House races

House races

Tea Party-backed Republican open to rematch against Rep. Donnelly

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), one of the few centrist House Democrats who survived the 2010 midterm elections, could face a rematch in 2012 with the Republican challenger he narrowly defeated in November.  

Republican Jackie Walorski told the South Bend Tribune that she's keeping her 2012 options open and not ruling out another run against Donnelly. 

“I’m watching to see what happens with redistricting, seeing if the need is the same at the federal level, seeing if things change with the new Congress,” she told the paper. 

Donnelly defeated Walorski by a slim margin this past fall, winning with less than 49 percent of the vote. Libertarian candidate Mark Vogel took 5 percent of the vote in the race. 

The Republican's 2010 campaign received some high-profile help from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Both attended campaign events for Walorski, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed the candidate on Facebook.  

Walorski told the paper that she blames the Indiana Democratic Party for her narrow loss, citing a mailer paid for by the party that touted Vogel as the real conservative in the race. 

Without Vogel in the contest, Walorski said she has "no doubt" she would have ousted Donnelly. 


Grayson says Obama losing credibility; hints at another run in 2012

Ousted Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) laid into President Obama and his fellow Democrats in an exit interview with The New York Times, leaving open the possibility of another run for Congress in 2012.

The outspoken liberal, who lost his bid for reelection by a wide margin to Republican Dan Webster, told the paper that Democrats are largely to blame for the loss of the party's majority in Congress and that the president's shifting position on George W. Bush-era tax cuts "will not help his credibility."

More from the Times ...

“What did the environmentalists see over the last two years?” he asked. “A proposed monumental increase in subsidies for nuclear power industry and offshore drilling."

As for gay voters, he said: “What they got to see was a judge order that 'don't ask, don't tell no longer be enforced and a Democratic president appeal that decision. That is what that constituency saw before Nov. 2.” (The law was repealed in the final hours of the 111th Congress.)

By Election Day, Democratic voters in many districts felt that they had no real choice, Mr. Grayson said.

“If you want people to support you, then you have to support them,” he said. “You have to think long about what you did for people who voted for you, made phone calls for you, who went door to door for you.”

As for waging another campaign in 2012 to reclaim his House seat, Grayson said he will run "if that's what people want."

Some on the left have even thrown his name out as a potential primary challenger to Obama in 2012.

Given Grayson's proven fundraising prowess and ability to pump his own money into a campaign, most observers expect him to make another run at some point. 

Either way, don't expect Grayson to fade from the public eye even if he doesn't run again in 2012. He's already indicated that he'll remain a mainstay on cable news.  


Sen. Reid's son might seek new Nevada House seat

The son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) is expected to make a run for Nevada's new House seat.

Population growth prompted the Census Bureau to add a new House seat in southern Nevada, and some observers have touted Rory Reid's chances of claiming it.

Reid is apparently considering a run, though he wouldn't confirm or deny any plans.

"I always want to be involved in working for the public," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's who I am."

Last year, Reid opted not to run for another term as chairman of the Clark County Commission and instead launched a bid for governor. He ultimately lost to Republican Brian Sandoval.

Republican consultant Chuck Muth told the paper that Sandoval might look to fortify freshman Rep. Joe Heck's (R) district with registered Republicans, which could result in the new 4th district being more Democratic.


Only 12 House Dems in conservative districts survived reelection

Only 12 House Democrats out of the 40 who represent districts won by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008 survived the November election.

The good news: This group of mostly Blue Dog Dems made it through one of the worst national environments for Democrats in years, which bodes well for their 2012 prospects.

The downside: Several of them will be targets again, particularly Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who defeated Republican challenger Jesse Kelly by a little more than 4,000 votes. 

Here's the list of Democrats who head into 2012 occupying districts won by McCain in 2008:

Rep. Mike Ross (Ark)
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.)
Rep. Ben Chandler (Ky.)
Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.)
Rep. Mike McIntyre (N.C.)
Rep Heath Shuler (N.C.)
Rep Dan Boren (Okla.)
Rep. Mark Critz (Pa.)
Rep. Jason Altmire (Pa.)
Rep. Tim Holden (Pa.)
Rep. Jim Matheson (Utah)
Rep. Nick Rahall (W.Va.)  

Between retirements, runs for higher office, a primary defeat and one sex scandal (New York Rep. Eric Massa), another eight Democrats in conservative-leaning districts didn't run for reelection in 2010. Republicans went eight for eight in those open seat races.

A ninth opted for a party switch, which didn't work out any better — Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.) lost a GOP primary after defecting from the Democrats.  


NRCC chairman intends to 'take full advantage' of census shift in 2012

Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, says the new census data out Tuesday gives Republicans an edge in 2012. 

Sessions told The Ballot Box the shift in population from Democratic states in the Northeast and industrial Midwest to Republican-leaning states in the South and Southwest means the GOP will have the chance to expand its majority in the House next cycle.  

"I think anytime you see a shift from North to South, it means a better advantage for Republicans," said Sessions. "And I intend to take full advantage of it."    

Republicans netted 63 House seats in the 2010 election, and now several Democratic states are losing congressional seats ahead of 2012. 

The new chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), pushed back against GOP optimism Tuesday, arguing the census data "pours cold water on the Republicans' hype that redistricting is a disaster for Democrats." 

In a statement, Israel said the final numbers are better than expected for his party, noting that "Democratic communities and constituencies have grown in size in states like Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Washington."

Still, Sessions said, "the dramatic shift to conservative Southern states" gives the GOP an opportunity for expansion, even among traditionally Democratic constituencies. 

"I see this as an opportunity for our party to highlight itself in terms of candidates who will come out of some non-traditional areas as the Republican Party builds and shares with Hispanics, with Asians," said Sessions. "This is a time to highlight our desire to bring them further into the political process."


Rep. Israel slams GOP redistricting 'hype'

The new Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said the release of Census data and Congressional apportionment numbers are far from a disaster for Democrats. 

"Today's release of U.S. Census data pours cold water on Republican's hype that redistricting is a disaster for Democrats," Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Tuesday. “Democratic communities and constituencies have grown in size in states like Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Washington. In states that will lose a seat, the number of Republicans who will be competing with each other creates opportunities for House Democrats.”

In all, 12 House seats shifted.

The biggest gain, as expected, was the state of Texas, which will have four new House seats. The only other state netting more than one additional seat is Florida, which was awarded two new seats Tuesday.

The biggest losers this round are the presidential battleground state of Ohio and heavily Democratic New York — both of which will lose two seats.

Another eight states will lose one seat — Illinois, New Jersey, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Missouri and Massachusetts.

Six states are gaining just a single seat — Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah and Washington.

Of the states losing seats, President Obama won eight in 2008.

Still, Democrats argue the final numbers are actually better than expected for the party. They point to Minnesota keeping all of its eight House seats and a gain of two in Florida — both states which Obama won in 2008. 

Strategists also point out it's GOP House members who could be on the chopping block in states like New York and Ohio, which will both lose two seats.

Israel said Tuesday that Democrats are "prepared, organized and ready" for the next stage of the redistricting process and will "fight any attempts to disenfranchise voters." 

The messiest battles could be concentrated in Texas once again. Israel fired a warning shot in his statement Tuesday, vowing the Democrats will never again "allow Republicans to be 'Tom DeLayed' and illegally game redistricting for political advantage."