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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
John Adler$2,000Jim Saxton (N.J.)
Darcy Burner$2,000Dave Reichert (Wash.)
Jim Himes$2,000Chris Shays (Conn.)
Mary Jo Kilroy$4,000Deborah Pryce (Ohio)*
Larry Kissell$2,000Robin Hayes (N.C.)
Dan Maffei$4,000James Walsh (N.Y.)
Eric Massa$4,000Randy Kuhl (N.Y.)
Gary Peters $4,000Joseph Knollenberg (Mich.)
Mark Schauer $4,000Tim Walberg (Mich.)
Linda Stender $2,000Mike Ferguson (N.J.)

* Pryce announced in August her intention to retire at the end of 2008 rather than seek re-election.

By Paul Kane  |  October 15, 2007; 3:55 PM ET
Categories:  Dem. Leaders  
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She better dig deep. As I have repeatedly told the DNC, DSCC, DCCC that her inept leadership, along with that of Senate Speaker Reid (the reincarnation of Mr. Roger's neighborhood host himself)have prompted me to inform them to remove my name from any mailing list, fundraising or otherwise. How could I give a damn about a party that showed me they don't give a damn about us.

Posted by: Johnathan | October 15, 2007 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Where, oh where is MISTER Pelosi!? Hiding out in the vineyards with earplugs on?

Posted by: Philip V. Riggio | October 16, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I hope she remembers how tenuous Steve Kagen's district will be as WI-1. Generally speaking, it's a safe Republican district, but Rep. Kagen won it narrowly in the 2006 move towards the Democrats.

So, those of us who lean towards the Dems, recognize he'll need help to defend his district.

Posted by: pacman | October 16, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Now here is a chance to redeem yourself, albeit only a little, with your constituency.

Vote YES on Sen. Vitter's amendment to prohibit "COPS" dollars to cities that support so-called "sanctuary" policies towards illegal aliens. Support of these criminals in such cities has been illegal since 1996, as you know, but no one with backbone has confronted them so far. It is costing us taxpayers over a Billion dollars a year in Los Angeles alone, Billions and Billions more nationwide. Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, and others are robbing us taxpayers, and you are requested to put a stop to it by voting YES on Sen. Vitter's amendment to the CJS Bill.

We Americans are not safe anywhere in our own country, not even in our homes, because of the criminals who have been invading our country with impunity thanks in great part to such "AMNESTY" programs as H-1B, H-2B, the D.R.E.A.M. act, as well as the AgJOBS proposal, and the so-called "Sanctuary" policies some cities follow.

Please do your duty and oppose any and all AMNESTY proposals however cleverly they are disguised.

Posted by: tucanofulano | October 16, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Why isn't someone doing something about this? This practice of donating funds out of one elected official's account to other candidates is absurd. Republican or Democrat, it is WRONG. It creates drones (or indentured servants) who are indebted to their benefactors even before they are elected. How can they possibly be fair to the people who voted for them if they have this other constituency? Election funds should be raised only from the citizens of the district or state who are voting for that candidate.

Posted by: ChristianWhiteMiddleClassMale | October 17, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I have to say that I agree with ChristianWhiteMiddleClassMale. Money that is raised for one officail should be used to help support that elected official. I agree that if they are donating all this money to other parties or representatives then how do they give back to the people or to charities? I suppose though, it is your money and you should have the right to do whatever you please with it.

Posted by: Justice Kelley | October 17, 2007 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Pelosi Best Keep Her Money for Retirement

- No Impeachment

- Not a word on the Secret Prisons

- Argued against emmissions regulations

- Refuses to acknowledge the anti-war groups

- Allowed the Wire-Tapping Bill to slide through this past summer


It's time we seek a strong Independent...

God I wish John Edwards would stop wasting his time with the corrupt Democrats and go off on his own.


Posted by: the.man_in_black | October 25, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

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