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Kentucky's 2nd: The Challenger's Money Chase

State Rep. Mike Weaver (D) has all the credentials to unseat Rep. Ron Lewis (R) in Kentucky's 2nd district: Three decades in the military, a ten-year career in the state legislature and conservative views on hot-button issues like abortion and gay marriage.

Ohio River Ramble

Chris Cillizza

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The question is whether he will have the money to beat Lewis. Weaver said today that his campaign has raised roughly $600,000 for the race and had $240,000 left to spend. Compare that to the $995,000 Lewis had collected for the race as of June 30. At that time the incumbent had more than $1 million in his bank account.

Weaver hasn't let that financial disparity get in his way. He was the first candidate on television, beginning with a positive ad early last week and following it up with a commercial that hits Lewis on his ties to the oil industry. Lewis went up Monday with a positive spot of his own and then followed that on Tuesday with an ad noting that Weaver voted for tax increases 26 times in the state legislature.

For Weaver, the question is whether he can raise the money to keep up the barrage over the final 48 days of the campaign. He was named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's "Red to Blue" fundraising program a few weeks ago, a selection that should guarantee him no less than $150,000 from a slew of donors around the country.

Weaver should also get a financial boost from an event next Monday in Louisville featuring retired Gen. Wesley Clark. The fundraiser will be held at the home of Charlie Owen, who has run unsuccessfully for U.S. House, Senate and lieutenant governor in the Bluegrass State. Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson is also scheduled to attend.

Weaver will need every bit of financial help he can get from national Democrats to raise the $1.2 million he says is his budget for the race. Lewis, as an incumbent and a member of the influential Ways and Means Committee, should have little trouble raising the dollars he needs to saturate voters with his message.

Past elections are littered with candidates who carried compelling biographies but fell short due to an inability to raise the money needed to communicate their message. Weaver has nine weeks to avoid joining that ignominious group.

-- Chris Cillizza

By Editors  |  September 20, 2006; 4:42 PM ET
Categories:  House , Ohio River Ramble  
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Next: Battleground Road Trip: First Day Milestones


COndi may run VP or Prez. But she won't win. That's coming from me, a moderate repbulican.

THis is not intended to be racist because I am not. But the Southern Conservative Rebubs and those in Ohio will sit out it out. Too many would not vote for a woman, additionally an African American woman no matter what.

She might get nominated. But the Democrats would really have to fumble their candidate choice which, given their track record, could be a less than remote possibility.

As far as Weaver goes. He will get "swift Boated".

Posted by: Bob | September 21, 2006 1:27 PM | Report abuse

In answer to a question by Judge C. Crater:
Hey, maybe Condi can take his place; does the secretary of state have a place in the order of succession? It's more likely than Condi being nominated by the GOP.

The World Almanac states that if the President or Vice President are unable to fulfill their duties, (death or health problem) the next in line is the Speaker of the House. Then it goes to the Senate Pro Tempore (the oldest member from the majority party in the Senate (currently Ted Stevens of Alaska)

After that comes Condi, the Secretary of State. On that matter, Fred Barnes wrote in the Wall Street Journal earlier this year that if VP Cheney had health problems that would take him out of office, that Condi is the NUMBER ONE choice to become the new VP. That made international news and had the DC pundits talking for weeks.

So yes, Judge Crater, Condi is well-respected and is part of the Bush legacy. She may win the establishment vote for her loyalty to our president and helping him achieve his goals. She will inherit a place on the 2008 ticket, so the question is whether she is presidential or VP?

Posted by: Tina | September 21, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Anonymous - And we know this because?
Is there a Jewish Mother's Handbook which all Jewish mother's are required to follow? Do Rabbis police these things?
Are you the official keeper of these things?

Are you aware that apparently Mrs. Allen has some strange (at least to Americans) ways about her, which people have simply passed off as "European."

I'm not a defender of George Allen by any means, but I've seen a lot of illogical crap posted on this issue the past couple of days.

Who are any of us to say how any family is supposed to act; ouside of illegeal and immoral behavior?

After all of the shots taken at Allen because of this, I wonder:

If two months ago before anybody knew, or cared, Allen had come out and said, "I'm Jewish!" would that have been accepted?

Some how I see the same posters villifying him, as "How dare he say that! He's Presbyterian and knows nothing about being Jewish!"

If you feel compleled to go after him, do so on issues such as Iraq, the Geneva Convention, his association with the right wing groups, his votes on Social Security, raising the Debt Ceiling, Immigration, Border Security, insensitivity to others, etc.

You guys are beginning to make me have some sympathy for somebody who normally wouldn't deserve any.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | September 21, 2006 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Someone's comment on whether Allen knew his mother was Jewish...

