House races

House races

Runyan: Rep. Adler trying to 'defraud and disenfranchise' voters

Republican Jon Runyan went after Rep. John Adler (D-N.J.) Friday over a report in a local paper that accused Adler's campaign of manufacturing a Tea Party candidate in the district to aid his own reelection bid.

A story in Friday's Courier Post accused Adler's campaign of calling on Democratic volunteers to gather signatures last spring in an attempt to get Peter DeStefano on the ballot this fall in the hopes that he would siphon votes away from Runyan. 

Seeing an opening in what has emerged as a close contest, Runyan tore into Adler on Friday in a statement calling the Democrat "dishonest."

"Ever since our campaign established links between Congressman John Adler and the fraudulent candidacy of Peter DeStefano, I knew there was a possibility that something much more sinister was going on," Runyan said in the statement. 

"My opponent John Adler represents everything that is wrong with politics in this country today," Runyan continued. "He is dishonest. He lacks principle. And he's clearly willing to say or do anything to win reelection and cling to power."  

Runyan went on to accuse Adler and his campaign team of trying to intentionally "defraud and disenfranchise voters" by planting DeStefano. 

A recent Monmouth University/Gannett poll showed Adler with just a three-point lead over Runyan in a district that was formerly held by longtime Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.). 

No response yet from Adler's campaign.


Democracy 21's Wertheimer targets Karl Rove

When it comes to opposing shadowy outside groups that pour money into elections, Democracy 21's Fred Wertheimer is an equal-opportunity opponent — and he's not letting Karl Rove characterize him any differently.

Wertheimer issued an angry statement Friday in response to comments Rove made on Fox News casting Wertheimer as a liberal lobbyist bent on targeting only conservative-leaning groups for violating their tax-exempt status.

Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the IRS earlier this week complaining Crossroads GPS, a 501(c)(4) associated with Rove and longtime GOP booster Ed Gillespie had violated its tax-exempt status by participating in campaigns in direct support for or opposition to candidates for public office.

In a Tuesday appearance on Fox's Neil Cavuto, Rove acknowledged raising money for Crossroads GPS, along with an affiliated 527 group, American Crossroads. But he lashed out at Wertheimer, saying the watchdog had never taken issue with Democratic-leaning groups in previous election cycles.

"…What gets me is, I didn't see … groups like Crossroads GPS spent nearly $400 to $500 million on the Democratic ticket and the Democratic candidates in 2004. And we never heard one whisper from this lobbyist for liberal causes Mr. Werthimmer (sic)," Rove said.

Au contraire, Mr. Rove, Wertheimer protested in his release Friday.


Rep. Adler campaign accused of propping up 'Tea Party' candidate in N.J.

The campaign of Rep. John Adler (D-N.J.), who faces a serious GOP challenge this fall, is being accused of manufacturing a Tea Party candidate in New Jersey's 3rd congressional district to help the incumbent's reelection bid.

A report in Friday's Courier Post points the finger at Adler consultant Steve Ayscue and Geoff Mackler, who was sent by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to head up Adler's reelection campaign.

According to the paper, the two recruited Democratic volunteers at a meeting in May to gather signatures to get Peter DeStefano on the ballot in the hopes that he would siphon off votes from Republican challenger Jon Runyan. DeStefano will appear on the "NJ Tea Party" ballot line in November.

From the report:

Ayscue and Mackler had a plan to ensure Adler's victory. They just needed volunteers.

Internal numbers-crunching showed the difference between Adler and his Republican opponent — then undetermined — would hover around 5 percent. To give Adler an edge, Ayscue had recruited a then-unidentified man to run as a third-party candidate.

That candidate would act as a conservative spoiler to confuse voters and pull votes from Adler's eventual Republican challenger. But first he had to get on the ballot. With the filing deadline just weeks away, CCDC [Camden County Democratic Committee] needed volunteers to hit the streets and collect signatures — fast.      

