Who will go see John Murth on his Cut And Run Tour? This should be fun to watch! http://www.hillnews.com/thehill/export/TheHill/News/Frontpage/072606/news2.html To raise profile, Murtha will stump for 41 Dems By Alexander Bolton Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who has suspended his race to become majority leader in the event that the Democrats capture the House, plans to campaign in 41 races around the country where he said party leaders believe he can be helpful. This is a dramatic increase in activity for Murtha, who did not campaign for House candidates in 2004, according to his spokeswoman. Helping Democratic candidates could pay dividends in a race for majority leader against Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Murtha says he thinks such a race is likely and told The Hill that if the election were held now Democrats would be catapulted into the majority. If it was today, wed win 50 seats, he said, adding that Democratic strategists have assessed the field of competitive races in which they think he can help. In 41 seats they think I can help, he said. Theyve got it narrowed. Murtha said he plans to campaign in all of them. He also said, Im going to where Nancy sends me, referring to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). A Democratic aide with knowledge of House campaigns said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has asked the entire Democratic caucus to travel to campaign events for all House Democratic candidates. Over the next several months, House Democrats will continue to refine and revise their strategy of sending members into certain districts, the aide added. Hoyer, Murthas potential rival, is planning to travel to 36 districts to campaign for vulnerable Democratic incumbents as well as challengers, according to a Hoyer aide. Mr. Hoyer has already campaigned and recruited in 51 districts this cycle, plans to travel to almost 40 more before Election Day and has spent five months on the road for House Democrats as whip, Hoyer spokeswoman Stacey Bernards said. He continues to work tirelessly to take back the House and make Nancy Pelosi the first woman Speaker. A spokeswoman for Murtha said her boss is expected to campaign for a mix of Democratic lawmakers and challengers. Murtha may be calculating that he needs to do more to help candidates if he is to counter Hoyers prolific fundraising for Democrats over years. Hoyer has given $770,000 to Democratic candidates this election cycle, more than any other lawmaker, his aides say. He has also raised $2 million for candidates this cycle, they add. If Democrats win the House in November, freshmen could determine who becomes majority leader. One Democratic candidate who said Murtha offered to come into his district said the senior Pennsylvanian is doing spadework for his run to majority leader. Why else would he be wanting to come into districts like mine? the candidate said, noting that President Bush carried it by more than 10 points in 2000 and 2004. While Murthas new campaign activity for other Democrats suits his self-interest, it is also the case that many Democrats are clamoring for his presence. Murtha said he has received 100 requests for help. His popularity, particularly among liberal Democrats, has surged since he called last year for U.S. troops to leave Iraq. He is a retired Marine Corps colonel and the senior Democrat on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Democratic leaders recognize that Murtha has become an important fundraising draw and that he can help shield them from Republican criticism that they are soft on defense. Last month, Murtha wrote a fundraising e-mail for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee titled Cut the Traitor Talk. But some Democrats, particularly centrist lawmakers who support Hoyer, question whether Murtha can be helpful in many races that their party needs to win if they are to capture control of the House. Im sure Mr. Murtha is going to be traveling extensively, but I bet you he wont be going to Blue Dog districts, one lawmaker said, referring to members of the caucus of centrist Democrats from the South. I cant imagine that he will be very welcome in many Blue Dog districts. The lawmaker said that while Murtha has a centrist record on many issues, voters would be most aware of his strong position against the war, which could alienate swing voters in states Bush won. The lawmaker noted that Democrats need to capture districts in those so-called red states. A centrist Democratic candidate who requested anonymity to protect his relationships with Murtha allies said he turned down an offer for Murtha to come to his district. Supporters of Murtha, however, argue that the war is the main reason Bushs approval rating has slumped to around 40 percent, which has given Democrats a chance to capture otherwise Republican-leaning districts. Murtha said he will shortly visit Connecticut, California, New York and Tennessee. In Nashville he will speak at a fundraiser Aug. 12 for the Davidson County Democratic Party, said Mark Brown, spokesman for the Tennessee Democratic Party. In August, Hoyer will focus on districts in the South and Midwest, a Hoyer aide said. Indiana and North Carolina are two stops on his itinerary. Hoyer is likely to tout his record of helping Democratic candidates. He has raised or contributed to 89 House Democratic lawmakers and an additional 44 Democratic candidates in the past year and a half, according to his staff. Since 1981, Hoyer has given more than $3.4 million directly to the campaigns of lawmakers and candidates and has helped raise an additional $4 million for them, his staff said. Nearly 84 percent of the members of the House Democratic Caucus have received contributions or fundraising help from Hoyer, they said. Hoyer has raised $2.7 million for the DCCC this cycle and paid all his dues, $600,000. Murtha has raised $1.2 million and has paid $230,000 in dues of the $250,000 he owed, according to a Democratic aide familiar with fundraising records.