House races

House races

Wu seat likely to remain Democratic

Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) was already facing a tough primary when allegations that he had an "unwanted sexual encounter" with the teenage daughter of a supporter surfaced on Sunday.

He announced he would not seek reelection but thus far has refused to resign from his seat. Either way, with Wu out of the picture, Democrats should have no trouble hanging on to the seat.

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian (D) and state Rep. Brad Witt (D) had already begun to campaign against Wu. Avakian blasted him for refusing to resign, saying Wu could no longer be an effective House member and that ensuing investigation by the House Ethics Committee would create unnecessary trauma for the girl Wu allegedly pursued.

"David Wu's reported plan to remain in office but not seek reelection puts David Wu first and his constituents last," Avakian said in a statement. "An ethics investigation would result in a long, drawn out distraction and prolong the public pain of this young woman and her family."

The district gave President Obama 61 percent of its vote in 2008, and while it became a few points more Republican because of redistricting, it is unlikely that Republicans can contest the seat. 

Republican sources familiar with the district said that they are unlikely to seriously contest the race. Even with mounting reports of erratic behavior in a strong year for the GOP, Wu still won reelection with 55 percent of the vote last fall.

Should Wu change his mind and resign, Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber would set a date for a special election. Depending on when that election is called, the parties would either nominate candidates internally by party rule, or there will be a special primary election and candidates would file for that.


EMILY's List adds candidates to fundraising efforts

EMILY's List will help three more highly touted House candidates raise money for their campaigns, the group will announce later this morning.

The group, which backs pro-abortion-rights Democratic women, will support former Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, former Orlando police chief Val Demings and former Rep. Dina Titus in Nevada.

All three are facing possibly strong primary challenges, and the group's fundraising prowess could help its preferred candidates in a big way. Demings could face off against a liberal-bloggers favorite, former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), depending on redistricting; Titus could face another strong Democrat in a primary depending on Nevada's redistricting; and Duckworth will likely face former Obama campaign adviser Raja Krishnamoorthi.


Rep. West challenger publicizes ‘misogynist’ accusations

Rep. Allen West’s (R-Fla.) reelection campaign will be haunted by accusations that he is a “misogynist” and “sexist” if one Democratic challenger in his district has her way.

West’s challenger, former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, reacted to recent controversy over an email West sent to a woman member of Congress by registering the domain name

The website offers a petition demanding that West apologize and make a $1,000 donation to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“I think his attitude towards women is very disrespectful. I do think his votes mainly and his attitudes towards women are hurtful and disparaging," Frankel told The Palm Beach Post Sunday.

“Allen West doesn’t respect women,” reads the website, which is paid for and authorized by Frankel’s congressional campaign.

Both West and Frankel have announced strong fundraising numbers already this year.

West, already high on the list of Democratic targets in 2012, has faced increased opposition from both Democrats and activist groups including EMILY’s List since sending an email last week to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) in which he told her to “shut the heck up” and called her "vile," "despicable" and "not a Lady."

West, a freshman congressman and a Tea Party favorite, stood by his comments in the email in interviews last week despite calls by Democratic women in the House for an apology who are calling the remarks "sexist."

"I think I have the right to stand up and defend my honor and make sure that this type of activity does cease," West said last Thursday, referring to an ongoing feud between himself and Wasserman Schultz going back to his original campaign for Congress.

During West's campaign in 2010, Wasserman Schultz publicized West's connection to a biker magazine called Miami Mike’s Wheels on the Road, which she said contained “degrading, sexist and misogynistic" material.

—This post was updated at 5:47 p.m.


FBI, IRS open second probe of Rep. David Rivera

Federal investigators have opened a second criminal probe of embattled Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.), examining undisclosed payments from a Miami casino to a company he has ties to, according to the Miami Herald.

At issue: a $1 million consulting contract between a dog track and casino and a marketing company owned by Rivera's mother. The Herald reports that the IRS's involvement indicates that Rivera might have evaded paying taxes.

Rivera's campaign denied that there was a new investigation. "The Miami Herald story is a recycling of the same old, false, misleading, unattributed, and unsubstantiated reporting that has characterized their coverage thus far," the campaign sent out in a release. "Contrary to the Herald’s insinuation, Congressman Rivera has not been contacted by the FBI or IRS on any matter whatsoever."

