The two men most responsible for holding the House for the GOP areeffectively out of action.
In the past week alone, Republicans have canceled nearly a dozen campaign events with [Denny The Meatpuppet] Hastert and [Tom Child Shield] Reynolds. Rep. Don Sherwood (Pa.) — who is one of the GOP’s most endangered incumbents after revelations that his former mistress had sued him in Maryland, alleging assault — told both men not to come to his district, forgoing crucial campaign dollars to minimize additional negative news coverage. In addition, at least seven House GOP candidates have donated to charity nearly $20,000 in contributions that they had received from Foley before the scandal broke.
Increasingly, Republican candidates are telling their leaders to stay home. Houston City Council member Shelley Sekula Gibbs (R), who is running for former House majority leader Tom DeLay’s open seat as a write-in candidate, had hoped that Hastert would come to Texas to tout its prospects for economic development. Last week, she told the speaker he need not visit.
“It would be a distraction. I have to focus on winning this race,” Sekula Gibbs said in an interview. “They want me to focus on winning,” she added, referring to the speaker’s office.
Other Republicans have also canceled Hastert fundraisers, such as Rep. Ron Lewis (Ky.), who was once regarded as safe for reelection but now looks imperiled.
In other instances, the speaker and Reynolds are the ones pulling the plug. Hastert told both Rep. Michael E. Sodrel (R-Ind.) and Ohio state Sen. Joy Padgett that he could not stump on their behalf this month, while Reynolds canceled events with fellow New York Rep. John E. Sweeney and Florida businessman Vern Buchanan.