House races

House races

Dem challenger drops bid to unseat Rooney

Democrats can probably say goodbye to their hopes of winning back former Rep. Mark Foley's (R-Fla.) seat again.

St. Lucie County Commissioner Chris Craft is dropping his bid against Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), according to the Palm Beach Post. Craft hadn't been raising much money, and the district failed to meet the cut when the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) recently announced the first round of top targets for its Red to Blue program.

“This is a time of historic proportion,” Craft said in a statement. “We have not had an economic downturn like this since the Great Depression. ... We are now faced with an enormous budget shortfall and a situation that requires the undivided attention from each of our county’s elected officials."

Craft becomes the most recent top Democratic candidate to pack it in. As its 2010 outlook dimmed, the party in late 2009 lost candidates running against Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.).

The Florida seat went to Democrats in 2006 after Foley was implicated in a sex scandal involving House pages. His successor, Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.), then fell victim to his own sex scandal in late 2008 and was unseated by Rooney.


American Conservative Union accuses McHenry-led PAC of corruption

American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene says the House Conservatives Fund is engaging in a corrupt endorsement process.

The ACU is crying foul over a House primary endorsement in Connecticut, suggesting the candidate was chosen over another Republican because he shares a consultant with the group.

Connecticut state Sen. Sam Caligiuri was one of 10 GOP House candidates to earn an endorsement earlier this month from the House Conservatives Fund (HCF). The fund is a political action committee started by the Republican Study Committee (RSC) and headed by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.).

But the ACU points out that Caligiuri’s general consultant, Evan Kozlow, also does work for HCF. What’s more, Caligiuri’s primary opponent, former congressional aide Justin Bernier, was asked to fill out a confidential questionnaire that contained instructions to return it to Kozlow.


Gibbs: Dems will get 'equal treatment' from WH in fall, no matter their healthcare vote

The White House will treat Democrats equally during this fall's midterm elections, no matter how they voted on healthcare reform, spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday.

Speculation has swirled that the White House may dedicate little or no resources to the 34 House Democrats who voted against the $940 billion healthcare overhaul on Sunday. But Gibbs sought to put that talk to rest.

"I’ve said on several occasions that we’re going to support Democrats," he said during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One. "I think the president understands that we’re a big family that may not agree on everything, but the president will be out there helping Democrats get reelected this fall, regardless of healthcare votes."

Pressed by a reporter if there will be equal treatment, Gibbs replied "There’s equal treatment."

Many of the 34 Democrats who voted "no" come from traditionally Republican districts and are considered vulnerable in the Fall. 

Presidents routinely campaign for members of their own party, oftentimes those who face uphill reelection battles.

All Senate Democrats voted for the healthcare measure in December but centrist Democratic Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) voted against a package of fixes to it Thursday.

Some liberal activists have encouraged primary races against Democrats who opposed the healthcare law.

Of the three senators, only Lincoln is up for reelection in the fall and she faces a primary challenge.


Retiring Dem's wife will run to replace him

Retiring Rep. Dennis Moore's (D-Kan.) wife will seek to replace him in the House.

Stephene Moore's name came up and recent weeks, and now it appears she will take the plunge. It should be a hard race in a tough environment, but her surname should be worth something to voters who have routinely returned her husband to Congress in a tough district.

Democrats had been without a candidate in the race for months, since Moore's announcement in November.

From the Kansas City Star:

A "Moore" will be on the ballot again this year for Congress in Kansas.
Democratic sources this afternoon tell Prime Buzz that Stephene Moore, wife of the six-term Democratic congressman, will run to succeed her husband this year.
Democrats recently polled the district. The result? "Basically a coin flip," the source said.
Stephene Moore becomes the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic nomination, given her high name ID. But she will have to get past the GOP nominee in what shapes up as a tough Democratic year (but maybe not as tough now that the health care bill is law).
No word yet on timing of a formal announcement


Georgia special election moved to May 11

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) has moved the special election for Rep. Nathan Deal's seat from April 27 to May 11.

The change was made to allow more time for overseas military ballots to be mailed in.

Candidates still must qualify for the race next week.

The seat is expected to be an easy keep for Republicans. The frontrunners are state Sen. Lee Hawkins, state Rep. Tom Graves and Dr. Chris Cates.


Pro-life Dems earn opposition from both sides

It's hard to please when it comes to abortion.

A pair of pro-life Democrats have learned that the hard way, earning rebukes from opposite sides of the abortion spectrum thanks to their 'yes' votes on the healthcare bill.

Rep. Bart Stupak's (D-Mich.) work to obtain an abortion funding compromise has earned him the primary opposition of the two powerful PACs -- Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America. Meanwhile, Stupak ally Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) lost the endorsement of Ohio Right to Life on Wednesday to former Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).

