House races

House races

Former lawmakers complain it’s run left or right, lament loss of center

Don't expect the ranks of the middle-of-the-road House Democrats to swell anytime soon, former House members warned Tuesday.

Former Reps. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) and Glenn Nye (D-Va.) said they don't anticipate the path will be much easier for Democratic centrists in 2012, but both are weighing bids to reclaim their seats anyway.

The former lawmakers spoke to reporters Tuesday at the Washington think tank Third Way, along with ex-Rep. Artur Davis (Ala.), another centrist Dem who left his seat to make a failed run for Alabama governor last year.

"I can't say that I'm an optimist, going forward, about things getting easier for moderates to survive," said Nye, who lost his seat to Republican Scott Rigell last year. "At the end of the day, moderates tend to be the folks that come from the districts that are the swing districts, so we're always the ones who are gonna be vulnerable in elections."

Nye said Tuesday that he's waiting to see what the new district lines look like before he makes an official decision on a 2012 run, but said he anticipates an announcement one way or the other by this summer.

Maffei, who told supporters in an email last week that he's seriously considering another run next year, said his timeframe for a decision is likely sometime within the next two months.

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Centrist Dem: Government shutdown would be on President Obama

Former Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) said Tuesday, no matter how budget negotiations between the White House and Congressional Republicans play out, it's President Obama who will get the blame if the government shuts down. 

"I think that voters always focus on the executive as the responsible officer," Davis said. "There is this belief in Democratic circles that because Republicans are so intransigent about spending cuts that they'll get the blame. But people expect the president to bring all sides together, especially when he's made that one of his selling points." 

Davis made the comments after a breakfast with reporters in Washington, D.C. that featured three former Democratic House members. Davis, who lost a bid for Alabama governor last year, was joined by former Reps. Glenn Nye (Va.) and Dan Maffei (N.Y.), both of whom were ousted in 2010's midterm elections.   

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Ex-House candidate faces recall effort in Wisconsin

Since losing to Rep. Sean Duffy (R) in November, Wisconsin Democrat Julie Lassa has spent weeks on the lam and now finds herself in a recall battle.

The former congressional candidate was one of the 14 Democratic state senators who left Wisconsin to avoid voting on controversial legislation backed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Now, former Marshfield alderman Scott Noble is leading an effort to recall Lassa, who lost to Duffy by seven points last cycle in the race for former Rep. David Obey's seat. Lassa is asking her supporters for contributions to fight the effort.

"It saddens and angers me to see Republican leaders putting special interests like the Koch brothers before Wisconsin workers and their families.," she wrote. "I will continue to stand up for your rights, and I ask that you continue to stand and fight with me. With your help, I know we can stop their recall efforts in their tracks."

She ended the note with, "in solidarity."

--Updated at 11:51 a.m.

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Howard Dean backs Bowen to succeed ex-Rep. Harman

After watching her rival chalk up several high-profile endorsements, California House candidates Debra Bowen dropped her own big-name backer Monday -- Howard Dean.

The liberal icon called Bowen, who currently serves as California's secretary of state, an "intelligent, humble, and passionate public servant."

"We simply cannot afford to let the opportunity to send a progressive leader like Debra to Washington pass us by," the former Vermont governor said in a statement. Bowen "has the courage to stand up to the special interests and has the record to back it up."

The backing of the former Democratic National Committee chairman and one-time presidential candidate could give Bowen a boost with liberals in the 36th district where she's running in the special election for former Rep. Jane Harman's (D-Calif.) seat.

Bowen's main rival, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D), has been endorsed by officials ranging from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (Mo.).

Dean's backing of Bowen provides some counterweight to those endorsements, and also may help neutralize any support for anti-war activist Marcy Winograd, who ran against Harman in the Democratic primary last cycle.

The special election vote is set for July 12, with the primary slated for May 17.

--Updated at 8:17 p.m.

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Ex-Rep. Dan Maffei 'strongly considering' another bid in 2012

Former Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), who lost by a razor thin margin to Republican Ann Marie Buerkle last cycle, told supporters in an email that he's "strongly considering" another run in 2012.

"I have been asked many times what my future plans are and if I intend to seek a return to public office. I understand that the closeness of last year's election would naturally lead to these kinds of questions," Maffei wrote. "I want you to know that I am strongly considering running again for Congress in 2012." 

Maffei didn't mention Buerkle by name in the email, but criticized his successor as showing "no willingness to work with anyone but the hard right 'tea party' faction of the Republicans, spurning even the more mainstream Republicans trying to work out budgets with President Obama."  

Maffei lost by less than 700 votes last year after a count of absentee ballots led to legal challenges that dragged the race into late November. 

Buerkle's district is one of just 14 Republican-held congressional districts that voted for both President Obama in 2008 and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004, giving Democrats hope that it will be a prime pickup opportunity in a presidential year. 

The Republican incumbent will be a top target next year and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already run radio ads in Buerkle's district. 

How redistricting will impact the race ahead of 2012 is still an unknown. New York must shed two House seats before next year with a majority of the state's population loss coming from upstate.

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Ex-Rep. Klein won't seek rematch with Allen West in 2012

Former Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) won't seek a rematch with freshman Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) next year, the Democrat said Thursday. 

"I've joined the Holland & Knight law firm, and I've been doing this 18 years, and discussed it with my wife," Klein told the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. "She's been an incredible supporter over the years. And I think its OK to step back a little bit and work in the private sector." 

Klein's decision closes the door on a rematch of one of last cycle's nastiest congressional contests and should come as a relief to Democrat Lois Frankel, who just jumped into the race against West.

Klein said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) "wants me to run. But I told him ... I think I'm ready to try something different."

Israel made a recent trip to Florida to recruit potential West challengers and spoke with Klein and Frankel, among others. 

Despite ruling out 2012, Klein said he's leaving his options open for the future.

"You never say 'never' for the future," he said. "But I'm very content and looking forward to work in the private sector." 

Aside from Frankel, Democratic businessman Patrick Murphy is already in the race on the Democratic side. 

West, whose national profile has exploded since his election in 2010, will be a top target for national Democrats next year.

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Donald Trump demands Obama's birth certificate

Real estate mogul Donald Trump said Wednesday that questions over whether President Obama was born in the United States are legitimate, claiming, "There's something on that birth certificate that he doesn't like." 

Echoing the sentiments of so-called "birthers" during an interview on ABC's "The View," Trump demanded, "I want him to show his birth certificate." 

Obama was born in Hawaii; his birth certificate is on file at the state's Department of Health. 

Still, Trump insisted that questions over Obama's birthplace have not been settled. 

"Why doesn't he show his birth certificate?" Trump asked. "I wish he would, because I think it's a terrible pale that's hanging over him." 

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