House races

House races

Conservative group to keep early pressure on House Dems

Crossroads GPS, the conservative-backed outside group that poured millions into the 2010 midterm elections, is vowing to keep the pressure on House Democrats with early ad buys as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) works to get itself out from under some $20 million in debt. 

The group's director, Steven Law, says early ad buys in competitive House districts will continue and that they reflect the group's strength heading into the 2012 cycle, when Law predicts Crossroads will raise "substantially more" than it did last cycle.   

"2012 is shaping up to be the most expensive and hard-fought year in our history," Law said in an interview with The Ballot Box. "You've got the White House, control of Congress and the balance of power on the Supreme Court all at stake." 

So far, the group has spent close to $1 million on ads this year and while the DCCC has already spent on radio ads and robocalls in dozens of districts, the committee has been unable to come close to matching the early spending from Crossroads GPS.

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N.Y. Dem fundraises off budget vote

New York Rep. Tim Bishop (D) touted his vote against the House Republicans' "sham budget" and asked supporters for contributions to fend off the "right-wing attack machine."

Crossroads GPS, the group conceived of by GOP strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, recently bought airtime in a number of vulnerable Democratic districts, including New York's 1st.

That's where the group made its largest expenditure — more than $63,000 — possibly because Bishop barely squeaked out a reelection victory in November, beating Repubcian Randy Altschuler by fewer than 1,000 votes.

"Crossroads GPS, the Karl Rove-led group funded by anonymous right-wing special interests, is back and running attack ads targeting my vote against the House Republicans' budget and saying that I voted against 'making America great again,' " Bishop said in an e-mail to supporters Friday.

"Contribute to my Emergency Rapid Response Fund before Saturday at midnight so I can set the record straight about my efforts to fight for Long Island families."

--Updated at 5:16 p.m.

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Rep. Israel praises Gen. Petraeus for investigation into Rolling Stone report

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) praised Gen. David Petraeus for ordering an investigation into the report that Army officers were ordered to manipulate members of Congress using "psy-ops."

A report in Rolling Stone accused the Army of illegally ordering a "team of soldiers specializing in 'psychological operations' to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war."

Israel, who has served on the House Appropriations and Armed Services committees, was one of the members targeted during a trip to Afghanistan, according to the magazine.

Israel currently heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

As a result of the report, Petraeus "is preparing to order an investigation to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the issue," according to a statement issued Thursday.

Israel said the general "did the right thing by ordering an investigation into this matter."

"I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan eight times and have always been proud to meet with our troops serving on the front lines," Israel said in a statement issued by his House office. 

--Jordan Fabian contributed

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Huckabee defends first lady's anti-obesity campaign: 'We ought to be thanking her'

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee defended first lady Michelle Obama Wednesday from conservative critics who he said have painted her anti-obesity campaign as nothing more than "a government takeover of our dinner plates."  

"She's been criticized unfairly by a lot of my fellow conservatives," Huckabee said at an event sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, adding that the criticism is more "a reflex" than "thoughtful expression." 

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and conservative talk host Rush Limbaugh are among those who have slammed Michelle Obama's efforts as heavy handed. 

"It's exactly what Republicans say they believe," Huckabee said of the first lady's campaign. "By putting the focus on individual responsibility, you encourage people to make good choices and reward them for doing so. I thought that was what we're about." 

The former governor, who has struggled with his own weight in the past and has helped promote Michelle Obama's efforts, said rather than condemning her, "I think we ought to be thanking her." 

Huckabee said the nation's obesity problem is worthy of more serious discussion and that it goes well beyond economics. 

"If you really want to talk about obesity -- let's talk about it as a national security issue," Huckabee said. "We better hope we don't have a war with anybody because we're not gonna have anybody who can pass the physical and wear the uniform."

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DCCC targets House Republicans on budget

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a combination of Web ads, robocalls and e-mails into the districts of 50 House Republicans over the next week, hitting GOP lawmakers over their proposed spending cuts.  

The effort comes as the conservative group Crossroads GPS launches radio ads in a dozen Democratic-held House districts Wednesday, targeting Dems for voting against the continuing resolution (CR) passed by House Republicans last week that cut this year's spending levels by $61 billion. 

Crossroads GPS is also running radio ads thanking 10 House GOP freshmen for their votes in favor of the CR. In all, the group has purchased some $450,000 worth of air time. 

