Democrats have reserved airtime for the final two weeks before the election in key congressional districts across the country.
Democratic strategists are breathing a sigh of relief over Rep. Walt Minnick’s (D-Idaho) reelection prospects.
Minnick’s Republican challenger, state Rep. Raul Labrador (R), was notably absent from the group of Republican candidates the National Republican Congressional Committee promoted in its Young Guns candidates training program Wednesday.
The NRCC added 33 GOP candidates to its “On the Radar” and “Contender” lists but didn’t include Labrador, who defeated committee favorite Vaughn Ward in the May primary.
Democrats were quick to take note of Labrador's absence.
“After the NRCC got burned by investing heavily in serial plagiarist Vaughn Ward while Congressman Minnick worked hard in his district and tallied up a cash advantage of 16 to one over Raul Labrador, it’s looking more and more like this district is falling off the NRCC’s radar,” Andrew Stone, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement.
Labrador also missed out an earlier round of Young Gun promotions in June.
He has reportedly had a tense relationship with the committee. He campaigned vigorously against Ward, railing against him as a Washington establishment candidate. And Labrador was stood up by NRCC officials when he came to Washington in December, according to the Idaho Statesman. After his primary win, he has yet to receive contributions from House Republicans, except for Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who gave $2,000 on June 22.
Meanwhile, Minnick has a significant cash-on-hand advantage. He reported having more than $1.1 million in the bank at the end of June, while Labrador reported having some $69,000 cash on hand.
A spokeswoman for the NRCC did not address Labrador’s status in the Young Guns program, but insisted Minnick would have a tough reelect.
“Walt Minnick needs every penny to defend his votes for higher taxes and for Nancy Pelosi as speaker,” Joanna Burgos, a spokeswoman for the NRCC, said in a statement. ”While Minnick courts Nancy Pelosi’s friends in liberal San Francisco, Raul Labrador is working to introduce himself to Idahoans and build a winning campaign to defeat Walt Minnick.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) endorsed New York congressional candidate Chris Cox Wednesday. Cox is locked in a Republican primary in New York’s 1st Congressional District.
Cox, who is largely self-funding his bid, is the son of New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox and the grandson of former President Richard Nixon.
“Chris is a leader with fresh ideas, a dedication to government accountability, and a commitment to serving the best interests of his constituents,” Bush said in a statement. “The challenges we face as a country present us with an incredible opportunity to advance bold and lasting reform that will build a stronger America for the future. I believe Chris will bring creative, conservative and common-sense solutions to tackle the big issues of our day.”
Cox has been under fire from some New York Republicans to withdraw from the race, and last month his top-tier consulting team, made up almost entirely of John McCain presidential hands, up and quit. Fred Davis, Mark Salter and Josh Geleris were among those who left, citing strategic differences with the campaign.
Cox was the New York state chair of McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
He faces Randy Altschuler and George Demos in the Republican primary for the seat held by Rep. Tim Bishop (D).
Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined the Tea Party caucus on Tuesday but opted not to publicize it because he was preparing for his mother’s funeral.
“He was with his family yesterday making preparations for his mother’s funeral service, which is taking place this morning,” a spokeswoman for Moran said in an e-mail.
An earlier post noted that Moran had not joined the caucus while his primary rival, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), had. The two lawmakers are vying for the Kansas GOP Senate nomination.
The Tea Party caucus, recently founded by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), held its first meeting Wednesday. A total of 29 lawmakers have joined the group.
The National Republican Congressional Committee Wednesday added 33 Republican candidates to its “On the Radar” and “Contender” lists.
Those are levels one and two of the committee’s “Young Guns” program — a status which signals a high level of attention from the national party.
Reaching “Contender” status are 14 candidates including Jon Runyan (N.J.), who’s challenging Rep. John Adler (D), and John Koster (Wash.) who’s challenging Rep. Rick Larson (D).
The candidates making the NRCC’s “On the Radar” list include Hunt Downer (La.) and Jeff Landry (La.), both running for the seat left open by Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), and Tim Burns (Pa.), who lost a special election in May to fill the seat of the late Rep. John Murtha (D).
While many of the additions are currently outside shots to win this fall, the argument from the NRCC is that the playing field is rapidly expanding.
“These candidates have worked hard to meet the benchmarks set to place them on the road to victory,” said NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) in a statement. “With voters frustrated with an out-of-touch Democrat majority, these candidates are willing to take the necessary steps to achieve our goal of retiring Nancy Pelosi and winning and building a lasting Republican majority.”
Below is a full list of the candidates elevated by the committee.
On the Radar: Dee Adcock(Pa.-13), Jason Allen (Mich.-01), Dan Benishek (Mich.-01), Susan Bitter Smith (Ariz.-05), Tim Burns (Pa.-12), Donna Campbell (Texas-25), Peter Corrigan (Ohio-10), Hunt Downer (La.-03), John Gomez (N.Y.-02), Rich Iott (Ohio-09), Bill Johnson (Ohio-06), Jeff Landry (La.-03), Ben Lange (Iowa-01), Delia Lopez(Ore.-03), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Iowa-02), Star Parker (Calif.-37), Keith Rothfus (Pa.-04), Frank Scaturro (N.Y.-04) and Brad Zaun (Iowa-03).
