House races

House races

DCCC fundraising for Weprin in NY special election

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out an appeal from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for donations to David Weprin's campaign late Thursday morning.

Weprin is locked in a close race in a Democratic-leaning Queens and Brooklyn congressional district against Republican Bob Turner, and the fundraising plea suggests the DCCC doesn't want to leave anything to chance.

"With the election just days away, [Weprin] is being attacked from outside groups supporting his Tea Party opponent, Bob Turner," writes Gillibrand. "This election is too important to let the Tea Party and outside shadow groups steal the race. We have the better candidate who is right on the issues. Now we just need to help him get the word out. "

The National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a similar plea for Turner Wednesday afternoon.

"This Tuesday, there is a special election to replace disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner. What you may not know is that Republican Bob Turner can win this seat — but he needs your help," wrote NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas).

Turner released a poll last week that showed the race tied, prompting the DCCC to release its own internal poll showing Weprin up by 8 percentage points.

The district leans Democratic but has shifted toward Republicans, largely because of a swing in the politically conservative Orthodox Jewish community toward the GOP. After giving then-Vice President Gore 67 percent of the vote in 2000, it gave Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) just 56 percent of its vote in 2004. President Obama took 55 percent of the vote there in 2008.

Hawkish Jewish Democrats, including former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and Assemblyman Dov Hikind, have endorsed Turner, who is Catholic, while the Jewish Press, The New York Times and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) have endorsed Weprin, an Orthodox Jew.

Neither of the national parties had engaged much in the race until this week. But as the race seems to have tightened, both are paying closer attention.


Blue Dogs endorse Marshall in Nevada, criticize DCCC

The fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition endorsed Nevada state Treasurer Kate Marshall (D) in her bid for northern Nevada's open House seat and criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) for failing to spend a dime for the centrist Democrat.

"This race is an opportunity to win and of course I’d like to see the party engaged in this as well," said  Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah). "I think they should be involved because I think Kate Marshall is a great candidate."

Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) agreed. "I think the DCCC should be all-in in this race," he said. "We have to do everything that’s possible for her to win."

Marshall is running against Republican Mark Amodei for a northern Nevada seat left open when Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) was appointed to the Senate. Republicans have long held the district, which leans GOP, but President Obama came within 100 votes of carrying it in 2008.

Marshall has run a centrist campaign focusing on her fiscal stewardship of the state, while Amodei has sought to tie her to national Democrats. She has outraised him by a solid margin, but the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican-affiliated outside group American Crossroads have combined to spend more than $750,000 dollars in the race while the DCCC has not spent anything, putting her at a disadvantage on the airwaves in the closing days of the campaign.

Marshall said she was doing enough to get her message out but that she wished national Democrats would step in to help her out.

"If anybody wanted to come in and drop the kind of money that Crossroads or national Republicans have dropped, I welcome them," she said. "Would I like more? Always, because I’d like to tell people what’s going on and what I’m doing for them."

Early voting totals updated through Monday suggest Amodei is in a strong position to retain the seat for the GOP: 54 percent of ballots cast in early voting were from registered Republicans, while just 34 percent were from registered Democrats.


Candidates make final campaign pitches in Nevada special election

With less than one week to go before the Nevada House special election, Republican Mark Amodei and Democrat Kate Marshall are up with ads that make their final arguments to the voters.

Amodei ignored Marshall completely and attacked national Democrats, while Marshall drilled Amodei for supporting Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) plan to privatize Medicare, as well as voting himself a pay raise while in the statehouse and "abus[ing] power for personal gain."

The two candidates' strategies indicate the demographics of the district and current political realities: Republicans have a solid edge in voter registration there, and while President Obama came within 100 votes of carrying it in 2008, his name is more useful these days as a Republican weapon than a Democratic vote-booster.

"We were promised recovery. We've been given misery," Amodei says in his ad, as pictures of Obama, Vice President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) flick by. "Let's get Washington's attention."

Marshall, the state's treasurer, has run as a centrist Democrat, and has attacked Amodei from the right for his support of a tax increase when he was a state senator, while hitting him from the left for his support of Ryan's plan to lower taxes for wealthy Americans and to privatize Medicare.

Amodei has sought to tie Marshall to Obama and Reid throughout the campaign. He trails Marshall in fundraising, but the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican-affiliated American Crossroads have combined to spend more than three-quarters of a million dollars in the race.

Early voting totals updated through Monday suggest Amodei is in a strong position to retain the seat for the GOP: 54 percent of ballots cast in early voting were from registered Republicans, while just 34 percent were from registered Democrats.

The election will take place next Tuesday, Sept. 13. Both candidates' latest ads are below.

Marshall's ad:

Amodei's ad:


Conn. House speaker to run for Rep. Murphy’s seat

Connecticut state House Speaker Chris Donovan (D) on Wednesday will formally enter an already crowded race for the states 5th congressional district. 

Though Donovan has been trumpeting bread-and-butter progressive issues — labor causes, universal healthcare and environmental protection — hes running in a district with a strong independent streak that Republicans have been eyeing for a possible pickup. Donovan is closely associated with public employee unions, whose battles with state governments over benefits and bargaining rights have muddied the political waters across the country this cycle. But Donovan said he isnt worried about running too far to the left. 

