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Castro gets some homework

Joaquin Castro isn’t even a member of Congress yet and already his future colleagues are leaning on him.

Joaquin Castro

Democrats are so confident that U.S. House candidate Joaquin Castro will capture a traditionally Democratic seat in San Antonio next November that they’re relying on the Texas state representative and Harvard Law School graduate to help raise campaign donations for Democratic candidates who are facing more competitive races elsewhere.

Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York, described Castro’s unusually high-profile role on Wednesday as the chairman of House Democrats’ 2012 campaign effort designated 36 competitive House races nationwide that will receive extra campaign support by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as the vanguard of Democrats’ effort to retake political control of the House.

[…]

Castro, who is seeking to succeed retiring seven-term Rep. Charles Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, joins former Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, and Steven Horsford, D-Nevada, as so-called “majority makers” whose all-but-guaranteed election prospects frees them to campaign on behalf of other Democrats. Their early efforts are expected to help forge loyalties and political IOUs even before they take office on Capitol Hill.

“We are so confident that they’re going to win and that they are coming to Congress that we have a program (so) they are actually helping their colleagues,” said Israel. “These will be new members of Congress who will have already helped their colleagues obtain the majority.”

And one of the first beneficiaries of this effort will be Nick Lampson. This is of course assuming that the SCOTUS-ordered redraw doesn’t shuffle the deck in a manner that puts Castro into the same district as either Lloyd Doggett or Ciro Rodriguez again. Which, if you’re a believer in the weauxf gods, ought to make you sweat a little. These things work in mysterious ways.

I will also note that this is the sort of thing I had in mind when I first wrote about Castro versus Doggett and the need to enable the next generation. One of the things a role like that does for Castro is give him access to a much broader fundraising base, and a whole lot of people who would have reason to be grateful to him if he’s successful. Both of those are nice things to have in your pocket if you have a statewide campaign in mind for your future.

Lampson on the DCCC’s list

It’s just like old times again.

Nick Lampson

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, launching its bid to win back the House majority, has unveiled its list of top 2012 recruits.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel announced 18 candidates on Wednesday who are being inducted into the House Democratic campaign arm’s “Red to Blue” program, which aims to provide support to top candidates across the country.

[…]

The program includes three former members: former Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson and former New York Rep. Dan Maffei, both of whom lost their seats in 2010, and former Texas Rep. Nick Lampson, who lost his seat in 2008. There are also three Democrats who waged bids in 2010 but fell short: California physician Ami Bera, former Washington state House Majority Leader Denny Heck and New Hampshire attorney Ann McLane Kuster.

It’s almost not an election without the DCCC teaming up with Lampson in a hot race – it’s happened in 2004, 2006, 2008, and now 2012. Lampson has the virtues of being a known commodity and a proven fundraiser in a district that is unlikely to change much if at all by the SCOTUS-ordered do-over – the CD14 drawn by the Lege and the CD14 drawn by the San Antonio court are very similar geographically and in partisan makeup. I expect the DCCC to get involved in CD23 eventually, once there’s a nominee and a final (for now) district, and in a happy world they’ll have the resources and the inclination to help out in CD10, but we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. For now, we have the DCCC and Nick Lampson, together again.

The redistricting battle is fought one State House seat at a time

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) is the State House version of the DCCC. With 2011 being a redistricting year, the DLCC takes a more prominent role in the November elections than it would in other years, and with the Texas Lege being fairly balanced, they’ll be paying some attention to our state and its legislative races.

The national committee, which provides financial support to Democratic candidates in state legislative races, will spend $20 million in an effort to take control of 21 legislative chambers in 17 states, a spokesman said.

[…]

The $20 million in committee money in the current cycle far outpaces what the organization has spent in the past. The committee spent $12 million on state races in 2008 and $10 million in 2006, spokesman Matt Compton said.

The committee hasn’t decided how to allocate the money for the November elections, he said.

One potential recipient could be the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, which operates to elect Democrats to the state House.

Coleman said Democrats have many opportunities to pick up House seats.

“There are several targets, and most of them are open seats,” said Coleman, a board member of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

But “our primary objective is to protect incumbents.”

