House races

House races

Tea Party activists to subpoena Rep. Grayson

A group of Florida Tea Party activists plan to subpoena Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) and a local political consultant Thursday as part of a lawsuit that alleges the congressman played a role in putting forth a sham Tea Party candidate to aid his own reelection bid. 

According to the Orlando Sentinel, a subpoena was served to Grayson's wife at their Florida home Wednesday while the congressman was in Washington, D.C. 

"It's obviously a publicity stunt," Grayson said. "The timing is no coincidence. This lawsuit has been going on for months. Why would they suddenly need my testimony two weeks before the election?"

It's the latest twist in a months-long battle over the tea party identity — a battle that's grown statewide but is centered in Grayson's Central Florida district.

Members of the tea party movement accuse Grayson, a liberal Democrat, of colluding with Guetzloe, a Republican consultant and one of the founders of the Florida Tea Party political party. The party's first candidate was Peg Dunmire, a business consultant running in Grayson's 8th District.

Florida Republican Party officials contend that Dunmire is a spoiler meant to pull conservative votes away from Webster, easing the way for Grayson's re-election.

Grayson faces a tough race against state Sen. Daniel Webster (R) this fall and has been under fire for the past week over his latest attack ad. 

Grayson labels Webster, "Taliban Dan" in the ad and attempts to paint the Republican as a religious extremist by employing footage from a Webster speech at a Christian conference in 2009. Grayson has defended the ad, but video of Webster's speech shows the ad quotes the Republican out of context.  

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Rep. Barrow an agnostic when it comes to Pelosi

Georgia Rep. John Barrow (D) is hedging on whether he'd support Nancy Pelosi for another term as speaker of the House.

His Republican challenger, Ray McKinney, has been attempting to tie him to Pelosi and Congressional Democrats.

"John Barrow portrays himself and everybody believes he's a conservative Democrat, which makes some people comfortable," McKinney said recently. "But the fact is that John Barrow is not a conservative Democrat, except in campaigns."

When asked by the Savannah Morning News whether he'd vote for Pelosi for another term as speaker, Barrow's spokeswoman, Jane Brodsky, didn't directly answer the question.

"November is a long way off," Brodsky said. "Congressman Barrow doesn’t even know who's running."

Barrow bucked his party earlier this year by voting against healthcare reform. He faced a primary challenge as a result but won handily.

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Outside groups pouring money into Rep. Stupak's district

Michigan's 1st district, which is held by retiring Rep. Bart Stupak (D), is seeing an influx of spending by national Republicans and their allies. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved some $700,000 in airtime in support of its nominee, Dan Benishek.

Meanwhile, the American Future Fund has dropped $273,000 on ads airing Sept. 15 to Oct. 12, according to a Republican strategist tracking ad buys in the race. And the group Americans for Prosperity spent $93,000 on ads that aired in August.

The Democrat running against Benishek, state Rep. Gary McDowell, is slated to get a total of $711,000 in ad spending help from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

McDowell has already dropped $200,000 of his own campaign money on TV ads, according to the GOP strategist.

But traditional Democratic allies such as unions have not made an investment in the 1st district, even as they air ads in other competitive Michigan races.

On Tuesday, Benishek used one of his first TV ads of the campaign to rebut Democrats' claims he wants to "privatize Social Security."

"You can tell it's almost Election Day: they're starting with the scare tactics," Benishek says in one of two spots released Tuesday. "The truth is I'm fighting to protect Social Security."

He spent $85,000 on airtime for the ads, the strategist said.


Benishek was recently hit with a TV ad from the DCCC that said he "supports a plan that would let Wall Street gamble with your Social Security."

The DCCC's spots haven't proved effective. Two recent polls have shown McDowell trailing Benishek from 3 to 16 points.

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RACE OF THE DAY: Florida-08

Rep. Alan Grayson's questionable attack ads have vaulted his reelection race into the spotlight this week.

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Key House Dem snags NRA's backing in reelection effort

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) scored a key endorsement from the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Tuesday.

The gun-rights group backed the embattled House Democrat for reelection, giving her key cover from a group that could otherwise threaten to swing the state's voters to her Republican challenger.

"The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund supports Stephanie Herseth Sandlin because she has defended the Second Amendment freedoms of law-abiding gun owners, hunters and sportsmen in South Dakota and across America," said NRA-PVF Chairman Chris W. Cox. "On November 2, I urge all South Dakota NRA Members and gun owners to vote Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for Congress.”

The NRA had long been seen as a reliably Republican group. But Democrats, in their bid over the past decade to take back the majorities in the House and Senate, recruited growing numbers of centrists on gun-rights, who avoided the NRA's large electoral footprint.

The NRA, the foremost gun-rights lobby, has long said it favors incumbents with established records on key issues. Herseth Sandlin won office in 2004, and is a leader of the centrist Blue Dog coalition.

Still, Herseth Sandlin dodged a bullet by snagging the NRA's backing, lest the group back her Republican opponent, state Rep. Kirsti Noem.

"As a hunter and a gunowner, I proudly defend the Second Amendment as an individual right," Herseth Sandlin said. "It’s a fundamental part of the South Dakota way of life, and an essential part of our economy."

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Race to succeed Rep. Obey remains tight

The race to succeed retiring Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) appears to be one of the most competitive in the country.

Democrat Julie Lassa's campaign released an internal poll Tuesday that shows her trailing Republican Sean Duffy by a single point.

Lassa was at 41 percent support, Duffy was at 42 percent and there were 10 percent undecided in the poll by the Washington-based Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group. The remaining 7 percent went to independent conservative candidate Gary Kauther. The survey of 504 likely 2010 voters in Wisconsin's 7th district was conducted Sept. 26-27. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Democrats have made it clear they'll fight to hold this district while Republicans sense a pick-up opportunity. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's first IE ad targeted Duffy, and the National Republican Congressional Committee's IE has also aired an ad in the district.

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