House races

House races

Tea Party leader calls for GOP to avoid shutdown

A top Tea Party activist urged Republicans to avoid a government shutdown as the deadline for Congress to reach a budget agreement nears.

The GOP posted legislation late Monday that would keep the government open for a week after Friday’s deadline, when the latest short-term funding resolution expires. But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Tuesday that the White House has indicated it won't accept their measure, which "rais[es] the risk for a government shutdown."

"I don't think that's the right thing to do," said Tea Party Express Director Amy Kremer. "These guys were sent up here to make the hard decisions and that's exactly where they need to go now. ... They need to find that political will power [to find $100 billion in cuts] and do it."

Speaking at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor Tuesday, Kremer called it "unrealistic" for the new GOP House majority to "completely turn these things around in a three-month period."

"So I think we have to be practical and realistic about it and do the things they said they're going to do, but I can tell you patience is wearing thin," she said. "I don't think it's a good thing to shutdown the government, but I do think they do need to do what they said they were going to do.

"They said they were going to cut $100 billion and they had time, they knew had won the House, they had time on this to figure out how to do it."

Kremer noted some Tea Party activists have talked about running a primary challenger against House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio).

"I can tell you that I spoke with the leaders of the Ohio Liberty Council — the Cincinnati Tea Party — and they were not there yet, and those are the people that if you're going to primary somebody, those are the people you're going to work with," she said. "And two weeks ago they weren't there, so I think we're going to have to follow their lead on that."


No Dem endorsement in California's special House election

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn was backed by the majority of delegates at the California Democratic Party's special election caucus in Torrance on Saturday. Hahn took more than 57 percent of the vote, but needed 60 to win the party's endorsement in the special election race for former Rep. Jane Harman's (D) seat. Still, she talked up the result as a "game changer."

"It sends a strong message that I am the choice for Democrats in California's 36th congressional district," Hahn said in a statement. "I have always been a fighter for Democratic values -- like healthcare for all, improving our schools, creating more good paying jobs and protecting workers rights, cleaning up the environment, and fighting for civil and equal rights -- and when I go to Congress, I will continue to fight for those values."

Secretary of State Debra Bowen came second with 39 percent of the vote. She said the party was "clearly divided" over which candidate to back.

"I'm proud of the support that I received from my fellow Democrats," Bowen said in a statement.

 "I'm also very pleased with the endorsements my candidacy received this week from former DNC Chairman, Howard Dean, California League of Conservation Voters and Equality California PAC which cited my legislative record and courage to stand up to the special interests as reasons for their backing."

Anti-war activist Marcy Winograd took only 2 percent of the vote.

The primary vote for the seat is May 17. If no candidate wins a majority, the top two will advance to a runoff set for July 12.


NY Dem angry over aviation safety bill as special election ballot gets finalized

New York Democrat Kathy Hochul was joined by her GOP rival in sharply rebuking the House Republicans for pushing through an amendment Friday that they said curbs the federal government's ability to impose aviation safety regulations.

The measure, which was championed by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), was opposed by the Families of Continental Flight 3407, a group representing the victims of the February 2009 crash of a flight from Newark to Buffalo. Fifty-one people died in the disaster, which was partly attributed to crew fatigue.

Hochul, who is running in the 26th district special election, said the House of Representatives has "disgraced the lives of the victims of Continental Connection Flight 3407" by narrowly passing the bill. According to the Buffalo News, the amendment creates new procedures that the Federal Aviation Administration must follow when writing new flight safety rules. Critics say the amendment will make it harder to combat pilot fatigue and regulate training practices.

"I once again echo my cries that we must enact major changes to how the airline industry operates and vow that once elected to Congress, I will not stop fighting until these aviation protocols are brought to fruition," Hochul said in a statement.

"While Rep. Shuster (R-PA) and 214 of his colleagues champion the influence of special interest money, I will fight for the people of Western New York when I represent the 26th District. I will work hand-in-hand with Rep. Brian Higgins and Rep. Louise Slaughter in finding a way to keep these much needed reforms alive and keeping our families and loved ones safe."

Republican Jane Corwin broke with her party and joined Hochul in criticizing the amendment's passage. 

"The amendment offered by Rep. Shuster of Pennsylvania is an affront to the Families of Flight 3407's hard-fought efforts for aviation safety reforms and is a direct attempt to undo this 'one level of safety,'" Corwin said in a statement Friday. "If I was in Congress today for this vote, I would have adamantly opposed it and would have conveyed to other members the human toll that this amendment [threatens] to take."

Hochul and Corwin are the top two contenders in the race for former Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.) seat.

