New Hampshire: Hodes Working Off His Big Campaign Debt

Posted February 7, 2007 at 5:28pm

Rep. Paul Hodes (D) is working to pay off his campaign debt.

The freshman from Concord mortgaged his house to loan his campaign $250,000 last year.

That is the maximum amount under campaign finance rules that a candidate can borrow from himself — and still take as long as necessary to pay himself back.

Hodes is hosting a breakfast this morning at the National Democratic Club on Capitol Hill. “Chairmen” are asked to donate $5,000, while $2,500 earns attendees host status and individuals can attend for $1,000.

Hodes still owed himself $189,500 as of Dec. 31 and ended the year with less than $12,000 in cash on hand.

Hodes unseated then-Rep. Charles Bass (R), who served six terms, to win the 2nd district seat in November. He likely will be a top GOP target in 2008.

— Nicole Duran

ILLINOIS
Financial Service Firms to Fete Roskam in D.C.

Freshman Rep. Peter Roskam (R) is being feted at a fundraiser celebrating his assignment to the House Financial Services Committee.

Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) is slated to be the special guest at a dinner tonight at Charlie Palmer Steak, hosted by Erick Gustafson, a lobbyist for the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Political action committees are asked to donate $1,000 for the cocktail reception and dinner.

Roskam won a hard-fought battle for his 6th district seat against celebrated Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth (D) in November.

Democrats zeroed in on the suburban Chicago district as a pickup opportunity when former Rep. Henry Hyde (R) announced that he would retire at the end of the 109th Congress.

It is unclear if national party leaders will devote the kind of resources in 2008 that Duckworth received from them in the previous cycle.

— N.D.

NEW JERSEY
Report: Lautenberg Hits Mashed Potato Circuit

Although he is one of the richest Members of Congress and has no well-known challenger yet, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) is about to begin an aggressive nationwide fundraising tour, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.

According to the paper, Lautenberg, who is seeking his fifth term — he served from 1983 to 2000 and then won the Garden State’s other Senate seat in 2002 — has scheduled fundraising trips to Austin, Texas, Denver, Los Angeles and Palm Beach, Fla.

Lautenberg, who is 83, started 2007 with more than $1.4 million in his campaign account. But an aide told the Inquirer that the Senator expects to need about $15 million for his re-election.

Republicans have no big-name candidates stepping forward to challenge Lautenberg yet, though they believe U.S. Attorney Chris Christie would be the strongest opponent. Christie, however, seems disinclined to run.

Other potential contenders include state Assemblymen Bill Baroni (R) and Michael Dougherty (R) and real estate developer Anne Evans Estabrook (R), who is close to former Govs. Tom Kean (R) and Christine Todd Whitman (R).

— Josh Kurtz

NEW YORK
Democrats Edge Closer to Monopoly in Albany

In a result that could have a profound impact on the balance of power in the Empire State — and on Congressional and legislative redistricting — Democrat Craig Johnson won a special state Senate election on Long Island on Tuesday, breaking the GOP’s 100-year grip on the Senate district and putting Democrats within two votes of taking control of the Senate for the first time since the early 1960s.

State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith (D) has told New York media outlets this week that he believes he can persuade two of his Republican colleagues to switch parties — something Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R) vehemently disputes.

But with Democrats controlling the governor’s mansion and the state Assembly by a wide margin, the Senate becomes the major battleground as state pols look ahead to the next round of redistricting. The special open-seat Senate race cost a record-breaking $5 million, and it featured last-minute appearances from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R).

But it is new Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) who is widely credited with Johnson’s win over Republican Maureen O’Connell. Spitzer implored voters to ratify his reform agenda by sending Johnson to Albany.

According to campaign finance records, Democratic Members of Congress were among the late donors to Johnson. Among them: Rep. Charlie Rangel (N.Y.) gave $5,000, and Reps. Howard Berman (Calif.), Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.) and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) gave $2,000 each. Maloney also gave $2,000 to the state Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

Former state Republican Chairman Sandy Treadwell, who is contemplating challenging Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), gave $8,500 to O’Connell in late January and another $10,000 to the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

— J.K.

NATION
Report Card on Kids Sure to be Political Tool

The Children’s Defense Fund Action Council this week released a report card of Congressional voting that is sure to be used as a political weapon in the 2008 campaigns.

Using 10 Senate votes and 10 House votes from last year, Children’s Defense Fund chose the “best” and “worst” Senators and Representatives “for children.” The criteria included votes on the budget, tax cut repeals and increasing the minimum wage.

Twenty-six Senators — 24 of them Democrats — got a perfect score from the nonpartisan advocacy group. The two non-Democrats are now gone: former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), who was defeated for re-election in November, and former Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), who retired.

Twenty-three Senators scored zero in the group’s report card. All are Republican. The average Senate score was 48 percent.

In the House, 98 Members were deemed perfect in the group’s eyes, and all but now-Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were Democrats. Seven Representatives — all Republicans — scored a zero. The average House score was 56 percent.

— J.K.