Bob Ney's now notorious Justice Department pseudonym of "Representative No. 1" has made him a top Democratic target for the fall. Allegations that Ney performed official acts in exchange for "things of value" from former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, including claims from a former Ney staffer who pleaded guilty to corruption charges in May, have taken a toll on the usually secure congressman.
Ney has strongly denied the accusations and expressed confidence that he still has robust support in his district. In May, he easily beat his primary opponent, financial analyst James Brodbelt Harris, taking 68 percent of the vote. But Harris was a political unknown who failed to raise the $5,000 threshold to register with the Federal Election Commission, suggesting that much of his support was simply a protest vote against Ney. In the general election, Ney will face Zack Space, the elected law director in Dover, a 12,000-person town in the district. At last reporting, Ney has raised almost $1.2 million for the race, nearly 10 times what Space has raised, but Ney has already spent about two thirds of it. Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is expected to contribute heavily to Space's coffers. Expect Space, who has called on Ney to resign, to continue to hammer the congressman on ethics and corruption. And expect Ney to highlight his local achievements and to criticize Space for raising funds from liberal interest groups.