House races

House races

McCotter won't say if he'll seek reelection to House seat

Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) ducked on Tuesday a question about whether he'd seek reelection to his House seat while also pursuing the GOP presidential nomination.

McCotter, a fifth-term congressman from suburban Detroit, said he's focused on running for president, but wouldn't say whether that means he'd give up his seat in Congress.

"I'm focusing on the presidency," he said on ABC's "Top Line" webcast.

McCotter made a late entry into the presidential field last week, and hopes to mount a dark-horse campaign for the presidential nomination. He said that his effort was "no joke," and castigated other GOP contenders for low fundraising totals so far.

One of those other contenders, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), has said she won't seek reelection to her House seat while running for president. Like Bachmann, McCotter represents a relative swing district. That state lawmakers didn't carve up his district too badly — as had been expected — was thought to make McCotter less likely to run for president.

Of course, both Bachmann and McCotter might conceivably still have time to file for reelection should they lose out on the presidential nomination. But Democrats are salivating at the opportunity to run candidates in their potentially open seats or, absent that, use both lawmakers' presidential aspirations against them in an election.

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DCCC official: Dems can win back House despite redistricting

Democrats have a solid chance of winning back the House despite the redistricting process, the chairwoman of recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Thursday.

"It's absolutely doable," Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) said at an Inside Politics event with Third Way, a center-left think tank.

When the maps of new congressional districts are finalized, Democrats are favored to come out on top, but the party will likely see several incumbents facing off against each other.

Schwartz said that has influenced the DCCC's recruitment process, with some candidates deciding not to run based on the new district lines. She cited the new 11th district of Illinois as an example, where John Atkinson withdrew his candidacy for the Chicago-area district after former Rep. Bill Foster (D) declared his intentions to run for the seat.

She said that, ultimately, Democrats are looking for the strongest candidates for each district, whether in open seats or with incumbents potentially running against each other.

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Michigan Dems blast state's redistricting proposal

Michigan Reps. Gary Peters (D) and Sandy Levin (D) put out a joint statement Friday, blasting their state's proposed redistricting map, which pits the lawmakers against one another in the 2012 election.

“Voters in Michigan have never before faced such a shamelessly partisan redrawing of congressional boundaries. Instead of drawing fair lines that follow community and county borders in a logical way, the Republican legislature has drafted a map so skewed that it exploits every trick in the book to gerrymander districts in ways that benefit Republican incumbents. The legislature and Governor Snyder should reject this gerrymandered map and draw congressional boundaries in a way that puts Michigan voters’ interests squarely ahead of flagrant partisan advantage," they said.

Michigan lost one congressional district because of population shifts. Peters and Levin, who is the ranking member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, were expected to be drawn into the same area. Peters's old district, containing the Detroit suburb of Oakland County, was mostly divided up into Rep. Thad McCotter's (R) and John Conyers's (D) districts. Peters is now in Levin's Detroit-based district.

Republicans control the redistricting process in Michigan and officially released their proposal on Friday. The next step in the process is to hold public hearings on the proposed map before a final version is decided upon.

"Michigan legislators apparently have no regard for Michigan voters and drew themselves districts that arbitrarily divide the state for partisan gain. In a state that President Obama carried with 57 percent of the vote, it's outrageous that Republicans worked behind closed doors to unfairly divide the state and put blatant partisanship before Michigan families. No amount of partisan one-upmanship can change the fact that Michigan voters will reject Republicans devastating plan to end Medicare," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Haley Morris in a statement.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) was in Michigan on Thursday to meet with Levin and Peters about the 2012 election, the Detroit News reported Friday.

Israel seemed to hint that Peters should move to McCotter's district and challenge the incumbent.

"Ultimately, Gary has to make the decision on where to run, but McCotter has always been on people's lists of someone who doesn't represent the sensibilities of his district. Running against McCotter, Peters would have the truly moderate voting record," he told the newspaper.

A Democratic source told The Ballot Box that "while the new map reveals a blatant attempt to gerrymander for partisan gains, the DCCC is very much hands-off in terms of what the delegation decides to do."

Both Peters's and Levin's offices confirmed to The Hill their respective lawmakers plan to run for reelection, but declined to talk about specifics, pointing out that the map hasn't been finalized.

-- This post was updated Saturday at 1:39 p.m.

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Rep. Weiner's resignation to trigger second N.Y. special House election of '11

Rep. Anthony Weiner's (D-N.Y.) resignation could see New York play host to its second special House election of 2011.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) must hold the special-election vote 70 to 80 days after a vacancy is recognized, although it's unclear when that will happen.

In the case of former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), who resigned his 26th district seat on Feb. 9, the governor waited until March 9 to set the special election for May 24. Democrat Kathy Hochul won a surprise victory in that race, but Weiner's Queens district is unlikely to see similar drama unfold.

Despite 2010 being a banner year for the GOP in New York — Republicans picked up six seats in the Empire State — Weiner won reelection last November with 61 percent of the vote. He ran unopposed in 2008, when then-Sen. Barack Obama beat Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the district by 11 percent in the presidential race.

Still, Republicans aren't ignoring the possibility of a surprise win. New York City Councilman Eric Ulrich is being mentioned as a possible GOP contender.

Cuomo could also leave the seat vacant, which is what then-Gov. David Paterson (D) opted to do last year after Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) resigned in March 2010. The 29th district was left vacant until the general election last November. Paterson cited concerns about the cost as a reason he didn't call the vote. But given that Weiner was so early into his term seventh, there could be pressure on Cuomo to call a special.  

--Updated at 2:39 p.m.

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Clinton backs Calif. Dem facing special-election runoff

Bill Clinton endorsed Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn on Monday, the latest big-name Democrat to formally support her House bid.

Hahn faces businessman Craig Huey (R) in the special-election runoff for former Rep. Jane Harman's (D-Calif.) seat. Democrats have moved to circle the wagons around Hahn after Huey finished a surprise second in the May 17 jungle primary. In endorsing Hahn's bid, Clinton joins a list that includes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, among others.

"America is at a crossroads, and we need to decide whether we are going to pursue a path of right-wing extremism or one of compromise and common-sense solutions," the former president said in a statement. "Janice has proven herself to be a champion for creating jobs, cleaning our environment, protecting a woman’s right to choose, and expanding access to healthcare. We need people like Janice Hahn in Congress, and I’m proud to endorse her."

Clinton is also writing a fundraising email on behalf of Hahn that will go out later on Monday. But Hahn's camp said it was unlikely Clinton would be able to travel to the 36th district before the special-election vote, which is set for July 12.

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