House races

House races

Despite controversy, Rivera survives GOP primary in Rep. Diaz-Balart's district

It's a good thing state Rep. David Rivera (R) didn't have a strong primary challenger Tuesday — a little more than a week ahead of the Florida primary, Rivera found himself fighting back against years-old allegations of domestic violence.

The AP called the race for Rivera with 35 percent of precincts reporting. Rivera had 64 percent of the vote to Paul Crespo's 26 percent. Marili Cancio was in third place with 10 percent.

Rivera was in the Republican primary to fill the seat of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R), who decided to run in the more Republican-friendly district left vacant by his brother's retirement.

The story reemerged last week after a report from a local Florida TV station uncovered an eight-year-old police report of a traffic accident between Rivera and a truck that was carrying his opponent's campaign fliers.

Rivera was running for the legislature at the time, and the fliers detailed what Rivera maintains was a false domestic violence allegation against him.

State and national Democrats, led by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, have seized on the story and are using it to hit National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Pete Sessions and other Republicans who helped recruit Rivera.

Ahead of Tuesday's Republican primary, Cancio released an attack ad that didn't even mention the incident.

Given Rivera's troubles, the race could become much less of a priority for the NRCC. Democratic nominee Joe Garcia is running a second time for the seat. Garcia came within 6 points of Balart in 2008.


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Webster wins GOP primary, will face Rep. Grayson in November

Former state Senate Speaker Daniel Webster won a crowded GOP primary Tuesday for the right to face Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) in the fall. 

The AP called the race for Webster with 89 percent of precincts reporting. Webster had 40 percent of the vote to Todd Long's 22 percent. 

Webster was backed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), who headlined a campaign rally for the candidate just days before the primary.

Meanwhile, a slew of local elected officials had lined up behind state Rep. Kurt Kelly, who finished third with 14 percent of the vote.

Republicans sense a prime takeover opportunity in the district this fall. Grayson has become a fixture on cable TV and gained notoriety with the left for his strong support of liberal policies and stringent attacks against Republicans. But polling suggests that reputation has left Grayson vulnerable with independents.

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Kansas Republican Yoder in D.C. for victory lap

Kansas House candidate Kevin Yoder (R) will be in Washington Wednesday for a fundraising event and a tour of the National Rifle Association.

It's his first trip to D.C. since winning his primary earlier this month. He's set to face Democrat Stephene Moore, who's running for her retiring husband's seat. Yoder is a top recruit of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

He's doing a lunchtime fundraiser at Carmine's that will be hosted by Tim McGivern, a lobbyist for several top telecommunications companies, and Jeff Freeman, a lobbyist for the NRA.
 
He'll then go to the NRA offices to chat with officials, according to sources.

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Rangel: Obama has 'not been around long enough'

At a candidates' forum Monday night in Harlem, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) made clear what he thought about President Obama's suggestion he "end his career with dignity."

"Frankly, he has not been around long enough to determine what my dignity is," Rangel said of the president. "For the next two years, I will be more likely to protect his dignity."

State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (D), who's considered Rangel's top primary challenger, harangued the congressman for his "years and years of corruption."

He then tried metaphor.

"In order to have good fruit, you must have a healthy tree,” Powell said, paraphrasing the Book of Matthew. "We not longer have a healthy tree, and we won’t have healthy fruit if this continues."

But from the crowd's reaction, it seems Rangel still has popular support in his district.

Glancing around the Baptist church, Rangel asked, "Adam, is he here?" He continued: "He truly believes that I should resign, so that somebody else should take my place."

The crowd, according to The New York Times, yelled: "No!"

"He is the only one to say this," Rangel added. "I think it’s creative. ... But if it's OK with my doctor, I am going to serve the next two years."

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Huckabee looks to play kingmaker in Florida

In a departure from previous primary days this cycle, it's former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) who has the most on the line in Tuesday's Republican primaries in Florida.

Huckabee has endorsed in three competitive GOP primaries — he's backing Attorney General Bill McCollum in the primary for governor, Daniel Webster in the race for Rep. Alan Grayson's (D) seat and Karen Diebel in the primary to face Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D).

In the governor's race, three potential 2012 hopefuls are behind McCollum — Huckabee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The primary between McCollum and Rick Scott was in a dead heat heading into Tuesday. 

