House races

House races

Nevada GOP wins legal challenge to special-election format

Nevada Republicans won a legal victory Thursday when a District Court judge overruled Secretary of State Ross Miller's decision to open up the special election for former Rep. Dean Heller's (R-Nev.) seat to all candidates.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The judge enjoined the secretary of state from moving ahead and gave the political parties until June 30 to nominate their candidates. ...

Judge James Todd Russell said the two statutes governing special elections were confusing and contradictory. But taken together, he believes they call for the political parties to nominate candidates to put on the ballot.

 "The secretary of state is picking and choosing" the portions of the law that back up his decision, the judge said. "That doesn't make sense to the court."

... The attorney general's office said it was reviewing whether it would appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court, which the judge said he expected.

Cory Adair, the executive director of the Nevada GOP, said the party was pleased with the result.

"Our position is and has always been consistent with election law and tradition in Nevada; today's ruling reaffirmed our position," Adair said in a statement. "We look forward in moving forward with the Central Committee's nomination and with the general election this fall."

Republicans had been concerned an open special election would split the conservative vote, allowing Democrats to capture the GOP-leaning district.

There's still the possibility that multiple conservative candidates will be on the Sept. 13 special-election ballot. Former Senate candidate Sharron Angle and Navy veteran Kirk Lippold are unlikely to pursue the state central committee's nomination and could run as independents.

Nevada GOP Chairman Mark Amodei and state Sen. Greg Brower are expected to compete for the party's blessing.


Republicans worried a tough primary will protect vulnerable Calif. Dem

Republicans are worried history is about to repeat itself in California's 11th district, where a tough primary in 2010 hamstrung the party's nominee against a vulnerable Democratic incumbent.

Republican David Harmer emerged from the four-way primary race and came within some 2,700 votes of unseating Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) in November.

During the primary, "David was the target and he came out of it with high negatives," said Tim Clark, a GOP consultant who advised Harmer. "Our guy or gal, whoever it is, cannot go through that wringer again and face McNerney."

Clark said he's concerned about the potential for a multi-candidate GOP field competing in the state's new primary system. The new rules stipulate that the top-two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, will advance out of an open primary to the general election.

"It could potentially make it a more brutal process," Clark said. "It would potentially be a more expensive process."


Sparring over Ryan budget in final NY-26 debate

Democrat Kathy Hochul used Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget plan to go on the offensive against Republican Jane Corwin in the final debate before New York's special House election next week.

The House Budget Committee chairman's controversial proposal would turn Medicare into a type of voucher system. Presented as a serious attempt to fix the program’s projected shortfalls, the proposal instead appears to have turned the political tide back toward the congressional Democrats, who were on the ropes after last November’s midterms.

During the debate in Rochester, which aired nationally on C-SPAN, Corwin and Hochul repeated clashed over the changes Ryan's plan would bring to Medicare.

"The plan that I'm supporting is not a voucher system," Corwin insisted.

But Hochul said his plan would, in fact, reform Medicare into a voucher program, and said voters were concerned about losing benefits. "This is very much a concern of the people I'm talking to," the Democrat said. "They do not want the government to end a program as we know it, the Medicare program. ... I will fight any plan that tries to decimate Medicare."

Both candidates have aired TV ads in recent weeks accusing the other of wanting to cut Medicare benefits.

On Wednesday, the candidates also talked about the federal budget and the debt ceiling, healthcare and reforming Social Security. And perhaps with an eye to appealing to the supporters of Independent Jack Davis, who refused to attend the debates, both candidates talked about their willingness to break with their respective parties.

Corwin talked about her two years in the state Assembly, where she said she's worked with Democrats. "I am a very independent thinker," she said.

Hochul also talked about how she worked with Republicans and had broken with her own party. "I have no problem at all standing up to my own party when I disagree with them," she said. "All you need to do is ask [former Democratic Govs.] Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson if I'm willing to do that."

She added later: "I'm not partisan."

This was the final meeting of the candidates before the May 24 vote, for which both parties have wagered heavily on the outcome. Democrats have invested time and money in the race despite the district's tendency to favor the GOP and are test-driving an anti-Ryan budget message that will likely be used again if Hochul wins.

Meanwhile, Republicans are hoping to break a three-year slump in special election races, and prove their landslide victory in last November's midterms wasn't a fluke.

--Julian Pecquet and Bob Cusack contributed to this report.


Rep. West says Corwin backed by Tea Party in NY-26

New York Republican Jane Corwin continues to receive help from the national GOP. Florida Rep. Allen West became the latest member to help boost her campaign to succeed former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.).

West, a well-known Tea Party figure and former Army officer, recorded a robocall for Corwin that suggested voters not consider backing Independent Jack Davis, who is running on the Tea Party line in the May 24 vote.

West says in the robocall: "This is Lieutenant Colonel and Congressman Allen West with a critical Tea Party alert. Jane Corwin is the only endorsed Tea Party candidate and the only candidate who will stand up to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and their out-of-control spending agenda."

The call went out to 30,000 homes in the 26th district, according to Corwin's camp.


Independent candidate keeps up TV presence in NY special election

Independent House candidate Jack Davis released a TV spot Wednesday hitting "both parties" on trade.

Davis, a mostly self-funding candidate running on the Tea Party line, has remained third in polls of New York's 26th district special election, but shows no signs of dropping out. He's competing with Democrat Kathy Hochul and Republican Jane Corwin to win the May 24 vote.

"Both parties support trade deals that ship our jobs overseas," the announcer says in the new ad, which features a dramatic kitchen-table scene between a family of four. "Jack Davis will fight to keep jobs in America."


Missouri Republican Wagner formally launches 2012 House bid

Missouri Republican Ann Wagner quickly formalized her 2012 campaign for Congress Tuesday in the wake of Rep. Todd Akin's (R-Mo.) decision to make a bid for Senate.

Late last month, Wagner launched an exploratory committee ahead of a likely run for the 2nd district seat, citing "the likely event" that Akin would opt for a 2012 Senate bid.

"I have been traveling the district and listening to the people in our district about the strong, effective, conservative leadership we need in the Congress," Wagner said in a statement posted on her website Tuesday. "The encouragement and enthusiasm I've received to run for Congress has been overwhelming."

Republican Ed Martin is already in the open-seat race for Akin's 2nd congressional district seat. Earlier this month, Martin pulled out of the 2012 Senate race against McCaskill in favor of another House run. Last fall, Martin nearly defeated Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) in the state's 3rd congressional district.    

As expected, Akin entered the Senate race Tuesday, setting up a potentially bruising campaign for the Republican nomination to face first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

The six-term St. Louis-area Republican joins a field that includes former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman (R).