This is just the latest bad news for the embattled congressman. This is not the first ethics charge he has faced — he is dealing with questions about changes he made to state legislative disclosure forms. He also was accused in 2002 of running a mail truck off the road because it contained fliers attacking his ethics.

Rivera was initially left off a big-ticket fundraiser held by the National Republican Congressional Committee, and there has been some buzz that he could face a primary challenger. Democratic state Rep. Luis Garcia also announced this week that he would run against the congressman.

This post was updated at 11:36am to include the Rivera campaign's response.


Democratic release touting recruitment offers glimpse of 2012 field

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday put out a release touting its recruitment efforts for the 2012 cycle that offers a glimpse of where they view their top targets at this early stage in the campaign.

The recruits they tout mostly are running against freshman Republicans and those currently representing swing districts. Others on the list are former House members and candidates who lost close races last election and first-time candidates with good fundraising figures in areas where redistricting has made once-strongly Republican districts more winnable or where the once-per-decade line-drawing process is in flux.

Democrats need to pick up a net of 24 seats to retake the House. Redistricting is working against them at the macro level, as Republicans have control of many more statehouses where the line-drawing will take place. Redistricting will create a map in flux, with many incumbents of both parties at risk. This list shows where national Democrats think they can benefit from the process — and where theyve been able to convince strong local candidates that theyre right.

The most recognizable names on the list include former Democratic Reps. Dina Titus (Nev.), Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.), Alan Grayson (Fla.) and Bill Foster (Ill.). Candidates from last cycle who ran strong campaigns include Ami Bera in California, Ann Kuster in New Hampshire and Denny Heck in Washington state. Former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack, who is challenging conservative Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) also is included.

The DCCC touts the campaigns in three Illinois districts in which redistricting, controlled by their party, has made the seats all but impossible to hold for the GOP. It also includes a few candidates each in Florida, California and Nevada, where the redistricting process has yet to wrap up but likely will cause a major reworking of the current district lines.


Democrat enters race against embattled Rep. Rivera

Florida state Rep. Luis Garcia announced he will run for Congress Wednesday, setting up what could be a tough race for Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.).

Rivera, who is is under investigation by several Florida law enforcement agencies regarding campaign finances and personal loans, has been all but abandoned by Republicans in Washington, who have left him out of fundraising events for other vulnerable House Republicans. He raised only $33,000 in the last quarter, and spent more than that.

Garcia lives slightly outside in the heavily Cuban south Florida district and represents parts of coastal Miami. With redistricting on the horizon and the state gaining two seats South Florida may add a new congressional district, which could give him a place to run in an open seat.

Garcia is the latest Florida politician to announce for a House race without a clear idea of where he will be running. Others include Democrats Patrick Murphy and Lois Frankel, who may run against bombastic Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) -- or may run in a new central Florida district.


Former Rep. Titus running for House

Former Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) will seek to return to her old job, she announced late Tuesday.

“I have been proud to serve Nevada, stand up for working families, and fight back against Wall Street banks that have walked away with billions while our communities suffer,” Titus said in an emailed statement. “It is clear that Southern Nevadans are still hurting and need someone who will do what’s right for them. They need real solutions and honest leadership."

National Republicans were quick to attack Titus. "Nevada voters already rejected Dina Titus' voting record of reckless spending and higher taxes," said National Republican Congressional Committee Spokesman Tyler Houlton. "The fact that Titus thinks she can win back the hearts of Nevada voters after supporting Nancy Pelosi's job-killing agenda shows how out-of-touch she is with Nevada's struggling working families."

It is unclear where exactly she will run — Nevada, which is adding a congressional seat next election, has yet to complete its redistricting process. But the reference to southern Nevada indicates she will run in the Las Vegas area.

Nevada's congressional delegation is in major flux: The state will have four House seats next year, and all of them could be held by new members. Only Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), who narrowly beat Titus in 2010, plans to run for the House again, and he could be running from a competitive or Democratic-leaning seat, depending on how the maps are drawn. Former Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) was appointed to the Senate in April, and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) is leaving the House to run against him.

This post was updated at 2:10pm to include the NRCC's statement