Corwin got a boost Friday when Iraq war veteran David Bellavia failed to make the May 24 ballot. Wealthy businessman Jack Davis, however, did make the ballot. Davis had sought the GOP nomination and has previously run for Congress as a Democrat.  

--Updated at 5:53 p.m.


Indiana Rep. Burton: 'I'm supporting Dick'

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) said he likes both men running for the GOP Senate nomination in Indiana and has no plans to get involved in their "fist fight."

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) faces state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in what's expected to be a tough primary for the six-term incumbent. "I'm supporting Dick, there's two Dicks in the race," Burton said, dryly. 

Burton, also a longtime incumbent, said he knows what it's like to face a primary challenge.

"Last election, I had five guys running against me," he told The Ballot Box. "It was an anti-incumbent year; they beat me to death.

"I have enough problems in my own district without getting involved in a senatorial race," he said. "I like Dick Lugar; I like our state treasurer. They're both good guys.

"So, I'm going to do what my mother always told me, unless you have to be in a fist fight, stay out of it," he said. 

--Updated at 6:38 p.m.


Rep. Bachmann cites Chris Matthews, Bill Press in fundraising pitch

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) wants campaign contributions to fight the "organized attacks" from broadcasters Chris Matthews and Bill Press.

Bachmann said the two "liberal talking heads" would "like nothing more than to silence me from exposing the truth about the wasteful spending and corruption caused by the left's unconstitutional policies."

Bachmann regularly cites her perceived detractors when asking supporters for cash. This plea comes on the morning of the quarterly fundraising deadline. Midnight Thursday is the cutoff to record contributions for the April 15 Federal Election Commission reports.

"This FEC fundraising report will be scrutinized far more closely than past reports by members of the media, my potential opponents and Democrats running Barack Obama's reelection campaign," Bachmann wrote, asking for help raising an additional $150,000.

The congresswoman is expected to decide later this year whether she'll launch a presidential bid in 2012.


Ohio Legislature approves bill to curb collective bargaining rights

State lawmakers in Ohio approved a measure Wednesday limiting the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

The bill, which bans Ohio's public-sector unions from striking, is expected to be quickly signed into law by Gov. John Kasich (R).

The timing of the bill's passage means that labor organizers will have to prepare a referendum on it for November of this year, precluding it from being on the ballot in 2012, which will likely be a more favorable year for Democrats.  

Some labor groups in the state have privately admitted they'd rather vote on a referendum in November of 2012 to take advantage of a more Democratic-leaning electorate and potentially even aid the reelection prospects of President Obama. But Republicans in Ohio's State Legislature moved the bill through quickly, eliminating that possibility.


Dem campaign chief preparing to unveil first round of recruits

A pair of high-profile Democratic House candidates announced their intentions to run again this week and more contenders will follow shortly, according to Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. 

Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) announced Wednesday she wants a rematch with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.). And on Tuesday, New Hampshire Democrat Ann McLane Kuster said she'll challenge Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), to whom she narrowly lost in November.

"Over the next couple days you'll see more names," Israel told The Ballot Box.

Israel has placed a premium on recruiting former members to run for their old seats. Republicans have dubbed these House alumni recruits graduates of  "Defeated Dem University." Still, despite having lost one race, they have the name recognition and campaign skills that raw candidates don't have.

Israel said many of them are waiting until the time is right to announce.

"There are some who have a strong interest in running -- will run -- but they know that if they pop out now in a state where redistricting is controlled by Republicans they may get redistricted to another [district]," he said. "So they're going to fly under the radar and announce when it's most beneficial."

The National Republican Congressional Committee has been trumpeting the $10 million it's raised off its annual dinner set for Wednesday night. Israel shrugged at the figure.

"They're trying to keep pace with us," he said. "We beat 'em in December, we beat 'em in January, we beat 'em in February. We always knew that they were going to have to try to beat us in March."

He added, "I don't think anyone would have predicted that they would be scrambling to keep pace with us, and I'm very comfortable with that scrambling to keep pace with us."


NY Dem releases first TV ad of special-election race

New York Democrat Kathy Hochul touted her stance against illegal immigration and shot back at her GOP rival in her first TV ad of the special election.

Hochul had watched as Republican Jane Corwin released three TV ads in the opening weeks of the race to fill the 26th-district seat. Corwin's second TV ad, which went up last week, hit Hochul for voting to raise property taxes in "11 town budgets" when she was a Hamburg town councilwoman.

Hochul said that's what "you'd expect from an Albany politician."

"I led the fight against giving illegal immigrants driver's licenses," she said in the 30-second ad, which is airing districtwide on broadcast. Hochul also cites her efforts to stop a switch to new license plates and "get rid" of toll roads.