House races

House races

Rep. Allen West scores $1.5M haul in second quarter

Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a Tea Party favorite who's expected to face a difficult reelection challenge, raised a whopping $1.5 million in the second quarter to support his 2012 campaign.

West posted a major haul of campaign cash between the beginning of April and the end of June; his second-quarter tally is more typical of a Senate candidate than a freshman member of the House.

West's campaign said the total was fueled by more than 23,500 individual donors, the average contribution from which was $66 per person.

His campaign didn't release any figures about its amount of cash on hand, though he reported about $243,000 in the bank at the end of March.

The haul reflects the enthusiasm for West among the Republican Party's grassroots. He's a figure who identifies closely with the Tea Party and is just one of two conservative, African-American voices in Congress.

Still, West is expected to face a difficult challenge. His current district is seen as a relatively centrist one, and his victory in 2010 was aided by the Republican headwinds of that cycle. But he's also one of the GOP lawmakers who could be vulnerable to redistricting, which would set up a more difficult reelection challenge.

Updated 9:14 p.m.

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Ex-Ruth's Chris CEO Miller to join crowded Florida Senate GOP field

Wealthy businessman Craig Miller plans to enter the already-crowded Republican field to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), according to the Tampa Tribune. Miller will face former Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.), state Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R-Fla.) and state Rep. Adam Hasner (R-Fla.) in the primary.

Miller, a former CEO of the Ruth's Chris steakhouse chain, ran for the House in 2010, finishing a close third behind now-Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.) after spending almost $900,000 in the primary, including more than half a million dollars of his own money. He will likely self-fund again this election, making him a formidable candidate in a crowded field.

Miller has a good chance at the nomination; LeMieux was appointed to the Senate by then-Gov. Charlie Crist (I), a close ally. Crist is very unpopular with conservatives, especially after he left the party during last year's Senate elections. Haridopolos and Hasner are little-known around the state, and Haridopolos has faced charges of ethics violations.

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Dem lawmakers send in help for Hahn in Calif. special election

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D) has received the financial support of many of her future California colleagues, while few have given to her opponent, businessman Craig Huey (R).

Hahn has received donations from 17 House Democrats including 12 from California, while Huey, a self-funder, has been backed financially only by Reps. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.), although the National Republican Congressional Committee did give him a $5,000 donation last week.

In May, Hahn and Huey were the top two vote-getters in the first round of voting to replace former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.). Under a new law, all California House elections have all-party primaries; if no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers enter a runoff. Huey narrowly edged California Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D) to make the cut.

The election in this Los Angeles-based district will take place Tuesday. Hahn is expected to win, although Huey has kept the race closer than many predicted in a district that gave President Obama 64 percent of the vote in the 2008 presidential election.

Huey's ability to spend his own money on the race might have contributed to other Republicans' lack of financial support: He has put more than $800,000 overall towards the campaign. But if Republicans expected him to win the race, or thought he had a strong chance in Democratic-leaning Los Angeles, they might be giving him more support.

Hahn's ability to rack up early endorsements helped her overcome Bowen in the first round of voting. She has received donations during the runoff from Harman as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). In the past week, House Democrats from around the country have lent a hand, including Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and James Clyburn (D-S.C.), both of whom are in the House Democratic leadership.

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Heck off to quick start in Washington, but where will he run?

Denny Heck already has more than a quarter million dollars cash on hand for his second attempt to become a congressman. But it is unclear whether he will face off against Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), who beat him by a six percentage point margin in the tossup district last fall, or whether he will be running in a new Democratic-leaning district created by redistricting.

A bipartisan committee draws the lines in the Evergreen State, and in the past Democrats and Repubilcans have sought compromise by protecting all of their incumbents. The most likely plan would be to put new district the state will gain through reapportionment in the greater Seattle area, making it safely Democratic, and shore up both Herrera Beutler and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who has faced competitive races the last three elections. The southeastern Washington district where Beutler Herrera and Heck squared off is evenly divided between the parties.

Heck's campaign made it clear he would be running for congress no matter what district he wound up in, so long as he wasn't challenging a Democratic incumbent. His home in Olympia will likely either be in the new Democratic district or the old district, depending on what the final map looks like.

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New York Dems pick candidate to replace Weiner

New York State Assemblyman David Weprin will be the Democratic candidate to fill the remainder of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.)'s term, according to NY1. Weprin, a former city council member, has close ties to the city's Democratic establishment: His father was state Assembly Speaker for years.

