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Posts in "New York"
August 20, 2014
It’s a bad sign for Democrats when they have more Mid-Atlantic congressional opportunities in West Virginia than in Pennsylvania.
But that’s symbolic of the 2014 midterm election cycle in which numerous Democratic opportunities that look good on paper just haven’t materialized. Four out of five races have dropped off the regional Top 5 Races to Watch list since last summer.
GOP Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick is running strong in Pennsylvania’s 8th District, and his race with Democrat Kevin Strouse should barely be considered competitive at this point. The West Virginia Senate race is competitive, but it doesn’t look like Natalie Tennant has the independent profile necessary to overcome President Barack Obama’s abysmal job rating in the state.
In New York’s 23rd District, GOP Rep. Tom Reed finds ways to make races closer than they need to be, but he is polling well heading into the general-election sprint. And in New York’s 11th District, GOP Rep. Michael G. Grimm is still in the game, despite his numerous indictments. But as Democrats remind voters about his legal troubles, it seems unlikely Grimm will be able to survive and that this will be a hot race come November.
Here are the top five races to watch in the Mid-Atlantic region this fall: Full story
July 21, 2014
Republican Nan Hayworth isn’t the only former member of Congress looking to come back to the Hill. But she spent much of the cycle looking like such a long shot that she didn’t get the same attention as former Reps. Bob Dold of Illinois, Frank Guinta of New Hampshire, or even Doug Ose of California.
Up until recently, multiple GOP observers were less than enthusiastic about Hayworth’s chances of defeating Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., in the 18th District. They lacked confidence in her campaign infrastructure and doubted that the former congresswoman could keep pace in fundraising. Full story
July 16, 2014
In the game “Would You Rather?” one is usually faced with a choice between two difficult and undesirable options.
“If you had a machete, would you rather amputate the feet of two friends or amputate one of your own feet?” asks the site YouRather.com. Or, “Would you rather spend a day with Justin Bieber or spend a day with Miley Cyrus?”
It’s some of the same anxiety facing voters at the polls in the next election. But the contrast in a trio of House races stand out as particularly difficult choices for voters this year. Remember, your first reaction may not be the best choice.
Question 1: Would you rather be an indicted congressman from Staten Island or a candidate from Brooklyn in New York’s 11th District?
Don’t laugh. The answer isn’t as simple as you might think.
When a 20-count indictment came out against GOP Rep. Michael G. Grimm in April, there was a widespread assumption the congressman could not win his re-election bid in New York’s competitive 11th District.
But the charges against Grimm may not be as toxic as being from Brooklyn in a district dominated by Staten Island. That’s one of the biggest challenges facing former Democratic New York City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia Jr., who is challenging Grimm.
There is qualitative and quantitative data that suggest this race is far from over. Grimm has withstood the barrage of negative headlines and is still standing. But the question is whether the congressman can withstand paid Democratic attacks headed his way later this year, particularly when is fundraising has been poor.
The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call continues to rate the race as Leans Democrat, but Democrats still have some work to do to put it away. And as I wrote this spring, legal action does not guarantee electoral loss.
Question 2: In a congressional race in West Virginia, would you rather be a former state senator from Maryland or a former Obama advocate?
Being a former state legislator and former chairman of the state party are common credentials for office, except when they are from a different state. Democrats, and even some Republicans, aren’t happy with Alex Mooney’s move from Maryland to West Virginia, where he is the GOP nominee in the 2nd District.
But even though most of Mooney’s résumé comes from across the state line, he is a Republican running in a district where President Barack Obama’s job approval rating can’t be higher than the mid-30s.
Democrat Nick Casey is trying to position himself as a bipartisan accountant, but he is a former state party chairman and top party fundraiser who endorsed Obama in the past presidential elections.
This race will be an excellent test of what West Virginia voters hate more: candidates from Maryland or candidates connected to Obama. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race Leans Republican.
