As news of sexual harassment scandals in this election cycle continues to be reported, another member of Congress has been accused of improprieties. Representative Pat Meehan (R-PA-07), who serves on the House Ethics Committee and is tasked with investigating sexual harassment claims in Congress, has been accused of harassing a former aide to the point where he used office personnel funds to settle a claim. Meehan denies any wrongdoing and claims he was just expressing his emotions to the former aide. Meehan has not helped his cause by claiming the much younger aide was his "soul mate" and released a letter he wrote to her last May thanking "God for putting you into my life." Speaker Paul Ryan has asked that Meehan pay back the tax payer funds he used to settle the dispute and has removed him from the committee while they investigate the allegations.
After receiving pressure from GOP leadership and members, Meehan has announced he will retire at the end of his term. His retirement will allow the GOP to field a new candidate before the March 6 filing deadline. The Pennsylvania 7th is one of the most gerrymandered districts in the country that was specifically designed by the GOP to protect Meehan in 2011. It voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 49% to 47%. However, Meehan has developed a moderate voting record and was able to take 60% of the vote.
The GOP also has to deal with the fact that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state's GOP drawn map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The state legislature and governor will have until February 15 to agree on a new map, which will likely make this district much more Democratic leaning. Without an incumbent in good standing, it is likely this seat will flip to the Democrats. For now, depending on who wins the Republican primary or how the district lines change, the Cook Political Report has this race as a toss-up, moving it from the lean Republican column.
In one of the more curious votes that an endangered senator has taken this cycle, where every vote is magnified, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) voted no to reopen the government after the brief shutdown. He stood out as the only Democratic senator from a Republican leaning state to vote no. Tester recognizes the political risk he took, but he insisted that he had to send a message to party leaders that he wouldn't stand idly by while Congress shortchanged rural hospitals in his state and left the military in limbo.
While Republicans are sure to hammer him on this vote, Tester is playing up the vote as taking the tougher road instead of the easy walk. Tester in his defense said “It would have been safer to take a walk but would it have gotten the point across that we need a budget that works for Montana? No. I didn’t get sent here to take walks.”
So far, most of the breaks have gone Tester's way with the top three potential Republican candidates declining to challenge him. Those include former Representative and current Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Representative Greg Gianforte and state Attorney General Tim Fox. His most likely opponent now looks to be state Auditor Matt Rosendale, who has received backing from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and other conservative political action committees like the Club for Growth. Time will tell whether his vote was a self-inflicted wound or whether his constituents will see it as a profile in courage. The Cook Political Report currently rates this seat as likely Democrat.
Did You Know...
…that as a HUPAC contributor you have the opportunity to attend private fundraisers for members of Congress in your district. Making a personal connection with members of Congress is an important tool in advancing our legislative agenda. Fundraisers are opportunities to put a face on health insurance agent, broker, or benefit specialist who serve the needs of employers and individuals seeking health insurance coverage in their district. If you're interested in attending a congressional fundraiser during their recess period, reach out to your local HUPAC chair and find out whether your member of Congress is in the HUPAC budget. Have you made your contribution yet to HUPAC? Now is the time if you plan on becoming a supporter, the earlier we have the money the bigger difference we can make in helping our allies in Congress. Click here to contribute now.