Here is a roundup of top House campaign news that happened over the last two weeks of the August recess.
RACE FOR THE HOUSE: Speaker Paul Ryan transferred $1.5 million to the NRCC in July, bringing his total transfers to more than $27 million. His most recent transfer was nearly $500,000 more than what he gave to the NRCC last July. (Washington Examiner)
Meanwhile, NRCC Chair Steve Stivers “says it was a mistake for House Republicans to try to tackle healthcare reform first this year instead of other topics, including tax reform, and cast doubt on the idea that the Senate would be able to pass any Obamacare repeal bill this year.” (Washington Examiner)
And on the redistricting front:
MARYLAND: “A federal district court rejected a claim” on Aug. 24 “by seven Maryland Republicans that the state’s 2011 redistricting violated their First Amendment rights, setting up another Supreme Court fight over the heavily litigated maps. In a case closely watched by state political leaders, the court found the plaintiffs failed to meet the standard required to order an immediate redrawing of the boundaries. In a 2-1 decision, the court said it wanted to see the outcome of a separate gerrymandering claim from Wisconsin pending before the Supreme Court before deciding the Maryland lawsuit.” (Baltimore Sun) The lawsuit in question took particular issue with MD-06, the Western Maryland seat that Rep. John Delaney (D) is vacating to run for president.
TEXAS: “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton notified a three-judge panel” on Aug. 18 “he has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn” an August “ruling that required two congressional districts to be redrawn because they were formed to intentionally discriminate against minority voters. Paxton asked the San Antonio-based federal court to delay implementation of Tuesday’s ruling while the appeal proceeds. He also said” Gov. Greg Abbott (R) “has declined to call a special session to redraw the districts, saying there would not be enough time, and that doing so would basically waive the state’s right to appeal the ruling.” (Austin-American Statesman)
In other House race news:
AL-05: Rep. Mo Brooks (R) got another primary challenger when state Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R) declared a bid. “Holtzclaw, a former U.S. Marine, was first elected to the state senate in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. He said he first began thinking about running for Congress in case Brooks won the” special Senate election. Iraq War veteran Clayton Hinchman (R) launched a run in May. (AL.com)
AZ-02: The DCCC revealed in late August that June poll showed former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-01) beating Rep. Martha McSally (R) by 5 points. Hillary Clinton won McSally’s Tucson-based district by 5 points. (USA Today)
CA-10: Emergency room nurse Sue Zwahlen (D) has joined the crowded primary field of candidates vying to oust Rep. Jeff Denham (R). Zwahlen, 63, “has been elected twice to the Modesto City Schools Board of Education.” (Los Angeles Times)
CA-21: National Democrats are “frustrated” by the “slow fundraising and lackluster campaign” run by 2016 nominee Emilio Huerta (D) and “are actively recruiting the district in search of a candidate they believe would run a more engaged race” against Rep. David Valadao (R). Hillary Clinton won that district by double-digits last year. (Real Clear Politics)
CA-52: Physician James Veltmeyer (R) “has joined the race to unseat” Rep. Scott Peters (D), becoming “the third Republican to challenge the three-term Democrat in what is usually a swing district.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)
CO-07: Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) decided to seek re-election to Congress after abandoning his gubernatorial ambitions. Three state legislators have dropped their bids for his seat: state Sens. Andy Kerr (D) and Dominick Moreno (D) and state Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D). (Denver Post)
IL-13: University of Illinois associate professor Jonathan Eben (D) became the fifth Democrat to file for Rep. Rodney Davis’ (R) district. Ebel, has taught in the school’s Department of Religion since 2005 and is also a former Navy intelligence officer. (Champaign News-Gazette) President Trump won the district by 5 points.
IL-17: Businessman Mark Kleine (R) declared a run for Rep. Cheri Bustos’ (D) seat. He “is president of Kleine Companies and a partner in MAK Properties with his wife, Jeannette. He also sits on boards for five local organizations including the OSF St. Mary Medical Center Board and the Knox County Area Partnership for Economic Development Board.” He is the first major challenger for Bustos, who holds a district that backed President Trump. (Galesburg Register-Mail)
IA-03: Former Bernie Sanders campaign operative Pete D’Alessandro (D) launched a bid to oust Rep. David Young (R). D’Alessandro, the sixth Democrat to declare a run, ran Sanders’ campaign in Iowa. (Des Moines Register)
KS-01: State Rep. Francis Awerkamp (R) won’t primary Rep. Roger Marshall (R) in 2018. “A Facebook page was created this month, Francis Awerkamp for Congress KS-01. Awerkamp said he wasn’t sure who posted that. When asked Monday about his political intentions, Awerkamp said he is not running for Congress.” (Hutchinson News)
KS-03: Former nominee Jay Sidie (D) will officially launch his second campaign against Rep. Kevin Yoder (R) on Sept. 25. He said he’s running and raising money for his bid. “Sidie lost to Yoder by almost 11 points in 2016, claiming 40.5 percent of the vote to Yoder’s 51.3 percent.” National Democrats are excited about health care advocate Andrea Ramsey (D), who already declared a run. (Kansas City Star)
KS-04: State Senate President Susan Wagle (R) has decided against primarying Rep. Ron Estes (R) next year. Wagle: “I’ve just decided that I need to keep my priorities with my family and running for office is a huge time commitment.” She had previously hinted a run against Estes, who notched a lackluster victory in a special election to replace former Rep. Mike Pompeo (R). (Wichita Eagle)
MD-06: EMILY’s List backed state Del. Aruna Miller’s (D) bid for the seat Delaney is vacating. (release) The seat leans Democratic and spans western Maryland.
