House races

House races

Rep. Israel slams GOP redistricting 'hype'

The new Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said the release of Census data and Congressional apportionment numbers are far from a disaster for Democrats. 

"Today's release of U.S. Census data pours cold water on Republican's hype that redistricting is a disaster for Democrats," Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Tuesday. “Democratic communities and constituencies have grown in size in states like Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Washington. In states that will lose a seat, the number of Republicans who will be competing with each other creates opportunities for House Democrats.”

In all, 12 House seats shifted.

The biggest gain, as expected, was the state of Texas, which will have four new House seats. The only other state netting more than one additional seat is Florida, which was awarded two new seats Tuesday.

The biggest losers this round are the presidential battleground state of Ohio and heavily Democratic New York — both of which will lose two seats.

Another eight states will lose one seat — Illinois, New Jersey, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Missouri and Massachusetts.

Six states are gaining just a single seat — Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Of the states losing seats, President Obama won eight in 2008.

Still, Democrats argue the final numbers are actually better than expected for the party. They point to Minnesota keeping all of its eight House seats and a gain of two in Florida — both states which Obama won in 2008. 

Strategists also point out it's GOP House members who could be on the chopping block in states like New York and Ohio, which will both lose two seats.

Israel said Tuesday that Democrats are "prepared, organized and ready" for the next stage of the redistricting process and will "fight any attempts to disenfranchise voters." 

The messiest battles could be concentrated in Texas once again. Israel fired a warning shot in his statement Tuesday, vowing the Democrats will never again "allow Republicans to be 'Tom DeLayed' and illegally game redistricting for political advantage."

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Democrat hits back at Rep. Michele Bachmann

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) is "right to worry" about her political future, according to her former rival.

State Sen. Tarryl Clark (D) warned Bachmann will be facing a "much different political landscape" if she runs for reelection in 2012.

That's when she "will have to explain to voters what exactly she and the Republican-controlled Congress did to improve the economy, help people find a job or stay in their homes, and care for our seniors, veterans and children," Clark wrote in an e-mail to her supporters on Wednesday.

The Democrat's note came in response to one Bachmann sent to her supporters on Tuesday asking for contributions to help with a possible rematch against Clark, whom she bested by 12 points last month.

Bachmann asked for donations because "it appears [Clark] may be starting to amass an even larger war chest then she did in this last election cycle."

Clark raised $4.3 million last cycle, but has only about $66,000 left in the bank, according to her post-election Federal Election Commission report. Bachmann has slightly less than $2 million banked after raising more than $13 million.

The Democrat denied she has started fundraising for a 2012 bid. 

"The only thing I'm 'amassing' right now is quality time with friends and family, because the holidays are about coming together, not fear and divisiveness," she wrote.

Still, this ongoing exchange does more to suggest these women will face off again.

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Rep. Bachmann readying for possible '12 grudge match

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) isn't taking her political future for granted despite raking in more than $13 million last cycle.

She blasted an e-mail to her supporters Tuesday asking for contributions to help with a possible rematch against state Sen. Tarryl Clark (D).

Bachmann pointed to a recent e-mail Clark released that hinted she may pursue a grudge match with the Republican.

"With Barack Obama at the top of the ticket she's likely hoping to 'ride his coattails' to victory and see me defeated once and for all," Bachmann wrote.

"And it appears she may be starting to amass an even larger war chest then she did in this last election cycle. FEC records show that my opponent raised more money then any Democrat challenger in the entire country, and she has the capacity to raise even more money if she challenges me again."

Clark raised $4.3 million last cycle, but has only about $66,000 left in the bank, according to her post-election FEC report. Bachmann has slightly less than $2 million.

She asked for contributions to help with her next reelection bid and to "support [her] outspoken opposition to [President] Obama's socialist agenda."

--Updated at 2:15 p.m.

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Dems pressure N.Y. Rep.-elect Buerkle over tax troubles

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) wants to keep the pressure on Rep.-elect Ann Marie Buerkle (R), who is facing scrutiny regarding her tax filings a month after winning one of the tightest House races in New York.

