Oil spill fallout floods competitive congressional races

The fallout from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to flow over into various political campaigns.

As my colleague Ben Geman notes, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), who's a GOP target this cycle, is pressing the Interior Department for information about federal offshore drilling regulators who have worked for the oil-and-gas industry in the past.

The request, in a June 8 letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, is part of a wider committee probe of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and offshore drilling policy.

And my colleague Jordan Fabian reports Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.), who's challenging Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), called the spill a worse disaster than Hurricane Katrina. 

Melancon told Fox News the uncertainty about the future makes the BP oil spill more difficult to deal with than the 2005 hurricane that flattened entire sections of New Orleans. 

Katrina destroyed New Orleans and large swaths of property in Louisiana and its neighboring states. Nearly 2,000 people were recorded dead and property damage totaled about $81 billion. 

Eleven workers were killed and 17 were injured aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig due to the explosion that caused the spill more than 50 days ago. Up to 100,000 barrels are estimated to be spilling into the Gulf every day from the damaged pipe a mile underwater. 

Over the weekend, The Hill examined how the spill has moved inland, becoming an issue in the Missouri Senate race, which is a tight matchup between Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Democrat Robin Carnahan, the Missouri secretary of state.

It's also a big issue in Florida, where Gov. Charlie Crist, the independent candidate, has asked BP for $100 million to help with the spill's fallout, and Democratic candidate Rep. Kendrick Meek has asked Crist and Republican candidate Marco Rubio to back a moratorium on new oil-and-gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Expect the spill to become an issue in other races as voters are flooded with more images of oil on beaches and animals covered in the goo.