House races

House races

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.



Dems readying for grudge matches

Some Democrats are gearing up for grudge matches against their old Republican foes, with former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.) the latest to announce her comeback bid. 

The one-term Democrat was defeated in November by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) in a six-point race. Kirkpatrick announced Tuesday that she wants a rematch with the Republican.

"It's clear to me, now that Paul Gosar has a record, that he is toeing the party line rather than serving the district," Kirkpatrick told the Arizona Republic.  

"The real key for me is the number of people who I've been hearing from in the district — and this is Democrats, independents, Republicans and even folks who are actively involved in the 'Tea Party' — that they feel he is deeply out of touch with the district."

Kirkpatrick could have better luck in 2012, when the district will have a different look and the presidential race should help drive up Democratic turnout.

Also on Tuesday, New Hampshire Democrat Ann McLane Kuster said she wants a rematch with Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), to whom she narrowly lost in November.


Rep. Bass's 2010 opponent will challenge him again in 2012

New Hampshire Democrat Ann McLane Kuster wants a rematch with the Republican who narrowly defeated her last year, Rep. Charlie Bass. 

Kuster told supporters in an email that she will wage another campaign for the state's 2nd district next year.

"To fight for good jobs, to protect the fragile economic recovery, and to invest in strengthening our country’s future, this week I am taking the first steps to begin a campaign for U.S. Congress in 2012," Kuster wrote Tuesday.

Kuster won a hotly contested Democratic primary last cycle against centrist Democrat Katrina Swett before losing in the general election.

The Democrat said a formal announcement about her 2012 bid won't come until next year but that she intends to start raising funds and organizing immediately.

"I am a frugal Yankee and I believe we need to cut wasteful government spending – like the billions in subsidies for oil companies, the corporate tax breaks for moving jobs overseas, and the billions more spent on redundant weapons systems that our military leaders have identified as wasteful and unneeded," Kuster wrote.  "But instead of these cuts, the U.S. House of Representatives is cutting what we need most – education, public safety, and the clean energy research that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It makes no sense."

Last cycle, Kuster was aided by liberal groups around the country, including the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which quickly released a statement of support Tuesday.

"Annie Kuster is a bold progressive champ who will be at the forefront of fighting for a progressive economic and jobs agenda in 2012," PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor said in a statement. "For those who care about putting Main Street ahead of Wall Street and holding Republicans accountable for their war on middle-class families, Annie's entry into the race is burst of great news."

The National Republican Congressional Committee also reacted quickly Tuesday to Kuster's announcement. The Democrat lost by less than 2 percentage points to Bass in 2010.

"Ann Kuster's record of supporting higher taxes, bigger government and more debt was rejected in 2010 because it stands in sharp contrast to the New Hampshire values of fiscal discipline and limited government," NRCC spokesman Tory Mazzola said in a statement. "With a history of supporting a New Hampshire state income tax and Nancy Pelosi's government-takeover of health care, it's clear that Kuster is drastically out of touch with voters in the Granite State."

-updated at 12:18 p.m.


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.


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.   


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.