State by State


Politically endangered House Democrats were split late last week on the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) legislation that has attracted strong criticism from liberal bloggers.

The compromise FISA bill, backed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Bush, passed 293-129, with 105 Democrats voting yes and 128 rejecting it. While 13 committee chairmen and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) voted no, many targeted members approved it.


Among the politically vulnerable yes votes were Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowRepublican wins Georgia secretary of state runoff to replace Kemp The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of Our democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget MORE (Ga.), Melissa Bean (Ill.), Nancy Boyda (Kan.), Don Cazayoux (La.), Travis Childers (Miss.), Paul Kanjorski (Pa.), Tim Mahoney (Fla.), Jim Marshall (Ga.), Nick Lampson (Texas), Jerry McNerney (Calif.) and John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthGOP, White House struggle to unite behind COVID-19 relief House seeks ways to honor John Lewis Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push MORE (Ky.).

Targeted Democrats who voted no included Reps. Joe Courtney (Conn.), Bill FosterGeorge (Bill) William FosterFormer Obama Ebola czar Ron Klain says White House's bad decisions have put US behind many other nations on COVID-19; Fears of virus reemergence intensify Overnight Defense: Army now willing to rename bases named after Confederates | Dems demand answers on 'unfathomable' nuke testing discussions | Pentagon confirms death of north African al Qaeda leader Top Democrats demand answers on Trump administration's 'unfathomable' consideration of nuclear testing MORE (Ill.), Baron Hill (Ind.), Paul Hodes (N.H.), Steve Kagen (Wis.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats try to force Trump to boost medical supplies production Overnight Defense: Air Force general officially becomes first African American service chief | Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure | State Department's special envoy for Iran is departing the Trump administration Senators introduce bill to block Trump armed drone sale measure MORE (Conn.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.) and Tim Walz (Minn.).

Every House Republican voted yes on the FISA bill except for Rep. Timothy Johnson (Ill.).

Rep. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Democrats introduce bill to ban chlorpyrifos, other pesticides to protect farmworkers GOP lawmaker says he will oppose any attempts to delay election MORE (D-N.M.) voted no while his cousin, Rep. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Democratic presidential race comes into sharp focus Democrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump MORE (D-Colo.), voted yes.

Both Udalls are running for the Senate this year.

Liberal bloggers have called on Democrats to block the bill because it includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Bush administration’s surveillance programs.

— Bob Cusack

GOP congressional candidate Dean Andal is denying that he violated a state law by discussing information from a closed session of the San Joaquin Delta College Board of Trustees.

In 2006 Andal was identified by a board member as the recipient of the closed-session information. A civil grand jury report issued last week said the board has “wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and violated open-government laws by discussing closed-session matters outside its meetings.”

But the report doesn’t identify Andal by name, and he denied violating the state’s Brown Act.

“If someone had tried to give me closed-session information, I would have stopped it,” Andal told the Contra Costa Times. “I am very experienced with the requirements of the Brown Act.”

Andal adviser Richard Temple told The Hill that Andal “is very definitive on it, no hedging.”

Andal is a consultant to a group headed by developer Gerry Kamilos. That group was in discussions to provide the college $14 million in assistance to develop the Mountain House area.

Delta Board President Ted Simas said at the time that Andal called him just hours after a board meeting with information he could have gotten only by speaking with someone inside the meeting.

“[Andal] told me that two board members called his boss about the negotiations,” Simas told the Stockton Record in August 2006. “Only he and Kamilos know who they are. We’re asking them to come forward and tell us who the board members are.

“They did nothing wrong. The board members did.”

Andal said at the time that he didn’t recall such a conversation.

The board’s dealings were studied by a grand jury because the Mountain House project is vastly over budget.

Democrats promise to use Andal’s involvement against him during his campaign against freshman Rep. Jerry McNerney (D). Andal’s personal financial disclosure reports indicate he made hundreds of thousands of dollars from Kamilos’s group over the last three years.

The district is a top GOP target.

Temple stressed that Andal is one of many consultants who has worked on the project.

— Aaron Blake


The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund kicked off a campaign to unseat Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R) on Thursday with a $210,000 media buy.  Earlier in the week the organization endorsed Musgrave’s challenger, businesswoman Betsy Markey, in a release assailing Musgrave’s environmental record as “atrocious.”

“This is just the beginning of a sustained campaign, and the rest will be rolled out in due course,” said Jessica Brand, an Action Fund associate.