Question 3: In a congressional race in Michigan’s 11th District, would you rather be a Santa Claus-impersonating incumbent or someone whose law firm sent a foreclosure notice on Christmas Eve?
Republican Kerry Bentivolio has been ridiculed for his reindeer farm and hobby of impersonating Santa Claus. He became an accidental congressman when former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter was dropped from the 2012 primary ballot because of a lack of valid signatures.
But Bentivolio is a sitting member of Congress at a time when 99 percent of incumbents (273 out of 275 through July 8, according to the University of Virginia Center for Politics’ Kyle Kondik) have won their primaries thus far this cycle. And the congressman’s primary challenger, attorney Dave Trott, is not perfect.
Trott’s law firm specializes in home foreclosures on behalf of banks and lenders. The Detroit Free Press detailed one eye-popping incident in particular:
But Rozier, like tens of thousands of other Michiganders, lost his home to foreclosure during the housing crisis. After a three-year legal battle with Trott’s law firm and the bank, the notice arrived last Christmas Eve. He was evicted in January and moved his wife, who is on kidney dialysis, his bedridden mother, and his uncle, who has Down syndrome and is in a wheelchair, into a neighbor’s empty duplex across the street.
But Trott is far outpacing Bentivolio in fundraising and is controlling the debate on the television airwaves. Most GOP insiders believe the congressman is at least a slight underdog in the Aug. 5 primary.
June 13, 2014
The Michelle Obama for Senate in 2016 stories are classic examples of an out-of-control media narrative that is based on little hard evidence.
But it may also end up being a lesson on why it’s best not to dismiss rampant speculation.
The rumor that the first lady could run for the Senate in Illinois next cycle appears to have started with a blog item by Keith Koffler at Reuters. And even though it doesn’t appear to be based on any sources, the story spread like a Justin Bieber mugshot across the Internet. Full story
June 12, 2014
President Barack Obama made a fresh case for student loan overhaul with an executive order this week, but he also relayed a much more nuanced version of his own college debt experience.
Over the last couple of years, Obama used his college debt as a compelling anecdote to connect with younger voters and to restructure the student loan system.
“Check this out, all right. I’m the president of the United States. We only finished paying off our student loans off about eight years ago,” Obama said on the campaign trail at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in April 2012. “That wasn’t that long ago. And that wasn’t easy — especially because when we had Malia and Sasha, we’re supposed to be saving up for their college educations, and we’re still paying off our college educations.” Full story
April 28, 2014
New York Rep. Michael G. Grimm’s arrest reminded me of one of my worst mistakes as a political handicapper.
In May 2006, the FBI raided Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson’s offices and home on suspicion of corruption. I assumed that since agents found $90,000 in cash wrapped in aluminum foil inside the Democrat’s freezer, that the congressman would lose re-election.
On Nov. 29, 2006, I wrote what I thought was a long, compelling and analytical story for The Rothenberg Political Report about how Jefferson would lose in the runoff. The congressman received a paltry 30 percent in the initial November primary. The state party endorsed his Democratic opponent, as did with former Sens. J. Bennett Johnston and John Breaux. Did I mention that the FBI found $90,000 in cash in his freezer? Surely voters would show Jefferson the door.
I was wrong. Full story
April 18, 2014
This week Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call made ratings changes in eight congressional districts and confirmed our rating in a ninth — Wisconsin’s 6th District — after GOP Rep. Tom Petri announced his retirement.
April 15, 2014
By the numbers, New York’s 18th District isn’t solid-blue Democratic territory. But at this stage of the cycle, GOP optimism about defeating Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney is very low. And that lack of enthusiasm could indicate that former Rep. Nan Hayworth, a Republican, won’t get much financial support from outside groups for the stretch run this fall.
