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House Dems scrubbed Kihuen from incumbent program after harassment allegations
House Democrats' campaign arm removed freshman Rep. Ruben Kihuen's (D-Nev.) name from its 2018 incumbent program last week following a report about sexual harassment allegations against him.
The incumbent program, called "Frontline," gives incumbents a fundraising boost and helps support their campaign operations.
Kihuen, who represents a top swing seat, was one of 19 Democratic House members who were named as the most vulnerable incumbents in 2018 who would receive financial assistance through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's (DCCC).
But following allegations that Kihuen made repeated sexual advances on his former finance director during his 2016 campaign, Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and DCCC chairman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) called on him to step aside.
A source familiar with the decision told The Hill that the DCCC scrubbed Kihuen's name from the program and website immediately upon learning of BuzzFeed's investigation from last Friday.
Cached copies of the DCCC's Frontline webpage show Kihuen's name removed shortly after the allegations surfaced.
In 2016, Kihuen defeated then-Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.) in a district that Hillary Clinton carried by 5 points. The DCCC spent more than $2 million to help him get elected to a critical swing seat, according to OpenSecrets.
Kihuen told ABC News on Tuesday that he won't resign and questioned why Democratic leaders are pressuring him to call it quits now. He claimed that they've known about the allegations for a year and yet continued to campaign for him. Pelosi and Luján have denied Kihuen's claims and said they learned about the allegations when the BuzzFeed story broke.
BuzzFeed reported that Kihuen's finance director quit after repeated unwanted advances. She told a mid-level DCCC staffer, who no longer works at the campaign committee, that she left because Kihuen made her feel uncomfortable. Another staffer there informed Kihuen's campaign manager and brought it up to the Nevada Democrat, who denied the allegations.
If Kihuen remains in the race, that means he'd be cut off from receiving the help the Frontline program provides to vulnerable incumbents. He's raised just shy of $780,000 from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 and has a little less than half a million in the bank.
On the Republican side, Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony has been in the race for several months and Republicans consider him a top recruit. He's raised about $141,000 in his first fundraising quarter as a candidate.
In the event Kihuen decides to resign, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) would be required to call a special election, which would need to be scheduled within six months. Instead of a primary election, Democrats and Republicans' central committees would be tasked with choosing their respective parties' nominees.
If Kihuen serves out the rest of his term and decides not to run for reelection, the primary elections scheduled for June would occur as scheduled but with an open Democratic field.