New Jersey Primary is Back On!
I blogged a few weeks ago that Republicans had avoided a nasty primary fight in NJ-03. Oops! Looks like I spoke to soon. 2008 candidate Justin Murphy announced his candidacy last week.
Murphy was quick to attack his Republican opponent, ex-Philadelphia Eagle Jon Runyan, for lacking “substance” and coming late to the game, “while he’s been a registered Republican for three months, I’ve been a registered Republican for 30 years.” He plans to attack Runyan from the right. Sounds like it could get nasty.
Whoever wins will face freshman Rep. John Adler (D) who was endorsed by Council for a Livable World in 2008.
Republican Rep. Laura Richardson (CA-37) is receiving criticism after the Los Angeles Times reported that she requested that the Los Angeles Fire Department give her staff a helicopter tour of the district. Her entire staff. Twenty people, including the folks who answer the phone. It took two helicopters.
Responding to the Times Richardson said the flight was “helpful” because the staff was learning about infrastructure threats. They also toured the district by bus and stayed in a “four-star luxury hotel.”
Richardson’s office estimated the trip cost $19,000, but that doesn’t include the cost of the helicopter trips, which the Fire Department paid for.
The Times asks an interesting question: Couldn’t this all have been done for free with Google Earth?
Tea-Bagger Soaks Establishment Candidate
VA-05 is a race we’re watching closely. Freshman Rep. Tom Perriello is a foreign policy expert who strongly favors arms control. Many observers believe he is too liberal for this southern Virginia district, but he has run excellent grassroots campaigns and really connects with his constituents.
The Republican field has a number of candidates but the clear establishment candidate is state Sen. Robert Hurt. Several of Hurt's opponents are right wing “tea baggers” who criticize Hurt for being to moderate and too cozy with the Republican establishment.
The Franklin County GOP recently held a straw poll with all the candidates. Now straw polls are not good indicators of general electoral viability because those who vote in them are only the most active and committed party activists. But they are indicative of where those activists stand.
The results? Tea bagger Jim McKelvey whalloped Hurt 51% - 12%
The worst part for Hurt is that McKelvey is wealthy and could self-finance an independent run if Hurt managed to prevail in the primary.
Who, Me? A Republican?
Republican Charles Djou released his first TV ads in the special election in Hawaii’s first congressional district. Djou is in a three way race with two Democrats to replace Rep. Neal Abercrombie, who resigned to run for Governor. Republicans hope the Democrats split the vote and Djou can win with 34%. The interesting this about the ad? Nowehere does it mention the Djou is a Republican.
Lobbying on Health Care Reform Could Affect NY House Races
Stepping up pressure on New York Democrats who are unsure whether they will vote in favor of President Obama’s health care reform initiative, New York’s Working Families Party (WFP) announced that no Representative who votes against the initiative will be eligible to be listed on the WFP line on the 2010 ballot. In most states, not receiving a third party nomination would not be a major blow to a candidate but New York uses a unique system called “fusion voting.” Under fusion voting, the same candidate can be listed as the nominee of multiple parties. Their combined tally of votes on all lines is counted toward their election. This allows factions within the party to indicate a preference between various candidates. The WFP provided the winning margin of victory in several close races in 2008, and losing that endorsement could cost some Democrats their reelection in 2010. Indeed, such a dynamic came into play in the special election to fill Rep. John McHugh’s (R) seat earlier this year in NY-23. Deeming the Republican nominee, Dede Scozzafava, too moderate, the Conservative Party nominated Doug Hoffman. This split the conservative vote and allowed Democrat Bill Owens to win an upset victory.
”Mean Jean” Too Moderate?
After calling Rep. John Murtha, a decorated Vietnam Veteran, a “coward” on the House floor for calling for withdrawal from Iraq, you’d think Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) would be the darling of right-wing activists.
Apparently not. Three Republicans are challenging Schmidt in the Republican nomination. “All believe Schmidt is not conservative enough.”
Colorado Republican Gaining in Strength Against Progressive Betsy Markey
Colorado State Rep. Cory Gardner is solidifying his hold on the Republican nomination to take on Rep. Betsy Markey in CO-04. In a pair of county caucuses early this week Gardner won convincing victories of 44% and 63%. The caucuses are not binding, they help identify which party activists will vote in the party convention, but they do indicate a candidate’s strength amongst grassroots activists.
Shortly after Gardner’s victories, his chief rival, Diggs Brown, withdrew from the race, leaving Gardner as the presumptive nominee. There are two other candidates remaining in the primary, but neither is considered a serious threat to Gardner.
The district is a top Republican target. McCain won the district by 50% and Republicans believe Markey is too liberal for it. They point to her votes for cap and trade and the stimulus. This is a race to watch.
Big Business, Big Money
The Washington Post has an excellent story about how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is getting ready to dramatically expand its 2010 activities. The pro-business Chamber is pledging to invest $50 million in political activities in 2010, a 40% increase from 2008. Democrats are clearly nervous, DNC Spokesman Brad Woodhouse is quoted calling the Chamber “one of the behemoths we’re keeping a close eye on” this year.
”Seriously Weird” Candidate in Virginia
Republicans are gung ho about recruiting state Del. Morgan Griffith to challenge Rep. Rick Boucher (D) in Virginia’s 9th congressional district. They cannot have been thrilled to read an article in the Roanoke Times calling Griffith “seriously weird.”
House Race Hotline has an excellent summary:
Roanoke Times’ Casey writes, Griffith “is a personable guy,” but has an “odd fondness for dressing up like one of his heroes,” Revolutionary War Gen. Andrew Lewis. There’s “something about him I’ve always found even stranger,” though: “He was married five years ago in Salem’s East Hill Cemetery, next to the dead general’s grave.”
Hilary Griffith said the couple “planned a simple wedding” in a park, but the day before, Hilary’s father went over there to check out the pond in the park. There were “ducks all over it, and lots of duck poop, too.” So they had to come up with another place, “fast.” H. Griffith: “He said, ‘Well, let’s go up on East Hill and see what it looks like.’ And we did, and it was beautiful.”
But she didn’t notice that the place they stood was next to Lewis’ grave. The wedding story was picked up in the paper a few days later, and someone faxed the story to Greece, where the Griffiths were honeymooning. “To hear her tell the story, it sounded like it changed the mood of their trip.” H. Griffith: “I said, ‘You often dress up as Andrew Lewis?’ ‘And we got married by his grave?’ ‘Are you kidding me?'”