House races

House races

Dems tap Hochul for NY special election

New York Democrats officially announced Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul would be their nominee in the special election for New York's 26th district House seat.

The announcement came after Hochul, who has already filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission, and the other candidates had their final interviews with the seven district county chairmen on Saturday in Geneseo. 

“I am running for Congress because I can do in Washington what I've done in Erie County — cut waste, hold down taxes and help Western New York businesses create jobs for working families," Hochul said in a statement. "I am looking forward to meeting residents throughout the district, and sharing my plan to get people back to work and get our economy back on track."

Hochul's nomination drew immediate fire from her Republican rival's camp.

"It's good to see that Kathy Hochul was able to find the Democrat Chair meeting in Geneseo, considering she doesn't even live in the 26th district," a spokesman for GOP nominee Jane Corwin said in a statement. "A career politician who has routinely voted to raise taxes and fees is just what Nancy Pelosi and Washington Democrats want, but it's exactly what Western New Yorkers are sick of."

Hochul will be Corwin's main rival in the special for former Republican Rep. Chris Lee's seat. Businessman Jack Davis and Iraq war veteran Davis Bellavia are also vying to be on the May 24 ballot.

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NY Dems expected to tap Hochul for special election

Democrats are expected to announce Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul as their nominee for the special election for New York's 26th congressional district.

The announcement is expected to come shortly after Hochul, who has already filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission, and the other candidates have their final interviews with the seven district county chairmen on Saturday.

Hochul's expected selection is already drawing fire from Republicans.

"While Jane Corwin has spent 36 years in the private sector helping to create jobs, career politician Kathy Hochul has spent her life doing everything she can to advance her own political career," Nick Langworthy, chairman of the Erie County Republican Committee, said in a statement Friday. "We welcome Kathy Hochul to the race and look forward to hearing her explain why she's repeatedly voted to grow government and raise taxes and fees on hard working Western New Yorkers."

Hochul will face Corwin, a GOP state lawmaker, in the election for former Rep. Chris Lee's seat. Businessman Jack Davis and Iraq war veteran Davis Bellavia are also vying to be on the May 24 ballot. Corwin is considered the favorite, but Democrats and observers consider Hochul to be the party's best chance to capture the seat. 

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Dems to defend health law as anniversary nears

Democrats left Congress Thursday with instructions to return to their districts and find a way to mark the one-year anniversary of the healthcare reform law.

"Each one of us will go back to our district and try to make a statement," Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) told The Hill. "Whether it's a town hall meeting or a press release or some type of event, we've been encouraged to do that."

The official anniversary of the bill, according to the Democratic leadership, is March 23, the day last year President Obama signed it into law at an event at the White House that featured more than 200 lawmakers.

A year later, voters haven't warmed to the reforms. Slightly less than 50 percent of respondents to the Kaiser Health Tracking Poll said in February they view the bill unfavorably, while 43 percent said they like it.

With that in mind, Democrats are returning to their districts to remind young adults, small-business owners, women and seniors about their new benefits. Before they recessed on Thursday, party lawmakers also held a low-key press conference at the Capitol to mark the first anniversary.


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Seven House Republicans vote against measure to defund NPR

Not a single House Democrat voted with the majority Thursday on a bill to ban all federal funding for National Public Radio, but seven House Republicans did opt to vote against the measure.  

The bill passed 228-192 and now heads to the Senate, where the Democratic majority is unlikely to take it up. 

The seven Republicans who voted against the bill include four GOP freshmen: Reps. Sean Duffy (Wisc.), Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.) and Rob Woodall (Ga.). Of the four, only Duffy and Hanna endured close races in 2010.  

Republican Reps. Steve LaTourette (Ohio), Pat Tiberi (Ohio) and Dave Reichert (Wash.) also voted against defunding public broadcasting. Freshman Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) voted present.   

The vote followed a contentious debate on the House floor that saw many Democrats lambasting the tactics of the GOP majority in the House and accusing them of misplaced priorities.

Freshman Rep. Rich Nugent (R-Fla.) said Thursday Republicans were simply trying to "liberate [NPR] from federal tax dollars."

