House races

House races

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.


Dem campaign chief fine with ex-member lobbying

The head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said working as a lobbyist won't disqualify former members from running again.

Rep. Steve Israel's (N.Y.) comments came as former Democratic members continue to take up posts in the lobbying world. Former Reps. Michael Arcuri (N.Y.), Allen Boyd (Fla.), Ron Klein (Fla.), Walt Minnick (Idaho), Earl Pomeroy (N.D.) and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.) have all taken jobs at law and lobbying firms after suffering defeats in the 2010 midterms.

Israel has been actively recruiting former members for grudge matches and said their new careers won't preclude them from running again.

"It depends on what they're lobbying for," Israel told Hotline On Call. "If they're lobbying for bridges to nowhere, which every Republican except for one just supported, then it's a problem. If they're lobbying to terminate the foreclosure assistance program for veterans and senior citizens, which every Republican just voted for, maybe that's a problem. But I don't think Democrats would be for those things."

--Kevin Bogardus contributed


New York Republican opens with positive TV ad

New York House candidate Jane Corwin (R) went up with her first TV ad of the special-election campaign Wednesday.

The 30-second spot touts the state lawmaker's "small-business experience."

"Ranked first among New York legislators for fighting to create jobs for working families and stop Albany's reckless spending," the announcer says in the ad.

The ad is airing on cable and broadcast and went up Wednesday districtwide, according to Corwin's camp.

Corwin has secured three ballot lines from the GOP, the Independence party and the state Conservative Party. While it's possible she may have a rival candidate on her right flank, Corwin appears to have momentum.

Meanwhile, Democrats in New York's 26th district are still considering candidates for the May 24 vote. 

— Updated at 9:46 a.m.


Freshman Republican plays down differences on spending bill

A New York freshman Republican played down the defection of 54 of his colleagues on the latest spending bill as a "difference of opinion on strategy" as opposed to fissures within the GOP majority.

Democratic leaders suggested Tuesday that the votes against the stopgap spending bill were a sign the GOP "cannot agree with themselves."

"The problem that we have is that the Republican majority does not agree with itself," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) told reporters after the vote.

The GOP votes against the short-term measure increased nine fold over the previous continuing resolution (CR) vote earlier this month.

Grimm, who voted for the measure, said the debate within the GOP was "healthy."

"We're debating, we're talking, we have a discussion going on as opposed to three people going in a room and declaring the law," he told The Ballot Box. "I think it's been healthy."

Grimm on Monday criticized what he called the "extreme wing of the Republican Party" for refusing to back the short-term funding measure. The Staten Island Republican said some of his constituents have also pushed him to vote against the CRs.

"Sure, there have been some that have said, 'no, we want you to hold the line, don't vote for any short-term CRs,'" he said. "We disagree there. But overall I think they're going to be happy with the outcome."

Grimm said his statement didn't bring him "any flack" from the other members of the GOP freshman contingent. 

"I think they understand who I am. I've been lockstep with the Tea Party in all our core values. I always have and I always will because I believe in the same things," he said. "What I'm worried about is these fringe groups, left and right, who try to control the conversation and are taking our eyes off the ball."

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert, another freshman Republican who supported the bill, said the votes against it were a sign of "frustration."

"You can tell, a lot of folks are getting frustrated at the pace," he said. "A lot of us who are new here who want more good things to happen and realize that sometimes this place seems to move at a snail's pace."


N.Y. House candidate made controversial remarks about Latinos, blacks

An independent candidate for Congress in New York is facing questions over recent statements suggesting Latino farmworkers be deported and inner-city African-Americans be bused to farms to replace them.

Wealthy businessman Jack Davis, who is running for former Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.) seat as an Independent, made the comments during an interview with GOP officials in February, the Buffalo News reported.

Davis, who has made several runs for the House as a Democrat and Republican, made similar statements in 2008. "We have a huge unemployment problem with black youth in our cities. Put them on buses, take them out there [to the farms] and pay them a decent wage; they will work," he said then.

