Happy Fourth of July! This week, we celebrate our independence, and reporters everywhere celebrate our freedom from email as we stare at our abnormally empty inboxes and languish in the heat of the slow news days. But never fear: Exciting things happened this week, and we’ve rounded up the important items.
1) Rep. Joe Walsh mouths off. Again.
Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh came under attack for controversial comments he made Sunday, when he attacked his Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth, a military veteran and double amputee, for politicizing her military service.
Duckworth was deployed to Iraq in 2004 as a captain in the National Guard and lost both of her legs and partial use of one arm when the Black Hawk helicopter she was flying got shot down.
In a speech on Sunday, Walsh praised Sen. John McCain, saying that he had repeatedly shrugged off pressure from his advisers to speak about his military career on the campaign. When he finally did, Walsh said, it was clear that it was not a topic he was comfortable discussing publicly.
“That’s what’s so noble about our heroes,” the Illinois Republican said. “Now I’m running against a woman who — I mean, my God — that’s all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about. That’s why we are so indebted and in awe of what they have done.”
The comments caused an uproar, with groups like EMILY’s List going on the offensive against Walsh, interpreting his remarks to mean that he did not believe Duckworth was a hero.
“Congressman Walsh’s comments insult those who sacrificed to make this country free,” Duckworth Campaign Manager Caitlin Fahey said in a statement from the campaign.
Never one to back away from a controversy, Walsh fired back, The Chicago Tribune reports, calling the criticism a “political ploy to distort my words and distract voters.”
“Of course Tammy Duckworth is a hero,” he said. “I have called her a hero hundreds of times.”
In an interview on Wednesday with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, however, Walsh stuck to his point that it was strange for a veteran to speak so openly and so often about her service. He said that “veterans don’t talk about their service,” and instead tend to be “private about it.”
“She is a hero, and that demands our respect, but it doesn’t demand our vote. All she does, guys, is talk about her service,” Walsh said.
“I continue to salute her service, but if that’s all she runs on, voters are going to find that offensive,” he added.
2) Internal poll says Thompson, Hovde leading Wisconsin Senate race
Businessman Eric Hovde’s campaign is trumpeting an internal poll showing former Gov. Tommy Thompson and Hovde as the two leading contenders in the Wisconsin Republican Senate primary. If the poll is accurate, Mark Neumann, the former congressman who has earned the support of conservative faithfuls Sens. Jim DeMint, Rand Paul and Pat Toomey, seems to have lost much of the traction he initially had.
The poll, conducted by OnMessage Inc., puts Thompson in the lead at 34 percent, with Hovde close behind at 29 percent. Neumann is at 16 percent and Speaker of the State Assembly Jeff Fitzgerald is at 7 percent. Fourteen percent were undecided.
The Hovde campaign is now calling it a two-man race.
There hasn’t been extensive polling of the primary, so it’s unclear just how much this poll reflects the reality of the race. The most recent independent polling from Marquette Law School found Thompson leading with 34 percent of the vote, Neumann at 16 percent, Hovde at 14 percent and Fitzgerald at 10 percent. Twenty-five percent said they were undecided. Thompson had the highest name recognition, and Hovde the lowest.
Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law Poll, wrote in an email to The Daily Caller that “previous polls have shown Hovde gaining name recognition,” so it’s possible that as more voters learned who he is, he went up in the poll. The next poll will be released next week.
TheDC’s Matt Lewis reported that “some of Gov. Scott Walker’s backers have begun quietly pushing former hedge fund manager Eric Hovde over rivals,” which could be helping to move the numbers.
3) Fundraising off Obamacare
The pundits are still debating which party will ultimately benefit from the Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, but in financial terms, the ruling seems to be a boon for everyone.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) announced Thursday that they had raised $2.5 million in the approximately 60 hours following the decision. On Thursday, the committee broke their record for the number of online contributions in a single day. On Saturday, they broke that record again.
“There should be no misunderstanding. The decision by a conservative Supreme Court to uphold the president’s health care law generated tremendous enthusiasm and financial support for our committee and our candidate,” DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said. “I’m sure Republicans are also raising plenty of money from their supporters by proclaiming their plans to fully repeal the law, but many of them know that undecided voters are ready to move on and focus on the economy and creating good-paying jobs.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also raked in the dough following the decision, raising $2.3 million from the time of the decision through early Tuesday, the Huffington Post reports.
On the other hand of the partisan spectrum, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney announced a $4.6 million haul in just 24 hours after the ruling.
Regardless of who the decision helps in the long run, for now, all boats are rising.
4) New York primary drags on
Last Tuesday, the Associated Press called New York’s 13th District Democratic primary for Rep. Charlie Rangel, the 41-year incumbent. His opponent, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat conceded.
But nine days later, the Board of Elections holed up to begin counting approximately 2,000 absentee and paper ballots to conclusively determine a winner. As of Thursday afternoon, the New York Daily News reported, Rangel held an 837-vote lead over his opponent, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat — up from 802 votes before the absentee vote count began.
Espaillat’s lawyers have also been busy alleging election shenanigans. Earlier this week, they filed a motion charging voter fraud and requesting a recount, or possibly a redo of the entire primary. The charge stated that a number of Latinos, who would likely have cast ballots for Espaillat, had their votes improperly invalidated. On Thursday, the Espaillat charged voter suppression.
A judge declined to rule on any of the accusations until the Board of Election’s count was complete, but ordered the board to keep all evidence from the election.
5) Love gets Romney endorsement
Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, the Republican candidate for Congress in Utah’s 4th District, earned the endorsement of Ann Romney earlier this week.
“Women across the country are concerned for our children’s futures,” Ann Romney said in a statement. “Will our children be able to find jobs and will they be faced with burdensome debt? Mia’s record of reducing spending and making government more accountable to the taxpayers should be an example for Washington. With leaders like her, we can help ensure that our children and grandchildren have bright futures.”
That brings Love’s tally of Romney endorsements up to two: Josh Romney, son of Ann and Mitt, endorsed Love during the primary.
Love, who would be the first black Republican woman in Congress ever, has received a large amount of attention from the national media in the past week, being profiled by ABC, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, and the Washington Post.
Her Democratic opponent, Jim Matheson, on the other hand, is under attack from a Super PAC for a vote earlier this year against repealing the health care law.