Obviously, we’re still very early in the game, and that $20 million represents a goal, not a bank balance. Assuming the money gets raised, the candidates themselves still have to demonstrate they’re worth the investment, which in this case means competing with hopefuls around the country. In other words, don’t go ordering any ad packages based on DLCC money just yet. When and if that money does come this way, you can get an idea of which races it may get spent in by taking a peek at this Lone Star Project report, which covers most of the likely takeover targets. The Dems have a number of seats to defend as well, and like the takeover list that may grow or shrink depending on things like how everyone involved does with their own fundraising.

Texas Congressional races on the radar

The Hill lists its Top 10 dark-horse Congressional races to keep an eye on for 2010. Two of them are in Texas.

1. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)

McCaul was technically a lower-tier Democratic target in 2008, but that was really only because his opponent, former TV judge Larry Joe Doherty (D), was raising money like gangbusters. Doherty really didn’t have the right profile, and he wound up losing by a pedestrian 11 points — the exact margin of the presidential tally in the district. Now, Democrats have another big-money candidate, with businessman Jack McDonald raising $300,000 in the first quarter. We’ll see if he has the right profile, but the fact that he is vice chairman of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce suggests he might. The party has already put McCaul near the top of its target list.

[…]

4. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas)

Democrats tried to mount a late charge in 2006 against National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), and they could do it again in 2010 against current NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) only took this suburban Dallas district 53-46 in the 2008 presidential race, and the heavily Hispanic areas have grown at a faster pace than the white areas. Sessions’s district is actually probably more fertile ground than McCaul’s, but Democrats might not have as good a candidate. Attorney Grier Raggio (D) has an exploratory committee, but it’s not clear who else might emerge.

You know how I feel about Sessions’ CD32. Now that Dallas County is solid blue, there’s no reason at all to leave him untargeted. The DCCC is already inclined to help out. The rest is up to the locals. McDonald’s fundraising success will keep the CD10 race on the front burner. Now we need someone to copy that formula in CD32. Thanks to BOR for the link.

Big John versus El Rushbo and The Newt

There’s just not enough popcorn in the world.

As if to magnify what are already major differences between elected Republicans and conservative activists on the question of Sonia Sotomayor, check out what conservative senator (and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and Judiciary Comittee member and former Texas State Supreme Court Justice) had to say on NPR yesterday.

“I think it’s terrible. This is not the kind of tone that any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advice and consent.”

Republican leaders may not have as much sway over their own interest groups as Democratic leaders do over their, so don’t expect the attacks to stop. But it’s a bold statement. He even lashed out at Newt Gingrich and the unassailable Rush Limbaugh.

“Neither one of these men are elected Republican officials [and] I just don’t think it’s appropriate and I certainly don’t endorse it. I think it’s wrong.”

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Of course, any time a Republican official says anything unflattering about Rush, it’s worth asking a couple questions: Will he apologize for it? And how long will he wait?

You know you’ve gone completely round the bend when Big John tells you to dial it down a bit. Not that it matters, as neither Newtie nor the Round Mound of Sound is backing off. Oh, and now the DCCC is joining in the fun by calling out Rep. Pete Sessions, who as Cornyn’s counterpart in Congress has been silent so far. Who needs summer movies when you have this kind of entertainment?

UPDATE: Forgot to add that there’s video of Big John taking on his foes. And as we know, the Rushmeister was in town last night. Here’s a photo of him and some of his fanboys from that event. BOR has more.

White rakes it in for his Senate bid

Among other things, today is the deadline for federal candidates to report their campaign finance status. Of the many contenders for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat, whenever that becomes available, I think it’s safe to say that Bill White had the best start to the year. From his press release:

Mayor Bill White reported contributions totaling more than $2.6 million in just over 100 days since launching his U.S. Senate campaign, according to a report filed with the Federal Elections Commission today.

More than 1,400 Texans contributed through March 31st, the end of the filing period. The contributions for the filing period totaled more than $1.8 million.