But Huckabee is the only one who came to the state to rally for McCollum the weekend before the primary. He is also the only one who has waded into the most competitive congressional primaries in the state. Huckabee headlined a rally for congressional candidate Daniel Webster over the weekend. 

For the former governor, the endorsements in competitive congressional primaries mark a change in his political activity from earlier in the season. 

Along with a handful of endorsements in Florida, Huckabee offered last-minute backing to former Rep. Nathan Deal (R) in Georgia's gubernatorial runoff — Deal won — and released a new slate of endorsements in Iowa, the first state to hold a 2012 caucus.

It has increased speculation that Huckabee is mulling another presidential run in 2012.  

Elsewhere in Florida, the Republican primary for attorney general pits two potential GOP presidential contenders in 2012 against one another. 

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is backing former state Rep. Holly Benson, while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is behind Pam Bondi. Both Gingrich and Palin recorded robocalls for their endorsed candidates.  

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N.Y. House candidate uses Giuliani nod in new TV ad

Staten Island Republican Michael Grimm is using an endorsement from Rudy Giuliani in his latest TV ad. The former New York City mayor says Grimm "knows first-hand the destruction caused by terrorists."

The ad comes on the heels of a TV spot released Michael Allegretti, Grimm's rival for the nod to face Rep. Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.). Allegretti's spot focused on the economy, and featured several shots of downtrodden-looking residents staring forlornly at the camera.

New York's primary is Sept. 14. Grimm is considered the frontrunner, having been backed by Giuliani and other high-profile Republicans such as Sarah Palin and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Allegretti's spot was released last Friday.



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Democrats get ready to launch GOTV effort

If Democrats are going to minimize their losses this fall, the party has to mobilize enough of last cycle's so-called "Obama coalition" — largely young, minority and first-time voters in 2008. 

Those are all groups that are usually less likely to vote in midterm election years but will be key for Democrats in November.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is promising a robust get-out-the-vote effort this fall and is touting its start Monday with a Web video. 

It features Democratic field organizers talking up their efforts in scenes from the districts of several endangered Dems in 2010, including Reps. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio) and Tom Perriello (D-Va.). Watch it here

The committee has a series of house parties set for this week to drum up attention for Saturday's "National Day of Action." The goal is to knock on some 200,000 doors in what the committee says is the earliest it has ever started its GOTV efforts.

The DNC is also promising a $50 million effort in 2010, largely focused on field operations.

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Dems hitting Sessions, GOP leaders over candidate controversy in Florida

Democrats are using the controversy over years-old allegations leveled at Florida congressional candidate David Rivera to hit NRCC Chair Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).   

Democrats in Florida and nationally are echoing allegations of domestic violence against Rivera, who is running in an open seat race in the state's 25th Congressional District, and claiming Rivera "ran a delivery truck off the road to prevent a rival candidate’s campaign literature from being mailed" back in 2002. 

Rivera has been talked up as candidate by Sessions and Boehner, and he's a member of the National Republican Congressional Committee's "Young Guns" program, so the controversy now surrounding Rivera's campaign is unwelcome news for the committee.

“One day, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions promotes the candidacy and character of David Rivera, and the next, these explosive revelations come to light,” said DCCC spokesperson Jennifer Crider.

But Rivera and the NRCC are pushing back hard against the allegations, calling them outright lies. In a statement late Friday, Rivera said the charges were false and said it all stems from a case of mistaken identity. 

“When I ran for the Florida state house in 2002, a last-minute campaign mailer was sent falsely accusing me of domestic violence. The mailer cited a 1994 case involving another individual also named David Rivera," the candidate said in a statement.

"In my 2010 campaign for Congress, some of my opponents have tried to use these same false allegations from 2002 to libel, slander and defame my character," Rivera continued. "While I find it offensive to even dignify these false allegations with any response at all, let me be clear: The 1994 case has absolutely nothing to do with me. I am not the David Rivera in that case and to suggest otherwise is a blatant and shameful lie. Campaigns should be based on issues, not false personal attacks.”

The story reemerged earlier in the week after a report from a local Florida TV station uncovered an eight-year-old police report of a traffic accident between Rivera and a truck that was carrying his opponent's campaign fliers.

Rivera was running for the legislature at the time, and the fliers detailed what Rivera maintains was a false domestic violence allegation against him.


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