House races

House races

Georgia Democrat hints at House grudge match

Georgia Democrat Jim Marshall left the door open to a return to politics when thanking supporters in Macon Thursday.

The former four-term congressman lost his seat to Republican Austin Scott in a surprise upset in November.

Having left Congress, Marshall is set to teach a course on national security at Princeton University, but noted he's still looking for other ways to serve.

"I don't plan on stopping my service, but I don't know what that service will be," he told some 200 supporters who turned out for the event. 

Marshall said he hasn't analyzed his loss to Scott and is instead focusing on his future.

"It's sort of wide open," said Marshall, according to the Macon Telegraph. "I don’t know if I will or I won't run again — I won't preclude it. (After losing) I didn't go through a lot of what-ifs. It was just the national mood and the local mood. I'm just moving on from here."

Marshall lost to Scott by six points in November. In past cycles, the Democrat had defeated his opponents by double-digit margins.

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Gov. Rendell: Dems 'scared' to talk healthcare in 2010

Democrats received an electoral drubbing in November because they lacked the courage to defend their healthcare reform legislation, according to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D).

Democrats rarely mentioned the legislation on the campaign trail. Even popular provisions, such as one that required members of Congress to buy the same health insurance available to other Americans, weren't widely talked about.

Speaking to Democrats in Omaha on Wednesday, Rendell said members should have been proud of their votes for the bill.

"We Democrats have become a party that is scared to talk about what we believe in," he said, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

"It's time to be bold again. We lost in November being scared of our shadows," said Rendell, who wraps up his second term and will leave office later this month.

Many strategists expect much of the 2012 campaign to revolve around the battle to implement or repeal the healthcare bill passed in March of last year.


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Democrat to challenge Rep. McIntyre from the left

A North Carolina Democratic activist is set to challenge Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) from the left in 2012.

Citing McIntyre's centrist voting record and opposition to the healthcare law, Democrat Del Pietro announced the primary challenge Wednesday. 

"Democrats are just furious with McIntyre and I really think this is going to be his last term," said Pietro, who accused McIntyre of abandoning the core principles of his party. "A lot of Democrats in this state are furious with the Blue Dogs in general, so I think we can get the base fired up."

McIntyre, who survived a challenge from Republican Ilario Pantano in 2010, ran to the right and emphasized his independence from then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democratic leadership. 

One of just a small handful of Blue Dog Dems who survived the midterms, McIntyre doesn't appear worried about his left flank. He was one of 20 Democrats to vote against Pelosi on the House floor Wednesday. 

He is also a likely "yes" vote on healthcare repeal when the Republican measure comes to the floor next week. McIntyre has previously said he favors a full repeal of the law. 

A spokesman for McIntyre did not respond to a request for comment on Pietro's entry into the race.

Pietro, a former pharmaceutical sales rep and current business counselor, describes himself as "progressive on some issues, but conservative on others," particularly with regard to terrorism and military matters. 

He also said he's confident that he can raise the money needed to take actually pose a challenge to McIntyre. Pietro said he intends to lean on Democratic small donors nationally who want "a true Democrat in office."  

The political newcomer's background is far from problem-free, though, and he's trying to preempt the negative press by fessing up to two previous drunk-driving arrests and a bankruptcy filing two years ago.

Pietro was found not guilty in one case, while another was thrown out by a judge.   

Pietro told the Wilmington Star News, “I just made a mistake and I accept responsibility for it, and I've moved on since then.”

-Updated at 1:20 p.m. 

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DCCC adds new faces to leadership team

New York Rep. Joseph Crowley has been tasked with raising the millions of dollars Democrats will need in their bid to reclaim the House majority.

Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, announced Thursday that Crowley would serve as the DCCC's finance chairman for what's expected to be a costly election cycle.

"As the DCCC national chair for national finance, Joe Crowley will provide invaluable expertise to our members and candidates and continue leading our efforts with the business community," Israel said in a statement.

Israel also announced that he was bringing in Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) to serve as chairman of outreach. He called Ellison "an inspirational leader to American Muslims."
 
Meanwhile,  Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) and Allyson Schwartz (Pa.) remain in the DCCC fold. 

Wasserman Schultz was appointed chairwoman of member and candidate services, while Schwartz has taken charge of recruiting. Both helped lead the DCCC's Red to Blue program in 2010.

Two notable absences from the leadership team announced Thursday were Reps. Bruce Braley (Iowa) and Donna Edwards (Md.), who also served as 2010 chairmen of Red to Blue, the DCCC's candidate assiatance program.

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Centrist Dem Kissell a "no" vote on healthcare repeal

Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), one of 34 House Democrats who voted against healthcare last year, will not vote in favor of repealing the law when the new Republican majority brings it up for a vote next week. 

"I am not going to vote to repeal it," Kissell told The Hill, adding that despite his opposition to the measure, Democrats "put a lot of energy into this bill."

Kissell said he was pleased the new majority was bringing a repeal vote to the floor, but said a long and drawn out fight over healthcare will only serve to distract from what should be the top priority of the new Congress — the economy and jobs.

"Get it on the floor, let everybody vote, and then let's focus on the economy and get people back to work, because that's what the American people want us to do," he said.

Kissell was also one of 19 Democrats who voted against Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Wednesday. He voted for fellow North Carolina Rep. Heath Shuler (D). 

