House races

House races

Wisconsin Dem candidate calls for House pay cut in her first campaign ad

The Democrat vying to succeed retiring Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) released her first TV ad of the campaign Thursday, which focuses on her would-be Congressional paycheck.

In the 30-second ad, state Sen. Julie Lassa (D) says she’ll fight to cut Congress’s pay by 10 percent until they lower unemployment. She doesn’t say by how much unemployment should be lowered.

She also says she won’t accept a pay raise until the budget is balanced (members automatically receive pay raises unless they vote to freeze the increase, as they recently did for 2010-11).

According to the Lassa camp, it's a major buy that will be seen by a "majority" of voters in the seventh district. It's airing on broadcast and was produced by Tom King and Murphy Putnam. 

The National Republican Congressional Committee was quick to claim that Lassa accepted a pay increase during her time in the state Legislature. 

"In the state Senate, Lassa accepted a taxpayer-funded raise when 60,000 Wisconsinites lost their jobs," Tom Erickson, an NRCC spokesman, said in a statement. "If Lassa would take a bonus while thousands of Badger Staters were given pink slips, how can Wisconsin families trust this career politician to stand up for them?"

The Lassa camp disputed the claim, saying that she returned the salary increase.

"While Julie Lassa is voluntarily giving back 3 percent of her salary to taxpayers, Sean Duffy has consistently received taxpayer funded pay raises in his seven years in office," Haley Morris, a spokeswoman for Lassa, said in a statement.

Lassa, who's already been hit by TV ads by outside groups, faces Republican Sean Duffy in November.

--Updated at 12:13 p.m. and 1:33 p.m. and 8:18 p.m.


Labor hits ex-Rep. Walberg with tough Michigan ad

A major union this week waded into the grudge match brewing in Michigan's seventh district between Rep. Mark Schauer (D) and his 2008 foe, Tim Walberg.

The freshman Democrat took the seat from Walberg last cycle after the Republican had held it for a single term. Walberg is now running to get it back, but Schauer's labor allies are closing ranks around him.

The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees spent $750,000 on a TV ad called "Burned Dignity" that went up on Monday in the Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek media markets.

 The ad notes that Walberg skipped the vote on the auto industry bailout but "sided with big oil and hedge funds — gave them tax loopholes."

"Haven't we been burned badly enough?," the announcer says in the spot.

In 2008, Schauer beat Walberg by about 7,500 votes.


Ex-NFL star Runyan (R) to get help from Gov. Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will stump for former Philadelphia Eagle Jon Runyan (R) at an Ocean County barbecue in September.

It's the kind of move Republicans had been hoping for from the popular governor. Christie beat former Gov. Jon Corzine (D) 56 to 39 percent in 2009 in Rep. John Adler's (D) district. Runyan is vying to unseat the freshman Democrat in November.

A recent poll showed Christie with a 51 percent approval rating — higher than President Obama in Democrat-leaning New Jersey. Christie gets a 75 to 13 percent thumbs up from Republicans and a 61 to 29 percent approval/disapproval from independents, according to the recent Quinnipiac University poll.

But his approval rating could drop before the Sept. 5 event with Runyan. Christie acknowledged Wednesday that a clerical error blew the state's chance at winning $400 million in federal money for schools.


Dentist Gosar to face Rep. Kirkpatrick

Freshman Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) will face dentist Paul Gosar (R) in November.

Gosar had been the frontrunner to clinch the nomination after receiving endorsements from several prominent conservatives. He got the backing of Sarah Palin, and in Arizona, he received support from sheriffs Joe Arpaio and Paul Babeu, who also endorsed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
But mining lobbyist Sydney Hay, who was the 2008 GOP nominee, had more cash on hand in the final stretch of the race. Hay reported $111,000 banked in her last campaign finance report, compared to only $41,000 for Gosar.

Still, Gosar was able to capture 31 percent of the vote; Hay took 23 percent. The rest of the 10-person field, which also included cardiologist Steve Mehta, who was endorsed by the Arizona Republic, former state Senate Majority Leader Rusty Bowers and attorney Bradley Beauchamp, split the remainder of the vote.

The Associated Press declared Gosar the winner with the majority of precincts reporting.


Adams clings to slim lead in GOP primary to face Rep. Kosmas

State Rep. Sandy Adams leads the GOP primary in Florida's 24th Congressional District by the slimmest of margins and is the likely winner, although the race has not been officially called. 

The winner will face Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.) in November. 

Adams leads by just over 500 votes with 99 percent of precincts reporting. She has 30 percent of the vote to Karen Diebel's 29 percent.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is already touting Adams as the victor, calling her "a reliable fiscal conservative and expert on law enforcement issues" in an e-mail.

The primary was a nasty affair that featured frequent attacks and accusations of mental instability against one of the leading candidates. Businessman Craig Miller and Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel sparred throughout the race. 

Diebel had the backing of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, but Miller, the former CEO of Ruth's Chris Steak House, poured plenty of his own money into the race.

In the final days before Tuesday's primary, Miller unleashed a mailer that attacked Diebel as "unstable," citing a call to police to report a snake in her pool. Diebel reportedly suggested it might have been placed there by political opponents.

The battle between Diebel and Miller appears to have created the opening for Adams, who ran largely on her support for an Arizona-style immigration law for Florida.   

Republicans are convinced Kosmas is vulnerable given her vote in favor of the healthcare reform bill, and the NRCC is already tying her to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).


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.


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.


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.