Category Archives: House

McCotter to Run Write-in; Key Dem Drops Out in Ill.

It’s now official: Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11) failed to submit the requisite number of petition signatures to qualify for the ballot, and the five-term congressman announced that he will seek the Republican nomination via write-in. Already on the Republican ballot is Tea Party activist Kerry Bentivolio. Two individuals thought to be potential candidates, former congressional contender Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski and businessman David Trott both say they will not run. Trott is officially backing McCotter. State Sen. Mike Kowall, originally in the race when McCotter announced his presidential campaign, is reportedly considering a write-in effort of his own.

In Illinois, Brad Harriman the 12th Congressional District Democratic nominee, is withdrawing from the race because of a recently diagnosed neurological condition. IL-12 is the state’s southwestern seat represented by the retiring Rep. Jerry Costello (D). Democratic county chairmen in the affected area will caucus and choose a replacement nominee. Republican Jason Plummer, the party’s 2010 lieutenant governor nominee, is the GOP candidate. This seat is competitive and already in the Democratic column, so the special committee of local chairmen will have to quickly recruit and support a strong replacement candidate.

Rep. McCotter May Not Qualify for Michigan Ballot

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11) is in danger of being disqualified from the Michigan ballot because he apparently has failed to submit the required number of valid petition signatures as part of the candidate filing process. Under Michigan law, congressional candidates can submit no more than 2,000 petition signatures, at least one thousand of which must be from authentic registered voters of the particular district. Reports, likely to be confirmed today, will show that McCotter is far short of the minimum required number because of significant duplication within his signature base.

Since candidate filing is closed, McCotter’s only recourse would be to run as a write-in candidate in the Aug. 7 Republican primary election. Tea Party activist Kerry Bentivolio is already properly qualified for a GOP ballot position, so McCotter would be forced to overcome the insurgent challenge from the outside. It remains to be seen if the party leaders automatically line-up behind their incumbent now that he has put himself in a less than advantageous position, or if they consider an alternative candidate.

MI-11 should be a relatively safe Republican seat, but mistakes like the one McCotter just made could lead to a highly competitive fall campaign. Dr. Syed Taj is the likely Democratic nominee, originally not expected to be a serious challenger. Should McCotter’s Republican primary write-in attempt fail, however, a Taj-Bentivolio match-up would present the Democrats with a real opportunity for victory.

Incumbent Pairing in N.J.’s 9th CD Too Close To Call

One of the nation’s hardest-fought intra-party incumbent campaigns will be decided on June 5 – a fierce battle between New Jersey Democratic Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8) and Steve Rothman (D-NJ-9). Reapportionment and redistricting have created 13 sets of congressional incumbent pairings, three of which are decided. All but two feature members of the same party opposing each other. New NJ-9 polling data, disputed by one campaign brain trust, suggests a very tight outcome between the two congressmen.

The new 9th District of New Jersey lies to the north and east of Newark, capturing some of the communities directly opposite New York City across the Hudson River including Fort Lee, Secaucus, Englewood, Palisades Park, and Cliffside Park. It’s largest city is Paterson (population: 146,199), where Mr. Pascrell presided as mayor before his election to Congress in 1996. While serving as the city’s chief executive, he simultaneously represented part of Paterson and Passaic counties in the state House of Representatives.

The new 9th will elect a Democrat in the general election, but the party primary is becoming very interesting to say the least. Rothman is from Bergen County, but his home community of Fair Lawn was placed in District 5, where he would have been forced to challenge incumbent Rep. Scott Garrett (R) in a GOP-friendly seat. Rothman represents 54 percent of the new 9th CD constituency versus 43 percent for Pascrell. The remaining three percent comes from Garrett’s current district.

Just two days ago, a Pascrell internal poll was “leaked” to the media showing that Rothman clings to only a one-point, 44-43 percent margin. The Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group poll (May 7-8; 406 likely NJ-9 Democratic primary voters) also indicated that Pascrell leads 46-41 percent under a slightly different turnout model. If the overall share of the Bergen County vote drops to 51 percent or below and the Passaic County voter participation share tops 38 percent, the race flips to Pascrell.