"After the election, I felt that we as a party needed to look at what happened and seek out new leadership," Kissell said. "This was an opportunity to vote for someone else and demonstrate my belief that we need to move in a new direction."

Kissell is the fifth House Democrat who voted against healthcare who has pledged to not vote in favor of a full repeal. Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Shuler have all told The Hill they will not vote for repeal.

Only 13 of the 34 Democrats who voted against healthcare reform were reelected in the midterms, and at least three of those — Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.) and Ben Chandler (Ky.) — survived close races and are likely targets in 2012. McIntyre has previously expressed his support for full repeal of the law.

Other Democrats who voted "no" include Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), John Barrow (Ga.), Tim Holden (Pa.) and Mike Ross (Ark.).

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Alec Baldwin 'very interested' in running for public office

Actor Alec Baldwin may enter politics after all.

"It's something that I'm very, very interested in," he told CNN's Eliot Spitzer in an interview to air Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Baldwin said the problem is that "to leave what I'm doing now would be extremely painful." The 51-year-old actor has won multiple Emmys for his portrayal of Jack Donaghy on NBC's "30 Rock."

But he noted: "I've had people approach me about running for jobs and moving to other locations and it's been a very difficult decision for me because I am a New Yorker." He said the problem with running from New York is "there's a lot of ambition and there's a lot of entitlement."

In early December, Baldwin denied any interest in politics.

"No, that's bulls--t," he told The Hill when asked about rumors he would run for Congress in New York.


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Voters set bar low for incoming GOP majority

Voters have low expectations for the incoming Republican House majority, which is bad news for Democrats looking to make their slip from power only temporary.

Democratic strategists were hoping a bungling performance by House Republican leaders John Boehner (Ohio) and Eric Cantor (Va.) would provide campaign fodder for 2012, when they'll need to recapture 25 seats to reclaim the speaker's gavel.

But a new poll shows voters aren't expecting much from the Republicans, which will make it hard for Democrats to capitalize if the GOP has a subpar performance over the next two years. 

Two thirds of voters believe it's "somewhat likely" that congressional Republicans will prove a disappointment before the 2012 elections, according to a survey from the conservative-leaning Rasmussen group conducted Jan. 2. Moreover, 37 percent went so far as to call it "very likely."

Only a quarter of the 1,000 respondents expected the GOP would deliver a satisfactory performance.

Democrats' hopes of a haphazard Republican performance weren't unfounded. There are 96 new members who will be sworn in on Wednesday -- 87 of them Republicans -- and at least 35 of the freshmen have never held elected office before, according to one estimate.

"Some of these guys have never been on a city council before," said Gabe Holmstrom, a former advisor to the Arkansas Democratic Party. "We'll see what happens when they get up there."

Republicans could wind up compromising with congressional Democrats during the legislative process. That may serve to nullify the GOP's ability to use the Democrats' Washington leadership as a campaign bludgeon.

"All these Republicans up there, they're going to have to work with [incoming Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi and [President] Obama," said Holmstrom. "All the ads that have been run against Democrats can be run against Republicans."

The president on Tuesday indicated he is ready to work with the GOP congressional leadership.

"My hope is that John Boehner and [GOP Senate leader] Mitch McConnell will realize that there will be plenty of time to campaign for 2012 in 2012, and that our job this year is to make sure that we build on the recovery," Obama told reporters during his flight back to Washington from Hawaii. "We started to make good progress on that during the lame duck, and I expect to build on that progress when I get back."

--Updated at 3:43 p.m.

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Centrist House Dems face pressure to vote for healthcare repeal

A dozen House Democrats who voted against the healthcare legislation last year are under heavy pressure to vote for its repeal.

The vote sets up a tough political calculation for these Democrats sitting in moderate to conservative House districts. Several of these Democrats survived tough challenges in 2010 and a "no" vote on repeal could hand a potent campaign issue to potential GOP challengers.

Already, two Democrats who voted against healthcare have told The Hill they will not support its full repeal, while a third told Fox News he was leaning toward a "yes" vote on repeal.    

Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) told The Hill they are open to repealing parts of the law and finding fixes, but that both are opposed to voting in favor of a wholesale repeal.  

Rep. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) told Fox News that he's "inclined to support the repeal." 

Republican leaders announced Monday that a full repeal vote will be set for next Wednesday. 

Of the 34 House Democrats who voted against final passage of healthcare last March, just 13 remain after November's midterm elections.  

Aside from Peterson, Lipinski and Boren, the remaining House Democrats who voted "no" are Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), John Barrow (Ga.), Ben Chandler (Ky.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Stephen Lynch (Mass.) Jim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Mike Ross (Ark.) and Heath Shuler (N.C.).

Matheson, McIntyre and Chandler are among those who survived close House races this past cycle and are sure to be targets in 2012. 

McIntyre, who defeated Republican Ilario Pantano this past fall, is also a likely "yes" vote on repeal. McIntyre has previously signaled his support for full repeal of the law. 

The only other Democrat to publicly back repeal before the midterm elections was Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), who lost his bid for reelection to Republican Steven Palazzo. 

Meanwhile, the Democratic leadership and the White House are likely to exert pressure on House Democrats in an attempt to have as few as possible vote in favor of full repeal.

-- This post was updated at 11:41 a.m. and 12:55 p.m.

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