As far as he knows? If you have a Jewish mother, you know it. A Jewish mother doesn't let you wear a Confederate flag lapel pin in your high school yearbook picture, or pimp your pickup truck with rebel flag bumper stickers. She might mention her religious heritage when you have your picture taken with white supremacist members of the Council of Concerned Citizens. And I don't think a Jewish mother visiting her son's law office would remain silent about the noose he kept hanging there, or that she'd fail to ask her daughter in law if hanging a Confederate flag in her son George's home was really the best interior decorating idea she could come up with.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2006 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I am sure you are speaking with Tim Longmeyer, Democratic Party Chair in Jefferson County Kentucky. His territory includes the entirety of KY-3, some of KY-2 and his media market hits the majority of districts that you are covering. If you havn't made contact, I strongly suggest that you do. He was among the first to note the potential importance of the area in 2005.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2006 11:35 PM | Report abuse

I have to agree that Dean was onto something with his 50-state strategy. At the time, I thought he was crazy but as the months have gone by quite a few 'hopeless' races are not any longer. Bush has been an enormous help in this BTW, Tina. Perhaps you should advocate that he be sacked instead of Dean? Hey, maybe Condi can take his place; does the secretary of state have a place in the order of succession? It's more likely than Condi being nominated by the GOP.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | September 20, 2006 10:59 PM | Report abuse

Off topic, but applicable to any OH discussion.

Rasmussen (9/20)

OH Governor:

Strickland (D): 54%
Blackwell (R): 35%

Yup, bhoomes - the supposed OH state investigator who was sure Blackwell was gonna win and be his "boss" - had better get used to the words "Governor Strickland".

19 point spread from a polling company that skews a tad toward the Republicans.

This race is toast.

Posted by: Gaithersburg, MD | September 20, 2006 10:50 PM | Report abuse

An anti-gay anti-abortion Democrat is the only kind that can win in KY-02.

Posted by: Sean | September 20, 2006 10:02 PM | Report abuse

I hope Weaver wins, but if he is conservative on abortion and gays, I'm not going to send him any of my money. Those anti-gay, anti-abortion morality buttons are cheap buttons because for the most part, if you aren't gay and aren't faced with an unwanted pregnancy, they don't affect you. It's easy to say other people ought to. How many admonitions are there in the Bible against greed? Let's not go there, we all might have to make some changes. Sorry, I send my money to mind your own business candidates who won't rubber stamp Bush's wars.

Posted by: Sara B. | September 20, 2006 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Well, thanks for that info. This guy is a nasty piece of business...

Posted by: drindl | September 20, 2006 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Why so much about Kentucky's 2nd and not a post about Kentucky's 4th. It has a much larger chance of changing hands.

Lucas could use this in an ad? Soldier protection/ veterans benifit type issues are very powerful

From the

Davis opposes cap on military payday loans
By John Cheves

WASHINGTON - Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky., is fighting a proposal to cap high interest rates for short-term payday loans to military service members at 36 percent, drawing protests from consumer watchdogs and military groups.

The Pentagon has accused payday lenders of surrounding its military posts and exploiting troops, leading to bankruptcies, divorces and ruined careers.

"It would be interesting to know why Congressman Davis is working against the protection of servicemen that no less than the Department of Defense wants from Congress," said Jean Ann Fox, consumer-protection director for the Consumer Federation of America.

An aide to Davis yesterday said the congressman has consulted CNG Financial of Mason, Ohio, one of his top campaign donors and owner of national payday lender Check 'n Go.

CNG executives have given Davis $11,450 for his race this year against Democrat Ken Lucas, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

But Davis -- a freshman congressman representing Northern Kentucky and himself an Army veteran -- wants to strengthen protections for service members, not weaken them, said chief of staff Justin Brasell.

Davis objects to the amendment written by Sens. Jim Talent, R-Mo., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and passed by the Senate in June because it would impose a 36-percent cap only on payday lenders. It would not cover insurance companies, investment brokers and others that target service members with ruinous hidden fees, Brasell said.

CNG Financial did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. But the payday lending industry, represented in Washington by the Community Financial Services Association, said it supports Davis in his fight to defeat the Talent-Nelson amendment.

"We oppose the 36-percent rate cap because it would essentially end our business with the military," said CFSA spokesman Steve Schlein. "Congressman Davis' approach is much more thoughtful."

In place of the proposed amendment, Davis prefers to insert some or all of a House bill he has written, which would not set a specific cap for interest rates. Instead, it would establish broad guidelines intended to curb abusive financial practices toward service members, Brasell said.

"That's our main concern, that the coverage is comprehensive and it's not just targeted at part of the businesses who lend to the military," Brasell said.

Payday loans tend to be small -- about $350 on average -- and are due on the next payday, often in two weeks. They cost from 390 to 780 percent at an annual interest rate, according to a critical report on the industry issued last month by the Defense Department.

Payday lenders cluster around military bases, drawn to young, financially inexperienced soldiers, sailors and Marines who have guaranteed wages, according to the report. For example, the ZIP code for the south gate of Camp Pendleton, Calif., has 22 payday lenders, or 17 more than would be expected by the local population.

Davis' legislation is opposed by a coalition of military, veterans, consumer-protection and legal groups, who have argued in letters to Congress that it sounds tough while setting no real limits on the staggering interest rates charged by payday lenders.

