War Chests Are Handy
North Carolina killed my bracket. I just wanted you to know…
Colorado’s congressional delegation voted along party lines on Friday on a measure related to Iraq war funding. As M.E. Sprengelmeyer of the Rocky Mountain News reports:
Colorado’s congressional delegation split strictly along party lines in Friday’s vote approving a $124 billion emergency war spending plan that attempts to impose a timetable for U.S. troops to leave Iraq.
All four Colorado Democrats – Reps. Diana DeGette, D-Denver; Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs; John Salazar, D-Manassa; and Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden – voted in favor of the resolution. All three Colorado Republicans – Reps. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan; Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs; and Tom Tancredo, R-Littleton – opposed it.
DeGette, who is chief deputy whip for the Democratic caucus, said trying to forge party unity was the toughest assignment she has had in 10 years.
“We have a wildly diverse caucus, ranging from people who think we should pull out of Iraq tomorrow to people who don’t think we should set deadlines at all,” DeGette said.
Some anti-war activists oppose all funding related to the war, but Udall said it would have been “grossly irresponsible” not to vote to give troops what they need.
The Senate was scheduled to begin debate today on its own war funding measure that would set a nonbinding troop withdrawal date of March 31, 2008. The House measure set August 31, 2008 as its deadline.
Former Rep. Scott McInnis began his brief campaign for the U.S. Senate with nearly $1 million left over from his congressional account. So what happens to that money now that he’s no longer a candidate? As Gary Harmon of The Grand Junction Sentinel explains:
“Existing funds will be used to support fellow Republicans,” he said in an e-mail about his plans for the money, which was raised when he was a member of the House of Representatives before he decided against seeking re-election in 2004.
John Zakhem, a Denver attorney who represents the state Republican Party, said politicians with war chests but no immediate plans to run have several choices ranging from simply maintaining the account, giving the money to charity or parceling it out to state or national political party organizations according to state or federal contribution rules, respectively.
One thing McInnis can’t do, though, is give money directly to another candidate, Zakhem said. Nor could he convert the money for use in a state campaign, Zakhem said. If McInnis were to seek state office, he’d have to start a separate account, Zakhem said.
When McInnis retired from congress in 2004, he pledged to use the remaining money in his war chest to seed a new charitable foundation. For years he has also used that money to pay his wife a salary, for doing…well, for being his wife, I guess.
The editorial board of The Grand Junction Sentinel thinks that McInnis’ exit from the race spells trouble for Republican chances to keep their U.S. Senate seat in 2008:
Although Colorado Republican leaders were talking valiantly this week of their party fielding a viable candidate in the 2008 U.S. Senate race, the fact is that Scott McInnis’ announcement that he won’t run for the Senate was a severe blow to the GOP chances of retaining the seat being vacated by Republican Wayne Allard.
At least in our view, the centrist, Main Street Republicanism long personified by McInnis offered the best hope that the GOP could win the Senate seat against the formidable Democratic candidacy of Mark Udall.
That is not to say that McInnis was a sure bet to win the Senate seat. The anticipated race between McInnis and Udall, the representative from Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, looked to be one of the most competitive Senate races in the country. Both men are well-respected throughout the state, both have easily won re-election in their respective congressional districts and both have large campaign war chests.
Without someone of McInnis’ stature in the race – someone like, say, former Gov. Bill Owens – the Republicans may have a hard time defeating Udall if he does indeed become the Democratic nominee.
It’s difficult to imagine, for instance, that a state which has been trending from red toward blue on the political scale would elect ultra-conservative former 4th District Rep. Bob Schaeffer over the liberal Udall. Schaeffer is one of the Republicans reportedly considering a run for the Senate.
The Senate seat now held by Ken Salazar was once held by Republican Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell, who retired in 2004 in the wake of several controversies
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