Campaign Finance Chair Scott Atlas said, “The outpouring of support from donors and volunteers has been simply amazing. The energy around Mayor White’s campaign shows Texans believe in his ability to bring people together and get things done. People want their next senator to be a voice for our state’s future.”

So far, none of the Senate incumbents or hopefuls have their reports up on the FEC disclosure page, so I can’t give you the details yet. However, Gardner Selby has some information.

Democrat John Sharp topped five other candidates or prospective candidates for the U.S. Senate in cash on hand as of March 31, though his camp didn’t say this afternoon how much of the $2.4 million he piled up since Jan. 1 came from loans. His loan chunk—perhaps tapping Sharp’s personal wealth—may be left to show up when his report, filed with the Federal Election Commission, surfaces online.

Another Democrat, Houston Mayor Bill White, had $2.1 million cash on hand at the end of this year’s first quarter; he’d taken no loans.

Among Republicans, former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams had $388,628 cash on hand; a haul fueled by $200,000 in loans he gave his exploratory committee. State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, had $310,407. She was trailed in her bank balance by two members of the Texas Railroad Commission, Elizabeth Ames Jones with $164,663 and Michael Williams with $113,957.

As Selby notes, we can’t fully judge Sharp’s total till we know how much of it was loaned by himself to the campaign. It’s possible he did better than any of the Republicans and yet still fell well short of White, and it’s possible he outraised White, though to be honest if he’d really taken in $2 million or so, I’d have expected him to be shouting that from the rooftops. We’ll know soon enough. In any case, as BOR notes, the two Dems are way out in from of the Rs – heck, all of them put together can’t match either Dem. That may change if a David Dewhurst or a Greg Abbott jumps in, but for now, it’s a nice position for the Dems to be in.

Other reports of interest, all Congressional:

Pete Sessions, who has been in the crosshairs of the DCCC lately and whose district is trending strongly Democratic, had a good quarter with over $200K raised and almost $900K on hand. Sessions has always been an able fundraiser, no doubt why he’s chairing the NRCC this go-round.

– Mike McCaul doesn’t have a report yet. He already has a well-heeled challenger and a DCCC bulls-eye on his back, but he’s also filthy rich and will not be outgunned financially.

John Culberson had a decent quarter, with $100K raised, though only a modest $70K on hand. He didn’t leave anything in reserve after his expensive re-election fight last year, and though I think he’s likely to skate this time around, I’ll bet he invests some time in restocking his coffers.

Sheila Jackson Lee didn’t raise much, and spent more than she raised, but she starts the year with over $400K on hand, which may give pause to anyone looking to primary her.

– The benefits of running for President, having a national following, and being stalked by Borat not having an opponent in the last cycle: Ron Paul has over two million dollars on hand, despite raising almost nothing and spending nearly $250K.

– Randy Neugebauer in CD19 doesn’t have a report up yet, either, but according to the CREW crew, he wants to use his campaign funds to pay for the use of his yacht to fundraise for his campaign. Just click over and see for yourself. The yacht is anchored in DC, in case you were wondering (as I was) what the heck one would do with a yacht in Lubbock.

– Former Congressman Jim Turner, who was drawn out of his seat in the 2004 Tom DeLay re-redistricting, still has over a million bucks on hand. Which in theory he eventually needs to dispose of in some fashion, either on another campaign of his own or by giving it to other candidates.

That’s all for now. I’ll add to this as I see more reports.

DCCC targeting CD10

Good to hear.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will begin running radio ads next week in the districts of six Republicans, all of whom voted against the economic recovery package. One of the six targeted districts, though, sticks out from the rest.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), whose 10th District runs from the Houston suburbs west to include parts of Austin, is the only one of the six targeted members to represent a district won by John McCain in 2008. Both McCaul and McCain won the district by 11 points in November, which begs the question: Is the DCCC really targeting this seat?

Apparently they are, and in no small part because of an already well-funded candidate named Jack McDonald, whose exploratory committee announced yesterday that it had raised more than $300,000 in just five weeks. Should McDonald, a self-described “centrist Democrat” and “successful businessman,” officially jump in the race, he’ll face a Republican whose winning percentage has dropped significantly as his opponents have spent more money, but who held off a well-funded opponent last year.

