House races

House races

Republicans slam Rep. Grayson over DVD mailing

Florida state Rep. Kurt Kelly (R) is calling for the House ethics committee to open an official inquiry into whether Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) improperly used his franking privileges in sending a DVD to constituents. 

Grayson mailed out a DVD to some 100,000 households in Florida's 8th Congressional District, labeling it an official communication from his office. He paid for the mailing courtesy of his franking privilege, which permits members to mail with taxpayer money.

First reported by the Orlando Sentinel, it's a 90-minute video titled "Getting Things Done for You," and features a highlight reel of sorts from Grayson's first term in the House. See excerpts of the video here.

More from the Sentinel:

"This is an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars, and it goes to show that Alan Grayson is completely out of touch with Central Florida," said state Rep. Kurt Kelly of Ocala, one of seven Republicans looking to unseat Grayson this fall.

"This is just ridiculous behavior. What congressman would do this in the face of a huge budget deficit?" he asked.

Grayson said he doesn't see the video as self-promotional and that its intent was to show residents how the sausage is made in Washington.

"Unless you glom onto C-SPAN, you don't have sense of what congressmen do on a day-to-day basis," Grayson said. "I told people in my district that I would try to be a watchdog, and I think they have a right to know whether I have kept that promise." 


Rep. McMahon aide fired after pointing to opponent's 'Jewish money'

A campaign spokeswoman for Rep. Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.) was fired Thursday after pointing to a list of Republican opponent Michael Grimm's Jewish donors as evidence his base of support in the district is thin. 

Campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Nelson told the New York Observer, "There is a lot of Jewish money, a lot of money from people in Florida, Manhattan, retirees."

Nelson e-mailed out a document titled "Jewish Money Q2" to an Observer reporter Thursday. 

The McMahon campaign promptly fired Nelson and in a statement Rep. McMahon said, "Any comments that could serve to divide our community along religious or ethnic lines have no place in our community or my campaign. I sincerely apologize for her comments, and as she has since been terminated from our campaign, there will be no such incidents in the future."

Earlier in the week, New York Democrats targeted Grimm for remarks he made about McMahon in an interview with The Hill.  

“Had he voted for the healthcare bill, Staten Island and Brooklyn, they would really have been marching like they were going for Frankenstein,” Grimm said in the interview. “There was no question. That was just not even an option. Physically, he would have been in danger. It would have been that bad.”

Grimm, a former FBI agent, has won the backing of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in his primary against Michael Allegretti.


Rep. Rangel opponent: N.Y. delegation should call for Rangel's resignation

New York Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (D) says he's not sure why Democratic members of New York's congressional delegation are waitingto call on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to resign his seat in Congress.

"They need to call on him to resign," said Powell. "And he needs to resign before the [September 14] primary."

The House ethics committee on Thursday unveiled 13 charges against Rangel. 

He is accused of improperly soliciting donations for the Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York; of using a rent-stabilized apartment in Harlem for his campaign office; of failing to report more than $600,000 on his financial disclosure report; and of failing to pay taxes on rental income from a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic.

"Democrats stand to lose the Democratic majority in November as a result of this," Powell added. 

Powell is one of a handful of Democrats running against Rangel in a September primary. He's the son of former Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (D), the man Rangel defeated to first win the seat in 1970. Despite questions about his own standing in the district, Powell IV is considered by most to be Rangel's toughest primary opponent. 

"It comes as very little surprise to me that Charlie's opponents are relishing in his anguish," Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) told The Hill. "But no one else is."

Weiner declined to call on Rangel to step down, saying the congressman "has served his country, his state and his city" and now that the charges have been aired "we should let him speak for himself." 

"He's a good man; helped a lot of people," said Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.). "He's been there for so many of us."

Towns said he didn't think Rangel should resign, either. "He's done nothing to help himself," he said. "He's doing everything to help others."

-Sean J. Miller and Susan Crabtree contributed to this post.


Dem candidate shows off pickup truck in Web ad

Sitting in the back of a red flatbed Ford pickup, Tennessee congressional candidate Roy Herron (D) says "This old truck has about 400,000 miles on it."

Doing his best Scott Brown impression, (although Herron's pickup is a bit older) he is using the truck as a proxy for his fiscal conservatism as Herron works to define himself as a middle-of-the-road Democrat in the race for retiring Rep. John Tanner's (D-Tenn.) seat. 

"In my family, we get a new truck every 22 years whether we need one or not," Herron says. "Grandaddy got one in '54, daddy in '76, '98 was my year."

A Tennessee state senator, Herron is awaiting a general election opponent as his Republican challengers are locked in a nasty primary. 

The leading candidates on the GOP side are farmer Stephen Fincher, Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn and physician Ron Kirkland. The three have been in attack mode for weeks, each trying to stake out the more conservative ground in the primary race. 

