House races

House races

RACE OF THE DAY: N.M.-02

Ex-Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) can now count former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) among his backers.

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DCCC spending for Reps. Mitchell, Salazar

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is up with a new round of independent expenditure spending, placing ad buys against the GOP opponents of Reps. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.), John Salazar (D-Colo.) and Bobby Bright (D-Ala.). 

According to independent expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, the DCCC is spending some $250,000 against Republican Scott Tipton in Salazar's district, just shy of $250,000 against Republican Dave Schweikert in Mitchell's district and another $210,000 against Republican Martha Roby in Bright's district. 

The National Education Association is also spending heavily against Schweikert, launching a $650,000 buy as part of a $15 million ad campaign to buck up vulnerable Democratic incumbents.  

The DCCC also placed a new six figure buy in Rep. Charles Djou's (R-Hawaii) district, one of the real chances for a Democratic pick-up in the House this fall. And the committee is up with buys in several other districts, including some $90,000 in Rep. Phil Hare's (D-Ill.) district, who faces a serious challenge from Republican Bobby Schilling.

Another target is Republican Jeff Perry, who is running against Bill Keating in the open seat race to fill retiring Rep. William Delahunt's (D-Mass.) seat. The committee is spending some $86,000 on an ad buy there. The NRCC is also spending in the 10th District race with a $27,000 buy supporting Perry and another for a spot opposing Keating.  

On top of the new ad buys, the DCCC is spending on mailers in seven of the contested districts.   

As the DCCC goes up with its new round of IE spending, its also starting to roll back some of the ad time it has reserved ahead of September. The committee has rolled back all but the final week of ad time it had reserved in Arizona for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), according to a Republican media buyer.   

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Teachers union launches $15 million ad, mail campaign for Dems

The National Education Association (NEA) launched a $15 million ad campaign on Wednesday to help elect several Democratic lawmakers.

The nation’s largest union, with 3.2 million members, released its first round of television ads  supporting endangered incumbent Reps. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) and Betty Sutton (D-Ohio). In addition, NEA also has sent out as many as 75,000 pieces of mail in support of Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.). 

The NEA's first two ad buys are sizable. In Sutton's district, the NEA placed a $550,000 buy, and in Mitchell's district, the group is spending $650,000, according to independent expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.   

The ad buys are part of a three-pronged campaign, expected to cost more than $40 million, to help candidates that are “clear pro-public education standout[s],” according to the teachers union press release. Along with the direct mail, radio and television ad effort, NEA is upping their member-to-member contact program and campaigning on several ballot initiatives across the country.  

Karen M. White, national political director for the NEA, said the union’s members will help boost voter turnout during an election year in which Democrats might suffer from their supporters’ lack of enthusiasm.

“In non-presidential years, our program can be particularly effective because our members vote at a higher rate than the general public and they are registered to vote at a higher rate than the general public,” White told The Hill. “Every off-year, we have to be focused on turnout.”

One factor that is driving teachers’ support for Democrats this year is when the House broke off from its August recess to approve a $26 billion emergency relief bill to prevent layoffs of teachers  and state and local government workers.

“When they saw that happen, they realized that it was important to be engaged more than ever this year,” White said about the NEA’s members. “They understand that the political process is connected to the legislative process.”

Along with Kissell, Mitchell and Sutton, the union plans to be active in several other races across the country. 

—Shane D'Aprile contributed to this post.


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Rep. Markey challenger goes negative in opening ad

Republican Cory Gardner is up with his first TV ad in his race against Rep. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), and he's going after the incumbent right out of the gate. 

The ad takes aim at Markey's voting record, highlighting her yes votes on healthcare reform and cap-and-trade.

"We sent her to Congress to fight for us," the ad's narrator says. "Instead, Betsy Markey has hurt Colorado with one bad vote after another. Markey voted for Obama's takeover of our healthcare system, co-sponsored the law to take away a worker's right to a secret ballot. She even voted for cap-and-trade that could cost 35,000 Colorado jobs." 

New numbers out Wednesday from The Hill/ANGA midterm poll show Gardner with an edge. Markey trails by just three points — 44 percent to 41, with 14 percent of likely voters undecided.

The poll offers some hope for Markey, as the race is within the margin of error. She has 89 percent support among Democrats and is winning independents at 43 percent to Gardner’s 39. She even has a decent amount of Republican support, at 11 percent. 

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Doug Hoffman backs off third-party bid for House

The candidate some Republicans say helped elect Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) in last year's special election for Congress in upstate New York has officially bowed out of the race in 2010.

