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Obama back to fundraising in effort to retake House

April 03, 2013|By Michael A. Memoli
  • President Obama disembarks from Air Force One at Buckley Air Force Base in Denver. After his Colorado visit, he was to head to the San Francisco Bay Area.
President Obama disembarks from Air Force One at Buckley Air Force Base… (Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty…)

WASHINGTON -- President Obama is fond of saying that he’s run his last campaign for public office. But the quest for cash continues even though he’ll never appear on a ballot again, as he heads to California on Wednesday for party fundraisers.

Obama’s two San Francisco events to benefit the House Democrats’ campaign committee come as the party eyes a potential pickup opportunity in South Carolina’s first congressional district, after Mark Sanford emerged as the Republican nominee in a Tuesday runoff vote for the right to face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a May 7 special election.

Wednesday’s events are the first of eight fundraising events the president has committed to hold this year for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, with an eye toward putting Democrats back in the majority in the House of Representatives for Obama’s final two years in office.

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If, as expected, Democrats win an April 9 special election in Illinois’ 2nd  Congressional District, the party will need to net 17 additional seats in the November 2014 elections to return to power.

The gain Democrats need is a tall order, but they’d get a start if Colbert Busch succeeded in defeating Sanford. Although the district has been a Republican stronghold for decades,  the race is considered competitive, owing to lingering controversy from Sanford’s 2009 resignation as governor over an affair. Colbert Busch brings additional name recognition and potential fundraising power as the sister of Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert.

An internal poll released this week by Colbert Busch’s campaign claimed to show her narrowly ahead of Sanford, 47% to 44%, with 7% undecided.

Nationally, a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Democrats leading Republicans in a generic congressional ballot, 43% to 35%.

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Nancy Pelosi, who could return as speaker of the House if Democrats are successful in the 2014 elections, will also be attending the president’s events at private homes in the Bay Area. The National Republican Congressional Committee shrugged off the presidential events, saying in a statement, “If Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi believe they can win back the House by touting Obamacare’s broken promises, waging war on coal, and standing against American energy, then please – hit the campaign trail.”

Before heading to California, the president was holding an event in Denver to push for stronger gun control measures that his administration put forward after the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Combining political events with official business helps defray the costs associated with his cross-country travel.

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michael.memoli@latimes.com

Twitter: @mikememoli

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