House races

House races

GOP releases Pelosi 'puppet' ad in NY-26 race

The National Republican Congressional Committee released a TV ad hitting New York Democrat Kathy Hochul for being a puppet of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

The 30-second spot, which went up Monday, includes a clip from an MSNBC interview where Hochul describes the House minority leader as having done a "great job for this country." The ad also paints independent Jack Davis, who is running on the Tea Party line, as a supporter of Pelosi.

The NRCC ad buy is close to $411,000, airing on broadcast and cable in Rochester and Buffalo's media markets, according to a GOP operative.

The ad's release came on the same day that Republican Jane Corwin's camp released a TV spot hitting Hochul for wanting to "cut Medicare and Social Security." 


Corwin aide stirs up controversy in NY special election

A top aide to New York Republican Jane Corwin has become an issue in the special election race for former Rep. Chris Lee's seat.

Michael Mallia, Corwin's chief of staff in the state Assembly, has been identified as the man behind the tracking video of Independent candidate Jack Davis.

In the 15-second clip released by Republicans, he's heard shrieking as Davis flaps at the camera after getting asked why he withdrew from the candidate debates.

The Davis camp on Sunday accused Mallia of yelling "coward" at the House candidate during a rally in Wyoming County.

Curtis Ellis, Davis's campaign manager, called on Corwin's campaign to release the tracking video Mallia was shooting at the time.

"The Corwin campaign is refusing to release the tape because it will show her own chief of staff insulting a veteran and every man and women who has served our country in uniform," Ellis said in a statement.

Davis is a former Marine Corps and Coast Guard reservist.

A spokesman for Corwin didn't deny the incident took place. 

"Jane is humbled by the 20 military veterans currently serving in Congress that recently endorsed her," Matthew Harakal, a spokesman for Corwin, said in an email to The Ballot Box.

The Buffalo News took note that conservatives in the 26th district aren't pleased with Mallia's behavior, which could reflect badly on his boss.

"A legislative professional, the boss of Jane Corwin’s Assembly office, and he’s hassling a man 50 years older than he is in a parking lot at the fire hall,” Bob Lonsberry, a popular conservative radio host in Rochester, wrote on his blog. “It was an ambush, a setup, and an insight into just how black and depraved the Republican heart is."

Corwin and Davis face Democrat Kathy Hochul in the May 24 vote.


Rep. Gosar takes up controversial Arizona land exchange

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar introduced legislation Friday to facilitate a long-stalled land exchange between the federal government and an international mining conglomerate in southeastern Arizona.

The freshman Republican is the latest first district lawmaker to take up the cause of the land exchange, which has remained in legislative limbo in Congress because of an environment-versus-jobs debate.

The exchange would turn over a protected area to copper mining for the first time. It's opposed by environmentalists and Apache Indians who consider the land sacred. Advocates for the exchange say it will bring thousands of jobs to the economically depressed area.

Gosar called his version of the legislation a "very, very good bill."

Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz..), who is seeking a rematch with Gosar after losing to him in November 2010, said she's reserved judgment on the Republican's legislation.  

"I'm curious to see what his legislation looks like," she said. "Especially in terms of what kind of environmental compliance he's addressing."

One of the main differences between Gosar and Kirkpatrick's bills is that the Republican's requires an environmental impact assessment to be done after the land is conveyed to Resolution Copper, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP-Billiton, rather than before.

Kirkpatrick, who championed the bill during her two-year term, said the exchange is an issue for people in the sprawling 1st district, but didn't think getting it passed would have prevented her defeat to Gosar.

"It would have not have changed the election results," Kirkpatrick said.

"I worked very hard at trying to get that out of committee. It was moving, I think we could have gotten it done this term, had I been reelected," she added.

Kirkpatrick was in Washington this week preparing for her rematch with Gosar. 

The Arizona land exchange was originally pushed by former Rep. Rick Renzi, Kirkpatrick’s predecessor in the House. But Renzi wanted land owned by one of his supporters included in the exchange and Resolution Copper balked. The Republican was subsequently indicted, which ended his political career. The legislation, tainted by association, died.

--Updated at 10:55 p.m.


Third Party candidate in NY-26 labels video dirty trick

The campaign of congressional candidate Jack Davis is calling a video that appears to show him striking a campaign volunteer a deliberate "attempt at intimidation" on the part of a staffer for Republican Jane Corwin. 