Musgrave has served in Congress since 2002, during which she has a 99 percent lifetime record with the American Conservative Union. Conversely, the League of Conservation Voters’ 2007 scorecard gave Musgrave a 5 percent rating for that year, just above her 4 percent lifetime rating.

Since her initial election with 55 percent of the vote, Musgrave has faced dwindling margins of victory in her successive elections. She bested a repeat candidate in 2004, 51-45, and only beat her Democratic challenger by 6,000 votes in 2006. A Reform Party candidate drew 11 percent of voters in that election, leaving Musgrave at just 46 percent.

— Michael O’Brien


Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) hinted over the weekend that he might not support his successor in Congress this cycle, according to The Idaho Statesman.

Rep. Bill Sali (R) was one of several key figures to support a candidate who opposed Otter’s choice for state party chairman. Otter’s choice lost, and he could send a message by leaving Sali to fend for himself against a well-financed challenger in Democrat Walt Minnick.

In an e-mail to The Statesman, Otter responded to a question about whether he would try to get even with Sali by saying, “Wait and see.”

When asked if he would assist Sali in his campaign, Otter said, “Bill Sali and I haven’t discussed his campaign.”

Sali’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

— A.B.


A SurveyUSA poll conducted early last week shows that Rep. Baron Hill (D) leads former Republican Rep. Mike Sodrel in their back-and-forth battle for Indiana’s 9th district, which dates back to 2002.

In the poll, the incumbent maintains a 51-40 advantage over Sodrel. Libertarian candidate Eric Schansberg draws 4 percent and 5 percent are undecided. The poll has a 4.1 percent margin of error.

The poll additionally showed Hill as drawing more support in all age groups, but especially among older voters. Among independent voters polled, Hill leads 48-30 over Sodrel. Schansberg polls at 14 percent among independent voters, suggesting Sodrel may be losing votes to the Libertarian candidate.

Hill was first elected to Congress in 1998, and will now face Sodrel as his Republican challenger for the fourth consecutive election. He beat Sodrel in 2002, but lost in 2004. Hill reclaimed his seat in 2006.

— M.O.


The (Portland) Oregonian on Monday detailed the story of a woman who claims anti-abortion rights GOP congressional candidate Mike Erickson paid $300 for her to have an abortion in January 2001.

The woman’s story was first used against Erickson in May, when his opponent in the Republican primary, Kevin Mannix, sent out the story in a mass mailing to voters one week before the primary. Erickson won the primary anyway and will be facing off against Democratic state Sen. Kurt Schrader  in November.

Erickson has repeatedly denied paying for the abortion. He said that the woman, only identified in The Oregonian as Tawnya, asked for some money to go to a doctor’s appointment, and he didn’t know or ask what it was for. He says he drove her to the appointment because she said she had car troubles.

“She was having some financial troubles. … She asked for some money to go have a doctor’s appointment — not knowing what that was — and whatever happened, happened, I guess. I didn’t even know she had an abortion,” he is quoted as saying in The Oregonian.

Erickson’s campaign promised to comment further on Monday but did not do so by press time.

Anti-abortion rights group Oregon Right to Life has refused to endorse his candidacy.

— David Matthews


Rep. Jim GerlachJames (Jim) GerlachThe business case for employer to employee engagement 2018 midterms: The blue wave or a red dawn? Pa. GOP 'disappointed' by rep retiring after filing deadline MORE (R) polled well ahead of opponent Bob Roggio (D) in their 6th district match-up, according to a polling memo released Friday by the Gerlach campaign.

The poll, conducted May 20-21 by Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies, showed Gerlach holding a 56-30 lead and a favorable rating of 58-20 in a congressional district where President Bush’s job approval currently stands at 27 percent.

The poll surveyed 400 likely voters, with a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

The Roggio campaign responded that the poll was an internal one, conducted on behalf of the Gerlach campaign, and promised to release numbers of its own by the start of next week.

Spokeswoman Liz Conroy stressed that the results of this early poll do not adequately account for Roggio’s competitiveness: “Our initial analysis showed that voters are looking for a candidate with new priorities, someone who’s not from Washington,” she said.

Gerlach, a three-term incumbent, has faced stiff electoral challenges in previous years. His last reelection campaign, a rematch with 2004 opponent Lois Murphy, was decided by only 3,000 votes out of over 234,000 cast.

—Joey Michalakes