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The place to be: Tennessee

The place to be: Tennessee

By John Mercurio, Robert Yoon and Tory Flowers
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Welcome to the Week Ahead, the CNN Political Unit's weekly look at the key developments you can expect on the political horizon. With sources across the country, we'll bring you the latest scoop on all the big political stories: the battle for Congress, the race for the White House in 2004 and much more.

Jim Jeffords, I-Vermont, spends the weekend in the Midwest cheering two Senate Democrats, while other Democrats gather in the Hamptons for their own money grab. The dog days of August loom large, but U.S. Senate candidate Norm Coleman of Minnesota goes "outstate" to talk about -- what else? -- snowmobiles. In Florida, Janet Reno slips off her dancing shoes and paddles the Ichetucknee River, and U.S. Senate candidate Ron Kirk of Texas can't even get a haircut without the warm breath of reporters breathing down his neck.

Who said politics isn't fun(ny)?

Nonetheless, to us, the most exciting place to be in the week ahead is definitely Tennessee, where Ed Bryant is hoping to overcome the double-digit lead Lamar Alexander has compiled in Thursday's GOP Senate primary. (That's right, Thursday. It's in the state constitution.) Waiting in the wings is Democratic Rep. Bob Clement, who will start a 10-day bus tour Friday morning to campaign against his newly minted rival. Watching this race closely, of course, is Al Gore, who's eyeing another White House bid and views his native Tennessee as a vital part of any winning plan. If Clement loses badly, watch for Gore to pull back from the 2004 fold.

Then again, maybe the biggest spectacle will take place in New York City, where Democrats who are hoping to pick up 40 House seats by railing against corporate America, will arrive Sunday to tout their corporate pedigrees. The timing of the Democratic Leadership Council's event is funny, to say the least. Can the DLC make the case for pro-growth policies without appearing to defend the corporate evil-doers? (Shameless Plug Alert: Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff will anchor from the DLC event on Monday).

Back on Capitol Hill, the Senate will take up the homeland security bill, which will keep Senate Government Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, occupied.

For their part, most House Members have already fled Washington for the August recess, leaving them with plenty of time to sit back, relax and indulge themselves with America's favorite summer pastime -- politics.

