Dem primaries

Dem primaries

Critz encouraged by latest poll, despite still trailing Altmire by double digits

Few campaigns celebrate a 10-point deficit in the polls two months before Election Day, but Rep. Mark Critz's staff (D-Pa.) believes a new survey shows momentum swinging their way in a tough primary showdown with fellow incumbent Rep. Jason Atmire (D-Pa.). The congressional Democrats, who have been allies in the House, were pitted against one another after redistricting collapsed their districts.

Critz's deficit is a marked improvement over a January poll that showed Altmire with a 16-point lead, high name recognition and positive favorability rating. And Critz — who won his seat in a special election after the passing of Rep. Jim Murtha (D-Pa.) — believes his numbers will continue to improve once he has a better opportunity to introduce himself to the suburban Pittsburgh voters Altmire currently represents.

"When two-thirds of the voters don't know you, when two-thirds of the voters haven't been represented by you, this is a great place to start," said Critz spokesman Mike Mikus. "The fact is, Mark is a lot stronger in the district he represented than Jason Atmire is in his."

The redrawn district incorporates more of Altmire's current district than that of Johnstown, Critz's socially conservative and economically liberal base.


Law and order Dem wins primary for Cape Cod seat

Norfolk District Attorney William Keating defeated state Sen. Robert O'Leary in the Democratic primary for Rep. Bill Delahunt's seat.

The seven-term Massachusetts Democrat announced his retirement in March.

With more than three quarters of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Keating, who had 55 percent of the vote compared to 45 percent for O'Leary.

Keating gained notoriety in the final days before the vote when he joined other diners at a restaurant in Falmouth Sunday morning in chasing a man suspected of stealing a handbag. The group of 20 or so, which included Keating, a waitress and a cook, cornered the suspect in a back yard until police arrived and arrested him, according to reports.

O'Leary, a Hyannis resident and a professor at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne, was thought to have the geographic advantage in the 10th district, which includes Cape Cod.

But O'Leary became a target for his fellow candidates after the Boston Herald reported he was “triple-dipping” – holding two college jobs and his state Senate position. The report noted O'Leary missed 17 votes in one day because he was in class and missed 22 of the 227 roll call votes of the year. 

O'Leary defended himself to the paper, saying of his college gigs: "It's part time. I do it when the students are available and they need a teacher." He said of his voting record: "I have a voting record over my career approaching 90 percent. I rarely miss votes."

On the Republican side, state Rep. Jeffrey Perry beat out a field that included former state Treasurer Joseph Malone, accountant Ray Kasperowicz and attorney Robert Hayden.

The district went heavily for President Obama in the 2008 presidential election and is expected to be retained by Democrats in November.


Rep. Maloney says House seniority will pull her through

NEW YORK — With much of the focus in the state on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), it's the Democratic incumbent in the neighboring 14th congressional district who faces a tougher electoral test Tuesday.

Like Rangel, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) is a longtime incumbent who has enjoyed widespread support in her district during her nine terms in Congress, and she's banking on that status pulling her through Tuesday.

"It's hard to pass legislation and achieve that fragile level of consensus," Maloney told The Hill Tuesday after casting her primary vote on Manhattan's Upper East Side. "I have that record and throughout my years in Congress, I've made a lot of friends." 

Maloney is staring down a challenge from Reshma Saujani, an attorney whose connections to the financial community and to Democratic fundraisers run deep. 

She has received campaign help from the state's former banking commissioner, Diana Taylor, who is also the girlfriend of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), and her challenge is well-funded thanks to backing from the financial industry. 

Saujani also hasn't shied away from attacking Maloney over the course of the primary, hitting her for not taking a more leading role in issues critical to New York, including financial reform.

“Congresswoman Maloney has failed New Yorkers. She has failed to lead,” Saujani said in a radio debate with Maloney last week. 

But on Tuesday, the incumbent touted her record in Washington, citing money she helped deliver for the 2nd Avenue Subway — a long-awaited transportation project — and her fight for federal dollars for first responders and survivors of the 9/11 attacks. 