Contender: Charlie Bass (N.H.-02), Francisco Canseco (Texas-23), Dan Debicella (Conn.-04), Randy Demmer (Minn.-01), Chris Gibson (N.Y.-20), Jaime Herrera (Wash.-03), Dan Kapanke (Wis.-03), Mike Kelly (Pa.-03), John Koster (Wash.-02), Michele Rollins (Del.-At Large), Jon Runyan (N.J.-03), Bobby Schilling (Ill.-17), Scott Sipprelle (N.J.-12) and Steve Southerland (Fla.-02).
--Updated at 4:20 p.m.
Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) joined the newly-founded Tea Party caucus late Tuesday in the hope of boosting his prospects in the GOP Senate primary.
The caucus, which was founded by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) as an "informal group" on July 15, is set to meet Wednesday for the first time.
Tiahrt trails Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) significantly in the race to succeed Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). In a SurveyUSA poll released Monday, 50 percent of respondents said they supported Moran and 36 percent backed Tiahrt.
"The Tea Party Caucus will help us amplify our message inside the halls of Congress and make sure the people’s voices are heard and not ignored by the Majority Party," Tiahrt said in a statement.
Moran also joined the caucus, but didn't announce his decision publicly because he's attending the funeral of his mother on Wednesday.
The group’s goal is to "promote Americans' call for fiscal responsibility, adherence to the Constitution, and limited government," Bachmann wrote in a letter to Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.), who chairs the House Administration Committee.
Since it was formed the
caucus has attracted GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.), National
Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) and Reps.
Paul Broun (R-Ga.) and John Carter (R-Texas), according to the House
website. Fox News reported that Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), Dan Burton
(R-Ind.) and Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) also joined the caucus.
[Updated at 4:19 p.m. An earlier version of this post stated incorrectly that Moran hadn't joined the Tea Party caucus.]
In a surprise on Tuesday, the former chief of staff to retiring Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.) finished first in a crowded Republican primary, but it wasn’t enough to avoid an August runoff.
Rob Woodall won 37 percent of the vote with radio host Jody Hice coming in second at 26 percent. State Rep. Clay Cox won’t even make it into the August runoff, finishing third with 20 percent of the vote.
Cox was considered the frontrunner in the 7th District, though most observers thought a runoff was likely. Cox was a favorite of Tea Party groups in the state and had the backing of the state’s GOP establishment, including Gov. Sonny Perdue and state House Speaker David Ralston.
Cox was in Washington, D.C., last week for a fundraiser at the Capitol Hill Club.
Hice, a former minister, stirred controversy earlier this week with a billboard campaign referencing President Obama. The billboards asked, “Had enough of Obama’s change?” The “c” in the word change was replaced with a hammer and sickle.
Linder officially endorsed his former chief of staff Woodall in April.
Support of the Fair Tax turned out to be a major issue in the primary, even though every one of the Republicans running voiced support for it. The candidates squabbled over who was the strongest backer of the tax proposal, which is based on consumption rather than income.
Linder co-authored a book on the fair tax with conservative radio host Neal Boortz.
Woodall and Hice will head to an Aug. 10 runoff.
Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson kept his congressional career on an even keel Tuesday.
Johnson — who questioned whether Guam could “tip over and capsize” — won his primary against former DeKalb County chief Vernon Jones and DeKalb County Commissioner Connie Stokes.
Johnson got 55 percent of vote, according to unofficial results. The Associated Press called the race for him.
Addressing Adm. Robert Willard, who commands the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, during a hearing in March, Johnson made a tipping motion with his hands and said sternly, “My fear is that the whole island [of Guam] will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.” Willard paused and said: “We don’t anticipate that.”
The video of the hearing went viral — getting more than 2.5 million views on YouTube — and caused Johnson some embarrassment.
Moreover, Jones and Stokes questioned Johnson’s work ethic and called him an absentee member. There was evidence to back up their claims — Johnson even missed votes on Monday, telling Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) that he had to “personally attend to matters in my district.”
But Johnson had the backing of President Obama and raised and spent significantly more than his opponents. He even released a catchy campaign song, although it was later taken down from his website for unknown reasons.
Rep. John Barrow survived a primary scare Tuesday.
The Georgia Democrat easily defeated former state Sen. Regina Thomas (D), taking 62 percent of the vote with 242 of 285 precincts reporting. The Associated Press declared him the winner.
Barrow was under fire for voting against healthcare reform in March. His “no” vote so infuriated his fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill that only 10 members gave to his campaign this year, down from 22 in the 2008 cycle.
Thomas hoped to capitalize on Barrow’s controversial vote and her demographic advantage in the primary for the heavily African-American district. But she failed to raise enough money to be competitive.
Moreover, she was taking her second crack at Barrow, having lost to him by more than 50 points in 2008. Washington-based Democratic strategists anticipated Barrow would survive Tuesday’s vote.
Republican Ray McKinney leads the pack vying to challenge Barrow, but that primary could go to a runoff.
Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) will face his second runoff in three months in August after finishing just shy of the 50 percent needed to win Tuesday’s primary outright.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Graves led state Sen. Lee Hawkins 48.8 percent to 26.8 percent.
Graves won a special election runoff June 8 for the right to serve out the term of former Rep. Nathan Deal (R), who resigned to focus on his gubernatorial campaign.
Graves defeated Hawkins in that June 8 runoff, but a primary was still necessary to gain the nomination for the fall to serve a full two-year term.
Graves was one of six Republican candidates in Tuesday’s primary. He had strong backing from area Tea Party groups and won the endorsement of The Club for Growth.
Graves and Hawkins will square off again on Aug. 10.