Pelosi Hands Out Cash to Favorite House Candidates
The FEC's quarterly fund-raising deadline is today, providing us with a glimpse into the thinking of which races are getting the most attention from congressional leaders.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) political operation is increasingly focused expanding the playing field for Democratic challengers trying unseat GOP incumbents or those candidates seeking seats being vacated by veteran Republicans who will retire next year.
Over a one-week span last month Pelosi drew cash from her Nancy Pelosi for Congress account to help 10 Democratic challengers or candidates seeking open seats [see the list below], according to Pelosi's filing with the Federal Election Commission.
In addition, Pelosi gave $200,000 from her campaign in the third quarter to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the political arm of Democratic leadership that will serve as the attack dog for Pelosi's favorite candidates next year. [Pelosi also gave $4,000 and $2,000, respectively, to candidates for open seats where special elections are being held this year: Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) and Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), as well as $4,000 to Rep. Stephen Cohen (D-Tenn.), who is facing a competitive primary next year.]
The candidates receiving money from Pelosi will not be a surprise to political insiders. Several of them are repeat challengers whose races weren't on the political map early last year but are getting more than enough attention this time around: Darcy Burner (Wash.), who came close to upsetting Rep. Dave Reichert (R); Dan Maffei (N.Y.), who nearly knocked off 10-term Rep. James Walsh (R); and Linda Stender (N.J.), who was leading Rep. Mike Ferguson (R) most of election night 2006 only to see Ferguson pull off a narrow victory when the most conservative portion of the district's votes came in.
Maffei and some other repeat challengers have already received contributions from Pelosi's political action committee, PAC to the Future, from which she can give up to $10,000 per election cycle. These might be considered guilty contributions, make-up money for lost opportunities from last year.
But what's of particular interest are races that were not on the radar screen much at all last cycle that Democrats are hoping to target this time around. While they are facing potentially tough re-election prospects for a dozen or more of their 42 freshmen -- many of whom hail from conservative districts where Pelosi is not a popular figure -- Democrats believe that the political environment has given them opportunities to go after veterans that have been safe in previous cycles.
In central New Jersey, for example, state Sen. John Adler (D) announced on Sept. 20 he would challenge 12-term Rep. Jim Saxton, a moderate Republican who with 58 percent in 2006. The same day Adler announced, Pelosi sent him a $2,000 campaign check. In Michigan, eight-term Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R) has regularly won with around 60 percent of the vote, but his share dropped into the low 50s last cycle. This prompted a recruiting effort that landed state Sen. Gary Peters (D), and $4,000 from Pelosi landed in Peters' account the same day she donated to Adler.
|Ten Targeted House Races|
|CANDIDATE|| DONATION|| INCUMBENT
|John Adler||$2,000||Jim Saxton (N.J.)|
|Darcy Burner||$2,000||Dave Reichert (Wash.)|
|Jim Himes||$2,000||Chris Shays (Conn.)|
|Mary Jo Kilroy||$4,000||Deborah Pryce (Ohio)*|
|Larry Kissell||$2,000||Robin Hayes (N.C.)|
|Dan Maffei||$4,000||James Walsh (N.Y.)|
|Eric Massa||$4,000||Randy Kuhl (N.Y.)|
|Gary Peters||$4,000||Joseph Knollenberg (Mich.)|
|Mark Schauer||$4,000||Tim Walberg (Mich.)|
|Linda Stender||$2,000||Mike Ferguson (N.J.)|
* Pryce announced in August her intention to retire at the end of 2008 rather than seek re-election.
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