House races

House races

Rep. Childers has edge on GOP challenger in poll

Freshman Rep. Travis Childers has a 5-point lead on his Republican challenger going into the pivotal post-Labor Day stretch of the campaign, according to an internal poll done for the Mississippi Democrat.

Childers led state Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R) 46 to 41 percent in the Anzalone Liszt Research poll obtained by The Ballot Box. The Democratic firm surveyed 400 likely voters in the district Aug. 30 to Sept. 1. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percent, which means Childers' lead could be razor thin.

A recent poll for Nunnelee's campaign had the Republican ahead 50 to 42 percent.

Overall, Childers remains well liked by his constituents, according to the new poll, which had him higher than 50 percent in two key categories. The Democrat had a 57 percent favorable rating and a 54 percent job approval rating.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved airtime in Mississippi's first district, but those resources could be directed elsewhere. Party strategists are giving vulnerable incumbents two weeks to prove they're worth the investment, according to The New York Times.

"Every campaign cycle the DCCC and other campaign committees face difficult resource allocation decisions and this election cycle is no different," Chris Van Hollen, the committee's chairman, said in a recent statement. 


Candidates pull even in money race for Rep. Obey's seat (updated)

The Democrat vying to succeed retiring Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) gained a small edge on her Republican rival in fundraising.

State Sen. Julie Lassa (D) raised slightly more than $235,000 between July 1 and Aug. 25, the final reporting period before Wisconsin's Sept. 14 primary. Both candidates face nominal opposition for their nominations but are expected to sail through the vote.

Republican Sean Duffy raised just over $230,000 during the final reporting period, and maintains a cash-on-hand advantage, having slightly less than $700,000 banked for the general, whereas Lassa has some $400,000.

But Lassa has gotten help from the national party. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already hit Duffy with a TV ad accusing him of wanting to eliminate Social Security.

The Ballot Box considers this open seat race a toss-up.

--Updated at 7:04 p.m.


Ex-Rep. Fossella to appear at anti-mosque rally

Former Staten Island congressman Vito Fossella (R) will make a rare public appearance at a rally protesting the mosque planned to be built near Ground Zero in New York City.

Fossella was forced into retirement last cycle after a 2008 drunken-driving arrest revealed he had a second family in the Washington suburbs. There was speculation he was planning a comeback in 2010, but that ended in May when he denied plans to return to public life. "I am frankly at a very good place in my life," he told reporters at the time.

Freshman Rep. Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.) now holds Fossella's former seat. Republicans Michael Allegretti and Michael Grimm are vying for the Republican nomination.

Fossella will join Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) and other Republican officials at the "peaceful" rally Sunday at Rescue 5's Memorial Garden on Staten Island.


Military medals issue heats up in New York House race

The Staten Island Republicans vying to face Rep. Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.) continue to squabble over military honors.

Businessman Michael Allegretti is accusing rival Michael Grimm of distributing a campaign photo of him wearing medals he wasn't awarded.
Allegretti sent Grimm, a veteran of the first Iraq war, a letter Thursday "asking him to come clean about the discrepancies regarding his military awards and his use of them in this campaign." According to Allegretti, Grimm donned the Army Presidential Unit Citation and the Army Meritorious Unit Citation awards, which he did not earn.

"Your integrity was on display when you served with our military," Allegretti wrote. "I am asking you to call on that integrity by telling the truth and releasing your records."

The subject line of Allegretti's release compares Grimm to a Democrat and a Republican who have run afoul for discrepancies in their military records this cycle — "Blumenthal, Kirk...Grimm???"

Grimm has said he was authorized to wear the medals at the time the photo was taken.

"It wasn't like I made an error. That is what I was rated. ... What is his assertion? That I should never use photos of myself in military uniform? That is absurd," he told the New York Observer.


Rangel challenger under fire for campaign donations

New York State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (D), who appears to have the best shot of defeating embattled Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) in a primary later this month, says he has returned campaign cash he received from an ex-felon.  

According to the New York Daily News, Powell received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Konstantine Drakopoulos, the owner of a Bronx strip club called Sin City who pleaded guilty to insider trading eight years ago. 

Drakopoulos is now the subject of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by dancers at the club he owns.

"I don't want to hear any more. Jesus Christ, that's quite a résumé," said Powell, who is running in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary against Rangel, the veteran congressman facing a House ethics trial. "I'm going to return the money. I want no part of anybody like that."

Still, Powell admitted he knew Drakopoulos earned his cash from the Bronx flesh palace.

"By the time I found out, the checks had long been cashed," Powell said from his East Harlem Assembly office.

Later, he said Drakopoulos invited him to Sin City when they met in March at a Manhattan fund-raiser — before the first check was inked.

"I honestly don't know [when I learned about the strip joint]," said Powell, back-pedaling. "I know he owns it. I haven't been there."

Powell has been calling for Rangel to resign his seat in Congress, arguing that his ongoing ethics troubles prevent him from being an effective representative for the district. 

Powell, the son of former Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (D), the man Rangel defeated to first win his congressional seat back in 1970, is one of four Rangel challengers. 

The longtime congressman still has strong support back in his home district and state and is widely expected to survive his primary challenge later this month. 


GOP lawmaker calls McConnell's criticism of Obama 'offensive'

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), who lost his Republican primary earlier this year, accused the leaders of his party of politicizing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Inglis called criticism lobbed at President Obama by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) "offensive to me," and encouraged members of his party to "unite" behind the president.

On Tuesday, both McConnell and Boehner criticized the president for not giving more credit to former President George W. Bush and his plan for a troop surge in Iraq. 

"What I’d say back to [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell and whoever is this is really not a time to play politics," Inglis told South Carolina's Spartanburg Herald-Journal. "It represents really the worst in politics, to politicize a war. America’s at war. And America’s best are serving right now in some very dangerous places.”

In 2007, Inglis opposed the troop surge in Congress, one of the many issues his GOP opponent used against him in the Republican primary. Inglis was defeated by prosecutor Trey Gowdy in a June runoff. 

Inglis recently returned from a two-week overseas trip that included visits to Iraq and Afghanistan.


Labor leader mocks Rep. Boehner in St. Louis

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka took aim at John Boehner ahead of the Ohio Republican's visit to Missouri this weekend. 

Trumka called the House minority leader "the tan wonder" and ridiculed Boehner's idea of "job creation" during a speech in St. Louis at the AFL-CIO state convention Tuesday.  

"His idea of job creation is to hire a second caddy," Trumka said.

Boehner will be in St. Louis on Saturday to raise money for lawyer Ed Martin (R), who is challenging Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.).

Trumka was there to talk up labor’s support for the Democratic ticket in Missouri. Boehner is also going to Jefferson City to raise money for Republican Vicky Hartzler, Rep. Ike Skelton's (D-Mo.) challenger.