BOR has more on McDonald. The D-Trip has also targeted Rep. Pete Sessions, who is also the NRCC Chair, in CD32. Nice to see national money flowing to Texas, instead of just the other way around. These two districts may be where all the action is this time around, especially if Rep. McCaul jumps into the race for Attorney General as has been speculated. That would require a few dominoes to fall first, and there’s already a stand-by waiting in the wings in the event that happens, so I wouldn’t consider that a likely event, but you never know. Regardless, I’m glad to see CD get some attention outside of Texas. I hope it can hold that attention for the duration.

Dallas Dems look to 2010

Never too early to be thinking about these things.

“I don’t think it’s a big stretch to say we can do 57 percent [countywide] in 2010,” said Darlene Ewing, chairwoman of the Dallas County Democratic Party.

Because of that comfort level, Ewing said, the county party is targeting Dallas County commissioner Precinct 4, held by Republican Ken Mayfield.

Mayfield won in narrow victory in 2006, as his Republican-leaning area in western Dallas County continued to see demographic shifts that resulted in more Hispanic voters.

Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Elba Garcia, a Democrat, is expected to challenge Mayfield next year.

Ewing said Democrats are also eying state House District 105, where last year Republican Linda Harper Brown of Irving held on by 19 votes to beat little-known Democrat Bob Romano.

HD105 is a given; it really should have been won in 2008, but that’s water under the bridge at this point. It gets harder after that – HDs 108, 112, 113, and 114 are all within numerical reach, though they all present challenges. If they can find and fund quality candidates, anything is possible. Some defense will be in order as well, especially in HD 101, where the Obama wave was helpful to Robert Miklos’ victory.

Beyond that, I sure hope their sights are set a little higher than this. Winning a County Commissioner’s seat is big, but there’s another prize out there that’s just begging for a claim to be put in. I’m speaking about CD32, where Pete Sessions will be operating as the chair of the NRCC in a district that’s trending strongly Democratic – as the Swing State Project documented, where George W. Bush won 64% in CD32 in 2000, and 60% in 2004, John McCain could muster only 53% last year. With the DCCC having already targeted Sessions on the airwaves, and with a lack of any countywide races to take over, why not take aim here? The Dems had a candidate in 2006 who had money but no visible campaign that I could discern, and a candidate in 2008 who ran an active campaign but had little money. Surely in 2010 they could find someone to put both halves of the formula together. Thanks to BOR for the link.

Pete Sessions and the Taliban

Rep. Pete Sessions in CD32 is the chair of the NRCC this cycle. He’s also…well, see for yourself.

Frustrated by a lack of bipartisan outreach from House Democratic leaders, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said today that the GOP should look to the Taliban for guidance in conveying its position on the stimulus package and, more broadly, in working to make the party’s views on issues known. […]

“Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban,” Sessions said during a meeting with Hotline editors. “And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person’s entire processes.

“And these Taliban — I’m not trying to say the Republican Party is the Taliban. No, that’s not what we’re saying. I’m saying an example of how you go about [sic] is to change a person from their messaging to their operations to their frontline message. And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with.”

The quotes come from the National Journal, and they’ve now been picked up by the DMN, so you can expect some walking back Real Soon Now. I don’t often play the “can you imagine if a Democrat said that” game, but I don’t see how you can’t here. Seriously, imagine this was 2002 and some Congressional Democrat used this metaphor to describe opposition to President Bush. I can’t even wrap my mind around it. Both the Journal and First Read, which wonders what Drudge would do if a Dem had said this – I say imagine Fox News – go there. (Thanks to Sessions Watch for the links.)

What I really want to is if this will finally spur a well-funded challenge to Sessions this year. He’s already been targeted by the DCCC in radio ads for the GOP’s unanimous anti-stimulus vote, so that’s a good start. CD32 is a lot less Republican than it was in 2004 – John McCain took 53% of the vote there – and that trend isn’t going to stop. I thought Eric Roberson was a decent candidate last year, but he got nowhere in the fundraising department. Will Dallas and national Democrats finally get serious about taking Session on? I sure hope so.