The Department of Taxation and Finance has filed a tax warrant against Buerkle, claiming she owes $7,036 in back taxes to the state, according to The Syracuse Post-Standard.

A DCCC spokesman wondered how she would "follow through on her promises of fiscal responsibility when she repeatedly doesn’t pay her taxes."

Buerkle's camp told the paper it was a mistake related to incorrect information that a former business tenant provided to the IRS.

During the campaign, Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) also tried to use tax issues related to Buerkle's Kasson Road shopping center against her. He claimed she owed $30,000 in county taxes on the property.

Buerkle said she was paying the tax bill based on an installment plan. She defeated Maffei last month by fewer than 1,000 votes.

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DCCC pegs Rep.-elect Stivers as early target

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) revealed an early 2012 target Friday, hitting Rep.-elect Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who defeated Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D) last month.

In a release, the committee targeted the elevation of Stivers to the House Financial Services Committee, hitting his past as a bank lobbyist. 

"Banking lobbyist Steve Stivers has made a career out of protecting Wall Street’s recklessness and greed, and now House Republicans want him to put this special-interest expertise to work for them,” said DCCC spokesman Ryan Rudominer. "House Republicans have made clear they want to give the keys to our economy back to Wall Street bankers and CEOs to keep their big bailouts and high-paid bonuses for years to come."

It's an early sign Democrats think the anti-Wall Street message could prove more effective in the state in 2012, motivating the party's base in a year when President Obama's name will be back atop the ballot. 

It's a message that didn't quite work as advertised against Stivers this past cycle, though, or against Republican candidates in the races for Senate and governor. 

Gov. Ted Strickland (D) hit John Kasich over his past at Lehman Brothers, while Democrat Lee Fisher pegged former President George W. Bush's OMB Director Rob Portman as the architect of that administration's economic policies. Both Democrats lost in a wave year for the GOP. 

There's at least some talk that Kilroy could run again in 2012, but she lost decisively last month and beat Stivers in 2008 by just over 2,000 votes in a great year for Democrats.

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Former Rangel aide will run against him again in 2012

Banker Vincent Morgan (D), a former aide to Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) will make a run at the longtime Democrat again in 2012 should Rangel run for another term.

Morgan, one of several Democrats who ran against Rangel unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary this past cycle, told the New York Observer Thursday that despite a poor showing in 2010, he's already gearing up to run in 2012. 

"I came in dead last, but look where my votes came from. I represent the new Harlem, and my votes were concentrated in the areas that were perceived to be where most of the new development is happening," Morgan told the Observer. "And I say this to people all the time. I was friendly with Charlie. I was somebody talking about issues consistently. I wasn't somebody trying to tear him down or do whatever. So if Charlie wasn't in the race you could actually slice off a big chunk of his numbers and give them to a candidate like me." 

Rangel's closest competitor was State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (D), the son of the man Rangel defeated 40 years ago to first win a seat in Congress. But the longtime Democrat easily won the primary and November's general election despite the ethical cloud surrounding him. 

Rangel was censured by the House earlier this month after being found guilty of 11 violations of House rules by the ethics committee. 

He now faces new allegations of violating Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules by paying for some of his legal fees through a political action committee. Rangel is denying any wrongdoing. 

Speaking to reporters after his censure, Rangel made no promises to serve out the remainder of his term or run for reelection, and despite subsequent pledges to fight on for his district, some think it's likely he may retire ahead of 2012. That would leave a wide-open race to replace Rangel, with a handful of members of New York's City Council and State Assembly as likely candidates. 

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Rep. McMahon eyes '12 run, blasts liberals for acting like 'petulant children'

Rep. Mike McMahon (D) is waiting to see what redistricting does to New York's 13th district before launching a bid to reclaim the seat from Republican Michael Grimm.