ME-02: State Assistant Majority Leader Jared Golden (D) will challenge Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) for his rural Maine seat. “Golden, 35, served tours with the U.S. Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan before returning home to Maine, where he earned a bachelor’s degree at Bates College in Lewiston. Golden is the fifth and, so far, most prominent Democrat to enter the race against Poliquin. … Poliquin’s political adviser, the Maine Republican Party and the National Rifle Association all quickly issued statements criticizing Golden, a sure sign that he is seen as a credible challenger to the incumbent’s bid for a third term.” (Portland Press-Herald)
“Speaking behind closed doors this week at a Bangor cocktail reception hosted by a conservative foundation, … Poliquin said he deliberately avoids talking to the media because he doesn’t want to provide ‘them and everyone else the ammunition they need and we lose this seat.’ A secret recording” was “obtained by the Maine People’s Alliance, which published its contents and released part of the tape.” (Bangor Daily News)
NJ-02: Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) said last week “he definitely will seek another two years in the U.S. House of Representatives. … LoBiondo, first elected to the House in 1994, is again a designated target of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as he was in the last election.” (Vineland Daily Journal)
NJ-05: Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) declared a run against Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D), “whom he called too liberal for the district’s voters. As proof, he pointed to Gottheimer’s votes against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank law, which more heavily regulated the financial industry. … The Gottheimer campaign, which has more than $1.4 million in its campaign account, did not directly address Lonegan’s statement Thursday. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which supports Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives, issued a scathing news release that called Lonegan an ‘anti-choice, anti-gay Tea Party bigot’ whose beliefs would fit better in Mississippi.” (NorthJersey.com)
But a primary could be likely. Bergen GOP Chairman Paul DiGaetano said he won’t support Lonegan, whom he considers a friend, because he’s vying for attorney John McCann (R), another possible candidate. (InsiderNJ)
NY-21: Former Saratoga Springs public safety commissioner Ronald Kim (D) is the latest candidate to declare a bid against Rep. Elise Stefanik (R). “Kim was elected as the Spa City’s public safety commissioner in 2006 and 2008. He ran for mayor, unsuccessfully, in 2009. He grew up in Glens Falls and works as an attorney, representing clients in matters of consumer and employment rights.” (Schenectady Daily Gazette)
PA-15: State Rep. Justin Simmons (R) is considering primarying Rep. Charlie Dent (R), calling him “America’s most liberal Republican.” He said he’s “‘90 percent there’ in his decision to run against Dent,” who is one of the more moderate members of the caucus. (WFMZ)
TX-03: “As expected, state Sen. Van Taylor (R) on “officially began his quest to replace longtime” retiring Rep. Sam Johnson (R). “A former member of the Texas House, Taylor has served in the Senate since 2015, when he was elected without GOP opposition to replace Ken Paxton, who gave up the seat to become state attorney general.” (Dallas Morning News) The seat leans heavily Republican.
Shortly after his official announcement, the Club for Growth announced its endorsement of Taylor. (release)
TX-16: El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar (D) began her bid for Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D) soon-to-be open seat. “Escobar, who is close with O’Rourke, was almost instantly seen as a potential candidate to replace him when he announced in March he would challenge” Sen Ted Cruz (R). “She already has his backing in her bid for Congress.” Former El Paso school board president Dori Fenenbock (D) is also running and Escobar promised a “‘very clear distinction’ on policy between herself and Fenenbock.” (Texas Tribune) The seat leans Democratic and is based in El Paso.
UT-01: Rep. Rob Bishop (R) said he will seek just one more term in Congress before retiring. Bishop: “Someone will replace me, and they will be just as good. One more term. That’s it.” (Salt Lake Tribune)
UT-03: Former state Rep. Chris Herrod (R) conceded to Provo Mayor John Curtis (R) in the Aug. 15 GOP special primary to fill former Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s (R) seat. (release) Curtis had a strong lead after election night but final results were delayed by a number of outstanding mail-in ballots.
Final results show 43 percent backed Curtis in the race. Herrod finished second with 33 percent of the vote, followed by attorney Tanner Ainge (R) with 24 percent. “The results show 40 percent of active Republican voters in Utah’s 3rd Congressional District participated.” (AP)
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"A federal judge has found a witness in contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury hearing evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell made the ruling Friday after a sealed hearing to discuss Andrew Miller’s refusal to appear before the grand jury. Miller is a former aide to longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone."
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