Ballot Box

Reps. Lynch, Keating could face off in primary

Massachusetts Reps. Stephen Lynch and Bill Keating may be facing off in a Democratic primary because of redistricting, according to WCVB, a Boston ABC affiliate.

Massachusetts is losing a congressional district because of the states slow population growth, and every member in the states U.S. House delegation is a Democrat, meaning one wont be coming back.

Democrats in the state legislature, which is in charge of redistricting, indicated that Lynch and Keating are the most likely to be paired in a district.

We have five [House members] that sit in very powerful positions, state Rep. Michael Moran said. We have a woman in Niki Tsongas; we have the 8th congressional district, which is the majority-minority district. So if you take all those, and you consider those are the ones we have to keep, you’re left with Congressman Lynch, Congressman Keating and Congressman [John] Tierney. And just by geography, Congressman Lynch and Congressman Keating seem to be the two that have to run against each other.

Keating is a freshman with little clout in Congress, while Lynch angered some Democrats when he voted against President Obamas health insurance reform law.

The final district lines will determine who has the upper hand in a primary, but Lynchs strong union ties will help him turn out voters.


Bill Clinton fundraising for Kate Marshall in Nevada

Former President Bill Clinton lent his name to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) email Thursday asking supporters to donate to Nevada state Treasurer Kate Marshall, who is running for the U.S. House.

Marshall is seeking to win a seat long held by Republicans against former Nevada Republican Party Chairman Mark Amodei. The DCCC has yet to spend anything on the race, although the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has spent nearly $345,000 on the race in the Republican-leaning district.

"Kate Marshall is running for Congress in Nevada and can take a seat from the Republicans," writes Clinton. "They are scared because it shows their plan to dismantle Medicare and Social Security will fail. My friend is ready to fight back against the NRCC’s ad, but Kate needs our support."

Clinton's email went out to Marshall's email list on Tuesday and the DCCC's list on Thursday.

The election is set for Sept. 13.


Rep. Steve King preparing for tough race

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is busy preparing for a tough election, the first he has faced since he won his House seat a decade ago.

King, a strident conservative, has represented a strongly Republican western Iowa district since 2002. But the state's independent redistricting commission's new lines put him in a less conservative district that would have given President Obama 48 percent of its vote in 2008. Sensing an opportunity, Democrats convinced former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack to run against him, and she raised almost a half million dollars in the first few weeks of her campaign.

"I don't think there's any question that she can raise the money, and that's question No. 1 about a candidate," King told The Hill last Thursday. "That money came from [billionaire and liberal advocate George] Soros, EMILY's List, Planned Parenthood and [Obama adviser] David Axelrod. That tells you it's a national fundraising effort and the leftists of the world will write checks to her with their right hand. I expect this will be a multimillion-dollar race and I expect this will be a nationalized race."

Vilsack's husband, Tom Vilsack, is President Obama's secretary of agriculture. The president is far less popular in Iowa today than he was in 2008, especially in the more conservative western part of the state, and King plans to tie her to the president.

"What she's said is she supports all the positions that her husband has taken and she'll let us know when she disagrees. I think that this is two Vilsacks, not one, that she's attached herself to his positions," King said. "He is a seated member of the Cabinet, and he carries water for the president's positions. So now the president's positions are attached to Tom Vilsack's positions which are attached to Christie Vilsack's positions, which she's going to have to disavow or else accept because that's what she said."

If Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) winds up the GOP's presidential nominee, Vilsack won't be the only candidate closely tied to the top of the ticket: Bachmann has described King as her closest friend in the House.

Whoever the Republican nominee is, the race will likely be a nationalized affair in the swing state.


Tommy Thompson staffs up in Wisconsin

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) announced the co-chairmen for his likely Senate run on Wednesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Thompson has not yet officially announced his campaign, but this is the latest clear signal that he will run to replace retiring Sen. Herb Kohl (D).

While the former Health and Human Services secretary would likely be the strongest Republican in the general election, he could face a competitive primary. Former Rep. Mark Neumann (R), who lost the GOP gubernatorial primary to now-Gov. Scott Walker, is eyeing the race as well, and polls show that while Thompson is well-known and well-liked by Wisconsin Republicans, past deviations from party orthodoxy could hurt him.

