Roundup of news on U.S. House races

Congratulations to Judy Chu, the newly elected member of Congress from California's 32nd district. On Tuesday Chu easily defeated Republican Betty Chu by 61.7 percent to 33.1 percent in this strongly Democratic district. She will replace Hilda Solis, who left Congress to become Barack Obama's secretary of labor.

Over at Swing State Project, James L. posted a big chart containing second quarter fundraising and cash-on-hand numbers for most U.S. House incumbents and major challengers. Click over to read about some names and numbers that jumped out for him. Among the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's 41 Frontline incumbents, Jim Hines (CT-04) raised the most money last quarter, and Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) raised the least.

James L.'s overall conclusion:

I'm struck by the lackluster sums from many highly-touted candidates on both sides of the aisle. For the Dems, Michael Bond (IL-10), Charlie Justice (FL-10), Paula Flowers (TN-03), and Bill Hedrick (CA-44) in particular will need to step up their game. But many GOP candidates had pretty underwhelming quarters, too: Charles Djou (HI-01), Sid Leiken (OR-04), Jon Barela (NM-01) and Frank Guinta (NH-01) were all well south of $100K this quarter. (If you can't out-raise Carol Shea-Porter, something is wrong with you.) No doubt the crappy economy is tightening the cash flow for many candidates right now, but these candidates will have to start finding the money sooner rather than later.

In other House fundraising news, fans of Congressman Tom Perriello (VA-05) will be pleased to know that Republican Virgil Goode, whom Perriello defeated last November, raised just $154 during the second quarter. That's one hundred and fifty-four dollars. Sounds to me like Goode isn't eager for a rematch, although he does still have around $139,000 cash on hand from last year's campaign. Perriello raised about $213,000 during the second quarter and has about $381,000 on hand.

In other bad news for Republicans hoping to make gains in the House next year, incumbent Jim Gerlach (PA-06) announced plans to run for governor of Pennsylvania, forcing the GOP to defend his seat in the Philadelphia suburbs. Also, Congressman Mark Kirk (IL-10) appears likely to run for Barack Obama's old Senate seat in 2010 instead of for re-election to his House seat. Taniel noted at Campaign Diaries,

IL-10 and PA-06 are two of only six districts that voted for John Kerry in 2004 but that are still represented by Republicans. Both men somehow survived the blue waves of the past two cycles but their situation was simply not tenable and it is not surprising seeing either of them flee their district.

If Mike Castle decides to run for Joe Biden's old Senate seat in Delaware, Republicans will also have to defend the at-large House seat Castle has held for a long time. That seat has the second-highest Democratic voting performance of all Republican-held House districts (after LA-02). Incidentally, why do journalists let Republicans like Castle take credit for stimulus spending they voted against?

With the economy likely to get worse before it gets better, Democrats could still be in for a rough election cycle next year. However, every tough district Republicans have to defend will siphon money away from districts the GOP is trying to pick up.

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CA-32: Election Day: It's GOTV Time For Judy Chu

(I am proud to be doing netroots outreach for Judy Chu for Congress but I am speaking personally here, not on behalf of the campaign)

Election day is upon us here in California and in addition to the statewide ballot initiatives (I'm voting NO on 1A-F, more on why HERE and HERE), the 32nd district of California (East Los Angeles stretching east to Covina) is going to the polls to choose a new member of Congress to replace former Congresswoman Hilda Solis.

Polls have been open since 7am and close tonight at 8pm. If you haven't voted and are not sure about your voting location, go HERE. If you have further questions, call (800) 345-VOTE or check out SOS Debra Bowen's voter guide.

Usually on election day, I'd write a post analyzing the state of the race from the ground. Instead, for that coverage I'm going to refer you to Calitics whose coverage has been consistently excellent (check out Dante Atkins's last two updates HERE and HERE as well as David Dayen's HERE and HERE.) Instead, what I'd like to do in this post is write my own personal reflections on the campaign and the candidate I've been proud to work for throughout this brief special election.

Over the past few weeks, I've been very proud to work for Judy Chu's campaign in CA-32. When I took the job, I thought I'd be working for a good solid Democrat and I was right. Judy is a strong progressive and isn't afraid to say it. She is passionate about universal healthcare, the Employee Free Choice Act and building a green economy to put people back to work. Ultimately, it's become reall clear to me that not only will Judy make CA-32 proud representing them in Washington, DC but she truly is the best candidate in the field to carry on Hilda Solis's legacy in Congress. Also, I was always impressed with how fearless Judy was about interacting with the blogosphere. She actually got that if she really wanted to get her substantive message out, she was going to need to go around the mainstream media filter and that's precisely what we did. On top of all of this, though, what I've learned over the past few weeks about Judy is that while I am happy to be working for a candidate for congress with whom I agree on issues, more importantly, I feel really fortunate to be working for someone I really believe will be one of those better Democrats we keep talking about. I know Judy will be more than simply a reliable vote, she will be a progressive champion in Congress and if she wins today, I will always be proud to have contributed in some small way to her getting there.

One of the great things about Judy is that she is that rare elected official who has not lost touch with her progressive grassroots values. After 23 years of being in elected office, Judy's priorities are still rooted firmly in the grassroots of the 32nd district. I witnessed this first hand at a candidates forum a few weeks ago, which was hosted by 5 local Democratic clubs; Judy was still a member of three of them. She was interacting with the members of the clubs as though they were her friends she hasn't seen in a while, because that's precisely what they were. And this is exactly how she treats everyone working for her, whether volunteer or paid staffer. Whenever I'm at HQ, if Judy's not on the phones speaking to voters, she's mingling with the volunteers, speaking to them as peers, thanking them for their hard work because she knows from decades of hard grassroots organizing that that's where the race will be won or lost. And you can tell by the enthusiasm of the young volunteers for the work they're doing to get Judy elected that their admiration for her is just as strong.