Several Democratic operatives who attended the May 26 meeting, or who have direct knowledge of the campaign or CCDC operations, spoke about the DeStefano plan on condition of anonymity, telling the Courier-Post they had ethical qualms with the Adler campaign. At least one pointed out the plan is already ostensibly working, since absentee ballots are being cast.

Sources said Adler's congressional and campaign staff carried out the plan with the help of CCDC staffers and volunteers.


Wisconsin Dem slams Chamber for using home phone number in TV ad

The campaign of Democrat Julie Lassa is hitting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for what it calls a "vicious TV ad campaign" that Lassa says displays her home phone number.  

In the spot, the Chamber displays a phone number above the words, "Tell Julie Lassa, stop voting for job-killing tax hikes."

The number in question appears on Lassa's member page on the website of the Wisconsin State Legislature, where it's labeled "District Number." The Hill confirmed the number is in fact Lassa's home phone number, but the Chamber maintains it's labeled as the number to her district office.   

The Lassa campaign does admit that the number is publicly available, citing Lassa's reputation for constituent service as a state senator. But Lassa campaign manager Rick Fromberg said using the number in an attack ad is "way beyond the bounds of common decency."

"This has been a serious breach of her family's security and peace of mind," Fromberg said. 

Lassa is locked in a tight race with Republican Sean Duffy in the open-seat contest to succeed retiring Rep. David Obey (D). The race has garnered national attention from both parties' congressional campaign committees and plenty of ad spending from outside groups. 

The Lassa camp is calling on Duffy to publicly denounce the ad and refuse any further assistance from the Chamber, which the campaign also hit for using "foreign funding to try and influence elections."

It's an attack against the business lobby that Democrats have ramped up this week, with Democrats in competitive House and Senate contests across the country denouncing the Chamber's role in the 2010 elections and questioning the group's sources of funding. 

Duffy's campaign said its candidate has been calling on Lassa to denounce what he calls false attacks leveled at him by third-party groups.  

"The better number to call Sen. Lassa at about her horrible, anti-job record is her campaign office at 715-344-8222," said Duffy campaign spokeswoman Wendy Riemann. 


Social conservative group launches ad campaign against House Dems

The Family Research Council's political action committee is targeting five vulnerable House Democrats with cable TV ads slamming them as "big government" liberals.  

The FRC Action PAC is spending $125,000 total on the effort, placing fairly modest cable ad buys in the districts of Reps. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), John Boccieri (D-Ohio), Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.).    

In the ad, an actor has a man in a suit hanging from his back. “I woke up one morning and it was there: big government on my back," he says in the spot. "Congresswoman Giffords supported big health care, big bailouts, big debt," the ad concludes.

The PAC is running the same message against each member and just swapping out the name depending on the district. 

The group is spending around $30,000 in three of the districts, but the ad buys against Perriello and Giffords are less than half that.


DCCC ups its ad buy in NY-23 in wake of Hoffman's exit

In the wake of Doug Hoffman's withdrawal from the House race in New York's 23rd district, Democrats are launching an advertising onslaught against Republican Matt Doheny.

In the last 24 hours, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee layered another week on its existing TV ad buy in the district, according to a Republican strategist who tracks Democratic ad buys. The committee will now be up on the air in the district from Oct. 5 through Election Day. Its ads were originally set to start Oct. 12 in the Watertown media market.

Its first ad says Doheny "funded an organization pushing unfair trade — like NAFTA."

"Worse, Doheny signed a pledge that protected tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas," the announcer says in the spot. That claim refers to Doheny's support for the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, which says signatories will "oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

Democrats want to change the current tax law to prevent corporations from deferring taxes on their foreign income, which business groups and Republicans say amounts to a tax increase.

Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) has also used Doheny's support for the pledge as a political cudgel against his challenger.

Republican sources say the DCCC has significantly increased its ad buy from some $250,000 in the Albany, Syracuse, Watertown and Burlington, Vt. media markets.

Democrats worry that without Hoffman to split the conservative vote, Owens will have trouble holding the Republican-leaning district.