Saturday | Sunday | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Weekend

July 27

  • Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords, the man who's party-switching last year handed Senate control over to the Democrats, heads to South Dakota to stump for Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, and also to say what a great job Democrat Tom Daschle is doing as majority leader. Jeffords and Johnson will talk education at a Sioux Falls town hall, and will raise money at a reception and low-dollar barbecue at a farm just outside the city. Meanwhile a recent radio ad by Johnson's GOP opponent, congressman John Thune, boasts "what a strong position" the state would be in with both Thune and Daschle in the Senate. Does that mean a Senator Thune would consider voting for Daschle as majority leader over GOP leader Trent Lott? Thune, according to a local paper: "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it." Thune's spokeswoman Christine Iverson said she's more interested in "whether Tom Daschle will vote for John Thune." Since he bolted from the GOP last June, Jeffords has stumped for Sens. Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, Carl Levin of Michigan, and Jean Carnahan of Missouri, as well as Ron Kirk of Texas. (Latest independent poll: Thune 46 percent, Johnson 42 percent, KELO-TV).
  • There's a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) dinner in the Hamptons tonight at a private home in the town of Wainscott. For a mere $25,000 a couple, you too can hang out with Sen. Tom Daschle and other Democratic senators. It's not a weekend as previously reported and the Clintons are not attending. Democrats hope to raise a million bucks. Daschle will be out and about this August recess for the DSCC and candidates including Minnesota's Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone, Texas Democratic senate candidate Ron Kirk, South Carolina Democratic senate candidate Alex Sanders and Oregon Democratic senate candidate Bill Bradbury.
  • Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, D, addresses Equality Florida's leadership conference. Dean is popular with the gay rights group for signing Vermont's first-in-the-nation civil unions legislation into law.
  • Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, fundraises in San Francisco and addresses the National Bar Association, an organization of African American attorneys.
  • His campaign manager calls him "Smitty." Maybe it's because when Republican Sen. Bob Smith comes home to New Hampshire, he spends his whole weekend on the trail with his campaign staff. The senator has another packed weekend with coffees and fairs across the state. Favorite events for the weekend - the chicken, barbeque and craft festival in Troy and the Lake Winnipesaukee annual antique and boat show. Look for "Smitty" in Concord on Monday. He's bringing a group of local, elected officials to the capital to show off "just how great he is."
  • Sen. Paul Wellstone will attend three parades this weekend. Saturday includes the Slice of Shoreview Parade and the Rosemount Leprechaun Days Parade. Sunday is the Stillwater Lumberjack Days Grande Day Parade. And yes, the green bus will be with Wellstone all weekend long.
  • Jim Sasser, former Democratic Senator from Tennessee and U.S. ambassador to China, is campaigning all day with Rep. Bob Clement, D-Tennessee, who faces no major rival in Thursday's Senate primary. On the GOP side of the Tennessee Senate race, Rep. Ed Bryant will be traveling across east Tennessee. Bryant's primary rival, ex-Gov. Lamar Alexander, will start to campaign in earnest on Monday. (Latest primary poll: Alexander 51 percent, Bryant 34 percent, Mason-Dixon).
  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-New York, will join Rep. Alan Mollohan to help West Virginia House candidate Jim Humphreys launch his district-wide women's initiative. Polls show Humphreys has some trouble with women, who are vital to any Democratic victory. Humphreys, who beat former state judge Margaret Workman in the May 14 primary, faces a rematch against Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, this fall.
  • Where's Katherine? The National Association of Secretaries of State will continue its annual meeting in Providence, Rhode Island. until Tuesday. It was unclear Friday whether Katherine Harris, the world's most famous secretary of state, will attend.
  • National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Davis, R-Virginia, holds his annual Pig-Out BBQ at a private home in Vienna, Virginia.
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    July 28

  • DLC in NYC. The Democratic Leadership Council kicks off its "National Conversation" in NYC today. Biggest days are Monday and Tuesday with all the Democratic 2004 hopefuls, except Al Gore and Howard Dean, speaking. On Monday, we'll see Sen. Tom Daschle, Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. John Kerry. On Tuesday, look for Sen. John Edwards and Rep. Dick Gephardt. We expect the speeches to be on the economy, corporate responsibility and all that business stuff. The timing of this event is interesting to say the least, given that the DLC is the pro-business wing of the party, at a time when the national party is running hard against corporate America. Can the DLC make the case for pro-growth policies without appearing to defend the corporate evil-doers? Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff will anchor from the event on Monday, July 29.
  • Sen. Jim Jeffords will leave South Dakota for Illinois, holding a press conference with Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, in Chicago. At 4 p.m., Jeffords will hold a reception with Durbin and local environmental activists. At 6 p.m., the two Senators will hold a fundraising dinner for Durbin, also in Chicago.
  • Westward Ho!(ward), Part I: 2004 presidential hopeful Howard Dean, D-Vermont, begins a swing through southern California with a fundraising trip to San Diego.
  • From South Beach to Ichetucknee. Florida gubernatorial hopeful Janet Reno paddles the Ichetucknee River with local environmentalists.
  • U.S. Senate hopeful Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, campaigns in Sedgewick, Maine, with her daughter Hannah, who is running for the state legislature. Later that day the two hold a joint fundraiser.
  • Mike Fisher, R-Pennsylvania, running for guv in Pennsylvania courts the NASCAR vote today -- he's the grand marshall at the Pennsylvania 500 Race at Pocono International Raceway in Long Pond. He'll also throw out the first pitch at Pennsylvania State Little League Championship Tournament in Old Forge. This upcoming week, he'll do a low-dollar fundraising swing through southern Pennsylvania. Look for the president in Pittsburgh on August 5 and Rudy Giuliani sometime this fall.
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    July 29