Judy treats people the same way she's run her campaign, with integrity and respect, and I think it speaks volumes about the sort of representative she will be in Washington. As the Calitics editorial board wrote in their Anyone but Gil Cedillo anti-endorsement in the race:

...we do believe that, at some level, how you campaign does dictate how you govern.


But first thing's first: before she can get to Washington, Judy has to win tonight. With 7 hours left before polls close, here's what you can still do:

  • If you live in the 32nd district, please vote for Judy Chu.
  • If you know people in that district, urge them to get to the polls to support Judy whether by email, phone call, Twitter or Facebook status update.
  • If you are on Twitter, you can follow my updates throughout the day @toddbeeton and follow and add to the #ca32 tag.
  • Even more important, if you have some free time today to do some incredibly important GOTV work for Judy, please call the office at 626-430-3601 or just show up at 4153 North Maine Ave., Baldwin Park, CA 91706.

Thanks for helping send a real progressive champion to Washington.

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CA-32: Judy Chu, The Solis Family's Pick For Congress

On Saturday, about 100 volunteers and supporters streamed in and out of Judy Chu headquarters in Baldwin Park as the race in the 32nd district to replace Hilda Solis in congress neared its final days (the special primary election is on May 19.) The phone banks were packed, the precinct walkers returned for a bite only to head back out again and Judy was there mingling and thanking folks for their help.

Among the supporters who had come to help Judy on Saturday were Hilda Solis's sister Anna and her mom. I turned around at one point to find Mrs. Solis stuffing envelopes for Judy (pic to the right -->). It's a unique situation in that, as a member of the President's cabinet, Hilda Solis is not able to endorse in the race to replace her. In her place though, several members of her family have stepped up and been vocal champions on behalf of Judy. Hilda's sister Irma introduced Judy at her campaign launch event in March and on Saturday, Anna and Mrs. Solis were out in force.

Judy and Hilda Solis go back 20 years. Both coalition builders and community activists, Judy and Hilda came up from the grassroots. Like Hilda, Judy is of and from the district and knows the issues that are most important to the residents of the San Gabriel Valley, a quality that makes her uniquely qualified among those running for the 32nd congressional seat to carry on Hilda Solis's legacy. Over the flip, some video of the Solis sisters talking about Judy in their own words.

In the meantime, if you'd like to volunteer for Judy's campaign in the final week, especially if you can take off election day to do GOTV, please contact the campaign HERE and donations at ActBlue are always welcome.

I'm proud to be doing blog outreach for Judy Chu For Congress

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CA-32: Why Judy Chu's Our Best Choice for Congress

(Proudly cross-posted at C4O Democrats)

I usually don't like to wade into LA politics. I usually have enough on my hands with Orange County matters, so I just don't have time for Los Angeles electoral fights. However, I have to say something about the special election coming up in California's32nd Congressional District.

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Gil Cedillo

Gil Cedillo is in free fall. After starting out his campaign to replace Hilda Solis in the House as a co-frontrunner, he has been out-raised, out-endorsed and out-maneuvered by Judy Chu and now he's getting desperate.

Cedillo's latest desperate tactic: his campaign sent out a mailer to voters last week that attempts to smear Chu by claiming a link between her position on the Board of Equalization and the financial crisis.

Below the bolded words "Ever wonder how we got into this mess?" is a picture of Judy surrounded by what look like newspaper quotes and headlines including: "This is an outrage,""Ex-Bear Stearns banker pleads guilty in fraud case," and "Political Malfeasance and the Financial Meltdown." The implication is clear.

The LA Times takes it down:

The language used as headlines on the Cedillo mailers, however, came from articles having nothing to do with Chu. One, "This Is an Outrage!" appeared as a quote in a March 16 Los Angeles Times article about anger over bonuses given to executives of AIG, one of the struggling corporations given federal financial aid. Another, "Political Malfeasance and the Financial Meltdown," ran above a syndicated George Will column March 25 in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

That last one is particularly gauling considering Cedillo here is referencing an oped in which conservative commentator Will attacks 1. the Employee Free Choice Act, falsely claiming it "abolishes" the right to a secret ballot, and 2. the Obama administration for, as he puts it, trying "to stabilize the economy by vastly enlarging government's role in it."

Is this how a real Democrat acts, using a George Will rightwing hit piece to attack a fellow Democrat? Hardly.

Not content to merely mislead and to use a rightwing shill to attack his opponent, Cedillo goes even further in the mailer, attacking Chu for her role as Vice Chair of the Board of Equalization. To hear Cedillo tell it, Chu has given millions in tax breaks to her contributors, but The LA Times provides much needed reality check here as well:

The "tax breaks" cited in Cedillo's mailings are actually refunds of tax overpayments by corporations, according to Board of Equalization records and documentation the Cedillo campaign provided to The Times.

Most, if not all, were routine, noncontroversial matters approved by unanimous vote upon recommendation of the agency's staff, according to Anita Gore, a spokeswoman for the Board of Equalization.

Nice try, Gil.

But that's not the worst part. Look at the mailer closely and you see a repeated phrase used to describe Judy Chu: "tax collector." The Board of Equalization is the state's tax collecting body whose mission is to "serve the public through fair, effective, and efficient tax administration," yet Gil Cedillo hopes to use it as an albatross around Judy's neck, appealing to and reinforcing rightwing frames about taxes and the evil tax collector.

Again, this is not how a real Democrat acts.

There's only one real Democrat in this race, one who will proudly join the progressive caucus in Congress, one who will vote to enact real progressive change in Washington and one who will be a reliable partner with our president in the House against the forces of caution and corporate interests. That Democrat is Judy Chu.

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