Owens won the November 2009 special election for the seat by only some 3,500 votes — and that was with Republican Dede Scozzafava's name on the ballot.

The state lawmaker suspended her campaign shortly before the vote and said she was supporting Owens. But her name remained on the ballot, and Scozzafava ended up getting more than 8,000 votes — enough to cost Hoffman the election.

Hoffman dropped his bid for the seat earlier this week, but his name will still appear on the ballot on the Conservative line. He said Tuesday that he wants his supporters to vote for Doheny.

--Updated at 4:27 p.m.


SEIU ad props up Ohio Democrat

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) started running radio ads Thursday attacking Rep. Betty Sutton’s (D-Ohio) Republican opponent.

The GOP candidate, Tom Ganley, is a used car salesman running against Sutton in a race that could be a pick-up in the House for his party come November.

The ads attack Ganley for his support of the GOP House leaders' "Pledge to America." SEIU argues that platform will lead to cuts in unemployment benefits and Social Security as well as repeals of financial services and healthcare reforms.

"Tom Ganley will be one more Republican vote against Ohio's middle-class families . … Tom Ganley is wrong for Ohio," the ads say.

The ad buy costs almost $200,000 and will air in the Cleveland and Akron radio markets. The first buy will run through Oct. 12 with a second round coming on Oct. 13. 

Ganley's bid recently ran into legal trouble. He's being sued by a woman claiming the Republican wouldn't give her a job because she refused his sexual advances.

The woman filed a police report last Friday accusing Ganley of sexual assault.

--Sean J. Miller contributed to this post.


Republican hits Rep. Nye over campaign tracker

Rep. Glenn Nye (D-Va.) was confronted by his GOP challenger, Scott Rigell, at a campaign event Wednesday over the behavior of a Democratic tracker who follows Rigell with a camera at events throughout the district in the hopes of catching his "macaca moment."

In an exchange between the candidates, which was taped by a local TV station, Rigell complains that it's disruptive and appeals to the Democrat to get the tracker to back off.   

"If what is done to us consistently was done to you, I would publicly disown it," Rigell told Nye. 

At a recent campaign event, Rigell confronted the tracker after he apparently stepped in between the candidate and his wife with a camera. 

After Nye says in an interview with WAVY-TV that the tracker is paid for by the Virginia state Democratic Party and is kept at "arm's length" from his campaign, the reporter informs Nye that the tracker is currently sitting just outside in his campaign headquarters. 

Campaign trackers are abundant this cycle, with most state parties and competitive campaigns employing one or more to track political opponents at campaign events. A GOP tracker also follows Nye at his campaign events. 

The trackers became commonplace after former Sen. George Allen's (R-Va.) "macaca moment," which many think proved decisive in his 2006 loss to Jim Webb. 

Nye trails his Republican rival 42 percent to 36, according to new numbers released Wednesday from The Hill midterm poll. 


Ohio Republican blasted for lobbying for 'foreign trade'

Ohio Republican Jim Renacci remains in the crosshairs of Democrats.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is up with a new TV ad Thursday that goes after the "millionaire" Republican for being a "foreign-trade lobbyist."

Moreover, he "signed a pledge that protected tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas," the announcer says in the 30-second ad.

Renacci is challenging freshman Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio).

In September, the DCCC and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) launched similar ads that focused on the Ohio Republican's tax troubles.

This ad buy, however, is relatively modest — only $35,000, according to the DCCC’s Federal Election Commission filing.

Polls show Boccieri needs to make up ground before Election Day.

He trails his Republican challenger by just three points — 42 percent to 39 — with 15 percent of likely voters undecided, according to The Hill/ANGA poll.

Boccieri's problem is that the remaining undecided voters are largely Republican and independent, making it tough for him to make up much ground. Just 14 percent of remaining undecided voters are Democrats, while 33 percent are Republican and 41 percent independent.

The Hill's poll was conducted Sept. 25-27, consisted of 401 phone interviews among likely voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.