House races

House races

Minnesota Rep. Cravaack's family moving to NH

Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) was a stay-at-home dad before he ran for Congress, allowing his wife, Traci, to travel on business. But Cravaack's schedule as a House member and her obligation to spend more time at her company's Boston office because of a promotion there has reportedly put stress on the family, so Traci and their children will move to New Hampshire to be near her work.

The family is in the process of buying two homes — one in North Branch, in the southern portion of the district, and another in New Hampshire. Cravaack told the Mesabi Daily, a local paper, that because of his and his wife's hectic schedules, his two pre-teen boys had to be left with a babysitter, and that the move was a way to improve the situation.

Cravaack will spend most of his time in Minnesota, and while his sons will attend school in New Hampshire they will spend their summers back in the Gopher State, according to Cravaack adviser Ben Golnik.

Cravaack was one of the surprise victories Republicans pulled off in the last election: despite being outspent three-to-one by longtime incumbent Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), Cravaack won by a narrow 48 percent to 47 percent margin. At the time, Cravaack called his win a "miracle."

Democrats see him as one of their biggest targets. The Iron Range district has gone for both President Obama and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in past presidential elections, and has a long history of stridently supporting liberals, although the southern part of the district is made up of fast-growing and more conservative Twin Cities exurbs.

The district is unlikely to change much, as Minnesota's redistricting process will likely be done by the courts because of split partisan control of the state, but since Cravaack lives on the district's southern edge and isn't moving far, there is a small chance his new home might not be in the district.


GOP outside group makes big ad buy against 10 House Dems

Crossroads GPS, a group created by Republican heavyweights including Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, has bought $1.4 million in airtime attacking 10 House Democrats for their party's handling of the economy.

The targets: Reps. Mike Ross (D-Ark.), Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Jerry Costello (D-Ill.).

Most of these Democrats are in swing districts and faced tough races in 2010. Capps, Shuler, Matheson and Boswell are also likely to see their districts become more Republican in the once-a-decade redistricting process.

Crossroads GPS was a major player in the 2010 election cycle, spending more than $70 million to help Republicans. This is its first ad buy targeting House Democrats of this cycle. It's likely the group will spend big once again in 2012.


Low fundraising suggests Rep. Bill Young considering retirement

Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) raised just $6,500 in the last three months, a sign that the 40-year congressman could be eying retirement. Young, who represents St. Petersburg, is the most senior Republican in the House.

Young has long been in the conversation as a possible retirement. While he has not faced a tough race in years, his district is a marginal one: It went narrowly for President Obama in the 2008 race for the White House after going narrowly for then-President George W. Bush in 2004. The district is also likely to become more Democratic in redistricting. Florida is adding two districts, meaning all districts will shrink a bit, and the state passed a "Fair Districts" law that says districts must be compact and not intentionally benefit incumbents.

Young did raise a healthier $58,700 last quarter and has almost $150,000 cash on hand in case he decides to run again. He has also had slow fundraising starts in the past, fueling speculation that he might retire, only to run again, and a senior staffer said the low total didn't indicate anything. "He will resume his fundraising opportunities later this month but refuses to fundraise while he's working on appropriations bills," said Young Chief of Staff Harry Glenn.

But Democrats are recruiting hard to find a challenger for the veteran, and he knows this. That the Republican was not more proactive in bringing in money indicates he might be ready to leave Congress.

Should Young retire, his district would be a prime pick-up opportunity for Democrats in 2012. They need to net 24 seats to regain control of the House.


Calif. House candidate Bera posts huge fundraising number

Dr. Ami Bera of California has raised more than a half-million dollars for a rematch against Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), the latest sign that the incumbent will have a tough race on his hands next fall. Bera has about $450,000 in the bank for the election.

Bera, one of the Democrats' most highly touted recruits in 2010, lost to Lungren 43 percent to 50 percent in the Republican-friendly year. The current district is slightly Republican-leaning, although it went narrowly for President Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

Bera, a physician, was the only Democratic challenger to out-raise a sitting House Republican in the cycle, although conservative outside groups like American Crossroads spent money to keep Lungren in the race.