President Barack Obama won the district twice, but with just 52 percent in 2008 and 51 percent in 2012. Last cycle, Maloney defeated Hayworth by a narrow margin, 52 percent to 48 percent. Full story
January 24, 2014
For congressional candidate Lee Zeldin, trips to Washington, D.C., are more than fundraisers and media interviews. They are a reminder of life and death.
In the fall of 2006, Zeldin was deployed in Iraq with the Army when his battalion commander received a Red Cross message: Zeldin’s wife, Diana, had gone into labor at 22 weeks, and the couple’s twin girls were not likely to survive. The commander immediately sent Zeldin to Washington, D.C., where his wife was living with her father while he served overseas.
But Zeldin didn’t arrive for a funeral.
The doctors and nurses delayed the birth and Mikayla and Arianna were born at 25 weeks, weighing a pound and a half each.
January 21, 2014
I hate candidate recruitment stories.
More specifically, I hate stories that seem to blame the party campaign committees for their inability to coerce candidates to run.
In reality, there are so many factors that the committees cannot control that it’s simply unfair to hold them responsible for every alleged recruiting “failure.” Until party strategists obtain the abilities to heal the sick and cause children to age more rapidly, there is no amount of polling or promises that will get some potential recruits to run for Congress.
Florida state Rep. Kathleen Peters came up short in last week’s Republican primary in Florida’s 13th District, but most people are probably unaware of what she was going through personally during her bid. Full story
January 14, 2014
Rep. Bill Owens’ retirement announcement brought back a flood of special-election memories. But one thing in particular stood out to me. For all the national attention that competitive special elections receive, winning candidates’ time in Washington is often relatively short.
Owens’ tenure, when he completes his term, is long compared to some of his special-election contemporaries. He was elected in a November 2009 special election and will leave office in January 2015. And even though Owens was facing a competitive race this year, he chose to go out on his own terms.
Others weren’t so lucky in their electoral fate or their time in office: Full story
New York Rep. Bill Owens’ retirement gives Republicans another good opportunity to take over a Democratic seat, if they don’t get in their own way. Some GOP strategists may still have nightmares about the special election in this region more than four years ago, but the 21st District might be coming open at just the right time for Republicans to take it back.
Owens was elected in a competitive special election in 2009 (in what was then the 23rd District) when President Barack Obama appointed then-Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., to be secretary of the Army. Full story
I wrote my first Dangerous Dozen open House seats column in this space 14 years ago, so I figured I might as well keep the streak going, though it isn’t nearly as impressive as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.
As in my Jan. 17, 2000, column, the districts are listed in order of vulnerability. “All of the races on the list currently are worth watching, but I’ve concluded that the races at the top of the list are more likely to change party control than those at the bottom,” I wrote back then. The same applies now.
Utah’s 4th District (Jim Matheson, a Democrat, is retiring.)
Barack Obama received 41 percent of the vote in this district in 2008, but only 30 percent in his bid for re-election. No Democrat will begin with Matheson’s goodwill or moderate record, making the district impossible to hold for his party. After November, Republicans will control all four of the state’s House districts and both Senate seats. Full story
January 8, 2014
Citing her battle with lung cancer, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., announced her retirement on Wednesday. The congresswoman leaves behind a 4th District that Barack Obama won with 56 percent in 2012 and 2008, and John Kerry won in 2004, 53 percent to 46 percent. Full story
November 18, 2013
Last month I wrote about a handful of interesting Democratic House candidates I had recently interviewed, but I did not include Martha Robertson, who is challenging GOP Rep. Tom Reed in New York’s 23rd District.
Most of those Democrats either had no record or seemed prepared to run as pragmatists. And while Robertson also offered platitudes about bipartisanship, it was not hard to see that she was the most progressive of the Democrats I met that week.
Robertson’s liberal views aren’t all that surprising considering the district’s partisan and ideological polarization. The single largest bloc of Democratic votes comes from Tompkins County, a Democratic bastion that includes the city of Ithaca and both Cornell University and Ithaca College. Full story