New Group Is Racing To Slow Down GOP

By Chris Cillizza
Thursday, September 7, 2006

A new independent political organization made up of former Democratic members of Congress and high-level party operatives has begun running television ads targeting two Republican incumbents.

The group, Majority Action, is sponsoring commercials that hit Reps. Deborah Pryce (Ohio) and James T. Walsh (N.Y.) on corruption and the war in Iraq, respectively.

"The course set by President Bush and Congress isn't working," says a narrator in one of the ads. "But Congressman Walsh wants to give us more of the same."

The goal of Majority Action, according to co-chairman Joe Andrew, is to level the financial playing field in Republican-held seats where a potential national wave could wipe out a number of incumbents not considered top targets at the moment.

"Poll after poll [show] that the only thing standing between Democrats being able to win the House back is Republicans being better able to execute their campaigns," Andrew said.

Andrew and Don Fowler -- both former Democratic National Committee chairmen -- anchor the group's leadership circle, which includes a panoply of former lawmakers, including past Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairmen Tony Coelho (Calif.) and Martin Frost (Tex.).

While he shied away from specifics, Andrew said Majority Action had a "seven-figure" budget -- between $8 million and $10 million, an informed source said -- and was spending in the "six figures" in individual House districts.

The group is registered as a 527 (so named for its place in the tax code) with the Internal Revenue Service and had raised $210,000 as of June 30. Ads in two additional districts are expected to launch shortly.

Majority Action's founders have insisted the organization will succeed where other outside groups -- which can accept contributions of unlimited size -- targeting House and Senate races have failed because of the high-profile figures aligned with the effort and the amount of attention being paid to the fight for control of this cycle.

Presidential Run for Armey?

Other former shakers on Capitol Hill likewise seem to be in the mood, if not to resume shaking, to at least jiggle a little.

Witness former House majority leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) who retired from the House in 2002 and has spent his time since heading up Freedom Works -- a group that advocates shrinking government and lowering taxes.

Armey is now headed to Iowa for a speech on Sept. 19, stoking speculation that he may fancy himself a candidate for president in 2008. Although Armey told ABC News that he has "no interest in Dick Armey for president," he left the door open -- wide open.

Aides were quick to point out that the former leader is likely to visit the presidential proving grounds of New Hampshire and South Carolina later this year. An aide said Armey hopes to "keep the Reagan legacy alive in the presidential primary."

An Armey bid would have any number of hurdles, most importantly the weight of history. The previous former House member to be elected president was George H.W. Bush.

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