State by State


Republican House candidate Marty Ozinga is trying hard to link state Sen. Debbie Halvorson (D) to convicted political fixer Tony Rezko, and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) appears ready to assist him.

Jackson on Wednesday confirmed that a proposal Rezko pushed for in 2006 wound up in a bill sponsored by Halvorson.


Jackson said on WLS-890 AM’s “Don Wade and Roma” morning show that two years ago Rezko pitched him a plan to compose a new airport board of appointed, instead of elected, officials. Jackson said he said no to the plan, but that a similar proposal later found its way into Halvorson’s bill.

The proposal was seen as a boon to Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), to whom Rezko was a close adviser.

Asked whether he knew if Rezko met with Halvorson, Jackson said: “I don’t have the answer to that. But the way the governor functions, not always does the left hand know completely what the right hand is doing.”

Jackson aide Rick Bryant over the weekend detailed the Jackson-Rezko meeting in a column published locally, and he called out Halvorson by name.

“Pay-to-play was the pathway laid out in Senate Bill 2063, sponsored by state Sen. Debbie Halvorson,” wrote Bryant, who is also executive director of the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission.

Asked if it might hurt Halvorson’s election hopes, Jackson said principle and 15,000 private-sector jobs mattered more.

“This isn’t about a Democratic seat or a Republican seat,” he said. “This isn’t about a job for Debbie Halvorson. It’s not about Rod Blagojevich’s job. It’s not even about my job.”

Jackson initially tried to downplay the alleged Rezko-Halvorson connection, telling the Southtown Star:

“Halvorson is mentioned only once in that entire piece” and that “Mr. Bryant wrote it, not me.”

But after being read a press release from Ozinga’s campaign Wednesday, he confirmed the confluence of events.

Rezko was convicted last week on 16 of 24 counts in his corruption trial. His connections to Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's Campaign Report: Gloves off in South Carolina 6 ways the primary fight is toughening up Democrats for the fall general election Bloomberg called Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme' as mayor MORE (D-Ill.) have occasionally been an issue on the presidential campaign trail.

Halvorson and Ozinga are battling for retiring Rep. Jerry Weller’s (R) swing district.

Halvorson fought back against Jackson late Friday.

“I am an independent fighter for the people I represent and I won’t let Chicago politicians tell us what to do in the 11th congressional district,” she said. “This bill has bipartisan support from the legislators in Will County because this third airport bill is about local control and not handing over an airport in Will County over to bigwigs from Chicago. Our plan gives one appointment to the governor, and ALNAC’s plan ultimately gives five.

“This issue is too important for petty politics, and shame on anyone for suggesting ties to convicted felon Rezko — someone whom I have never even met.”

— Aaron Blake


Former Common Cause President Chellie Pingree defeated Iraq veteran and attorney Adam Cote on Tuesday in a crowded field to replace Rep. Tom Allen (D), who is running for Senate.

Pingree, as the Democratic nominee, will be heavily favored in the Democratic-leaning district. In the general election she will face Iraq veteran and former state Sen. Charles Summers, who won a two-man GOP primary.

Pingree took 44 percent of the vote to Cote’s 29 percent, with 94 percent of precincts in. Summers topped his race with 60 percent of the vote, according to results available Wednesday afternoon.

The Democratic nominee fell to Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Lawmakers raise alarms over Trump coronavirus response | Top official warns virus appears inevitable in US | Democrats block two Senate abortion bills Democrats block two Senate abortion bills MORE (R-Maine) in 2002, 57-41, in a strong year for Republicans.

She led this year’s primary from the outset and withstood a late charge from Cote, a former Republican who found traction when the rest of the field went far left.

Allen easily won his primary, as expected, and will face Collins in the state’s Senate race.

— A.B.


Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R) campaign released his first television ad Wednesday, and in it he talked about his leadership philosophy.

The ad makes no mention of comedian Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenAl Franken blasts Susan Collins: She'll let Trump 'get away with anything' Bill Press: Don't forget about Amy Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far MORE, who was endorsed by the state Democratic Party over the weekend. But it does allude to the many complaints Franken has lodged against Coleman.

“It’s not good enough just to criticize, not good enough to tear something down,” Coleman says. “The business of serving the people is about making a difference, and about doing something — not just fighting about it, but doing something about it.”

— A.B.

New Jersey

Former Rep. Dick Zimmer (R) is within striking distance but still trails Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) in the aftermath of Lautenberg’s successful primary defense, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

The poll put Lautenberg ahead 47-38 and comes after a Rasmussen poll earlier in the week put Lautenberg up by just one point, 45-44.

Lautenberg faced a well-funded challenge last week but easily defeated Rep. Robert Andrews (D), 59-35, in the primary. Polls show much of his vulnerability has to do with his age, 84.

The seat is the lesser of two top takeover hopes for the national GOP, with the other being Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuA decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth Congress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ MORE’s (D-La.) seat. But the GOP has been unable to get over the hump in New Jersey, losing the last four Senate races each by 10 points or less.

Zimmer has run for Senate before but fell to Sen. Robert Torricelli (D) 53-43 in 1996.