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Democrat wants 2012 rematch with Rep. Lungren

Democrat Ami Bera wants another shot at defeating Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) in 2012, announcing Wednesday that he will be a candidate again next year. 

In an otherwise dismal year for House Democrats, Bera came within striking distance of the incumbent in the Republican district, and he's likely betting that he'll have an easier time next year given a more favorable turnout forecast for Dems.   

"After a period of honest reflection and consultation with my family and members of the community, I have decided to run again for Congress in 2012," Bera wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "I am running because the issues we care about are no less important today than they were last November, and the dysfunction in Congress is only getting worse." 

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GOP campaign chief irate over 'leak'

The head of the National Republican Congressional Committee is still doing damage control following reports last month about members being behind on their dues.

NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said he's offered "apologies to several people" on account of their dues information appearing publicly, and took aim at the source of the information. "So whoever thinks they were going to leak falsified information should know that I'm disappointed in their behavior," Sessions said.

From our colleague, Molly K. Hooper's, story

The Texas Republican’s face grew red as he told The Hill, “It was inappropriate, whoever got the story in the paper. It was not factually correct and it did not represent the essence of anything that I said. It was a complete fabrication. Why would I release that? I didn’t. I didn’t. I didn’t!” 

Sessions is working to reassure the GOP caucus after several members complained publicly about the dues stories.

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Sharron Angle to attend 'conservative Joes' funder

Nevada Republican Sharron Angle will continue to court Tea Party activists outside her home state as she makes a run for the House.

Angle became a national figure last year during her race against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), which helped her raise some $28 million for the campaign. With an eye toward maintaining that donor base, Angle is set to appear at a March 24 event billed as "an evening with the Joes."

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Samuel "Joe The Plumber" Wurzelbacher and former Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller are coming together at a Montara, Calif., fundraiser.

Tickets range from $212 to $2,012. It's unclear if Angle will benefit directly from the event. According to a release, the money raised goes to the Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama, a group organized by the California-based Tea Party Express, which backed Angle in her Senate bid.

Angle announced Wednesday that she is entering the race to succeed Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who is running for Senate. 

--Updated at 1:10 p.m.

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Rep. Wu crashed into parked car in 2010; didn't want police involved

As Rep. David Wu (D-Wash.) continues to deal with the political fallout from revelations of erratic behavior on the campaign trail last year and concern over his mental health, new details emerged Wednesday about a 2010 car crash involving the congressman.    

The previously unreported incident could raise additional questions about Wu's judgment. 

In February of last year, Wu crashed into a parked car in Portland and initially asked the owner of the vehicle to not report the incident to police. That request was declined and in a call reporting the incident, a woman said that Wu was driving on the wrong side of the road and that he claimed to have fallen asleep at the wheel.  

"I'm assuming that there was some kind of disability if he was driving on the wrong side of the street," the caller said to a police dispatcher when asked whether she thought Wu was intoxicated. "He says he fell asleep. I don't believe him." 

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Oregon Rep. Wu heading home to reassure voters

Oregon Rep. David Wu (D) will resume his reassurance tour when the House recesses next week.

Facing a potential primary challenge, Wu has increasingly sought to reassure Democratic activists that he's still able to serve. The Portland Democrat has been under pressure since it emerged that days before the midterm vote last November he sent staffers a picture of himself wearing a tiger costume and e-mails written in the voices of his children.

Wu announced Wednesday he would hold six public meetings with constituents across the 1st district next week. According to The Oregonian, Wu's announcement indicated he would focus on "the economy and ways to create jobs" and made no mention of his struggle with mental illness -- a sign he's looking to move past his recent public difficulties.

Wu has filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission and he met with activists back in the district last month before returning to Washington for the latest House session.

As Wu has been making the rounds, some activists have begun floating the names of several Democrats who could potentially challenge the congressman, including former labor commissioner Brad Avakian, state Sen. Suzanne Bonamic and former state Attorney General candidate Greg Macpherson.

Whether the seven-term lawmaker gets a challenge may depend, in part, on his next fundraising report. The April quarter deadline is March 31. At the start of the year, Wu reported having only $7,500 in his campaign account and $60,656 in debt.

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