This time, the two could be fighting on more Democratic territory. California's newly created Bipartisan Redistricting Commission has put out draft maps that would make Lungren's Sacramento-based district more liberal by lopping off some of the more conservative, rural parts of the district and centering it more on the state capitol.

The committee has yet to finish its work, and the changes in the district aren't huge, but in California in a presidential year Bera might have the edge, and his big fundraising numbers will only add to his chances.


Christie Vilsack raises $424,000 in second quarter

Former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack raised more than $424,000 in her bid to unseat Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in what will likely be a hard-fought marquee House race.

Both are well-known in the state: King is a Tea Party stalwart and a major player in the Iowa Republican caucuses, while Vilsack's husband, Tom, is a popular former governor of the state who currently serves as Secretary of Agriculture.

King has not yet released his fundraising totals. But he is likely to have plenty in the bank for the race. Some prominent national conservatives have come in to fundraise for him. The latest example: Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) will host a fundraiser for King in western Iowa in late July.

King has not faced serious opposition during his decade in the House and ran 5 points ahead of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in his district in 2008. But Iowa's new congressional map makes his district less conservative.

President Obama took 44 percent of the vote in the old district but would have taken 48 percent of the vote in the new one. This district remains the most conservative in the state. 

Still, King is known as a polarizing figure in the state. He made a statement in 2008 that "radical Islamists and their supporters will be dancing in the streets" if Obama won the election.

Iowa Democrats are hopeful they can sweep the delegation. The Hawkeye State's two eastern districts are Democratic-leaning, and the new southwestern district will pit Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) against Rep. Tom Latham (R) in what most expect to be a close race.


Carnahan's fundraising indicates he'll run for office again

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) said he raised $540,000 in the first six months of the year, giving a strong hint that he intends to run for office again despite the loss of his district due to redistricting. Which office he runs, however, for is an open question.

Rather than telling donors what he raised this quarter, Carnahan unconventionally released a number representing the last two quarters.

By subtracting the totals from his the first quarter fundraising report, one can deduce that he raised about $207,000 between April 1 and June 30, giving him $374,000 cash on hand.

In an email to supporters, Carnahan said that was “the most I’ve raised in my career at this point in an election cycle.”

Missouri lost one seat in congressional reapportionment, and the Republican legislators who had near-total control of the redistricting process targeted Carnahan's district for elimination.

Carnahan has not decided what office he will run for next fall. He will most likely either move to St. Louis to challenge Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), who absorbed much of Carnahan’s St. Louis-area district, or stay where he is and run for an open Republican-leaning district in the city's suburbs and exurbs.

That seat is open because Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo) is running for the U.S. Senate.

Challenging Clay in a primary would be an uphill fight for Carnahan, and possibly cause racial tensions with St. Louis's black community (Clay is African-American).

Running for the suburban second district could be difficult as well, as it has about a five-point Republican lean in elections. But Carnahan could benefit from a divisive GOP primary: Former Missouri Republican Party Chairwoman Ann Wagner will face off against Ed Martin, who ran against Carnahan in 2010, taking 47 percent of the vote. Wagner had a strong fundraising quarter, raising more than a half-million dollars in the last three months. But she might have to spend much of that in the primary against the better-known Martin.

“With help from friends and supporters like you, I will be well-prepared to run another successful congressional race in 2012,” Carnahan wrote.

Clay’s second quarter numbers weren’t as strong, raising about $98,000, which left him with $268,000 cash on hand.


Ex-Rep. Kirkpatrick outraises Rep. Gosar for rematch

Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) has raised more money than Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) in the past three months.

Kirkpatrick brought in $240,000 since the start of April and has $215,000 cash on hand for the election after paying off debts from her 2010 race. Gosar raised $170,000 during the same period. His campaign has not yet said how much cash on hand he has.

Both fundraising totals are respectable in the northeastern Arizona district, most of which is in the expensive Phoenix media market.

Kirkpatrick almost doubled Gosar's spending in 2010: she spent close to $2 million, while he spent a bit more than $1 million. Despite that, Gosar beat Kirkpatrick by a 50 percent to 44 percent margin.

