House races

House races

Arizona Dem who called for boycott gets early challenger

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who angered many in Arizona with his calls for a boycott of the state, has drawn his first GOP challenger.

Shortly after the Arizona Legislature passed a controversial law against illegal immigration last spring, Grijalva called for an economic boycott of his home state. That gave Republicans hope of knocking off the Democrat.

Conservative groups subsequently ran TV ads against Grijalva, which prompted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to spend close to $200,000 on advertising against his GOP opponent, Ruth McClung.

Grijalva, who didn't face a primary in 2010, won reelection but the margin wasn't as comfortable as in past cycles.

On Thursday, Tucson resident Saucedo Mercer announced her intention to challenge Grijalva.

"I am running for office because I know in my heart that I can represent the people in CD 7 better than we have been represented over the last eight years by the incumbent," the Republican, who was born in Mexico and came to the United States in the 1980s, said in a statement Thursday.

Mercer's early entry into the race could be a signal that the GOP will again target Grijalva in 2012. 



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Rep. Giffords on list of endangered Dems

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee included Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on its list of the most vulnerable incumbents, released Thursday.

As Giffords remains in a Houston hospital, where she is recovering from the gunshot wound to the head she suffered in January, the DCCC is moving to protect her 8th District seat. Giffords was among 15 members chosen for the committee's "Frontline" program, which supports their "fundraising and outreach operations."

"The 15 Frontline members are battle tested and survived tough re-elections to return to Congress," DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.) said in a statement. "Under the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Frontline program builds on Members’ strengths, making sure they have the money, message and mobilization needed to be successful and continue fighting for the middle class families and small businesses in their districts."

The list also includes Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, who has already been targeted by a GOP TV ad, and New York Rep. Tim Bishop, who squeaked out a narrow win last November.

The full list is available after the jump. The DCCC noted, though, the list could change based on "political circumstances" such as redistricting, members' opponents or other factors.

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NRCC chairman says embattled Florida Republican 'doing a very good job'

The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), said Wednesday that a criminal probe dogging freshman Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.) has had no impact on his performance as a member of Congress.

"David Rivera is a brand new member of our delegation from Miami who is doing a very good job in his duties up here," Sessions told The Ballot Box. "He's very active as a member of his freshman class. He's getting his job done and I think that he's seen in a very favorable light."

Rivera is under investigation for allegedly failing to disclose $137,000 in loans, and The Associated Press has reported that Rivera paid himself hundreds of thousands of dollars in unexplained campaign reimbursements over his eight years in the State Legislature.

Democrats have been hammering the freshman Republican over the allegations and using the investigation to lambaste House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the new Republican majority over their promises of "no tolerance" on ethics questions.

Earlier this week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he was "very concerned" by reports of the investigation into Rivera, but that "we'll wait to see the results of them."

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Rep. Wu's campaign account in the red

Oregon Rep. David Wu (D) could be vulnerable to a primary challenge if he follows through with his pledge to seek reelection.

The seven-term lawmaker's campaign account is in the red, which may only serve to encourage potential Democrat challengers who will be watching whether donors will continue to support the beleaguered incumbent.

Wu has been under pressure in recent weeks after it emerged that days before the Nov. 2 vote he sent staffers a picture of himself wearing a tiger costume and e-mails written in the voices of his children.

His behavior prompted a half-dozen staffers to quit and for his long-time pollster, Lisa Grove, to tell The Oregonian that she would not work for him again.

Still, Wu recently filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission and he met with activists back in Oregon's 1st district over the weekend before returning to Washington on Monday night. 

"We met with Congressman Wu yesterday, and what we saw is that he is very healthy, very determined and very focused," said Trent Lutz, executive director of the state Democratic Party. "As he puts it, everybody has a chance to kick the tires."
 
Wu was making the rounds as supporters have begun floating the names of several Democrats who could step in for the congressman, including former labor commissioner Brad Avakian, state Sen. Suzanne Bonamic and former state Attorney General candidate Greg Macpherson.

Wu reported $7,500 in his campaign at the start of the year, but he's carrying $60,656 in debt. Democratic strategists note the Wu is strong campaigner, having won by double digits last November despite it being a Republican wave year.

But he could be losing institutional support. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee head Steve Israel (N.Y.) refused to comment Monday on Wu's future prospects.

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Conservative group to keep early pressure on House Dems

Crossroads GPS, the conservative-backed outside group that poured millions into the 2010 midterm elections, is vowing to keep the pressure on House Democrats with early ad buys as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) works to get itself out from under some $20 million in debt. 

The group's director, Steven Law, says early ad buys in competitive House districts will continue and that they reflect the group's strength heading into the 2012 cycle, when Law predicts Crossroads will raise "substantially more" than it did last cycle.   

"2012 is shaping up to be the most expensive and hard-fought year in our history," Law said in an interview with The Ballot Box. "You've got the White House, control of Congress and the balance of power on the Supreme Court all at stake." 

So far, the group has spent close to $1 million on ads this year and while the DCCC has already spent on radio ads and robocalls in dozens of districts, the committee has been unable to come close to matching the early spending from Crossroads GPS.

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