House races

House races

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."


Democrat hits back at Rep. Michele Bachmann

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) is "right to worry" about her political future, according to her former rival.

State Sen. Tarryl Clark (D) warned Bachmann will be facing a "much different political landscape" if she runs for reelection in 2012.

That's when she "will have to explain to voters what exactly she and the Republican-controlled Congress did to improve the economy, help people find a job or stay in their homes, and care for our seniors, veterans and children," Clark wrote in an e-mail to her supporters on Wednesday.

The Democrat's note came in response to one Bachmann sent to her supporters on Tuesday asking for contributions to help with a possible rematch against Clark, whom she bested by 12 points last month.

Bachmann asked for donations because "it appears [Clark] may be starting to amass an even larger war chest then she did in this last election cycle."

Clark raised $4.3 million last cycle, but has only about $66,000 left in the bank, according to her post-election Federal Election Commission report. Bachmann has slightly less than $2 million banked after raising more than $13 million.

The Democrat denied she has started fundraising for a 2012 bid. 

"The only thing I'm 'amassing' right now is quality time with friends and family, because the holidays are about coming together, not fear and divisiveness," she wrote.

Still, this ongoing exchange does more to suggest these women will face off again.


Rep. Bachmann readying for possible '12 grudge match

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) isn't taking her political future for granted despite raking in more than $13 million last cycle.

She blasted an e-mail to her supporters Tuesday asking for contributions to help with a possible rematch against state Sen. Tarryl Clark (D).

Bachmann pointed to a recent e-mail Clark released that hinted she may pursue a grudge match with the Republican.

"With Barack Obama at the top of the ticket she's likely hoping to 'ride his coattails' to victory and see me defeated once and for all," Bachmann wrote.

"And it appears she may be starting to amass an even larger war chest then she did in this last election cycle. FEC records show that my opponent raised more money then any Democrat challenger in the entire country, and she has the capacity to raise even more money if she challenges me again."

Clark raised $4.3 million last cycle, but has only about $66,000 left in the bank, according to her post-election FEC report. Bachmann has slightly less than $2 million.

She asked for contributions to help with her next reelection bid and to "support [her] outspoken opposition to [President] Obama's socialist agenda."

--Updated at 2:15 p.m.