Right to Life seems like it was unlikely to back Driehaus over Chabot, though it did back his sister in her campaign to succeed him in the state House in 2008. But the group could have stayed silent too, as it has in other races.

"Whether Steve Driehaus was duped by the offer of a worthless Obama executive order or was merely attempting to provide himself political cover, he bears responsibility for the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade," said Ohio Right to Life PAC executive director Mike Gonidakis. "Pro-lifers in the 1st Congressional district will remember his health care vote in November.”

Stupak is being challenged in the primary by former state House candidate Connie Saltonstall.

NARAL president Nancy Keenan said Stupak has earned himself a one-way ticket home.

"The voters in Michigan’s 1st District are looking for an alternative to Bart Stupak," she said. "For years, he has attacked women’s freedom and privacy and, for the last several months, seized the national spotlight as he held health care reform hostage to his anti-choice political views. The clock is ticking on Mr. Stupak’s ‘15 minutes of fame.’"


Dem leader: GOP needs to participate or pay the price in the fall

Republican members of Congress "need" to participate in future efforts to reform healthcare, lest they put themselves in a politically poor position, a leading House Democrat said Wednesday.

Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.) said that the Republicans' strategy of calling for a repeal of the newly-passed healthcare law will force them to make politically untenable arguments during their fall reelection campaigns.

{mosads}"Republicans need [to participate]," Larson said on ABC's "Top Line webcast. "They're out there talking about repeal. They don't want to be talking about repeal of children's benefits."

GOP leaders have doubled down on their opposition to the Democrats' healthcare law that passed without their support Sunday. Some leaders have called for an outright repeal of the bill while others have called for incremental changes to scale back portions of the new law.

While Republicans argue that campaigning on the healthcare overhaul's passage in the fall midterms will doom the Democrats, Larson expressed confidence that it will be a political winner. 

"I think sometimes good policy, which this is, becomes good politics," he said. "Members are going to be going back to their districts and talking about this...The members have received great plaudits for the passing of this bill."

Larson said that Republicans would do better if they offer their own amendments and alternatives and cooperate with Democrats if and when additions to the bill are made down the line.

"This is the foundation, this is the start, there is going to be a lot more action for correction," the Connecticut Democrat said. 

But Republican Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said this week that members of his party will refuse to work with their colleagues on the other side of the aisle this year because they "poisoned the well in what they've don" with the healthcare bill.

The 2008 GOP presidential nominee later backed off slightly from his remarks.


Georgia Dem's 'no' vote stirs up primary trouble

There are going to be countless unforeseen repercussions from the healthcare reform bill -- and contentious Democratic primaries may be one of them.

Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), who won by 32-points last cycle in a district President Obama carried, voted "no" on Sunday and now several prominent African-American leaders back home in Savannah are accusing him of abandoning his black constituents.

"He has no respect for the people of color who are the majority of people who voted for him," the Rev. Bennie Mitchell Jr. told the Savannah Morning News. "There is no way I can support him."

More than 60 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in Georgia's 12th district are black.

Other former supporters are gravitating to Barrow's primary opponent, Regina Thomas (D), who publicly backed the measure.

"These people are stunned," Thomas, a former state senator, told Georgia Public Broadcasting. "They were given hope and he took the hope away. Evidently he is pleasing the Republicans, and some who say they'll vote Democrat but their actions lean toward voting for the other side. Maybe these are the people he is trying to please, but they're certainly not the ones who put him in office."

State Reps. Bob Bryant (D), who backed Barrow two years ago, and Mickey Stephens (D), who was neutral in 2008, have endorsed Thomas.

(h/t Political Insider)


NRCC dinner brings in $7M

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced that it raised some $7 million from donors attending its annual March Dinner. The dinner -- which Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity is keynoting -- is being held Tuesday night at the National Building Museum in Washington. 

Of that total, co-host Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) raised $600,000 personally.
NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) said the money would help "retire" Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). "The NRCC is committed to working with Republican candidates across the country to make sure that this Democrat majority pays the price for its arrogant Washington-knows-best approach to governing," Sessions said in a statement.


Paul Kanjorski-Mezvinsky?

From my colleauge Molly Hooper's story today on the healthcare vote-gathering process for Democratic leaders:

But when word spread that previously undecided Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) was a yes, all uncertainty was eliminated.

Pelosi and her team had finally done it. They had the votes.

I noted yesterday that no Democrats were going to be blamed for being the deciding vote, since the count was 219-212. I stand corrected.

It's probably not a nice designation for Kanjorski, who faces challenges in both the primary and general election. He admitted in his pre-vote statement that it was one of the toughest votes he has ever cast.