"Of course I'm interested," said Sawyer when reached at his home earlier today. "I loved the 16 years I spent in Congress." Sawyer said he will make no decision on the race until after Nov. 8; his wife, Joyce, is running for clerk of the Akron Municipal Court -- a race the former congressman is heavily involved in. "I am the best campaign manager she could afford," he joked.
Sawyer does not currently live in the 13th District but estimates his house is a "seven iron" from the district line. Prior to coming to Congress, Sawyer served as the mayor of Akron for two years and served in the state House from 1976 to 1982.
Given the strongly Democratic nature of the district (Sen. John Kerry won there with 56 percent in 2004), Sawyer isn't likely to have the field to himself. But one potential major candidate -- Mayor Don Plusquellic -- may decide not to run if Sawyer gets in, according to informed party sources. Mark Williamson, a spokesman for Plusquellic, said his boss had not made any decision. "Don has not said one way or the other," according to Williamson.
Rep. Brown is giving up his seat to run against Sen. Mike DeWine (R) next year.
Are there other names out there on the Democratic side? Send an e-mail if you've heard of someone thinking about this race.
NEW MEXICO's 1st
State Attorney General Patricia Madrid is moving toward entering the race against Rep. Heather Wilson (R) in New Mexico's 1st District; an announcement of her intentions could come as early as the beginning of next week.
Landing Madrid would be a major recruiting victory for House Democrats who have tried to knock Wilson out of her Albuquerque-based district since she won a 1998 special election to claim it. Madrid, who is Hispanic, was elected the state's top cop in 1998 and reelected in 2002. She has seen her name floated for a variety of offices, from state land commissioner to lieutenant governor.
"With Madrid in, this would become one of the top races in the country and Wilson would be playing catch up," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Sarah Feinberg.
That might overstate it slightly, but Madrid would undoubtedly give Wilson a very tough race. The district is 43 percent Hispanic, according to the 2000 census, and went for Kerry 51 percent to 48 percent in 2004. Wilson, however, is a resilient campaigner and star fundraiser. At the end of September, she had more than $730,000 sitting in a campaign account to spend on the race.
The National Republican Congressional Committee declined to comment on Madrid's potential candidacy.
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