House races

House races

Barney Frank loans campaign $200k

Facing one of his most difficult reelection battles in years, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) loaned his campaign $200,000 this week, according to media outlets. 

The Boston Herald reported that campaign finance documents show he raised $316,000 and had more than $1 million cash on hand. Frank's Republican opponent Sean Bielat, a former Marine, has $364,000 left to spend. 

Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has come under fire from Bielat for heading the committee during the 2008 financial collapse. Republicans have long made Frank a target, arguing he failed to crack down on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's home lending policies. 

His loan is a sign that he is taking Bielat's campaign seriously amid a Republican wave some predict could cost Democrats their majorities in Congress.

National Republicans have invested in the race and Bielat, a member of the GOP's "Young Gun" program, outraised Frank in September, $379,000 to $317,000.

The 15-term congressman, however, still has a 3-to-1 advantage over Bielat in cash on hand.



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Pa. Democrat admits helping Tea Party candidate

A Pennsylvania Democratic House candidate on Tuesday admitted to helping a third candidate get on the ballot in the hopes he would siphon votes away from his Republican opponent. 

Bryan Lentz, the Democratic nominee running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), said he knew that volunteers from his campaign helped Tea Party candidate Jim Schneller.

"If somebody's already made the decision to run, I didn't think that 'helping' with the process of signature petitions was improper," Lentz told told the Delaware County Daily Times editorial board in an interview.

Republicans have accused Democrats of helping set up Tea Party candidates as spoilers in several House and Senate races around the country. Democrats face a tough political environment this fall, when they are trying to maintain their congressional majorities against a GOP wave spurred in part by Tea Party groups.

Lentz said he could not remember when he learned of his volunteers' work on behalf of Schneller, but he said, "I didn't think it was a bad thing for the process or for my candidacy."

Republican nominee Pat Meehan and Lentz are locked in a tight race; The Hill's 2010 Midterm Election Poll last week showed that Meehan is narrowly leading Lentz, 40 percent to 39.

Meehan's campaign responded to Lentz's claim in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"It's about time Bryan Lentz would admit what the media has been reporting on for months," said Meehan campaign manager Bryan Kendro. "Despite his efforts to fool voters about his role in supporting Schneller's candidacy, he was forced to come clean, and he should apologize for not being forthright."

Lentz stressed, however, that his campaign's activities on behalf of Schneller, who has filed a lawsuit questioning President Obama's citizenship, began after the Tea Partier began his campaign.

"I did not encourage him to run for office," he said. "He made that decision on his own."

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RACE OF THE DAY: Minn.-08

There wasn't much "Minnesota nice" on display when the supporters of Rep. Jim Oberstar and his Republican challenger clashed.

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Dem tracker ejected from Allen West event by bikers

On the heels of having to deny he's associated with the Outlaws motorcycle gang, Florida Republican Allen West had a Democratic tracker ejected from a campaign event by a group of men wearing motorcycle gear.

"Man, I don't want you here ... because this is a place of honor and the organization that you represent has no honor, so please leave," West is heard saying in the video captured by a tracker for the Florida Democratic Party.

"Do you really want to do this?" the young staffer asks as several men surround him.

The group then forces the tracker back to his car.

"Somebody going to hurt him, you're going to get hurt, guy," one man says to the tracker during the incident.

The West campaign told NBC Miami he was at an event to "honor American veterans" and the young man "was asked to leave."

West is challenging Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.). This is the video the Florida Democrats released:


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RACE OF THE DAY — Ariz.-08

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's opponent has made illegal immigration a central issue, which earned him a contorversial endorsement.


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Florida Republican denies he's connected to motorcycle gang

Democrats are accusing Florida House candidate Allen West (R) of being tied to the Outlaws, an infamous motorcycle gang.

West's campaign vigorously denies he's associated with the gang.

The evidence that's surfaced connecting West to the Outlaws isn't definitive, but it raises troubling questions for a candidate who is no stranger to controversy. West, a former lieutenant colonel in the Army, retired from the military after a 2003 incident in Iraq in which he fired two gunshots next to the head of an uncooperative, hooded detainee.

To connect West to the motorcycle gang, Democrats have pointed out he's a contributor to Wheels on the Road, a publication that covers the Outlaws' Florida clubs. And according to the publication's website, West was slated to appear at its anniversary celebration Saturday in Pompano Beach.

NBC News also obtained e-mails from West in which he said that references to the Outlaws shouldn't include the word "criminal."

"I was never more amazed at how members of the Outlaws guarded me during an interview," West said in an e-mail, according to NBC.

According to the Justice Department, the Outlaws are a violent criminal gang heavily involved in the drug trade. It's about the size of the Hell's Angels, according to a 2009 report.

West, who is challenging Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.), said he didn't defend the Outlaws in those e-mails. NBC's report also included photos of him at a recent rally that was organized by motorcycle clubs that say they're associated with the Outlaws.

Josh Grodin, a spokesman for West, vigorously denied West was associated with the Outlaws. "Allen is an African-American, this bike group doesn't accept black people," he said. "They have a history of racism against black people.

"I think it's a political hatchet job," Grodin added. "The Democrats are obviously desperate."

Grodin denied West was ever going to attend the Wheels on the Road anniversary rally. "It's never been on Allen's personal schedule to attend that," he said. West is instead set to attend a breast cancer charity motorcycle ride Saturday in St. Petersburg.

The controversy overshadowed West's impressive third-quarter fundraising haul. His campaign announced this week that he raised $1.6 million in the last three months. Klein, meanwhile, raised just $782,000.

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GOP legislative candidate shouts down Rep. Dingell at campaign forum

Rep. John Dingell's (D-Mich.) Republican opponent, Rob Steele, was a no-show at a candidate forum Thursday night, but the 84-year-old congressman apparently got an earful from a Republican running for the Michigan state House. 

Republican Chase Ingersoll repeatedly shouted Dingell down at the forum, at one point making an obscene gesture while the congressman was speaking, according to a report on AnnArbor.com. 

Ingersoll was asked by event organizers to tone down his behavior several times during the forum.

He challenged Dingell on his support for healthcare reform, loudly accusing the 28-term incumbent of misrepresenting the law.

From AnnArbor.com:

"There's a whole array of rights that are there," Dingell said. "It will be very much like the law that was written in Massachusetts, which is working quite well and which was defended by Mitt Romney while, I'm told, he was a Republican presidential candidate."

Ingersoll fired back, speaking out of turn again.

"And what did Mr. Romney say?" Ingersoll asked in a raised voice. "What does Mr. Romney say now about the health care legislation in Massachusetts? He said that it's not working--costs have gone up and services down. If Mr. Steele was here, he'd clean your clock on that issue, Mr. Dingell. That's why you only are having one debate with him."

Dingell had to leave about an hour into the forum. Before walking out, he turned to the crowd and said he was leaving those still in attendance at the mercy of Ingersoll.

"Be nice to him," Dingell quipped.

Steele had planned to attend, but canceled at the last minute. Steele's campaign relayed news partway through the forum that he was unavoidably stuck at another event.

Some Republicans are convinced the man who is currently the longest-serving member of the House is vulnerable in 2010, in large part due to his leading role in healthcare reform. 

A Detroit News poll from mid-September gave Dingell a 19-point lead over Steele. But the challenger touted internal numbers in late September that showed Dingell ahead by a fairly slim margin — 51 percent to 42.

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