The DCCC is billing its efforts as the next phase of its grassroots and ad campaign, "to hold vulnerable House Republicans accountable for backing partisan plans that make the wrong budget choices."  

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Republicans hope to avoid three-way race for ex-Rep. Lee's seat

The GOP's top candidate to succeed former Rep. Chris Lee (R) in New York's 26th district launched her campaign Wednesday.

State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin was picked Monday night to be the party's nominee and she's moved quickly into campaign mode, as some passed-over candidates consider mounting third-party bids.

Wealthy businessman Jack Davis, who sought the nomination from the district's seven GOP country chairs, may run as a third-party candidate.

"I will continue working to get on the ballot for the special election. I have pledged allegiance to America, not the Republican or Democratic parties," he told the Tonawanda News.

In addition to Davis, who has run for Congress as a Democrat, David Bellavia, an Iraq war veteran and activist, and John Donnelly, who challenged Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) in the 28th district and lost in 2006, are mulling independent bids.

Corwin started her announcement tour at Greatbatch Medical, a manufacturer in the Buffalo area. She's scheduled to continue on to the other media markets in the district: Batavia, Greece and Lockport.

Democrats, who have yet to pick a candidate, are thought to be waiting to see whether a third-party candidate runs and if the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decides to invest in the race.

A candidate needs to get 3,200 signatures in 12 days to have their own line on the ballot.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has 30 days to call a special election after a vacancy is declared, although it's unclear when that will happen.

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Republicans and their allies heap pressure on vulnerable Dems

Republicans and their allies are keeping up the pressure on vulnerable Democratic lawmakers early in the campaign cycle.

Crossroads GPS, the group conceived of by GOP strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, announced Wednesday that it's purchased $450,000 worth of radio airtime, the bulk of which is in a dozen Democratic-held swing districts.

The group's ad targets Democrats who voted against the Republicans' continuing resolution (CR), the funding measure passed by the House on Saturday that cuts $61 billion from current spending.

Opening with a quote from the late President Ronald Reagan, the Crossroads ad talks about the "explosive growth of government."

"Members of Congress like Joe Donnelly voted to continue the failed spending policies of Pelosi and Obama. They just don't get it," the announcer says in the minute-long ad. Indiana's Donnelly edged out his Republican challenger in 2010 with 1 percent of the vote.

The group's largest expenditure — more than $63,000 — is in New York's 1st district, where Rep. Tim Bishop (D) squeaked out a reelection victory almost a month after Election Day. The group also purchased airtime in 10 Republican-held swing districts thanking the members for their vote on the CR.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee followed up the release of its first TV ad earlier this week with a round of auto-calls in the districts of 10 "vulnerable Democrats," according to a release. Utah Rep. Jim Matheson (D), who was on the receiving end of the TV ad, also gets hit with the call.

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N.Y. GOP House candidate courts Tea Party

Looking to avoid a fight with Tea Party activists, New York Republican Jane Corwin announced endorsements from two prominent activists on Tuesday.

There have been reports that Tea Party members wanted David Bellavia, an Iraq War veteran and activist, picked as the nominee and were considering backing him against Corwin in a three-way race. Corwin was tapped by Republican leaders on Monday night to run for former Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.) seat in the upcoming special election. She moved quickly to sooth the grumbling about her candidacy.

On Tuesday Corwin rolled an endorsement from former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino (R), which may help assuage fears she's not conservative enough for the district.

"Washington needs leadership that will stand up to the liberal special interests and Obama-Pelosi agenda and reclaim our country for taxpayers and everyday citizens. That's why Jane is the right choice to represent us in Congress," Paladino said in a statement released by Corwin's campaign.

"I'm a proud member of the Tea Party movement in New York, and together we helped change the face of Congress in November. Jane Corwin will be another member in our movement to take our country back."

Paladino's 2010 gubernatorial run was supported by the state's Tea Party groups, who helped him to a surprise win in the primary over former Rep. Rick Lazio. He subsequently lost to Democrat Andrew Cuomo in the general election.

The Corwin camp also released an endorsement from Lenny Roberto, founder of the New York Tea Party group Primary Challenge.

“As the founder of Primary Challenge, the last thing we need is a third-party challenge that could give liberals in Washington another vote to spend taxpayers’ hard-earned money. A vote for Jane Corwin is a win for taxpayers," Roberto said in a statement.

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