The district is currently Republican-leaning — it gave both Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former President George W. Bush 54 percent of its vote in past presidential elections. While the rest of the state has trended Democratic, this area has added many exurban, wealthier white voters who lean Republican. Arizona has a nonpartisan redistricting commission, which could choose to make the district easier to win for Democrats, or a little more favorable to the GOP.


Lampson eyeing a run for Congress from Ron Paul's seat

Former Rep. Nick Lampson (D-Texas) is seriously considering a run for Congress in the district being vacated by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who announced Tuesday that he would not seek another term in the House.

"I certainly have an interest in taking a look at being back in Congress," Lampson told the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday. "I don't want to go back and get caught up in all the divisiveness that's going on now, but I would really look at an opportunity to explore serving Texas."

Lampson, a conservative Democrat, was first elected in 1996, and held the seat until the mid-decade redistricting pushed through by former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) in 2004. He returned to Congress for one term, two years later, winning DeLay's old seat after the House majority whip left the House to avoid ethics charges.

Texas Republicans approved a new redistricting map that, if it stands up to legal scrutiny, would create a district very similar to the one Lampson held from 1997-2005. The district, which would stretch from Galveston and Houston's suburbs to the Louisiana border, would include much territory Lampson has already represented. Galveston County is increasingly Republican, but the areas around Beaumont and Port Arthur, while conservative, still vote for Democrats with a conservative bent.

Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, a Democrat, might also consider a run. Former Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas), who Lampson beat in 1996, has indicated he might also be interested in the race.


Illinois Rep. Dold raises big money for tough reelection

Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) has raised more than half a million dollars since the beginning of April in preparation for what will likely be a tough reelection campaign. Dold has reported $748,000 cash on hand for the race.

The freshman congressman's suburban Chicago district, which already leaned strongly Democratic at the presidential level, became even more liberal due to a redrawing of the map in a process controlled by state Democrats. The old district gave President Obama 61 percent of its vote; the new one would have given him 63 percent.

Dold narrowly won the district by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin in 2010, a great year for Republicans; this was one of seats Dems had hoped to pick up last year. With home-state favorite son Obama on the top of the ticket next year, it will be harder for him to hold the seat.

The district is also an expensive one because it is in the Chicago media market. Dold and his opponent combined spent almost $6 million in the last election.

The crowded Democratic field to challenge Dold includes businessman Brad Schneider, who has more than $300,000 cash on hand, and liberal activist Ilya Sheyman, who has the backing of Howard Dean, his old boss at Democracy for America. State Rep. Carol Sente is also considering a run.

Dold is just one of several Illinois Republicans facing a tough election year due to gerrymandering. Illinois Democrats passed a redistricting map that could end the House careers of six Republicans. Others in trouble because of the new map include Reps. Judy Biggert, Joe Walsh, Adam Kinzinger, Timothy Johnson and Randy Hultgren.

The map will be challenged in court.


Rep. Allen West's Dem challenger has good fundraising quarter

West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel raised more than $440,000 in the last three months for her run against Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), according to Frankel's campaign. This is a good number for any House candidate. But, as The Hill reported earlier this week, tea party darling West raised a whopping $1.5 million since the beginning of April.

She has not yet released how much money in the bank she has, but Frankel raised an additional $250,000 in the first three weeks of the campaign. Another Democrat in the district, Patrick Murphy, announced he raised $450,000 in the quarter. It is unclear whether the Democrats will face each other in a primary then face West or if one or both will run in another district, as the state has yet to complete its redistricting.

The suburban Florida district, centered around Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, is an expensive place to campaign. West and former Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) spent nearly $12 million combined in their 2010 face-off, making it one of the costliest House races of the cycle.

West's huge fundraising numbers were aided by his popularity amongst tea partiers around the country. Frankel and Murphy doesn't need to match him dollar for dollar to make the race competitive, but will need to keep up the fast fundraising clip in order to have a shot at him.

West will need every penny to hold the seat. The district as currently is configured gave President Obama 52 percent of its vote in 2008, and it is likely to become more liberal due to redistricting.

This article was updated at 3:09pm on Wednesday, July 13th.