House races

House races

GOP targets N.Y.'s 'Beltway Kathy'

Democrats in New York's 26th district have released their list of contenders for the special-election nomination, prompting a swift jab from the GOP.

The seven county chairs in the district have six candidates to pick from, and the top prospect has already been labeled "Beltway Kathy" by local Republicans.

The Erie County GOP released a statement citing a Buffalo News column that noted Democrat Kathy Hochul is "very much enamored with the whole 'D.C. thing.'"
"It must be easy to become 'enamored with the whole D.C. thing' when you've spent so much time working for Washington career politicians and as [a] lobbyist," chairman Nick Langworthy said in a statement. 

News columnist Bob McCarthy also called Hochul the Democrats' "best hope in the largely Republican district."

Hochul, who serves as Erie County clerk, spent time on the staff of former Rep. John LaFalce (D-N.Y.) and the late Sen. Pat Moynihan (D-N.Y.).

Her main competition for the nomination is Amhurst town Councilman Mark Manna (D). The other Democrats in the running — Jane Bauch, Martin Minemier, Diana Voit and Robert Stall — don't currently hold elective office.

Meanwhile, Republicans have chosen state lawmaker Jane Corwin as their nominee.

Former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) left the seat last month after a brief scandal. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has yet to declare a vacancy that would start the clock ticking on a special-election vote.


No grudge match in race for ex-Rep. Harman's seat

Former Rep. Steven Kuykendall (R) has decided against a likely rematch with Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D).

Kuykendall represented California's 36th district for a single term in the late 1990s, when Harman left for the first time to make an unsuccessful run for governor. During that 1998 race, Kuykendall narrowly defeated Hahn.

The Republican cited redistricting as his main concern. "You could win only to find the seat will be gone," Kuykendall told the Los Angeles Times.

A special election is expected in June for Harman's seat. Redistricting won't have an impact until the 2012 election.

Harman left Congress on Feb. 28 to lead the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, a Washington-based research institution.

Hahn could face up to a half-dozen candidates for the Democratic nomination while the GOP continues to search for a contender to run in the special election.


Race ratings

Below is the Ballot Box's evaluation of the state of the race in the most competitive campaigns. These ratings are culled from a series of indicators, including polling, candidates, fundraising, observers, experts and personal observation.

Democratic Seats (23)

Safe Democratic: (8)
Feinstein (Calif.)
Carper (Del.)
Cardin (Md.)
Klobuchar (Minn.)
Menendez (N.J.)
Gillibrand (N.Y.)
Whitehouse (R.I.)
Sanders (Vt.)

Likely Democratic: (6)
Lieberman (Conn.) - OPEN
Akaka (Hawaii) - OPEN
Stabenow (Mich.)
Casey (Pa.)
Cantwell (Wash.)
Kohl (Wis.)

Lean Democratic: (4)
Nelson (Fla.)
McCaskill (Mo.)
Brown (Ohio)
Manchin (W.Va.)

Toss-up: (5)
Tester (Mont.)
Nelson (Neb.)
Bingaman (N.M.) - OPEN
Conrad (N.D.) - OPEN
Webb (Va.) - OPEN

Republican Seats (10)

Safe Republican: (5)
Lugar (Ind.)
Wicker (Miss.)
Corker (Tenn.)
Hatch (Utah)
Barrasso (Wy.)

Likely Republican: (3)
Kyl (Ariz.) - OPEN
Snowe (Maine)
Hutchison (Texas) - OPEN

Lean Republican: (0)

Toss-up: (2)
Brown (Mass.)
Ensign (Nev.)