Doug Hoffman was forging ahead with a third-party bid for the seat after losing out to Matt Doheny in September's Republican primary, but on Tuesday Hoffman decided to end his bid and endorse the GOP nominee.

From the Watertown Daily Times

Fearing he could "potentially leave Congress in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic party," the one-time tea party icon urged his supporters to cast their vote for the candidate who edged him in the Republican primary, Matthew A. Doheny.

The Saranac Lake accountant acknowledged that he and the Watertown portfolio manager "may have differed on some issues during the course of the race" — most notably, Mr. Doheny's support for abortion during the first trimester.

But in a note to supporters, the Conservative candidate said: "If we truly believe in advancing this movement and reclaiming Congress and our nation, we must all make sacrifices and set aside our egos and our personal dreams."

Hoffman's exit is a relief for the GOP and could spell trouble for Owens if Hoffman's backers coalesce behind Doheny. Even with Hoffman out of the race, his name will still appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Hoffman ran on the Conservative Party line in 2009 and narrowly lost to Owens after Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava dropped out of the race just days before the election. 

Scozzafava, who had the backing of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), threw her support behind the Democrat after exiting the race. Some national Republicans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, had endorsed Hoffman. 

Scozzafava still won more than 5 percent of the vote on Election Day. 

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Wisconsin GOP prospect gets Chamber nod

Wisconsin Republican Sean Duffy has landed backing from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It's the business group's first endorsement in Wisconsin. A spokesman said other "activities" are planned.

Doug Loon, a Chamber vice president, called Duffy "an invaluable leader who has a common-sense approach to job creation and getting America back on the road to recovery."

The endorsement will be officially unveiled during a conference call on Wednesday.

The Chamber had originally planned to announce its endorsement last week, but it was postponed after bad weather delayed Duffy's plane from landing in Washington.

Polls show Duffy neck and neck with Democrat Julie Lassa in the race to succeed retiring Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.).

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Georgia Republican's campaign strategist arrested in Alabama vote buying scheme

The chief strategist for Georgia Rep. Sanford Bishop's (D) Republican challenger was among close to a dozen lobbyists, state lawmakers and bingo casino operators arrested by the FBI in Alabama on Monday.

The 11 men were indicted in a scheme to buy and sell votes, which prosecutors called "astonishing in scope," according to the Birmingham News. At least three Alabama lawmakers wore wires as part of the investigation.

Lobbyist Jay Walker, who is the chief strategist for Georgia Republican Mike Keown, Bishop's challenger, was among those arrested. Walker also works on gambling legislation in Alabama. He was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery and 11 counts of honest services fraud, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

The men are accused of buying the votes of state lawmakers in an effort to make electronic bingo legal in the state.


Walker resigned from Keown's campaign on Monday, according to the AJC.
 
"He's given his verbal resignation," Keown campaign manager Andrew O'Shea told the paper. "We’re very troubled to say the least, and very sad."

Keown has an uphill climb to unseat Bishop but he'd been gaining ground as of late in the wake of the congressman's handling of scholarship money.

Georgia Democrats said Walker's involvement in Keown's campaign has "backfired."

"Mike Keown is a sitting state legislator, and instead of getting rid of lobbyists, he hires them," Matt Weyandt, executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, said in a statement. "What does Keown know about this vote-buying scheme and Jay Walker's work?"

--Updated at 11:35 a.m.

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Tea Party Express denounces former activist

The Tea Party Express issued a statement late Monday criticizing a former vice chairwoman who spoke out against a North Carolina House candidate.

Former Tea Party activist Deborah Johns told the Associated Press Monday that Iraq war veteran Ilario Pantano "is not a war hero."

Pantano, who's challenging seven-term Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), was charged by the Marines in 2004 with two counts of premeditated murder for shooting two Iraqi civilians. But the charges were dropped a year later and the case never went to trial. 

Johns said she is instead backing McIntyre for reelection. "I don't see in his voting record that it's so egregious that he should be voted out of office," she said.

A spokesman for the Tea Party Express said Johns was "terminated" from her position last year "for cause." Spokesman Levi Russell did not specify what the cause was, but noted, "we do not agree with her views regarding Mr. Pantano one bit."

"We wish to make it clear that she has absolutely no involvement with the tea party activities of the Tea Party Express, nor will she ever in the future," Russell said in a statement. "We find Ms. Johns' comments towards a proud Iraq war veteran abhorrent and reprehensible. They do not speak for our organization nor reflect our views in any way, shape or form."

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RACE OF THE DAY: N.C.-07

A Tea Party storyline made waves in North Carolina's 7th congressional district, but not in the way you might expect.  

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