The intriguing part about this poll is not so much its finding, which is assumed accurate since Garin-Hart-Yang is a well-known, credible, Democratic polling firm but, rather, the Rothman campaign’s reaction to the numbers. Actually scoffing at the Pascrell team for leaking their numbers to the press – “winning campaigns do not leak their polls” – and saying the survey is wrong without offering their own countering data, suggests that this race is as close as Pascrell says and either man does have a chance to win the primary.

To differ with the unidentified Rothman spokesman who said that “winning campaigns do not leak their polls,” the exact opposite is true. A clearer sign of a campaign in trouble is one where the managers claim to have strong survey data, as Rothman’s people do, but then refuse to release the numbers.

On paper and in practice, Rep. Rothman has a slight advantage but the 75-year old Pascrell has been tenacious in defense of his redrawn seat. Rothman won the official Democratic Party endorsement in Bergen and Hudson counties, giving him preferential ballot placement in those two localities, which is a major plus in a close election. Though Pascrell has the Passaic County line, several prominent elected officials such as Paterson Mayor Jeff Jones and Passaic City Council President and state Assemblyman Gary Schaer have announced their support of Rothman.

It remains to be seen if Pascrell’s planned public push of an earlier endorsement by former president Bill Clinton changes the electorate in any significant way, but the move certainly won’t hurt his standing among these most loyal of northern New Jersey Democratic voters.

On a major primary night featuring voting in six states, including the 53 House Districts in California under a new election law, one of the most engrossing results will be found in this urban northern New Jersey congressional district. The final week fireworks here will be well worth watching.

Interesting Details in Arkansas and Kentucky

Presidential and congressional primaries were held in Arkansas and Kentucky last night without major surprises. As predicted, President Obama won two tepid victories in the pair of states, failing to break 60 percent in either place. He opposed an unknown Democratic candidate in Arkansas and was pitted against an uncommitted slate in Kentucky.

John Wolfe Jr., a Chattanooga, Tenn. attorney, scored 42 percent against Obama in the Arkansas Democrat primary. This is the strongest race Wolfe has run. Prior to entering the presidential contest, he twice ran for Congress, and once each for the offices of Tennessee state senator and mayor of Chattanooga. Prior to last night when facing the President of the United States, Wolfe never could top 34 percent in any of his multiple political endeavors.

In Kentucky, Obama also scored an anemic 58 percent of the vote. Here, 42 percent of the Blue Grass State’s Democrats chose an uncommitted slate of delegates to go the party’s national convention in Charlotte.

The results don’t mean much from a national perspective; only that the president will not be re-elected in a 50-state sweep. This is the second and third primaries where an alternative to Obama received substantial votes. West Virginia was the other state where that occurred. It is unlikely that the President will be competitive in any of these places in November, since better than four of six of his own party’s primary voters failed to support him.

In the KY-4 Republican congressional primary race (Rep. Geoff Davis-R, retiring), Lewis County Judge (county executive) and engineer Thomas Massie defeated state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington and Boone County Judge Gary Moore. The margin was 45-29-15 percent in what was a poor finish for Moore, who represented more people through his local office than did the other two. It is a boon for the Paul family because both Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsed the hard-charging winner. All three of the candidates were approaching financial parity. The Republican nature of the district means that Massie will be the new congressman. He faces Grant County Democratic Chairman Bill Adkins in the fall and what stands to be a non-competitive election.

The closest race of the evening was in Arkansas’ 1st Congressional District where Second Circuit Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington came within less than one point of winning the Democratic nomination outright. He will face state Rep. and Marvell ex-mayor Clark Hall in a June 12 secondary vote. The winner will oppose freshman Rep. Rick Crawford (R) in a newly configured 1st District that now has an even higher Democratic baseline than under the current lines, though President Obama could only score 39 percent under each version. This could become a competitive general election battle.

In the south-central 4th District, polling correctly suggested another outcome, as Afghan War veteran and businessman Tom Cotton, who raised more than $1 million for the primary campaign, won the Republican nomination outright with an impressive 57-37 percent win over 2010 congressional nominee and former Miss Arkansas Beth Anne Rankin.