McMahon's Staten Island seat was one of six captured by the GOP in New York last month. Still, the Democrat is confident his party’s fortunes will rebound.

"The beauty of politics, it's like the ocean has an ebb and flow, and I think this has been an ebb for the Democratic Party, with [the loss] of those congressional seats, but I'm certain there'll be a flow in the very near future," he told The Ballot Box.

McMahon continued to use metaphor when explaining whether he would seek a rematch with Grimm, who won by 3 percent.

"We will see how strong the moon is and what it does for the waters and the boundaries of those waters and we'll take a look and see," he said.

New York is expected to lose a seat after the completion of the 2010 census, which will make its redistricting process more complicated next year.

But Republicans sources say the district is unlikely to be redrawn more favorably for a Democrat because Staten Island itself, which leans conservative, won't be carved up.

Meanwhile, McMahon distanced himself from House Democrats and sided with President Obama on the deal to extend Bush-era tax rates. 

The centrist Democrat said President Obama showed leadership in working across the aisle to secure an extension of both the tax cuts for the middle class and unemployment benefits. 

"The president has shown that he will do whatever it takes to put the people of this country and their needs first, as opposed to those who would block any and all action by stomping their feet like petulant children," McMahon said in a statement released by the White House. 

Vice President Biden was at the Capitol for a second straight day Wednesday in an attempt to convince skeptical House Democrats to go along with the tax-cut compromise. Many on the left are up in arms over the tax-cut deal, and House leaders remain unsure whether it can get through the lower chamber. 

"There remain very serious reservations on the House side, and there’s still a serious question about whether this package can pass in the form it’s in now,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said Wednesday.


Updated at 10:30 a.m.

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Rep. Grijalva: Tax deal puts liberals in 'untenable position'

A leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus believes the deal to extend the Bush-era tax rates, if passed into law, will keep Democrats on the defensive for the next two years.

"We think it's a bad deal," Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the group's co-chairman, told The Ballot Box. "It doesn't help the party, and it puts us in a defensive position for the next two years."

Grijalva, who narrowly won a fifth term in November, said Wednesday that many liberal Democrats have been expressing their distaste for the deal in recent days.

"It might elevate the president in some sense, I don't think so," he said before entering a Democratic Caucus meeting at the Capitol with Vice President Joe Biden. "But for the base, and for many of us who have campaigned for two cycles against tax breaks for the rich and the estate tax, it puts us in an untenable position."

Grijalva said he expected liberal House Democrats to vote against the tax deal when the legislation comes to the floor, but that could help their prospects in 2012, he added.

"If there’s one silver lining, it's an opportunity for Congress to assert its independence, too," said Grijalva.

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Fimian won't rule out 2012 rematch with Rep. Connolly

Republican Keith Fimian lost by a razor-thin margin in November to Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) but told a group of Tea Party activists Tuesday that his race won Republicans at least three additional House seats across the country last month.   

Speaking at a gathering of Northern Virginia Tea Party activists, Fimian said it was House Republican whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) who credited him with drawing Democratic money to save Connolly, helping put as many as three other GOP challengers over the top.   

"Eric Cantor told me your efforts drew enough fire in the final few weeks to [gain] at least three Republican seats," Fimian told the crowd.

Fimian conceded defeat to Connolly a week after Election Day after he chose to forgo a recount. 

The Virginia Republican told The Ballot Box that he isn't ruling out another run against Connolly in two years, and wants to wait and see what redistricting brings.  

"I haven't really had time to think about it yet or talk about it with my family to a major degree, but it's wise to keep one's options open because redistricting is going to have a major impact," Fimian said. 

Depending on the way the district is reconfigured ahead of 2012, a rematch with Connolly could look even more appealing for Fimian.

"More than $2 million in about 10 days," Fimian said of the Democratic money that poured into his race against Connolly down the stretch. "The fact that they won by less than 1,000 votes after dumping that kind of firepower says a lot about the kind of campaign we ran. So it would be foolish to rule out running again."

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