  • DNC in NYC. The Democratic National Committee's 2004 convention site selection committee visits New York City. The DNC is also considering holding its convention in Detroit, Boston and Miami. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee also plans to begin visiting sites for its convention in early August. The RNC will visit Tampa/St. Petersburg, New Orleans and New York City. The RNC is also considering Boston and Miami.
  • President Bush is traveling to Charleston, South Carolina, to headline a luncheon for ex-Rep. Mark Sanford, the GOP nominee for governor. Bush's official event is designed to focus on welfare reform. Sanford is running against Gov. Jim Hodges, D-South Carolina. Rep. Lindsey Graham, the GOP Senate nominee, plans to attend the Bush event.
  • Halibacon. Vice President Dick Cheney headlines a lunch fundraiser for Rick Claybaugh in North Dakota. Afterwards, Cheney flies to Iowa where he will fundraise for Rep. Jim Leach. However, when Cheney gets to Iowa, he will be confronted by "Halibacon - the Corporate Crime Fighting Pig." The Iowa Democratic Party is putting up the pig. AFSCME will have their own protest going on -- they are planning a picnic in front of Leach's office.
  • House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Missouri, will also be in South Carolina on Monday to campaign with Democratic Reps. John Spratt and Jim Clyburn. Gephardt is doing a morning radio show called "Charlotte Talks," then he talks about prescription drugs and Social Security in Rock Hill with Spratt. Gephardt then hosts a large luncheon in Rock Hill, also with Spratt. Gephardt holds a private meeting with Gov. Jim Hodges, a Democrat. Later, an economic development forum in Marion County with Clyburn. Clyburn also hosts a community rally that evening with Gephardt.
  • Westward Ho!(ward), Part II: Howard Dean, D-Vermont, heads to Los Angeles for two-day fundraising jaunt for his presidential campaign. He'll also tour a Hispanic hospital in south central Los Angeles.
  • Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, holds a corporate accountability town hall meeting in Portland. Guests include a former head of the SEC and Bob Monks, whom "Fortune" magazine called the "dean of American shareholder activists."
  • Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-New York, will give a keynote speech at the DLC event in New York City. Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, is also speaking at the conference today.
  • North Carolina Senate candidate Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, is in Greenville talking about prescription drugs. Bowles will release a survey of pharmacies in that region of the state showing that prescription drugs are twice as expensive there as they are in Canada, Italy and Germany. Afterwards, Bowles will host a campaign luncheon in Greenville.
  • Elizabeth Dole celebrates her 66th birthday with a $200-a-head luncheon in Charlotte, headlined by Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani and Dole will hold a press availability at the Raleigh airport at 9:30 a.m. and a press conference in Charlotte at 11:15 a.m. Dole, of course, is the GOP frontrunner in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Jesse Helms, R-North Carolina. North Carolina recently set its primary date for Sept. 10. (No recent polling).
  • Lamar Alexander launches the last leg of his Senate primary campaign tour, called the Tennessee Auto Jobs Caravan. The tour is a three-day, 15-stop tour from one end of the state to their other. Since Saturn and Nissan came to Tennessee in the mid-1980s, under then-Gov. Alexander, there have been nearly 900 autoparts manufacturers have located themselves in the Volunteer State. Those suppliers provide about 140,000 jobs in 89 of the state's 95 counties. Ed Bryant will remain in east Tennessee for campaign events and will hold a press conference on homeland security.
  • Rep. Bob Clement, D-Tennessee, throws out the first ball of the Chattanooga Lookouts, a minor league baseball team.
  • Bill Richardson, the Democratic candidate for governor in New Mexico, is proposing that New Mexico set up a commission to better defend the state against future base closures. Several Air Force bases in the Land of Enchantment, including Kirkland Air in Albuquerque, Cannon and Holoman, have been targeted in the past.
  • Rep. Doug Ose, R-California, holds his first annual Golf Invitational at Twelve Bridges Golf Club.
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    July 30

