Senate GOP Notes: Tenn., Mich., Majority Project
Need a break from Samuel Alito? The Fix aims to please with a few interesting tidbits about Republicans' efforts to keep their majority in the 2006 elections.
In the race for the Senate seat being given up by Majority Leader Bill Frist, former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker has parted ways with Scott Howell -- a much sought-after Republican media consultant -- in favor of Paul Curcio, a partner with Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm. A source familiar with the move says that Howell never had an official contract with Corker. Corker's campaign did not return a call seeking comment.
Corker is embroiled in a three-way Republican primary against former Reps. Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant. He holds a huge fundraising edge over his two opponents but trails in polls since he is not as well known as Hilleary and Bryant, both of whom ran unsuccessfully for statewide office in 2002.
Even after losing Corker as a client, Howell still has an impressive roster of candidates. He is currently handling the television strategy for Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore in that state's 2005 gubernatorial race and has 2006 gubernatorial candidates in Florida and Arkansas. Howell will also handle the media for Sens. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) as well as for Senate candidates in Minnesota and Michigan.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard (R) formally entered the race against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) on Monday, reconsidering a decision not to run he made earlier in the year. Bouchard's reentry into the contest seemed to be spurred on by national Republicans unconvinced that the Rev. Keith Butler (R) could oust Stabenow.
Butler said that "lobbyists and powerbrokers in Washington" recruited Bouchard into the race; "these individuals are uncomfortable with my candidacy," he added. National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Nick sought to stay above the fray when asked about his committee's role in the Senate race. "We have some great candidates in the race," Nick said. "What happens in the primary will be deciding in the state of Michigan and not Washington, DC."
It remains to be seen whether the political parlor game in Michigan will undercut Republicans' outreach to African Americans. Butler is one of two black GOPers running for the Senate. The other is Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who has long been a darling of the national party.
The Senate Majority Project, a soft-money group formed by several former party operatives, went live with its blog on Monday. The blog is the leading edge of the group's effort to hold Republican senators not up for reelection in the current cycle accountable for their statements and actions. (I wrote about the group's formation earlier this year for Roll Call newspaper.) The first victim: Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.
-- Chris Cillizza
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