Cotton must now wait until June 12 to see if he will face state Sen. Gene Jeffress or attorney Byrum Hurst, the latter of whom, as the underdog, made a very strong run for the top spot. At the end of the evening, Jeffress totaled 40 percent to Hurst’s 36 percent.

While the 1st District race could be headed to toss-up territory, Cotton figures to be the 4th District general election favorite. AR-4 is a Republican conversion seat because Rep. Mike Ross (D), a Blue Dog Coalition co-chairman, is retiring.

More Primaries Tomorrow: Arkansas and Kentucky

Tomorrow, voters in Arkansas and Kentucky go to the polls to decide a few key open seat and challenger nominees.

In Arkansas, two races will likely be decided tomorrow, or will at least give us a clue as to who will be the general election participants. A run-off election June 12 is the next step, should no candidate secure a majority vote in the original primary.

In the 1st District, where freshman Rep. Rick Crawford (R) stands for re-election in a much more difficult district for him politically, Democrats may choose their nominee. The favorite is state Rep. Clark Hall, who raised just over $254,000 for the May 2 pre-primary filing period. Steve Ellington, the local prosecuting attorney, who was thought to be a strong challenger originally, has raised just under $55,000 suggesting that his effort has not taken hold. The third candidate, and the man whose presence on the ballot could potentially deny Hall a majority tomorrow night, is Arkansas State University business professor Gary Latanich. He has, likewise, raised money in the $55,000 range and had just $30 cash-on-hand at the pre-primary reporting period deadline. Though he is no threat to make the run-off, Latanich could steal enough votes to deny Hall an outright majority.

In the open 4th District, both parties are engaged in a primary fight for the right to replace retiring Rep. Mike Ross (D). As the 1st District became more Democratic with the inclusion of a greater number of African-American voters who reside in the state’s delta region, the 4th became more Republican because of the shift. Without Ross running for re-election, AR-4 becomes one of the Republicans’ best conversion opportunities in the country.

The Republican race, which likely will be decided tomorrow, is between 2010 nominee Beth Anne Rankin, a former Miss Arkansas in the Miss America beauty pageant and businesswoman, and management consultant and Afghan War veteran Tom Cotton, who is gaining notoriety as one of the better GOP congressional candidates in the nation. Though Rankin enjoyed some national conservative support in her 2010 campaign, a race she lost 57-40 percent to Ross, Cotton is gaining greater local and national backing in this primary campaign. The latest Arkansas Talk Business poll, released last week, gives him a 51-39 percent lead in the primary, just weeks after the same survey sponsor showed the two tied. A third candidate, police officer John Cowart, is on the ballot, but it is unlikely that he will attract enough votes to deny one of the two an outright victory. In terms of fundraising, Cotton has already raised over $1 million versus just under $400,000 for Rankin.

On the Democrat side, in a field that disappoints the national party, a three-way race among state Sen. Gene Jeffress, who has raised only $25,000 for the race, attorney Byrum Hurst, and 2010 Senate candidate D.C. Morrison make up the pool of Dem candidates. While Jeffress was supposed to be the top candidate, it is Hurst who has raised the most money. But even he hasn’t done all that well, as his campaign treasury has yet to exceed $155,000.

In Kentucky, the GOP primary for retiring Rep. Geoff Davis’ (R) open seat is the race of major interest. Davis is leaving the safe Republican seat after four terms for personal reasons and the winner of tomorrow’s party primary, since Kentucky features no run-off election, will succeed him in the House next year.

Seven Republicans are vying for the position, but the race appears to be narrowing to three serious candidates. With no candidate exceeding the $350,000 mark in funds raised, this campaign will be decided by ground efforts. The leading contenders are Lewis County Judge (commonly called the county executive in other states) Tom Massie, Boone County Judge Gary Moore, and state Rep. Alecia Webb-Eddington.

The race has been marked by the entry of 21-year-old Texas resident John Ramsey, who formed a Super PAC called Liberty for All. He has invested more than $500,000 of his own money to involve himself in this race, on behalf of Massie. He has recently run negative ads criticizing both Moore and Webb-Eddington, so it remains to be seen what effect this has on tomorrow’s vote. It is likely that a new congressman will emerge from this race tomorrow night.