  • Snowmobiling in Outstate. When you go outside of the twin cities area in Minnesota, it's called "outstate." That's where former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman is going to talk about snowmobiles. He'll be in Duluth, Grand Rapids, International Falls, way up by Canada, to talk about snowmobiling and other outdoor issues. Turns out this snowmobiling is a huge issue in healthy Minnesota. In fact, Coleman was endorsed by the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association on July 13. Didn't know there was such a group!
  • Happy Birthday, Medicare: Today marks 37 years since Medicare was signed into law. So Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, is planning to talk prescription drugs today to mark the occassion. Shaheen has been calling for a prescription drug benefit for some time now. She's even been to Washington to testify on the issue. Look for it to be on of her main issues this upcoming fall.
  • Texas Senate candidate Ron Kirk gets his haircut every Tuesday at a downtown Dallas barbershop. Several local reporters have picked up on this small point of trivia and have synchronized their haircut schedule with the Lone Star Democrat.
  • Highlighting what he calls his No. 1 campaign priority (national defense), Texas GOP Senate nominee John Cornyn will hold an event in Abilene, where he will tour a defense contracting facility. The nine-city tour is called "Texas Defends America."
  • Bill Richardson is shooting new TV ads in New Mexico.
  • South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges, a Democrat, announces his "Next Steps" education program.
  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry will launch a four-city bus tour, making stops in Kaufman, Athens, Corsicana and Hillsboro.
  • Traficant Sentencing. Rep. James Traficant expected to be sentenced on bribery, tax evasion and racketeering convictions.
  • Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, holds his "Freedom Projects Summer Golfing Outing" in Dublin, Ohio.
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    July 31

  • "It's a Clinton-Gore Alumni Thing." Tonight, staffers from the Clinton-Gore era will gather at George Washington University for a reunion of sorts. It's for the "worker bees" as one invitee put it but Al Gore will make a guest appearance. He will make formal remarks. The Clintons are also on the invite list. It's actually called the Clinton Gore Association. From an invite, "The meeting is an opportunity to hear a report on the state of the organization, consider policy issues of importance to our membership and discuss what needs to be done to get the word out to our membership."
  • Rep. John Thune, R-South Dakota, kicks off his statewide, 50 city, 4000 mile bus tour to plug his Senate bid. Thune will stop at "cafes, elevators, and main street businesses" by day, and go door to door in the evenings.
  • John Cornyn will be in Washington to accept the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Cornyn, who was endorsed last week by the National Rifle Association, has also been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business, the Texas Association of Business and the Business Industry PAC.
  • It's road trip time for Senate candidate Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and a bus-full of Maine senior citizens. The group heads to New Brunswick, Canada on Pingree's "You CAN Get There from Here" tour. In Canada, the seniors will visit a doctor, get prescriptions, and then head over to a Canadian pharmacy to fill the orders. Then over lunch, they'll spread out their receipts and tally up their savings. The group returns to Maine on Thursday.
  • Oregon Senate candidate Bill Bradbury, D, holds his first "Coffee Table" discussion with local voters. Bradbury plans to hold a "Coffee Table" discussion every week, each on a different campaign issue. The first talk will be on prescription drugs in Beaverton, a Portland suburb.
  • California's latest campaign finance reports due. (Latest poll: Gov. Gray Davis 41 percent; Republican Bill Simon 34 percent. The Field Poll).
  • Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Florida, the youngest member of the House, turns a whopping 28 years old!
  • Rep. Ed Bryant, R-Tennessee, will mount a get-out-the-vote effort in west Tennessee for his U.S. Senate bid.
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    August 1

  • Tennessee primaries. Lamar Alexander, R, is at the new Knoxville Convention Center for Election Night; Rep. Ed Bryant, R, is at the Nashville Marriott hotel. Rep. Bob Clement, D, will be at his Nashville campaign headquarters.
  • Richard Gephardt, D-Missouri, travels to Los Angeles to hold an airport-security event at LAX with Mayor James Hahn, a Democrat. Gephardt will also hold fundraisers in LA for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Gephardt also will travel in early August to raise money for House Democrats in Las Vegas, where the Democratic National Committee is holding its annual summer meeting; San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego and Denver.
  • Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vermont, takes a break from touring the nation to tend to his gubernatorial duties. He attends a ribbon cutting ceremony and press conference with local reporters. Later that day, he fundraises for a local candidate running for the state legislature.
  • Texas Senate candidates Ron Kirk and John Cornyn are both scheduled to speak at the Houston Partnership, a group of several hundred business leaders. Kirk plans to highlight the event to showcase Cornyn's ties to corporate leaders. (Latest poll: Kirk 36 percent, Cornyn 28 percent, University of Houston).
  • Florida Gov. Jeb Bush visits a senior center in Sarasota.
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    August 2