The real question in her primary, said Maloney, is one her father used to ask: "If they tell you what they are going to do, ask them to show you what they have done." 

Maloney also noted that Tuesday marks "a sad election" for her personally — the first since the death of her husband Clifton last year. "Clifton always ran my elections," she said. 

But on a day when the extent of the anti-incumbent mood of voters will be tested once again across the country, Maloney didn't appear concerned about that sentiment extending to voters in her own district, which spans much of Manhattan's East Side and parts of Queens.

"She uses her seniority every day to help the people of this district," said Al Hagan, president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, which has run phone banks and literature drops throughout the district on Maloney's behalf.

Should she lose to Maloney Tuesday, Saujani has pledged to run again in two years. 

—Russell Berman contributed to this post.


Rangel: This marks the 'final judgment of my constituents'

NEW YORK — Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday the Democratic primary result will be the "final judgment" on his ethics troubles as far as his constituents are concerned.

"This is the hearing for me in terms of going back to Washington," Rangel said after casting his vote.

Despite the ethics storm surrounding him, Rangel is the heavy favorite over a handful of rivals led by state Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV.

Rangel entered the polling place at P.S. 175 in Harlem Tuesday morning to rousing applause from onlookers and other voters.

"You're staying Charlie," shouted one woman.

An emotional Rangel emerged from the school with his wife, Alma, to more cheers from the assembled crowd of Rangel supporters and volunteers, thanking them for their support before talking to reporters.

"I should have known that the heat in the kitchen would get this hot," said Rangel, who was both feisty and reflective.

He said the action of the House ethics committee "defies all the rules of law."

Rangel also alluded to the ethics troubles of the ranking Republican on the committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), noting that some of the members reviewing his case "have their own problems," but Rangel didn't mention McCaul by name.

When pressed, Rangel said, "I am not dealing with Washington today."

But Rangel did slam Republicans on a range of issues, highlighting immigration reform and taxes. He also took aim at some Democrats, "many of whom I helped get elected," for abandoning President Obama's legislative priorities.

Rangel admitted that he contemplated retirement "many, many times" over the past two years. "Let me tell you, my wife is here to verify, this has been the roughest emotional time since Korea," the 80-year-old congressman and Korean War veteran said.

Should he prevail Tuesday, Rangel was asked what he would do to assuage the concerns of those who didn't vote for him because of questions about his ethics issues.

"I promise them that I've never disappointed them legislatively, politically or morally," said Rangel. "I started off at 20 years old fighting for this country. I'm 80 years old and I'm still fighting for this country."


Rangel challenger says incumbent should have just 'stayed home'

NEW YORK — New York State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (D) claimed Monday that Rep. Charles Rangel's (D-N.Y.) barnstorming of the state's 15th congressional district will work against him Tuesday.

"It's backfiring on him," Powell told The Hill while campaigning at a subway station on Broadway and 145th St. Monday evening. "People who see him tell me, 'I didn't even know there was an election. Now I have to go vote against him.' "

Powell IV is the son of Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the man Rangel first defeated back in 1970 to win his congressional seat. 

"If he just stayed home, that would have been his best campaign move," said Powell, who predicted high turnout Tuesday courtesy of two open seat Assembly races taking place in the district.

Powell acknowledged that Rangel has his base of unwavering support, but suggested it comes more out of patronage than a desire for what is best for the district. 

"It's all about 'Oh, you got me an apartment 20 years ago,' or 'You got my cousin a job,'" Powell said. "The public is ready to turn the page and we'll prove it tomorrow." 

Powell, along with Rangel's other challengers, is woefully underfunded compared to the 20-term congressman, but he appeared to win at least one supporter Monday night. 

After a short conversation with Powell, Harlem resident Jim Bilodeau said he intends to come out and vote against Rangel on Tuesday. 

"No one should be in Congress for 40 years," he said. "That's just too long."