09/06/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/06/2018 10:06
Today the non-partisan election forecaster CookPolitical Report moved IA-01 to Lean Democratic and VA-02 to Toss Up after Republican Reps. Rod Blum and Scott Taylor were both caught up in scandals related to ethics and fraud. This week, the Ethics Committee ruled it would be investigating Blum for misuse of taxpayer resources to promote his shady internet company. Yesterday, a judge ruled that Taylor's campaign staff's efforts to collect petition signatures to get a third party candidate on the ballot involved 'instances of forgery' and 'out and out fraud'.
'Republicans can now add a massive legal scandal and ethics investigation to their growing pile of scandals that already included two indictments, insider trading, tax cuts for yachts, shady foreign loans, failing to disclose sketchy businesses, and much more,' said DCCC Spokesperson Tyler Law. 'Vulnerable House Republicans across the country will soon stand for re-election with the dark cloud of scandal and corruption hanging over their heads.'
Key Points from the Articles
IA-01 : Blum Moves From Toss up to Lean Democratic
But on Tuesday, the Ethics Committee announced that it was investigating him following a February Associated Press report that he had failed to disclose his role in an internet marketing company.
Blum says the failure to disclose was a simple administrative oversight, but Democrats are already cuing ads calling him part of 'the swamp.' His bigger vulnerability is that he's a conservative Republican sitting in a labor-heavy district with a strong Democratic heritage (it voted for Barack Obama by double digits twice). Today, both parties' polling depicts him as an underdog for reelection in November.
[…] In June, 29-year-old Dubuque state Rep. Abby Finkenauer won the Democratic primary with 67 percent. The graduate of Drake University describes herself as an 'Iowa tough' daughter of a union pipefitter welder and a schoolteacher and has outraised the incumbent $1.8 million to $1.7 million with the help of EMILY's List. Finkenauer would be the first woman ever elected to the House from Iowa.
Democrats will hammer Blum over his healthcare and tax votes, and they scorned him last May when he angrily walked out of a local TV interview while he was surrounded by schoolchildren.
[…] At least one GOP outside group believes Blum is currently in such poor shape for reelection that it doesn't plan to spend money trying to save him. Blum has surprised observers before and the race is far from over, but he becomes the third GOP incumbent to join the Lean Democratic column (Pennsylvania Rep. Keith Rothfus and Virginia Rep. Barbara Comstock are the others).
VA-02: Taylor Moves From Lean Republican to Toss Up
On Wednesday, a Richmond circuit judge kicked Independent candidate Shaun Brown off the congressional ballot, dealing a setback to Virginia Beach GOP Rep. Scott Taylor. Taylor's campaign had ham-handedly collected signatures to boost Brown, an African-American who was the Democratic nominee against Taylor in 2016, to split his opposition. But the judge ruled that the petitions contained numerous forgeries and involved 'out and out fraud.'
Taylor's race against former Naval Surface Warfare officer Elaine Luria was already highly competitive, considering Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam carried the 2nd CD by four points last November. But without Brown, it moves from Lean Republican to the Toss Up column.
[…] But Taylor is still a relatively undefined freshman, and the 'dirty tricks' that have dominated news of the race for the past few weeks could help Democrats chip away at his image as a squeaky-clean Navy SEAL.
[…] Democrats knew they needed to find a veteran in this military-dependent district, and they got one in Luria, who also owns a plaster mermaid-oriented gifts business. Luria was one of three female Naval Academy graduates from the early 1990s and has raised $1.3 million to Taylor's $2.8 million. So far, most private polls have shown her down single digits. But the political environment and Taylor's unforced error could help her close the gap.
In the end, Taylor's bigger liabilities could be his votes for the GOP healthcare and tax bills and the lack of a competitive statewide race to drive GOP voters to the polls. Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine is expected to carry the 2nd CD easily and could sweep Luria in with him.