  • Dean Loves N.Y. and N.J.: Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vermont, addresses the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in New York City. Later he heads to the Garden State to campaign and fundraise for New Jersey congressman Frank Pallone, D.
  • Assuming he wins the Senate primary Thursday, Rep. Bob Clement, D-Tennessee, who is running unopposed, starts a 10-day bus tour.
  • Women for Dole. A local, bipartisan group of women supporters of Elizabeth Dole hold a $35-a-head luncheon in Ashville, 11:30 a.m.
  • Democratic Senate hopeful Tom Strickland, D-Colorado, attends a "Sportsmen for Strickland" fundraiser in Breckinridge. Also on Friday, Strickland heads to the slopes of Vail, not to ski, but to nab the endorsement of Vail firefighters and to tour the local firehouse. (Latest Poll: Allard 46, Strickland 37. Denver Post/KUSA-TV/KOA Radio).
  • Rep. Bob Ehrlich, R-Maryland, takes to the field to raise money for his gubernatorial bid against Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. He will hold a $50-per-ticket fundraiser and cookout at a Bowie Baysox game. The Baysox are a Double-A feeder team for the Baltimore Orioles. In keeping with the baseball theme, Ehrlich spokesman Paul Schurick said that despite recent poll numbers that show Ehrlich narrowing Townsend's lead, "we're still only in the third inning." Latest poll: Townsend 47, Ehrlich 44, Potomac Survey Research.
  • Rock Lobster: Last week, it was potatoes. This week, it's lobsters. U.S. Senate hopeful Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, will tie on her proverbial campaign bib and press the flesh (and claws) at the 55th Annual Maine Lobster Festival ( GOP Sen. Susan Collins will woo Maine's powerful lobster vote on Saturday. One of the highlights of the festival's closing weekend will be the coronation of the Maine Sea Goddess -- and you thought they did that on Election Day.
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    August 3

  • Bush Stumps for Collins: President Bush attends his first fundraiser for Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Three hundred people are expected to attend the $250-per-person event at the Black Point Inn in Scarborough, Maine. Last month, Collins raised about $50,000 at an event with Rudy Giuliani. Collins' Democratic challenger Chellie Pingree will have fundraisers with Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Joe Lieberman later this month and in early September.
  • Gov. Howard Dean, D-Vermont, campaigns for a local candidate on a beach in Long Island. Later that day, he raises money for his presidential committee.
  • South Dakota Candidate-palooza: Candidates for all three of South Dakota's major statewide races -- Senate, House, and Governor -- make their cases at the South Dakota State Fair. In the Senate race, Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson and GOP Rep. John Thune will each address the crowd, although they will not debate. Some call the state fair the unofficial kickoff of the campaign season, but anyone who watches TV in South Dakota can tell you that the campaign started long, long ago.
  • Attorney General Mike Fisher, R, who's running for governor in Pennsylvania, will visit the Philadelphia Eagles training camp at Lehigh University. Gov. George Pataki, R-New York just visited the Buffalo Bills camp.
  • Florida Gov. Jeb Bush attends the Possum Festival in Wassau, Florida.
  • August 4

  • Sen. Max Baucus, D-Montana, kicks off the August recess reaching out to voters in Livingston, Montana, with the first of 11, count 'em, 11 "Baucus Burger Bonanza" events this month. The "meat"-and-greet will feature a live band, face painting, bubbles, a clown, balloon animals, and of course, burgers. Free political advice to Sen. Baucus: don't ask for a veggie burger. Free political advice to GOP Senate candidate Mike Taylor: Slip Baucus a veggie burger.
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