Democratic Seats (27)

Races To Watch:(3)
Carnahan (Mo.-03)
Wu (Ore.-01)
Rahall (W.Va.-3)

Toss-up: (5)
Barrow (Ga.-12)
Kissell (N.C.-08)
Heinrich (N.M.-01)
Sutton (Ohio-13)
Altmire (Pa.-04)

Lean Democratic: (10)
McNerney (Calif.-11)
Donnelly (Ind.-2)
Chandler (Ky.-06)
Peters (Mich.-09)
McIntyre (N.C.-07)
Bishop (N.Y.-01)
Owens (N.Y.-23)
Schrader (Ore.-05)
Matheson (Utah-02)
Connolly (Va.-02)

Likely Democratic: (9)
Giffords (Ariz.-08)
Himes (Conn.-04)
C. Murphy (Conn.-05) - OPEN
Loebsack (Iowa-02)
Boswell (Iowa-03)
Peters (Mich.-09)
Walz (Minn.-01)
Shuler (N.C.-11)
Critz (Pa.-12)

Republican Seats (27)

Races to Watch: (4)
Crawford (Ark.-01)
Heck (Nev.-03)
Rigell (Va.02)
Hurt (Va.-5)

Toss-up: (10)
West (Fla.-22)
Walsh (Ill.-08)
Dold (Ill.-10)
Schilling (Ill.-17)
Buerkle (N.Y.-25)
B. Johnson (Ohio-06)
Fitzpatrick (Pa.-08)
Barletta (Pa.-11)
Duffy (Wis.-07)
Farenthold (Texas-27)
Lean Republican: (8)
Ellmers (N.C.-02)
Rivera (Fla.-25)
Bass (N.H.-02)
Grimm (N.Y.-13)
Cravaack (Minn.-08)
Rehberg (Mont.-AL) - OPEN
Runyan (N.J.-03)
Canseco (Texas-23)

Likely Republican: (5)
Berg (N.D.-AL)
Pearce (N.M.-01)
Lee (N.Y.-26) - OPEN
Herrera Beutler (Wash.-03)
McKinley (W.Va.-01)


Former aide to GOP congressman admits embezzling campaign funds

The former campaign treasurer for New Jersey Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. district court to embezzling more than $450,000 from the candidate's campaign fund over a 15-year period.   

Andrew McCrosson Jr. was LoBiondo's campaign treasurer from 1995 through last August, when the campaign became aware of the potential fraud and alerted the feds. 

According to court documents, McCrosson repeatedly wrote checks to himself over the 15-year period, failing to report any of it to the Federal Election Commission. He manipulated the balance of LoBiondo's campaign fund to conceal the fraud, which totaled $458,000. 

He admitting to using the cash to pay his mortgage and college tuition for his children, among other personal purposes. 

Pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of "embezzling and converting funds contributed to a federal candidate," McCrosson faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced on June 16.  

McCrosson, who was released on a $100,000 bond, could also be fined on each count up to $250,000. 


N.Y. Dems still searching for candidate to replace ex-Rep. Lee

New York Democrats are still searching for a candidate to run in the special election for former Rep. Chris Lee's (R) seat, but will now have more time to prepare for the vote.

The state Senate on Thursday finalized passage of a bill that would extend the deadline for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to set a special election to between 70 and 80 days after a vacancy is declared. It remains unclear when that declaration will be made. The bill was designed to allow those serving in the military overseas the time to get their ballots into county officials.

The district has been without representation since Lee left the House on Feb. 9 after Gawker reported the married Republican sent a photo of himself bare-chested to a woman he met on Craigslist.

Local Republicans have tapped state lawmaker Jane Corwin (R), and the National Republican Congressional Committee is backing her.

"Anyone who would be considering voting center right will find her as a conservative, pro-jobs candidate; as the best candidate in the field," Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), chairman of the NRCC, told The Ballot Box. "I am not worried about that race at this time."

Democrats, meanwhile, set Thursday as their deadline for interested applicants to submit their resumes to the seven county chairs in the district.

Eris County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz (D) withdrew his name from consideration on Thursday, citing his desire to remain in his current position, according to the Buffalo News.

County Clerk Kathleen Hochul is favored to become the Democratic nominee, if she decides to run.

Party leaders are expected to announce the list of potential candidates on Friday.


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. 


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.


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."