Fincher was an early recruit of the NRCC and is in the top level of the committee's Young Guns program. The primary is August 5. 

Republicans fully expect Fincher will emerge battle-tested and make the race highly competitive should he win the primary, but he's had to endure millions of dollars in attacks and spend considerably from his own coffers for the GOP primary.

In the folksy Web video, Herron also offers some money-saving tips, noting the manual transmission, if driven properly, can stretch a gallon of gas by another mile or two.

"If this country knew how to get by with 400,000 mile trucks, those folks up in Washington wouldn't be spending us into oblivion and piling up debt on our kids and our grandkids."

Herron looks to be the beneficiary of the GOP primary fight so far, using the time stockpile some cash and tout his 2nd Amendment credentials to voters.


Palin gets on Grimm’s Staten Island bandwagon

New York House candidate Michael Grimm (R) now has the full support of his party’s 2008 presidential ticket.

Following an endorsement from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last week, Sarah Palin announced Wednesday she’s backing the former FBI agent.

“This decorated Marine and Persian Gulf War veteran took on organized crime and Wall Street corruption as an undercover agent,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page. “He’ll represent New Yorkers with just as much integrity and courage as he defended them in the FBI and the Marine Corps.”

Grimm said he was “proud” to have the former Alaska governor’s support. “Her support for common sense solutions to the problems facing our nation make her one of the most important leaders in the Republican Party today,” he said in a statement.

He’s vying against businessman Michael Allegretti for the GOP nod to face Rep. Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.). 


Dems: Rangel won’t hurt party in November

Two freshmen Democrats said Wednesday they didn’t expect Rep. Charles Rangel’s (D-N.Y.) ethics problems to hurt the party in November. 

“Are people concerned about ethics in Congress? Of course, they always are,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said at a breakfast hosted by the Third Way, a Democratic-leaning think tank. “Going back to the founding of the Republic, they think they’re all mostly scoundrels so it’s not entirely surprising that another one’s uncovered.”

Rangel has an organizational meeting with the House Ethics Committee scheduled for Thursday and could face a public ethics trial depending on whether a deal is reached. 

“I think it’s a sad and isolated case that will have a limited impact,” Connolly said. “It adds to the narrative that they’re all corrupt, sadly, but I don’t think it’s going to be a dispositive issue in the election.”

He added, “My constituents don’t even know who [Charlie Rangel is].”

Asked if Rangel should resign, Connolly demurred. “I’m not going to pre-judge anybody,” he said. “He has his day in court.”

Voters in Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D) south-central Virginia district haven’t raised concerns about Rangel.

“I was at several festivals this weekend in conservative-leaning counties and I didn’t get asked a single time about it,” Perriello said. “I think Republicans, who would be most likely to gin this up, have so many of their own ethics problems going on that I don’t think they’re really that eager to have that [be a defining issue].”

Concerns about the economy will override any headlines Rangel’s potential ethics trial would generate, he said. “People want jobs, people want to be able to feed their families and pay their bills right now.”


Runoff in the primary for Rep. Fallin’s Oklahoma City seat

Attorney Kevin Calvey and youth camp director James Lankford topped the Republican field vying to replace Rep. Mary Fallin (R-Okla.).

Calvey and Lankford took 34 and 32 percent of the vote, respectively, in the seven-way race for the 5th district nomination and will head to a runoff. Fallin left her Oklahoma City seat after two terms to run for governor. She claimed the GOP gubernatorial nod earlier in the evening.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, declared attorney Billy Coyle the winner of the Democratic nomination, with 57 percent of the vote.

On the GOP side, state Rep. Mike Thompson finished a disappointing third, with 17 percent of the vote.

Thompson had raised the most of the top three candidates, pulling in $910,762 for the cycle. He also spent heavily on TV advertising and had only $266,447 left as of his pre-primary filing.

Calvey spent less but went up with his buy early, airing ads on Fox News. Calvey, a former state lawmaker, also benefited from a higher name recognition because he ran for the seat in 2006. He raised $628,560 during the cycle and had $325,439 left in bank, according to his July 7 report.

Lankford, a political newcomer, was considered to have some momentum going into Tuesday’s vote. He raised $375,571 and had $92,167 cash on hand in his last Federal Election Commission filing.

The candidates sought to portray themselves as being the most conservative, all vowing to curb government spending and repeal the healthcare reform bill.

This isn’t the first time a primary in the 5th district has gone to a runoff. In 2006, Fallin topped a field of five candidates, but failed to break 50 percent. She went into the runoff against Republican Mick Cornett, whom she handily defeated. 

Oklahoma’s runoff will happen Aug. 24. The winner of the GOP nomination is expected to keep the seat in the Republican column. 

—Updated 10:14 p.m.