House races

House races

Tea Party Express backs Idaho Republican after Rep. Minnick rejects endorsement

The Tea Party Express, which threw its support behind Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) earlier this year, announced Friday that it's now backing Minnick's Republican challenger, Raul Labrador.

Minnick rebuffed the group's backing in July, after a controversy over a racially-charged blog post written by former Tea Party Express Chairman Mark Williams. 

The group said it has re-evaluated Minnick's positions over the past three months and decided that he has bowed to pressure from the Democratic leadership. 

"During the Primary Election campaign the Tea Party Express had endorsed Congressman Minnick for re-election in light of his independence in standing up to significant items in President Obama's agenda," Tea Party Express spokesman Levi Russell said in a statement Friday. "Since then, Congressman Minnick has engaged in a pattern of behavior which shows he is more responsive to the Democrat Party's establishment than he is the voters of Idaho."

The group noted that Minnick hasn't expressed support for repealing healthcare, and added: "He refuses to say he will vote against [House Speaker Nancy Pelosi] in the next session of Congress despite how abundantly clear her liberal agenda has become to everyone it seems but Congressman Minnick." 

But Minnick is one of several embattled House Democrats who have indicated that he may not back Pelosi again as House Speaker should Democrats retain control of Congress this fall. 

Minnick, who was originally thought to be one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in 2010 given his heavily conservative Idaho district, now appears poised to survive the expected Republican wave next month. 

He outraised Labrador in the third quarter, and his GOP challenger has struggled to gain traction despite the Republican-friendly district. 

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Warning: Watch where you campaign

CLARKSBURG, W. Va. — Early voting may offer candidates the chance to drive up turn-out among their faithful, but it also carries a warning: Watch where you campaign.

David McKinley, the Republican nominee for the House seat in West Virginia’s 1st district, had been stumping on the third floor of the Harrison County courthouse here on Thursday when he was politely informed that his campaign stop was also a polling place; district residents were casting ballots two floors below.

“Whoops,” said a member of McKinley’s entourage, who quickly recalled that first lady Michelle Obama caused a stir last week when she touted the Democratic agenda at a polling place in Chicago after casting an early ballot. McKinley had been in the courthouse for about an hour, going into offices and greeting employees.

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Rep. Van Hollen: Some Dems ignored warnings

Some Democratic incumbents ignored warnings from the party leadership about the tough political climate and didn't "fully prepare" for the campaign season, according to the party's House campaign chief.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), said Thursday that his party has been preparing for months for a difficult reelection year for incumbents.

"There are a few members who we approached many, many, many months ago to tell them to get their act together, who did not take that advice," Van Hollen said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "We're obviously working very closely now to try and protect even those who did not fully prepare themselves."

Normally safe members such as Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Phil Hare (D-Ill.) and Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) are locked in tight reelection contests this year. All of them hold Democratic-leaning districts; the DCCC has spent money to support Grijalva and Hare.

Van Hollen wouldn’t name the members he thought were caught napping. But he did say Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) was one example of a member who took the committee's advice and prepared for a tough environment.

Some members, he said, are in tough races because of spending by outside groups.

"What has obviously shuffled the deck in some of these districts is the outside money," Van Hollen said.

He estimated Republican-allied groups were outspending their Democratic counterparts by about a five-to-one ratio.

"It's pouring in. That is something that obviously in some of the races people are having to contend with."

Van Hollen pointed to Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), who was elected in 2006 and serves as a vice chairman of the DCCC.

"He's a member of Congress who understands campaigns, he fought a hard campaign and yet he’s seeing now $2 million" being spent against him in the district, the Maryland Democrat said. "So we’re going to war in that district's race, despite the fact that I’m confident he's going to win."

Van Hollen noted that the committee was in its strongest position ever to help struggling incumbents.

"I believe the DCCC in 2006 and 2008, today [are] the strongest DCCCs in the history of the organization," he said. "We demonstrated very clearly in the special elections in the past that we know how to win races."

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RACE OF THE DAY: N.Y.-24

Rep. Michael Arcuri is one incumbent who appears to be in good position to survive next month's expected GOP wave.

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Top GOP candidate in Mass. House race dealt blow from strip-search victim

Congressional candidate Jeff Perry’s bid for the U.S. House was rocked Wednesday by a 19-year-old allegation that he was present during an illegal strip-search of a Massachusetts child.

Perry, a Republican, was a police sergeant in 1991 when 14-year-old Lisa Allen was strip-searched by a police officer under Perry’s watch in Wareham. The incident occurred in a cranberry bog. 

The woman had not come forward publicly until Wednesday, when she issued a statement.

Perry issued a statement to the Boston Globe that did not directly deny the changes, but said that “what happened to Lisa Allen was wrong and should never happen to anyone.” He also denied being at the scene when asked about the case by the Globe earlier this year.

The officer who searched Allen, Scott Flanagan, confessed to the incident and was convicted in 1993 of indecent assault on a child and of civil-rights violations.

Perry is a state representative from Sandwich. He is the Republican nominee for the seat held by the retiring Rep. Bill Delahunt (D).


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Rep. Kirkpatrick hits opponent for backing out of only debate

Democratic strategists have complained recently that GOP House candidates are trying to run out the clock. Many Republican challengers hold slender leads in the polls and don't want to put themselves in situations — exchanges with reporters, debates — where that could be jeopardized.

In Arizona, freshman Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick trails her Republican opponent, dentist Paul Gosar, by seven points, according to The Hill's recent 2010 Midterm Election Poll.

Gosar recently withdrew from the only debate scheduled between himself and Kirkpatrick, which was supposed to occur Oct. 21. His decision prompted the Kirkpatrick camp to accuse Gosar of running scared.

"Paul Gosar is dodging debates because he realizes that the more people learn about his frightening views, the more they will unite behind Ann Kirkpatrick," Carmen Gallus, Kirkpatrick's campaign manager, said in a statement.

Gosar's camp said it was a matter of logistics. The debate was set to happen at KAET TV, the PBS affiliate, in Phoenix.

"Dr. Gosar has said he will debate anytime, anywhere in Arizona's 1st congressional district — whereas liberal Kirkpatrick continues to walk out on her constituents and instead caters to people outside of the district in Phoenix," said J.P. Twist in an e-mail. "Our requests for debates in the district have gone unanswered."

The Kirkpatrick camp said it proposed four in-district debates but never heard back from Gosar. The Kirkpatrick camp also pointed to comments Gosar made to reporters about debating in an "isolated area."

"We don't need to debate somewhere in an isolated area where Ms. Kirkpatrick can define the questions, isolate herself and not have to be accountable to her constituents," he told ABC News.

Arizona's 1st district is roughly the size of Pennsylvania and is largely rural.

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