With the elections one week away, the Poker Players Alliance has announced (through its political action committee) endorsements of 58 Congressional candidates who would best represent the interests of poker players.
The elections come at a crucial time for the movement to license and regulate online poker. Internet gambling legislation has made progress this year, passing the House Financial Services Committee. But the election could put a halt to poker's momentum on Capitol Hill.
"I would agree we're at a very critical juncture with this election," said John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance. "We just need to make sure those members of Congress who have been supportive of us remain."
Out of the 58 candidates endorsed, 56 are incumbents who have demonstrated support through co-sponsorship of bills, congressional letters of support and public statements.
The two challengers endorsed are John Callahan (D-PA) and Joe Garcia (D-FL). Pappas said both Callahan and Garcia favorably answered questionnaires sent out by the PPA. The House candidates could also take out incumbents who are considered opponents to poker. Callahan is trying to unseat Charles Dent (R-PA), who is graded an F in the PPA's congressional ratings. Garcia is after a seat that was vacated by Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), who graded a D and is not seeking re-election.
There's expected to be a lot of turnover in the election, and experts predict the move will shift Capitol Hill toward the Republicans. That's a scary proposition for poker enthusiasts. Although this should be a bipartisan issue, the House Financial Services Committee vote showed that the Democrats are more supportive. Democrats voted 34-4 in favor of Barney Frank's legislation to license and regulate Internet gambling. Republicans gave seven yes votes with 18 opposed. Of the 58 candidates endorsed by the PPA PokerPAC, 43 are Democrats and 15 are Republicans.
"We'll make sure the new people coming into office know that they have a constituency out there that cares about this issue," Pappas said. "I think we did a pretty good job of that this last cycle, where we had a lot of new, particularly Democratic, members who ended up being supporters of this legislation."
Of the 58 endorsed, only two are from the Senate. One is Harry Reid (D-NV), the current Senate Majority Leader, who has yet to give his public support for online poker but is thought to have warmed to the idea along with the Las Vegas casinos in his constituency and is seen as a key player if poker legislation does take off in the Senate. The other is Michael Bennet (D-CO), who recently became the first Senator to co-sponsor the Senate bill proposed by Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to license and regulate Internet poker. Menendez will not be up for reelection until 2012. Senators serve six-year terms, meaning approximately one-third of the representatives are up for reelection this year. In the House of Representatives, congressmen serve two-year terms and are all up for reelection.
Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. In addition to releasing the list, the PPA PokerPAC has sent e-mail to members located in districts where an endorsed candidate is running.
The full list of candidates endorsed by the PPA PokerPAC:
|John Adler (D-NJ)||Leonard Lance (R-NJ)|
|Robert Andrews (D-NJ)||John Larson (D-CT)|
|Joe Barton (R-TX)||Christopher Lee (R-NY)|
|Shelley Berkley (D-NV)||Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)|
|Michael Bennet (D-CO)||Connie Mack (R-FL)|
|Judy Biggert (R-IL)||Dan Maffei (D-NY)|
|Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)||Kenny Marchant (R-TX)|
|John Callahan (D-PA)||Betsy Markey (D-CO)|
|John Campbell (R-CA)||Jim McDermott (D-WA)|
|Russ Carnahan (D-MO)||George Miller (D-CA)|
|Lacy Clay (D-MO)||Walt Minnick (D-ID)|
|Steve Cohen (D-TN)||Jim Moran (D-VA)|
|John Conyers (D-MI)||Christopher Murphy (D-CT)|
|Joe Courtney (D-CT)||Scott Murphy (D-NY)|
|Steve Driehaus (D-OH)||Ron Paul (R-TX)|
|Barney Frank (D-MA)||Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)|
|Joe Garcia (D-FL)||Tom Perriello (D-VA)|
|Jim Gerlach (R-PA)||Gary Peters (D-MI)|
|Alan Grayson (D-FL)||Jared Polis (D-CO)|
|Alcee Hastings (D-FL)||Harry Reid (D-NV)|
|Dean Heller (R-NV)||Linda Sanchez (D-CA)|
|Jim Himes (D-CT)||Adam Schiff (D-CA)|
|Paul Hodes (D-NH)||Robert Scott (D-VA)|
|Steve Israel (D-NY)||Pete Sessions (R-TX)|
|Darrell Issa (R-CA)||Bennie Thompson (D-MS)|
|Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)||Dina Titus (D-NV)|
|Peter King (R-NY)||Mel Watt (D-NC)|
|Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH)||Anthony Weiner (D-NY)|
|Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL)||Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA)|
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