The Democrat will likely win the district, which encompasses ethnic white parts of Brooklyn and Queens. While it has trended Republican in recent years, it gave President Obama 55 percent of its vote in the 2008 presidential election, and Republicans' preferred candidate, City Council Member Eric Ulrich, announced Tuesday that he would not run for the seat.

Weprin's time in Congress could be short, however: New York will lose two congressional seats by the 2012 elections and one will likely come from downstate. He would be the most junior member of the delegation and one of the few in a district that is not protected from elimination by the Voting Rights Act because it is not minority-heavy, so the district will likely be axed. Weprin might be using the race to raise his profile to run for city comptroller.

The special election will be held Sept. 13.

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Dems target six House Republicans on ethics issues

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is running robocalls against six House Republicans accusing them of ethics problems, the committee announced Wednesday morning.

The calls target four freshman Republicans, and five from districts where Obama took at least 45 percent of the vote in 2008. The targets: Scott Tipton (Colo.), Vern Buchanan (Fla.), David Rivera (Fla.), Frank Guinta (N.H.), Charlie Bass (N.H.) and Stephen Fincher (Tenn.).

Rivera has long been under fire for ethics violations: He forced an opponent's truck off the road in a previous run for office. This time, the DCCC goes after him for receiving "over $100,000 in secret payments from his mother's company."

The attacks on the others are new, and focus mostly on perceived favoritism to and from these representatives' family members and friends.

The National Republican Congressional Committee's Joanna Burgos responded by attacking Democrats on the economy. "Democrats are merely trying to distract voters from the bad economy they are making worse," she said. "At the end of the day, the one thing voters care most about is all the pain the Democrats’ devastating policies are causing them everywhere from the grocery store to the gas station.”

The DCCC's calls attack Tipton for hiring his nephew's company with taxpayer dollars; accuse Buchanan's old company of funneling large sums of money to his campaign through its employees; and go after Fincher for not disclosing loans from his father's bank and other assets and debts. They say Guinta used money from a bank that "magically appeared" before the election, and that Bass helped his nephew lobby for a tax break.

Democrats need to pick up 25 seats to regain control of the House next election.

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Former Obama official Duckworth to run for Ill. House seat

Tammy Duckworth, a former assistant secretary of Veterans Affairs, filed Wednesday to run for Congress in Illinois.

Duckworth, the 2006 candidate who lost to Republican Peter Roskam, made her candidacy official Wednesday morning by announcing that she would run in the redrawn 8th congressional district.

"It's time to tell John Boehner, Karl Rove and the Tea Party crowd that you can't balance the budget on the backs of seniors," she said in a statement. "You can't serve multinational corporations first and American families last. And you won't build a better future by tearing down our economy brick by brick and shipping it overseas."

Duckworth recently stepped down from her post at the Department of Veterans Affairs, prompting speculation that she'd run for Congress. A veteran of the Iraq war, where she sustained injuries costing her the use of both legs and part of her right arm, Duckworth is seen as a candidate with a relatively strong profile to mount a House bid.

She's aided by the Democratic-friendly redistricting plan in Illinois. The new 8th district includes parts of Roskam's old district (she lost to the future congressman by 2 percent in 2006) and other western suburbs of Chicago. There's no natural incumbent in the district, though an incumbent Republican could conceivably move there, thereby avoiding an incumbent-versus-incumbent primary in some other nearby district.

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McCotter won't say if he'll seek reelection to House seat

Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) ducked on Tuesday a question about whether he'd seek reelection to his House seat while also pursuing the GOP presidential nomination.

McCotter, a fifth-term congressman from suburban Detroit, said he's focused on running for president, but wouldn't say whether that means he'd give up his seat in Congress.

"I'm focusing on the presidency," he said on ABC's "Top Line" webcast.

McCotter made a late entry into the presidential field last week, and hopes to mount a dark-horse campaign for the presidential nomination. He said that his effort was "no joke," and castigated other GOP contenders for low fundraising totals so far.

One of those other contenders, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), has said she won't seek reelection to her House seat while running for president. Like Bachmann, McCotter represents a relative swing district. That state lawmakers didn't carve up his district too badly — as had been expected — was thought to make McCotter less likely to run for president.

Of course, both Bachmann and McCotter might conceivably still have time to file for reelection should they lose out on the presidential nomination. But Democrats are salivating at the opportunity to run candidates in their potentially open seats or, absent that, use both lawmakers' presidential aspirations against them in an election.

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