The Erie County GOP released the video Wednesday night, which appears to show Davis striking a GOP volunteer. The 15-second video shows Davis being asked about his decision to withdraw from a debate with his two major party opponents, Corwin and Democrat Kathy Hochul.

Davis is running under the Tea Party banner in the three-way special-election contest to fill the seat of ex-Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.). The race has risen to national prominence over the past week as both the DCCC and NRCC have poured in significant resources. Republicans fear Davis could act as spoiler and help Hochul to victory later this month.

Curtis Ellis, a spokesman for Davis, downplayed the video, telling the Daily News, "This is the 'Blair Witch Project' of tracker videos. You see the camera shaking. He screams like an eight-year-old girl — which is how old Jane Corwin was when she claims to have been a 'successful businesswoman' — and that's it. They seem to make it like some Oscar-nominated production." 

The video, which also appears to show a Davis staffer getting physical with the cameraman, was initially forwarded to reporters by the county Republican Party. The National Republican Congressional Committee forwarded it to reporters shortly afterward.

The chairman of New York's Erie County Republican Committee told a Buffalo radio station Thursday that the cameraman was a member of Corwin's staff, but wouldn't identify him.

Asked about the video by a local TV station Thursday, Corwin claimed she hasn't seen it, saying, "I haven't seen any video, so honestly, I have no idea."

As for whether the cameraman is a Corwin staffer, the candidate said, "I don't know any of that. I went to sleep last night pretty early, so I'd have to check all of that out before I can comment on it."


GOP matches Dem investment in NY special

The National Republican Congressional Committee has matched its Democratic counterpart in its initial ad buy in western New York's special election.

A GOP operative told The Ballot Box the NRCC's Independent Expenditure arm has reserved just more than $260,000 worth of airtime in Buffalo and Rochester. The committee's ad will start airing Monday, primarily on broadcast television, but it will also be seen on Fox cable.

The operative noted this was an "initial" buy and could be augmented depending on the situation.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee placed a $250,000 media buy in the 26th district earlier this week, according to a party operative. 

A GOP strategist told The Ballot Box the DCCC's buy, which is also primarily on broadcast television, is split between Buffalo and Rochester. The ad will start airing Friday and run through Election Day on May 24.


Tea Party group mobilizing against Davis in NY special election

The Tea Party group FreedomWorks is mobilizing its grassroots network in New York's 26th congressional district to "defend the Tea Party brand" against third party candidate Jack Davis, who the group is labeling "a fraud."

FreedomWorks, led by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R), is the latest national group to get involved in the May 24 special election with polls showing a tight three way contest between Democrat Kathy Hochul, Republican Jane Corwin and Davis.    

In what was expected to be a relatively easy win for the GOP, the latest numbers in the race to fill the seat of ex-Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) give Hochul a four-point edge with 35 percent of the vote to Corwin's 31 percent.

Davis, who is running on the "Tea Party" ballot line, is polling a strong third with 24 percent of the vote. 

"We basically feel that we need to defend the Tea Party brand," said Brendan Steinhauser, the group's director of federal and state campaigns, who called Davis "a fraud." 


W.Va. Rep. Capito gets a primary challenge

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a potential challenger to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) next year, has drawn a Republican primary opponent ahead of 2012. 

Republican Delegate Jonathan Miller, the youngest member of the West Virginia state legislature, announced a bid against the six-term congresswoman Tuesday.

In an interview with the Martinsburg Journal, the 26-year-old Miller said, "God is calling me to run for this office now." 


Third party candidate gets backing in NY special

A former congressional candidate popular with Tea Party activists has endorsed Independent Jack Davis in New York's 26th district special election race.

David Bellavia, an Iraq war veteran who sought the Republican and Conservative Party's nods earlier this year, called Davis "a decorated war hero and a true patriot."

His endorsement could cause trouble for Republican Jane Corwin. The GOP has sought to portray Davis as the second Democrat in the race. Bellavia's backing could help enhance his conservative credentials.

“Veterans in Western New York and voters of all stripes have one clear choice for Congress, and that is Jack Davis, a true independent who will work for the people as he caucuses with the Republicans in the House of Representatives," Bellavia said in a statement released by Davis's campaign.

The Weekly Standard notes that Bellavia slammed Davis for "playing politics with the troops" in a 2006 campaign ad. Davis was running as a Democrat against former Rep. Tom Reynolds (R) that year.