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Political Notebook

Seeking allies, Boehner aids Tea Party-backed candidates

October 22, 2010

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WASHINGTON — John Boehner of Ohio, the House minority leader, has long had a knack for raising campaign funds from Wall Street firms and blue-chip corporations, and he typically spreads the money among rank-and-file House Republicans to bolster loyalty.

This year, Boehner is using a different strategy as he tries to position himself as the next House speaker. He has diverted more than a quarter-million dollars of his business-funded war chest to 29 avowedly antiestablishment candidates who have been endorsed by elements of the Tea Party movement.

The donations to these hopefuls, from Oregon to Alabama, show more than the Republican Party’s broad embrace of insurgents in a year when Democrats are on the defensive. They also appear to reflect Boehner’s pragmatic desire to promote ties with a new crop of impassioned conservatives, some of whom could hold the keys to a Republican takeover of the House.

It is a relatively new political tack for the former plastics and packaging salesman from Ohio, who has exceeded all other House members in fund-raising from Wall Street — with more than $2.9 million — and also ranks at or near the top of members favored by large health insurers, oil firms, student lenders, drug manufacturers, and food and beverage companies, according to tallies of campaign disclosures.

Some of the candidates backed by the Tea Party movement who have won his financial backing have built their campaigns on disdain for special interests and those donors’ influence over elected officials in Washington. Yet the transfers from Boehner’s leadership PAC and personal campaign committee have accelerated their campaigns and given a stamp of approval to their candidacies.

— Washington Post

Obama plans stop in R.I. to boost US House hopeful
WASHINGTON — After campaigning this week on the West Coast, President Obama will head to the Ocean State on the other coast on Monday, according to the White House.

The president will visit Woonsocket, R.I., where he will tour American Cord & Webbing, a manufacturing company, and speak to workers.

Unlike most places the president has campaigned this fall, Rhode Island does not have a US Senate race. But Rhode Island Democrats desperately want to hold onto the US House seat being vacated by Patrick Kennedy, who is retiring at 43 after eight terms.

For Republicans, taking the seat associated with the son of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy would be a tremendous symbolic victory, though the race is an uphill climb in a district that typically leans toward Democrats.

Public polls suggest that the Democratic candidate, Mayor David Cicilline or Providence, has a double-digit lead on the Republican nominee, John Loughlin, a state representative.

It is unclear whether Obama will endorse Democrat Frank Caprio for governor, even though he may be poised to take the office Republicans have held for 16 years.

Lincoln Chafee, a former US senator, has left the GOP and is running as an independent in a dead heat with Caprio. It was Chafee who crossed party lines to endorse Obama before the 2008 Rhode Island Democratic primary. Chafee even appeared with the presidential hopeful at a campaign rally in Providence, back when Obama was locked in a nationwide battle for delegates with Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Caprio endorsed Clinton in 2008.

— Mark Arsenault

Candidate vows to swap mansion for mobile home
TYLER, Texas — Most political candidates promise to start a new program or policy on their first day in office, but Bill White has different plans if elected governor. The Democrat says his first bold move would be into a mobile home.

In another jab at Governor Rick Perry, a Republican who is costing taxpayers $10,000 a month by renting a mansion outside Austin, White vowed during a swing through East Texas on Wednesday to move into a trailer home if elected. The millionaire businessman and former Houston mayor currently lives in a 4,122-square-foot home appraised at $2.1 million, but said he would be the portrait of frugality the moment he took office.

“It will start when I move, on the first day that I’m sworn into office, out of that fancy rental mansion into a double-wide trailer,’’ White said. “Where I come from, fiscal conservatism means you don’t waste money on yourself.’’

Perry’s spokesman, Mark Miner, called White’s proposal a gimmick.

— Associated Press

Brown hopes for GOP win, new lightning rod in Senate
NATICK — Senator Scott Brown hopes a Republican grabs at least one more Senate seat — at least so he can share the national stage.

The Massachusetts Republican told media executives at a meeting of the New England Newspaper and Press Association yesterday that he thinks the House will revert to GOP control.

And the Senate? Brown said he is hoping for at least one Republican victory so he stops getting all the attention as the key 41st GOP senator needed to block President Obama’s domestic agenda.

Brown criticized Congress for adjourning without taking concrete steps to speed economic recovery.

He said that since he won election to Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s seat in January, lawmakers “spent 10 days talking about jobs — and most of what we talked about was fluff.’’

— Associated Press