Ballot Box

Rep. West challenger publicizes ‘misogynist’ accusations

Rep. Allen West’s (R-Fla.) reelection campaign will be haunted by accusations that he is a “misogynist” and “sexist” if one Democratic challenger in his district has her way.

West’s challenger, former West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, reacted to recent controversy over an email West sent to a woman member of Congress by registering the domain name

The website offers a petition demanding that West apologize and make a $1,000 donation to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“I think his attitude towards women is very disrespectful. I do think his votes mainly and his attitudes towards women are hurtful and disparaging," Frankel told The Palm Beach Post Sunday.

“Allen West doesn’t respect women,” reads the website, which is paid for and authorized by Frankel’s congressional campaign.

Both West and Frankel have announced strong fundraising numbers already this year.

West, already high on the list of Democratic targets in 2012, has faced increased opposition from both Democrats and activist groups including EMILY’s List since sending an email last week to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) in which he told her to “shut the heck up” and called her "vile," "despicable" and "not a Lady."

West, a freshman congressman and a Tea Party favorite, stood by his comments in the email in interviews last week despite calls by Democratic women in the House for an apology who are calling the remarks "sexist."

"I think I have the right to stand up and defend my honor and make sure that this type of activity does cease," West said last Thursday, referring to an ongoing feud between himself and Wasserman Schultz going back to his original campaign for Congress.

During West's campaign in 2010, Wasserman Schultz publicized West's connection to a biker magazine called Miami Mike’s Wheels on the Road, which she said contained “degrading, sexist and misogynistic" material.

—This post was updated at 5:47 p.m.


Poll: GOP gains big with white voters

Democrats' advantage over Republicans in partisan affiliation is way down from 2008 as white voters have turned against them, according to a poll released Friday by the Pew Research Center.

While minority voters continue to support Democrats in large numbers, what was just a two-point Republican edge among whites in 2008 has grown to a 13-point advantage today. Republican gains among white voters are "particularly pronounced among the young and poor," according to the report.

White voters under age 30 now break for Republicans by an 11-point margin; in 2008 they broke for Democrats by a seven-point margin. This could spell trouble for President Obama's reelection efforts, as he capitalized on a coalition of minority voters and younger white voters to become president.

Part of the calculus might be the economy: Young adults have the highest rate of unemployment of any age group.

Democrats still hold a 47-44 percent advantage in partisan affiliation, counting those who lean to one party or another, according to the poll. But because minorities tend to vote at lower rates, that slight advantage is likely not enough to translate to wins at the ballot box.


DNC chief promises push for Hispanic votes in conference call

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) promised in a Friday conference call that the Obama campaign would focus on Latinos, a rapidly growing population, in its reelection campaign.

The call was to promote the DNC's first ad of the election cycle, a Spanish-language television ad running in media markets that reach the swing states of Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Virginia.

"This ad buy and the fact that it’s the first one of the campaign season ... sends a very strong signal of just how high a priority this community is to this administration and this president," said Wasserman Schultz. "We know that the Hispanic community has grown across this country and our commitment is to reach voters in every nook and cranny in this country. "

The ad comes on the heels of a series of Spanish-language ads Republican-affiliated Crossroads GPS began airing in many of the same markets this Monday. It touts Obama's economic priorities and attacks Republicans for wanting to "end the Medicare guarantee," a reference to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)'s plan to change Medicare's payment system. 

Noticeably absent in the ad is any reference to immigration reform: The issue was put on the back burner early in the Obama administration, although the president pushed hard in late 2010 to try to pass the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants who moved to the U.S. as children.

The Hispanic population of the U.S. has doubled in the past 20 years, and some of its fastest growth took place in swing states Florida and Virginia. Hispanics broke 2-to-1 for Obama in 2008, but their population has been hit harder than many others by the economic recession, and Republicans hope to make inroads with them this election. 

Numerous polls have shown that immigration is a less important issue to Hispanic voters than the economy, healthcare and education.


FBI, IRS open second probe of Rep. David Rivera

Federal investigators have opened a second criminal probe of embattled Rep. David Rivera (R-Fla.), examining undisclosed payments from a Miami casino to a company he has ties to, according to the Miami Herald.

At issue: a $1 million consulting contract between a dog track and casino and a marketing company owned by Rivera's mother. The Herald reports that the IRS's involvement indicates that Rivera might have evaded paying taxes.

Rivera's campaign denied that there was a new investigation. "The Miami Herald story is a recycling of the same old, false, misleading, unattributed, and unsubstantiated reporting that has characterized their coverage thus far," the campaign sent out in a release. "Contrary to the Herald’s insinuation, Congressman Rivera has not been contacted by the FBI or IRS on any matter whatsoever."

This is just the latest bad news for the embattled congressman. This is not the first ethics charge he has faced — he is dealing with questions about changes he made to state legislative disclosure forms. He also was accused in 2002 of running a mail truck off the road because it contained fliers attacking his ethics.

Rivera was initially left off a big-ticket fundraiser held by the National Republican Congressional Committee, and there has been some buzz that he could face a primary challenger. Democratic state Rep. Luis Garcia also announced this week that he would run against the congressman.

This post was updated at 11:36am to include the Rivera campaign's response.


Poll: Perry would start strong as GOP contender

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is just two percentage points behind Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the race for the Republican nomination and the field is wide open, according to a CNN/ORC International Poll released Friday.

Romney continues to hold his lead over the field but wins the support of just 16 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents surveyed in the poll. Perry, who has not yet officially decided to run, is backed by 14 percent.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, neither of whom is in the race, polled at 13 percent, while Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) polled at 12, indicating that the race is still fluid — and that Romney and Bachmann, currently the two front-runners, have a tenuous grip on that position.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) polled at 8 percent and businessman Herman Cain received 6 percent. Other candidates who have spent much time on the campaign trail fared poorly: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman each polled at less than 5 percent.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from July 18-20, with 455 Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for questions regarding the GOP presidential nomination horserace.


Both parties launch Spanish-language ads in Southwest states

The Republican and Democratic national committees both announced new Spanish-language ads this week targeting Hispanic voters in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada.

The early ads focusing on the presidential election in battleground states with a high Latino population indicate the importance the Hispanic vote will have in 2012.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Friday announced a new Spanish-language ad that will run on TV in several metropolitan areas in the Southwestern states, as well as in Florida and Washington, D.C.

The DNC ad, titled "En quien confiar," emphasizes "the president’s commitment to the Hispanic community" through healthcare and education initiatives, as well as the Recovery Act.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced on Wednesday the release of a Spanish-language radio ad running in the Southwestern states. The ad aims to highlight “failed economic leadership” by President Obama.

“The RNC is ready to take the fight to the states where President Obama’s economic policies are stifling job creation and putting recovery on hold,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

Priebus's Democratic counterpart, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), fired back in a press release announcing the DNC's ad buy. "The administration’s record is clear," she said. "The Republican Party is offering no new solutions to the American people — they simply want to double down on the failed policies that brought our economy to the brink of a depression and hurt millions of American families, including far too many Latinos."

Obama and the Democrats have traditionally taken a large percentage of the Hispanic vote, Obama sweeping the Latino vote by a 2-1 margin in 2008. GOP strategists have warned that with the rising number of Hispanics in the U.S., unless Republicans shift their appeal, Democrats will carry their support at the polls.