Ballot Box

Leppert puts up first ad in Texas Senate race: 'Creating jobs is my job'

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (R) is up with the first television ad of the Texas Senate race, seeking to increase his low name recognition around the state and paint himself as a pragmatic businessman as well as flick his opponents for their career backgrounds.

"Would you trust a lawyer to build you a house? How about a career politician? Do you think another Barack Obama speech will make companies start hiring? Of course not," he said in the ad, alluding to longtime Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), the GOP front-runner, and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz. "We need people in Washington who know how to create jobs. I'm not a lawyer or a career politician. I'm a conservative businessman and the only proven job-creator in the race. I'm Tom Leppert. Creating jobs is my job."

Leppert has been in third place in most polls, with Dewhurst holding a commanding lead over him and Cruz, who is running with backing from some prominent conservatives in D.C. and Texas. But he has the personal wealth to keep himself in the game — Leppert has $4.1 million in cash for the campaign, much of it from his own pockets.

The ad buy will run in all of Texas's major markets and has around a half million dollars behind it, according to Leppert's campaign. It is likely the first of many salvos the candidate will use his robust war chest to fund.

Leppert is known as more of a centrist than the other two candidates, which could make it tough for him to catch Dewhurst, another self-funder who has $4 million to spend and is better-known around the state, and Cruz, who has some strong Tea Party support. But with plenty of money, he will be able to stay in the game for as long as he wants.

Watch the ad here:

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Van Hollen fundraising off redistricting map

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sent out a fundraising email Thursday asking for support because of changes in his new congressional district, which has become a bit less safely Democratic in redistricting.

"Earlier today, the Maryland General Assembly passed a redistricting plan that will dramatically change my current congressional district — reducing the democratic performance by 12 percentage points," Van Hollen wrote in the email. "The new district will run all the way from the D.C — Maryland line to the border with Pennsylvania, taking in some very Republican areas.  I cannot take anything for granted.  Please help me send a strong signal that I will be fully prepared to meet any challengers."

While all of this was true, Van Hollen's new district would still have given President Obama more than 60 percent of its vote in 2008 and remains strongly Democratic-leaning.

Van Hollen also fails to mention that his district was made less safe by his Democratic allies in the state legislature in order to destabilize neighboring Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), who has become a top Democratic target.

But the email shows that redistricting can make nervous even representatives of safe districts — or at least that they see opportunity to raise some money off feigning worry.

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Perry calls Gadhafi's death 'good news,' wants 'active role' for US in Libya

Rick Perry called the death of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi "good news" for Libya and said America needs to take an "active role" in securing the weapons Gadhafi's troops had stockpiled.

"The death of Muammar el-Qaddafi is good news for the people of Libya. It should bring the end of conflict there, and help them move closer to elections and a real democracy," Perry said in a statement.

"The United States should work closely with Libya to ensure the transition is successful, and that a stable, peaceful nation emerges," the presidential candidate and Texas governor continued. "The U.S. must also take an active role in ensuring the security of any remaining stockpiles of Qaddafi's weapons. These weapons pose a real danger to the United States and our allies, and we cannot help secure them through simple observation."

It is unclear what exactly Perry means by an "active role," and Perry's campaign did not immediately return requests for comment, but the statement sounds an interventionist tone that could separate Perry from some of the other GOP presidential candidates.

Gadhafi was killed in his hometown of Sirte in a bombing raid, leading to celebrations around Libya.

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Rep. Bartlett says he will run for reelection despite tough new district

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) said he will run for reelection even though he faces an uphill climb.

Democrats in the Maryland Legislature passed a new congressional map Wednesday that makes Bartlett's congressional district much more Democratic. Despite knowing for a while that he was in Democrats' crosshairs, Bartless raised just $1,000 for a campaign in the last three months, leading many to speculate the 85-year-old congressman was planning on retirement.

But Bartlett pushed back on that notion in a statement issued late Wednesday, blasting Democrats for targeting his western Maryland district by drawing it into the Washington, D.C., suburbs and saying he will run for reelection. 

"I filed for reelection in June, and approval of this map hasn't changed my plans to seek reelection to represent the residents of Maryland's 6th district in the U.S. House of Representatives," he said.

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Ohio redistricting battle heats up

Democrats are threatening to put Ohio Republicans' redistricting map to a statewide referendum, while Republicans are looking to establish an "unholy allliance" with African-American Democrats in the statehouse to get a supermajority vote and preserve their map.

The plan Ohio Republicans passed, which was designed with heavy input from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), would likely give them control of 12 of the swing state's 16 House seats, force Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) into a primary and make it hard for Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) to win reelection.

Democrats have howled in protest and are pushing to put the map up for a statewide referendum if Republicans don't come to the bargaining table to negotiate a new map. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that the issue could be put to a vote, and Democrats are demanding Republicans meet with them to work out a deal before the end of the week if they want to avoid a referendum.

But Republicans could stop this if they get a supermajority vote, and reached out to African-Americans in the State Legislature to get those votes. Three black Democrats voted for the original plan; in order to get a supermajority, they would need to woo seven.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus met behind closed doors to weigh Republicans' overtures while Republicans are now pushing through a law that would move the state's primaries back to buy them more time to work out a compromise with black legislators.

A poll conducted by the Democratic-affiliated Public Policy Polling showed that 40 percent of voters opposed the new map while only 26 percent supported it, meaning that if the map does face a referendum, Democrats stand a good chance to strike it down.

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Paul gets cordial but muted welcome by GOP in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Ron Paul was greeted by a limited but reverent crowd of Republicans on Wednesday, the day after he was sidelined in a GOP debate where Herman Cain, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry grabbed most of the attention.

Paul, who also ran for president in 2008, has never managed to attract widespread support among the mainstream of the GOP electorate, but is known for having a loyal and fired up base of supporters who consistently turn out in droves for rallies and straw polls.

"Get you camera ready, I've gotta run," Paul said as about three dozen fans lined up for cell phone photos.

"God bless you, Ron," one supporter said.

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