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Your periodical Congressional watch post

Just a few campaign-related stories from recent days: Via BOR comes this Roll Call article in which the NRCC expresses some fear about Rep. Pete Sessions’ chances against Martin Frost.

Tom DeLay and the National Republican Congressional Committee yesterday acknowledged that Pete Sessions’ campaign is in trouble and that he is one of the most vulnerable Republican Members in the entire House. Sessions has been enrolled in a special GOP program to prop-up endangered candidates by allowing them to introduce legislative proposals conceived and drafted by the GOP leadership as their own. It is not unusual for party leaders to provide legislative help to freshmen Members or non-incumbent candidates, but it is extraordinary that the Republican Leadership must go to such lengths to build a resume for a Member like Sessions who has served in the House since 1997.

According to Robert Novak (quoted on Frost’s site), some national Republicans think Sessions erred in signing a “no outside advertisers” pledge with Frost. Interesting…

Greg expresses concern about the possibility of Howard Dean campaigning in Sugar Land for Richard Morrison.

Dean wants to target the 22nd District of Texas, where little-known attorney Richard Morrison is challenging DeLay, one of the most powerful Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The cash-strapped Morrison is excited about the prospect of Dean’s help but is less enthusiastic about Dean’s actually showing up in the majority-Republican district, on the outskirts of Houston.

“I don’t know that Dean coming to the district is as important for us as calling on his network of supporters nationwide” for help, said Nathan Wilcox, a spokesman for Morrison’s campaign. “His fundraising power is ultimately where he’s really helpful.”

“There’s a strong Dean community in the district, but it is a pretty small but active minority,” Wilcox added. “But we also have to reach across to Republicans, particularly Republican women, and I don’t know how helpful Dean can be with that.”

Wilcox cited a poll from October by Harstad Strategic Research, a Colorado-based polling firm, that showed 48 percent of those surveyed in DeLay’s district rated his performance as fair to poor, while 44 percent rated it excellent to good.

Morrison’s campaign page now contains this note:

“Today’s story in The Hill attempts to create a controversy by implying that I do not welcome the support of Howard Dean and other strong Democrats. This is not the case.

I was proud to introduce Howard Dean to over 2,000 Houstonians in October, and will be proud to welcome him back any time.

In the future, I believe people will look back on Governor Dean and thank him for reviving the Democratic Party.”

Morrison appeared last week on Air America’s Majority Report show (you listen to an MP3 of his appearance here). This feels like a change in strategy to me, as Morrison will still certainly need some crossover Republican and lots of independent support to win. I’ve no doubt it’ll help in fundraising, but we’ll see how it translates into votes.

Max Sandlin continues to lead in fundraising in CD01.

As of March 31, [former district judge Louie] Gohmert’s campaign had raised $450,370, according to the Web site, which uses information from the Federal Election Commission. Of that, $441,770 was from contributions from individuals. Most of that — $409,516 — came from individuals in Texas. The rest came from contributors in Virginia, Massachusetts and the Virgin Islands.

Gohmert received $5,000 from a health care PAC, $3,500 from manufacturing PACs and $1,000 from a law PAC, according to the site. Through the end of March, Gohmert’s campaign had spent $330,929, leaving him with cash on hand of $119,438.

Now in his fourth term, Sandlin was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996. In addition to serving on the House Ways and Means Committee and as the Chief Deputy Whip, Sandlin sits on the Democrats’ task forces for children and health. He is also a member of the “Blue Dog” Coalition, a group of 33 moderate Democrats.

As of March 31, Sandlin’s campaign had raised $745,208 in contributions. That amount included $235,987 in individual donations and $509,044 from political action committees. Topping the list of PACs that contributed to Sandlin were organized labor, $181,250; finance and insurance, $51,159; energy and natural resources, $47,738; single-issue groups, $38,000; and transportation, $31,000.

Sandlin’s war chest also includes $31,000 from other politicians’ PACs and $46,250 in donations from other candidates or incumbents.

Through March 31, the Sandlin campaign had spent $374,604. Taking into account a debt of $2,500, that leaves an available cash total of $374,852.

Twelve percent, or $28,550, of Sandlin’s individual contributions came from people living in states other than Texas, including California, Virginia, Maryland, Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.

We’ll be gearing up for our second Texas Tuesday tomorrow, so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, today is another Hard Sell Monday at The Stakeholder, so check them out as well.

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