I think [the key is] campaigning on popular issues, Donovan told The Hill. Polls have shown Republicans, independents and Democrats support good jobs and good healthcare, time off for families and education, Social Security and Medicare.

As a state lawmaker for almost two decades who has presided over the state House since 2009, Donovan carries strong name recognition and has shown the ability to pull in large sums of money. In July, his campaign announced he had raised more than $230,000 in the second quarter of 2011, 90 percent of it within Connecticut and much of it from small-figure donors.

Donovan’s name started floating soon after Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) announced he would vacate the seat to try for retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) seat. Donovan’s bid makes him one of at least seven candidates vying for Murphy’s seat. In the Democratic primary, Donovan will face Elizabeth Esty and Dan Roberti. On the GOP side, Lisa Wilson-Foley, Mark Greenberg, Justin Bernier and Mike Clark have all indicated they will seek the nomination.

Donovan, who was first elected to the state House in 1992, also teaches political science at the University of Hartford and is the fifth of eight children.

Certainly I am a well-established legislator who has been fighting for families for a number of years, Donovan said. 

But Republicans wasted no time in painting him as an establishment figured tied to Democrats with dwindling approval ratings. 

“Career politician Chris Donovan is out looking for a promotion, even though he ignored Connecticut voters and supported the largest tax increase in the state’s history," said Tory Mazzola, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “If he thinks that’s the way to create jobs, he’ll fit right in with Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama in Washington, D.C.” 

Donovan will kick off his campaign with a week of events at parks, a library and his new headquarters in Meriden, Conn. If he makes it to Washington, he won’t have to look far for someone to show him around: His daughter, Sarah, studies at The George Washington University.


Jewish Dem crosses lines to back Republican in NY special election

New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D) will cross party lines Wednesday and endorse Republican businessman Bob Turner over fellow Jewish Assemblyman David Weprin (D) in the election to fill former Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-N.Y.) congressional seat.

Hikind, a conservative foreign-policy hawk who also has a local radio show, is influential in the district's large Orthodox Jewish community. Has backed Republicans before, endorsing former President George W. Bush's 2004 reelection, and was unhappy with Weprin's vote to legalize gay marriage in the state.

Weprin and Turner are in what seems to be a close race in the Democratic-leaning district that encompasses parts of Brooklyn and Queens. Turner released a poll last week that showed the race tied, prompting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to release their own internal poll showing Weprin up by eight percentage points. The election is next Tuesday.

The Orthodox Jewish vote is a big wild card. Weprin himself is an Orthodox Jew but has not yet coalesced support around his campaign. The community is more conservative than other Jewish communities around the country, especially on foreign policy and social issues, and tends to vote as a bloc, depending on who their leaders support. The district had the biggest swing of any in the country towards Republicans in 2004; after giving Al Gore 67 percent of the vote in 2000, it gave Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) just 56 percent of its vote in 2004. President Obama took 55 percent of the vote in 2008.

Hikind is not the first prominent Jewish Democrat to endorse Turner, who is Catholic. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch (D), who has also backed Republicans in the past, endorsed Turner in August because he said Obama needed to be sent a message to be more supportive of Israel.

Weprin has brought in Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), an Orthodox Jew, to campaign for him, and has sought distance from Obama, telling The Jewish Press that "I will probably not refuse to endorse him because I think I will be more effective by supporting him, but at the same time [I am] very strongly against him on some of his policies."


Oliverio will seek rematch with Rep. McKinley

Former state Delegate Mike Oliverio (D-W.Va.), who lost to U.S. Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) by less than 1 percentage point in 2010, will seek a rematch, he announced Tuesday.

"Washington is broken, and Republicans like David McKinley are part of the problem," Oliverio said in a statement. "Since coming to power, McKinley and his friends have taken their eye off the number one priority in America — creating jobs. 

"They have pushed a rigid partisan agenda that threatens our nation’s commitment to our seniors and future generations instead of focusing on putting people back to work. Rather than trying to end Medicare and jeopardize Social Security, the top priority of Washington politicians should be turning our economy around and creating jobs."

Oliverio beat then-Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) in a 2010 primary by running to the right of the longtime incumbent, who was facing charges of ethics violations. The district is fairly conservative and gave Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) 57 percent of its vote in 2008, but historically has elected conservative Democrats to local offices.

McKinley's campaign attacked Oliverio. "Mike Oliverio is just more of the same: a career politician who voted to raise his own pay and supports President Obama's job-killing policies," said McKinley Spokesman Andy Seré. "After running for higher office three times in the last decade and losing each race, Oliverio should realize by now that West Virginians know he is undeserving of a promotion."

But Oliverio disagrees with Obama on a number of issues including abortion rights and climate change legislation, and sought distance from President Obama in a Tuesday radio interview. "I've been very concerned with President Obama's job performance thus far and I think I've joined Sen. [Joe] Manchin [D-W.Va.] in terms of raising concerns about the president's lack of leadership," he said. "It's lacking at this point, it has not served the people of West Virginia well. I remain concerned about the efforts of our current president."