Long-time Indiana Rep. Dan Burton, a past survivor of tight elections, is in the fight for his political life again, this time facing a foe backed by former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Sen. Fred Thompson, former Attorney General Ed Meese, and several prominent conservatives.
Challenging the 15-term House GOP leader is former Indiana Rep. David McIntosh, an ex-Quayle aide, who left the House to run for governor in 2000. He kicks off his campaign in Washington tonight with a fundraiser at the home of Boyden Gray, former President George H.W. Bush's White House lawyer.
McIntosh has said that he doesn't plan to run a primary race negatively focused on Burton as much as a campaign on a platform of cutting spending and taxes.
But the many foes of Burton see in McIntosh a chance to retire Burton, a wily lawmaker who's been in the middle several historic events and controversies. For example it was Burton who was former President Bill Clinton's most threatening foe in the House. And it was the conservative Burton who co-authored the famous Helms-Burton law that targeted foreign companies that did business with Cuba.
In his last primary he only won 30 percent of the GOP vote, but it was enough against a long list of challengers. And his Fifth District was redrawn taking away some supportive areas and putting in parts of McIntosh's old district.
Many GOP insiders said they are impressed by the names backing McIntosh. One said that Quayle hasn't endorsed many candidates before.
Other names at tonight's fundraiser include former Rep. Tom Davis, publisher Alfred Regnery, Greg Mueller, president of the influential conservative media firm CRC Public Relations, and Al Hubbard, former economic advisor to George W. Bush.