House races

House races

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."

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Rep. Wu's campaign account in the red

Oregon Rep. David Wu (D) could be vulnerable to a primary challenge if he follows through with his pledge to seek reelection.

The seven-term lawmaker's campaign account is in the red, which may only serve to encourage potential Democrat challengers who will be watching whether donors will continue to support the beleaguered incumbent.

Wu has been under pressure in recent weeks after it emerged that days before the Nov. 2 vote he sent staffers a picture of himself wearing a tiger costume and e-mails written in the voices of his children.

His behavior prompted a half-dozen staffers to quit and for his long-time pollster, Lisa Grove, to tell The Oregonian that she would not work for him again.

Still, Wu recently filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission and he met with activists back in Oregon's 1st district over the weekend before returning to Washington on Monday night. 

"We met with Congressman Wu yesterday, and what we saw is that he is very healthy, very determined and very focused," said Trent Lutz, executive director of the state Democratic Party. "As he puts it, everybody has a chance to kick the tires."
 
Wu was making the rounds as supporters have begun floating the names of several Democrats who could step in for the congressman, including former labor commissioner Brad Avakian, state Sen. Suzanne Bonamic and former state Attorney General candidate Greg Macpherson.

Wu reported $7,500 in his campaign at the start of the year, but he's carrying $60,656 in debt. Democratic strategists note the Wu is strong campaigner, having won by double digits last November despite it being a Republican wave year.

But he could be losing institutional support. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee head Steve Israel (N.Y.) refused to comment Monday on Wu's future prospects.

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Conservative group to keep early pressure on House Dems

Crossroads GPS, the conservative-backed outside group that poured millions into the 2010 midterm elections, is vowing to keep the pressure on House Democrats with early ad buys as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) works to get itself out from under some $20 million in debt. 

The group's director, Steven Law, says early ad buys in competitive House districts will continue and that they reflect the group's strength heading into the 2012 cycle, when Law predicts Crossroads will raise "substantially more" than it did last cycle.   

"2012 is shaping up to be the most expensive and hard-fought year in our history," Law said in an interview with The Ballot Box. "You've got the White House, control of Congress and the balance of power on the Supreme Court all at stake." 

So far, the group has spent close to $1 million on ads this year and while the DCCC has already spent on radio ads and robocalls in dozens of districts, the committee has been unable to come close to matching the early spending from Crossroads GPS.

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N.Y. Dem fundraises off budget vote

New York Rep. Tim Bishop (D) touted his vote against the House Republicans' "sham budget" and asked supporters for contributions to fend off the "right-wing attack machine."

Crossroads GPS, the group conceived of by GOP strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, recently bought airtime in a number of vulnerable Democratic districts, including New York's 1st.

That's where the group made its largest expenditure — more than $63,000 — possibly because Bishop barely squeaked out a reelection victory in November, beating Repubcian Randy Altschuler by fewer than 1,000 votes.

"Crossroads GPS, the Karl Rove-led group funded by anonymous right-wing special interests, is back and running attack ads targeting my vote against the House Republicans' budget and saying that I voted against 'making America great again,' " Bishop said in an e-mail to supporters Friday.

"Contribute to my Emergency Rapid Response Fund before Saturday at midnight so I can set the record straight about my efforts to fight for Long Island families."

--Updated at 5:16 p.m.

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Rep. Israel praises Gen. Petraeus for investigation into Rolling Stone report

Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) praised Gen. David Petraeus for ordering an investigation into the report that Army officers were ordered to manipulate members of Congress using "psy-ops."

A report in Rolling Stone accused the Army of illegally ordering a "team of soldiers specializing in 'psychological operations' to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war."

Israel, who has served on the House Appropriations and Armed Services committees, was one of the members targeted during a trip to Afghanistan, according to the magazine.

Israel currently heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

As a result of the report, Petraeus "is preparing to order an investigation to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the issue," according to a statement issued Thursday.

Israel said the general "did the right thing by ordering an investigation into this matter."

"I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan eight times and have always been proud to meet with our troops serving on the front lines," Israel said in a statement issued by his House office. 

--Jordan Fabian contributed

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