Democrats Welcome Two New Congressmen As GOP Makes Gains in Governorships

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While Republicans in Virginia and New Jersey won their state’s governorships, Democrats proved victorious in two big money Congressional special elections Tuesday in California and New York.

As of mid-October, the candidates in California’s 10th Congressional District had raised a combined $1.6 million and the candidates in New York’s 23rd Congressional District had raised a combined $1.06 million. The final sums won’t be known until post-election campaign finance reports are filed with the Federal Election Commission in the coming weeks.


Outside groups also poured money into these special elections, particularly the race in upstate New York. According to The Atlantic, the conservative Club for Growth spent more than $1 million in the race, including about $375,000 in donations from their members funneled to their endorsed candidate, Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. The National Republican Congressional Committee, which also backed Hoffman after the Republican candidate Dierdre Scozzafava dropped out three days before the election, spent about $897,400, according to The Atlantic.

Democratic-leaning groups, meanwhile, also spent big in New York.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $1.1 million on the race. The Service Employees International Union spent $391,300 in support of Democrat Bill Owens (pictured above), while the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees spent $199,850 backing Owens, The Atlantic reports.

Ultimately, Owens triumphed over Hoffman by about 3 percentage points. He will fill the seat vacated when President Barack Obama elevated Republican Rep. John McHugh to Secretary of the Army. Owens will become the first Democrat to represent this area of New York since immediately after the Civil War, when Ulysses S. Grant was president.

As Capital Eye reported earlier, Hoffman’s campaign picked up steam in the last weeks of the campaign with several high-profile Republican Party endorsements, such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. This led Scozzafava, who was backed by some in the Republican Party establishment as well as some labor unions and liberal ideological groups, to drop out of the race. She then endorsed Owens, and her supporters became crucial voters in determining the race’s outcome. Her name also still appeared on the ballot, and she garnered 5 percent of the vote despite quitting the race.

For his part, Owens raised about $100,000 from three-dozen Democratic politicians, as of mid-October. He also benefited from union support.

According to calculations by the Washington Independent of campaign finance reports filed in mid-October, about 86 percent of campaign contributions to Owens came from outside the 23rd Congressional District, while 95 percent of campaign contributions to Hoffman came from outside the district.

In California’s 10th Congressional District, Democrat John Garamendi (pictured below) won the election to replace Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher. Earlier this year, Obama tapped Tauscher, a former Blue Dog Democrat, to work in the State Department on arms control and international security issues.

php8eVr0fPM.jpgGaramendi beat Republican David Harmer by 10 percentage points. Garamendi had been endorsed in the run-up to the election by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and is expected to be a more liberal vote in the U.S. House than Tauscher. As of mid-October, his biggest financial supporters were the financial sector ($143,100), lawyers ($100,400) and the labor sector ($90,750).

Soon both Garamendi and Owens will have full profiles in CRP’s database of members of Congress.

Elsewhere in the country, Republican gubernatorial candidates Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey attempted to distance themselves from the right wing of their party during their campaigns, and both successfully beat Democrats.

McDonnell beat Democrat Creigh Deeds by about 18 percentage points for the open seat in Virginia, while Christie, a former U.S. attorney during the Bush administration, edged out incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine by 4 percentage points in New Jersey. A former U.S. Senator and Goldman Sachs executive, Corzine spent millions of his own wealth, but could not secure a victory.

In the New York City mayor’s race, incumbent Michael Bloomberg also spent significant sums of his personal cash. Bloomberg, an independent who also appeared on the ballot on the Republican Party’s line, spent a whopping $100 million of his own money in his race to win a third term — setting a new record for self-funding and outspending his Democrat opponent, Bill Thompson, roughly 14-1, according to the New York Times.

‘This report is reprinted from’