About 225,000 service members use payday loans, roughly 17 percent of its personnel. On Thursday, Defense Undersecretary David Chu urged a Senate committee to cap the interest rates. Chu, whose primary concern is the readiness of troops to deploy for combat, said he thought even the proposed 36-percent cap is "a high number."

Davis can influence the fate of the amendment because he sits on the conference committee of House and Senate members who are settling differences in their chambers' versions of the 2007 defense authorization bill, to which the amendment is attached.

Nelson, the Florida senator, intends to keep his amendment with its 36-percent cap in the bill, said Michael Sozan, his legislative counsel.

The conference committee negotiates behind closed doors, frustrating activists who say they are baffled and worried by what Davis is doing. The committee hopes to conclude its work next week, aides said.

"We've requested to see the language of what Davis is offering, but there's apparently nothing in writing, which is hardly comforting," said Kim Warden, vice president of federal affairs at the Center for Responsible Lending.

"The Talent-Nelson amendment is clear, it sets a specific limit, it's been in public since June and it's been endorsed by all the major military and consumer groups," Warden said. "For Davis to come in at the 11th hour and try to add more complicated language is nothing more than muddying the waters."
Reach John Cheves at (202) 383-6036 or at
September 20th, 2006 at 7:24 pm

Posted by: rtaycher1987 | September 20, 2006 8:30 PM | Report abuse

When you are in Wheeling, stop by the Alpha (Ye Olde Alpha) for the man-on-the-street interview. Unless things have changed since I lived there (they haven't), this is where "the people" go. And listen to the local shows on locally owned radio 1370 am.

Posted by: Ohio River Rat in Loudoun VA | September 20, 2006 7:16 PM | Report abuse

I have to disagree with you hear Tina. Dean has spent this money on the big picture instead of the small picture. While I think that Dean has moved to fast in his idea, I agree with the overall idea of it.

Had I implemented this plan, I would have first moved to implement the startegy where we were already strong (Massachusetts, Vermont et al) and where we had a fighting chance this year (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky et al) and then, after these elections, begin spending money on the rest of the 50 states so we have 2 years to get things going. Dean's strategy will be a huge boon for the Democrats but it didn't have enough time to really make a huge impact on these elections.

Posted by: Rob Millette | September 20, 2006 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Well if Tina says it's partisan, it must be fair and balanced. :-}

Good work, Chris.

Who do you work for again, Tina? Just asking? Sure wish I knew your IP address...

Posted by: Dridl | September 20, 2006 7:02 PM | Report abuse

At least he's not as dead in the water as Alaskan Mike McGavick is in his race for the Washington State US Senate seat - they guy is doing so badly that he lost 3:2 against US Senator Maria Cantwell in last night's primary.

Small blessings perhaps, but it looks like his serial lying and drug/drinking problem brought him down - that plus his accepting money the FBI said was stolen by Alaskan oil firms and his ties to the Bush agenda that noone likes.

Posted by: Will in Seattle | September 20, 2006 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, this is the most partisan post I ever read from Cillizza, and it is disappointing. But look at the $8 million from a Democrat in Massacheutts who failed to win in a 3-way primary. So money is not the answer. If the people of this Kentucky district believe Lewis has represented them well, they will send him back to Congress. Now Kentucky is a strong Republican state on the federal level, and they did not vote for a president from the Democrats side in 2000 or 2004. If Lewis is supported, he will win.
On the matter of Democrats lacking funds for Congress races, Rahm Emanuel seems to have been correct to telling Howard Dean that he was wrong to waste millions in donated funds to state offices with zero chance of winning in 2006. In addition to reviewing Nancy Pelosi as fit for her leadership post, if the Dems fail to win the House, it might be time to sack Dean too.

Posted by: Tina | September 20, 2006 6:41 PM | Report abuse

One of the centerpieces of Lewis' 1994 campaign was term limits in Washington. He was one of five Republicans who signed a pledge committing themselves to only three terms, if elected. [3] In 2000, Lewis broke that pledge by running for a fourth term. Lewis says that it was a mistake to have made the pledge.
Lewis has a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax laws and deals with Social Security, and the Government Reform Committee.
In 2004, Lewis joined numerous Republican colleagues in sponsoring legislation that would allow lawmakers to override certain Supreme Court decisions by a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate. Lewis likened his proposal to the existing right of Congress to override a presidential veto with a two-thirds majority.

--Well, for one thing he's a liar, for another he wants to destroy the Constiutional separation of powers. Of course, most republicans these days do, so I doubt if that counts as a negative for his party.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2006 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Here is the real question: What are Lewis's negatives?

If there is reason for voters to be dissatisfied then Weaver does not need to match Lewis dollar for dollar. Weaver only needs to raise enough money to cross the threshold of visibility.

If there is nothing wrong with Lewis then no amount of money will unseat him.

Posted by: Yockel | September 20, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

While I am a partisan democrat myself, I appreciate and strongly encourage your general effort to be non-partisan. Unfortunately, I have to say that this post reguarding Mike Weaver has the ring of a fund-raising plea. I might send him some money.

Posted by: Adam Hammond | September 20, 2006 5:31 PM | Report abuse

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