House races

House races

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.


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.


McMahon gets union backing despite healthcare vote

New York Rep. Mike McMahon (D) angered union officials this spring by not voting for healthcare reform. One labor official went so far as to call him "Judas in Staten Island."

But that anger appeared to have dissipated as the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) announced Friday it's backing the freshman Democrat.

PEF, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, is the second-largest state-employee union in New York. It has some 1,300 members in the 13th district.

"Mike McMahon understands and respects the work that our members do on behalf of the public," PEF President Kenneth Brynien said in a statement. "By working to make sure that New York gets a fair share of Federal funds, Mike McMahon has helped to prevent the layoff of thousands of workers in our state. New York needs McMahon standing up for us in Congress."

McMahon said he was "honored" to have the endorsement.


Rep. Rangel opponent declares 'community will take him out'

With Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) digging in and preparing to fight 13 alleged House ethics violations, his leading Democratic rival is ramping up the rhetoric ahead of the September primary. State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV (D) said Thursday that if Rangel won't resign with dignity, "The community will take him out." 

With leaders in Harlem and throughout New York City largely coalescing around Rangel, Powell has little choice but to up the pressure. 

Despite the ethical cloud surrounding the 80-year-old congressman, most of the state's Democratic elite showed up at his public birthday bash last week. 

Rangel's congressional district, which includes all of Harlem and the Upper West Side of Manhattan, has backed Rangel overwhelmingly since he first won the seat by ousting Powell's father in 1970.

Powell is one of four Democrats challenging Rangel in the Sept. 14 primary.   


Rep. Titus, Treasury highlight efforts to reduce foreclosures

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) will highlight her work to reduce home foreclosures at an event Friday with a senior Treasury Department official.

Herb Allison, an assistant Treasury secretary, is headed to Las Vegas for a press conference with Titus on the government's efforts to reduce foreclosures and stabilize the housing market in southern Nevada. Allison oversees a $50 billion federal effort to help the housing market, which continues to suffer under mounting foreclosures.

Nevada has been hit particularly hard with the highest rate of foreclosures in the country, according to RealtyTrac. Titus has focused significant attention on the housing crisis, including a TV ad this week that portrays her as helping homeowners stay in their homes.

Titus's congressional district has the eighth highest rate in the country of mortgages that are seriously delinquent (at least 90 days late on payments), according to a Deutsche Bank analysis.

Republicans responded to the ad this week by arguing that Titus "recklessly" spends taxpayer money and that her policies have contributed to the housing crisis.


Rep. Donnelly touts opposition to 'Nancy Pelosi's energy tax' in campaign ad

A new ad from the campaign of Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) takes a major shot at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Donnelly touts his opposition to cap-and-trade in the 30-second spot, with the ad's narrator deriding the proposal as "Nancy Pelosi's energy tax," and calling Donnelly "Indiana's most independent congressman." 

It's one of the most overt attempts this cycle from any House Democrat to distance themselves from Pelosi. 

Donnelly faces state Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) in the fall. Walorski won the backing of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday and is on the National Republican Congressional Committee's list of "Young Guns." 


Sessions to headline fundraiser for McKinley in W.Va.

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, is set to headline a fundraiser for congressional candidate David McKinley (R) in West Virginia. 

Sessions and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) will be the major GOP draws at the event set for the first week in September at The Greenbrier Resort. An e-mail to supporters from the McKinley camp puts the price tag at $250 per couple. 

A day before Sessions and Capito come to town, McKinley will get a fundraising visit from Fox News commentator Dick Morris. He will headline a rally in downtown Parkersburg, W.Va., on Sept. 1, followed by two fundraising receptions. 

The party senses a major pick-up opportunity in the state's 1st Congressional District after 14-term Rep. Alan Mollohan (D) was defeated in the state's May primary. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) headlined a fundraiser for McKinley in July. 

McKinley faces state Sen. Mike Oliverio (D) in November's general election, and like many House Republican candidates this cycle might as well be running against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). 

McKinley has focused his message almost entirely on the Democratic leadership in Congress, telling the New York Times this week that, "Our fight is not with Mike Oliverio. Our fight is a fight for this country and whether Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner is going to be speaker."

The two candidates are relatively tight on the fundraising front, but McKinley could certainly use the help. 

McKinley reported raising some $200,000 in the second quarter and reported $307,000 cash in hand. Oliverio raised more than double that in Q2, pulling in $592,000, but reported just $303,000 cash on hand. 


Chamber backs Rep. Halvorson challenger

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has thrown its support behind congressional candidate Adam Kinzinger (R) in Illinois. A former local county commissioner and Iraq war veteran, Kinzinger is challenging freshman Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D), who won easily in 2008.

In a statement announcing its backing of Kinzinger, the Chamber's Vice President of Political Affairs and Federation Relations Rob Engstrom said he's confident Kinzinger will prove to be "an invaluable leader on important business issues in Washington," while hitting Halvorson's voting record in Congress.

“She voted for a job killing tax on energy, supported a government takeover of the health care system, and was a co-sponsor of card check legislation, an undemocratic attempt to strip workers rights to a private ballot election," Engstrom said in the statement.

Halvorson voted in favor of the president's healthcare overhaul and for the Disclose Act, both of which the Chamber lobbied strenuously against. 

Halvorson's district wasn't one that appeared to be a prime pick-up opportunity for Republicans a year ago, but the party is now convinced the race is winnable. Election handicapper Charlie Cook moved the race into the toss-up category earlier this month. 


In Texas, a campaign battle over vets' healthcare

Rep. Chet Edwards (D-Texas) this week is blasting his Republican challenger over the future of healthcare for the nation's veterans. 

Edwards, in a tough fight for an 11th term, said Wednesday that Bill Flores's proposal to shift veterans into private insurance plans "would destroy the VA healthcare system as we know it and undermine healthcare for America's veterans."

The charge came in response to comments from Flores earlier in the year that "veterans would be much better off if they could go into the private healthcare system and have the government pay for it."

"Typically, the care in the private citizens' sector is better than the government sector," Flores said during a January debate. "The government usually doesn’t do some things very well that involve bureaucracies, so they need to go into the private system."

Neither Edwards nor Flores served in the military.

Edwards said his challenger's plan would "dilute the patient base at our VA hospitals, undermining quality care for our veterans, raising costs to taxpayers and ultimately leading to the closure of the VA hospitals in Waco, Temple and across the country."

Flores, a former oil executive, told The Dallas Morning News that Edwards's allegations were "baseless."

"Only a career politician like Chet Edwards would think that giving veterans options is a bad thing," Flores told the News.

It's likely not the end of the debate. Next week, Edwards is scheduled to undertake a five-day campaign focusing directly on veterans' issues. The "Vets for Chet" tour launches Aug. 23. 

The Cook Political Report rates the Edwards-Flores contest a toss-up.