— A.B.

North Carolina

Rep. Robin Hayes (R) is wasting little time going after Democratic opponent Larry Kissell this cycle, releasing a television ad this week that accuses Kissell of skirting campaign payroll taxes.

For each of his two campaigns against Hayes, this cycle and last, Kissell has hired all his staff as independent contractors. That means they are responsible for paying their own taxes and Kissell is not paying for Social Security, unemployment benefits or Medicare.

The ad, Hayes’s first of the cycle, says Kissell is “manipulating his workers’ paychecks to save himself a buck.”

Kissell spokesman Thomas Thacker said the campaign only recently hired field staff that will be full employees, and that they will be paid July 1. He said that in the 2006 cycle, the campaign was so poorly funded that it relied on volunteers and month-to-month consultants.

He said the staff would be doubling soon and that about half of it will be on payroll.

“It’s desperate, it’s deceiving, I think it’s timed perfectly to hit just before a campaign would normally expand and have employees,” Thacker said of the ad. “That’s what this is.”

Hayes defeated Kissell by just 329 votes in 2006.

— A.B.

South Carolina

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders takes incoming during intense SC debate Congress eyes killing controversial surveillance program Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE (R) sailed to re-nomination for a second term Tuesday against a former Republican National Committeeman. On the House side, a well-funded dark horse, Food Lion heiress Linda Ketner, won the Democratic primary to face Rep. Henry Brown Jr. (R).

Graham defeated retired orthodontist Buddy Witherspoon, who left his RNC post for the race, 67-33. Graham faces only nominal general-election opposition.

Ketner won her race with 65 percent of the vote and faces an uphill battle against Brown, who has never taken less than 60 percent of the vote but hasn’t faced a difficult challenge in years.

With more than $780,000 raised, Ketner has raised about $130,000 more than Brown.

Another long-shot Democrat with some financial resources won in the 2nd district. Former Marine Capt. Rob Miller, who has raised $300,000, took 67 percent of the primary vote Tuesday and will face Rep. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonSchumer reminds colleagues to respect decorum at State of the Union speech US officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  Valerie Plame: 'I'm alarmed' over escalation with Iran MORE (R), who has also not faced serious competition.

Both Brown’s and Wilson’s districts voted around 60 percent for President Bush in 2004.

— A.B.


A Washington ethics watchdog group on Wednesday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnHouse Freedom Caucus chairman endorses Collins's Georgia Senate bid TikTok introduces new parental controls Abortion wars flare up in Congress MORE’s campaign regarding the Tennessee Republican’s self-admitted FEC reporting errors.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) joined one of Blackburn’s constituents, Germantown resident Barbara Kaye Ginsberg, in filing the complaint against Marsha Blackburn for Congress and the committee’s treasurer, Tea Hoffman.

In April, Blackburn announced that an audit she initiated of all her campaign finance records resulted in her re-filing all 32 periodic reports she has made to the FEC since she first ran for Congress in 2002.

Blackburn said that more than $440,000 in campaign donations and disbursements had not been reported or were misreported, including $102,044 in unreported contributions, $286,278 in unreported spending — including $63,000 for political advertising and $18,821 to her daughter, Mary Morgan Ketchel, and her son-in-law, Paul, for their company, Political Concepts — and an additional $52,025 in accounting errors in other expenditures.

Blackburn said she had been in contact with FEC over the reporting problems and highlighted her proactive role in addressing the problems.

But CREW’s complaint — in addition to arguing that Blackburn violated campaign laws — also alleges that campaign officials may have committed perjury by signing a statement saying all information provided to the FEC to resolve a 2006 investigation — which resulted in a $1,500 fine — failed to report the contribution from Friends of Duke Cunningham, then under investigation by federal authorities.

“Given the Blackburn campaign committee’s longstanding pattern of filing inaccurate FEC reports and the large amounts of money involved, the FEC should step in, investigate the committee and sanction it appropriately,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. “In addition, if it turns out that the campaign committee deliberately hid the Cunningham contribution when negotiating a settlement with the FEC, the Department of Justice should consider whether a perjury prosecution is appropriate.”

Blackburn’s primary opponent, former State Sen. Tom Leatherwood, has been using Blackburn’s campaign disclosure problems and her campaign’s employment of family members as his main talking points against her.

— Jared Allen


Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward Connolly'Liberated' Pelosi bashes Trump — and woos Democratic base Trump's best week ever? Trump set to confront his impeachment foes MORE’s Democratic primary win Tuesday in retiring Rep. Tom Davis’s (R) district might have been bigger, but Democrats also have some hope in the neighboring 10th district.

Democratic Georgetown University Professor Judy Feder defeated retired Air Force Col. Mike Turner 62-38 and will again face Rep. Frank WolfFrank Rudolph WolfAfrica's gathering storm DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling Vulnerable Republican keeps focus as Democrats highlight Trump MORE (R), who beat her 57-41 in 2006.

Feder faces an uphill battle, but she has nearly matched Wolf by raising more than $1 million so far.

— A.B.