Foley Factor: Incumbent House Seats Under Fire


Oct. 16, 2006 — -- Close to three weeks after Mark Foley was forced to resign from Congress after instant messages and e-mails he exchanged with pages came to light, the effect of the scandal has rippled into several House races, putting some incumbent seats at risk.

Below is a rundown on some of the House races that have become the most vulnerable.

Mark Foley's resignation left his own seat up for grabs, with most recent polls showing his district in Florida leaning toward a Democratic candidate who at one time was considered the underdog. It's too late to remove Foley's name on the ballot, but State Rep. Joe Negron takes Foley's place if the Republicans are elected.

LINK: Poll: Democrat Leads in Foley's District

Immediately after the Foley scandal broke, Tom Reynolds, as the chairman of the House Republican Campaign Committee, took the spotlight. Complaints from pages who received inappropriate Foley e-mails were directed to his office by the GOP House leadership.

Despite Reynold's initial appeal that he did what anyone else would do with Foley's e-mails, "report them to his supervisor," the congressman from western New York finds himself under increasing pressure. His campaign released a commercial in which Reynolds candidly defended himself: "I trusted that others had investigated. Looking back, more should have been done, and for that, I am sorry."

LINK: N.Y. Rep. Reynolds Runs Ads on Scandal

While it's expected that Dennis Hastert will be re-elected, his position as House speaker, which he has held longer than any other Republican in the history of Congress, has been put at risk. ABC News' George Stephanopolous has said he does not expect Hastert to retain the speakership if the Republicans maintain control of the house.

LINK: Bush Gives Hastert Boost in Time of Need

While Jim Kolbe is retiring at the end of his term he still has not been able to avoid getting drawn into the Foley fallout. Last week his office confirmed that an inappropriate e-mail was brought to the attention of Kolbe's office and was forwarded to Foley's office for evaluation.

Kolbe is now also under investigation, as federal prosecutors in Arizona are looking into a camping trip he took with two former pages and others in 1996, according to a law enforcement official.

LINK: Kolbe Camping Trip Being Investigated

John Shimkus received complaints about Foley as the chairman of the House Page Program. He intervened last fall to stop Foley from e-mailing a former page who considered the contact inappropriate. "I think there's stuff that everybody would have done differently," Shimkus said after he voluntarily testified before the House Ethics Committee.

LINK: Shimkus Says GOP Mishandled Page Scandal

Sue Kelly, who was chairwoman of the House Page Program five years ago, is now being questioned by her democratic challenger, John Hall, about what she might have known and when. The solid GOP ground Kelly was standing on in Katanoh, N.Y., just a month ago may now be shaky.

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