He apparently echoed those remarks when he was interviewing for the special-election nomination with the seven GOP county chairmen in the 26th district. Davis's spokesman acknowledged the comments "may not be politically correct and ... may not be racially correct."

Local GOP leaders weren't impressed.

"I was thunderstruck," Amherst GOP Chairman Marshall Wood told the paper. "Maybe in 1860 that might have been seen by some as an appropriate comment, but not now."

The report could help clear the way for GOP nominee Jane Corwin. The state lawmaker has the party's institutional backing, but could face Iraq war veteran Davis Bellavia in addition to a Democrat in a three-way race. The special election is set for May 24.


Special election for ex-Rep. Harman seat called for July

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has set the date for the special election to fill former Rep. Jane Harman's (D) seat.

The vote will take place on July 12, with the primary set for May 17, according to the Sacramento Bee. The nomination contest will be the first congressional primary to employ the state's new top-two system, wherein the two candidates who receive the most votes advance to the general. The general election could be two Democrats, in this case.

The competition on the Democratic side is between Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn and Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Two Republicans, Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin and Redondo Beach City Attorney Mike Webb, are also vying for the seat.

Democrats are heavily favored to retain the 36th district in the special election.

Harman left Congress on Feb. 28 to join the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.


Freshman Republican asks for $100 donations to back spending cuts

A freshman House Republican is fundraising off his support for cuts to government spending.

Arizona Rep. David Schweikert sent a pitch to supporters Monday asking for $100 contributions and billing it as "investing in honesty."

"Quite frankly, the cuts aren't coming fast enough, but we are keeping up the pressure!," Schweikert wrote. "We can keep that fight going, we are driving the agenda and listening to you."

The appeal comes as Democrats have begun targeting lawmakers for their support of spending cuts.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last month accused vulnerable Republicans of "choosing dangerous cuts that will cost jobs and hurt the middle class while still preserving taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil companies making record profits."

Schweikert unseated Democrat Harry Mitchell in a nine-point race last November.

"When we continue to cut government, we win," the Republican wrote in his appeal for campaign donations.


Missouri Rep. Carnahan unbowed by redistricting risk

Missouri Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) said he's confident redistricting won't eliminate his seat, but if it does, he still plans to run for Congress again in 2012 — even it means challenging a fellow lawmaker.

The four-term Democrat also predicted that President Obama will be a boon to the party's electoral fortunes in 2012.

With its population declining over the last decade, Missouri has lost one of its nine House seats through reapportionment. Observers believe that could it could be Carnahan's St. Louis-area district on the chopping block. That district encompasses the area south of the city and could be merged into the other two metro-region seats.

That would see Carnahan in a potential head-to-head contest against either Rep. Lacy Clay (D) or Rep. Todd Akin (R). Carnahan said he was committed to running again, regardless of what redistricting brings.

"There's a lot of speculation out there," he told The Ballot Box. "I'm 100 percent focused on running for Congress in 2012."

Carnahan said the 2010 Census has shown St. Louis making "substantial gains in population."

"As did some of the suburban areas of my district, so I think there's a strong case to keeping three whole seats for the St. Louis region. We have the population for that," Carnahan said.

Observers have also speculated that Carnahan may leave to run for another office. The state's lieutenant governor, Republican Peter Kinder, is expected to challenge either Gov. Jay Nixon (D) or Sen. Claire McCaskill (D). That could provide Carnahan — whose father, the late-Gov. Mel Carnahan, held the state's No. 2 job for a term — with an alternative to running against another member.

Carnahan said he has no plans to seek the lieutenant governor's job. "I'm 100 percent focused on getting through that [redistricting] process and running for Congress again in 2012," he said.

Missouri is expected to be a tough environment for Democrats in 2012, but Carnahan speculated that having Obama on the ticket will be helpful to the party.

"He'll energize a lot of voters," he said. "I'm optimistic about him really building up another strong organization there for our Democratic ticket."

Obama came close to winning the state last cycle, when he pulled in almost 200,000 more votes than the previous Democratic nominee, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), did in 2004.

The president "showed what he could do in 2008," Carnahan said, noting he lost to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by fewer than 5,000 votes. "I think he's got a good base to build on there."