Two recent polls, one conducted by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm and the other for the Club for Growth, a conservative group that has criticized Thompson, give him just single-digit leads against Neumann. Both polls then told respondents that Thompson supported President Obama's health insurance reform law, which he now says he opposes, and retested the matchup. In both cases, Neumann then jumped to a strong lead over Thompson.

No Democrats have officially announced, but Reps. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Kind are considering a run. Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) has also been mentioned as a possibility, but most expect him to challenge Walker should the governor face a recall election.

While Wisconsin has leaned Democratic at the presidential level, the state elected a Republican governor, senator, and two new GOP House members in 2010.


NRCC puts six GOP candidates 'on the radar'

The National Republican Congressional Committee added six GOP recruits to its list of those "on the radar," the second tier of four in its Young Guns recruitment program.

The candidates: law student Ricky Gill, who is challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.); Army veteran Tom Cotton, who is running for retiring Rep. Mike Ross's (D-Ark.) seat; former Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.); Arizona state House Speaker Kirk Adams; former city Commissioner of Winter Park, Fla., Karen Diebel; and attorney Keith Rothfus in western Pennsylvania.

Salmon and Adams could face each other in a primary depending on how Arizona's nonpartisan redistricting commission draws its maps, while it is unclear where Diebel will run until Florida finishes its redistricting process. Similarly, Rothfus is likely to run in a newly drawn district outside of Pittsburgh, but he could face either Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) or Rep. Mark Critz (D-Pa.), depending on how redistricting works out there.

Republicans had such a strong year in 2010 that there are very few House districts left for them to target. Most of their new pickup opportunities will be created by redistricting, which is greatly altering the congressional lines in many states.


Djou will run for old seat in Hawaii

Former Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) will run for his old House seat, he announced Wednesday afternoon.

The former congressman will have a tight campaign schedule despite his relatively early announcement: The Army will deploy him to Afghanistan in early September.

"I know that the time of my deployment is not ideal. And I realize that this is enormously disruptive to myself, to my family and of course to this campaign," Djou said at his campaign announcement, according to local ABC affiliate KITV. "But I also realize that it is no more disruptive than what 100,000 families are currently going through with a loved one in harm's way."

Djou won a 2010 special election after now-Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) and former Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) split the Democratic vote. He then lost in the general election to Hanabusa by a six-point margin a few months later.

He is likely the strongest Republican candidate in the Honolulu-based district, which gave favorite son President Obama 70 percent of the vote in 2008, a big jump from the 53 percent Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) got there in 2004.

Djou could face Hanabusa, although she is considering running for retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka's (D-Hawaii) seat.


Dem candidate on offense in Nevada special-election debate

Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall (D) accused former Nevada GOP Chairman Mark Amodei of supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicare in the first debate for the House seat left open by now-Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

Marshall, the underdog in the Republican-heavy district, has been running a two-pronged attack, hitting Amodei for supporting a large tax increase while he was state senator while attacking him for embracing House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) plan to privatize Medicare.

"Mark Amodei sponsored the largest tax increase in Nevada history," Marshall said in the debate, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Every time you hire someone, you have to pay more taxes. It is no wonder we have the highest unemployment in the country."

Amodei defended his record, arguing that his support of the increase was while the economy was booming in 2003 and that it would be "phenomenal bad policy" to raise taxes during the recession.

The district, which encompasses all of Nevada outside of Las Vegas and its suburbs, has not elected a House Democrat since its creation, although President Obama came within a few hundred votes of carrying it in 2008.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is spending heavily on ads in the district to make sure Amodei remains the front-runner, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has yet to engage in the race.

The election will take place Sept. 13.


Bachmann to headline Rep. Scott's second SC town hall

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) will headline the second presidential candidate town hall hosted in the South Carolina district of Rep. Tim Scott (R).

Scott announced that Bachmann would appear at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, S.C., on Aug. 25, following on the heels of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman (R), who appeared at Scott's first town hall earlier this month.

“I am excited to welcome my colleague Michele Bachmann to South Carolina," Scott said in a statement. "I look forward to introducing her to our voters, and to discussing the issues which are important to our state and our country.”