With a widely quoted, non-partisan newsletter downgrading his chances to retain his seat in Congress and new independent poll showing him behind by 8.5 points, Don Sherwood plans to bring in Republican leaders, including President Bush, to raise money for him this month, a local party leader said Monday.
House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio will appear this evening at a $25-per-head fundraiser at the Montdale Country Club in Lackawanna County. And House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois is scheduled to make a similar appearance on Oct. 18 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Clarks Summit, according to Lackawanna County Republican Party Chairman Paul Catalano.
The details of the Bush visit, planned for mid-month, are still sketchy, Catalano said, primarily because the White House has not confirmed a date or location due to security.
“I think it’s a go, but they won’t give us word until it gets a little closer,” he said.
The White House press office said it could not confirm a local visit. The president’s schedule is normally not available until a week before any event.
Sherwood, who benefited from a Wyoming County fundraiser featuring Vice President Dick Cheney last month, is in a tight race with Democrat Chris Carney, a 47-year-old Penn State political science professor and officer in the Navy Reserve.
On Monday, the Polling Institute at Lycoming College released a poll showing Carney ahead 46.7 to 38.2 percent in a survey of 804 likely voters taken by Lycoming political-science students Sept. 24-28. The poll, which has a margin of error of 3.5 percent, showed Carney with the support of 26 percent of the Republicans in the heavily GOP district.
The only other independent, non-partisan poll of the race, taken in late August, showed Carney ahead by seven points.
“Normally a Republican incumbent should have an easy time in this district …” Jonathan Williamson, chair of the Lycoming Political Science Department, said in a press release. “Sherwood has struggled to overcome the bad taste scandal has left in the mouth of voters.”
Last year, Sherwood, a four-term incumbent, was sued by a former mistress, who claimed he had repeatedly assaulted her during their five-year relationship. The 65-year-old married congressman and 30-year-old Cynthia Ore agreed to a confidential, out-of-court settlement in November.
Sherwood spokesman Jake O’Donnell said he was unfamiliar with Lycoming’s Polling Institute, which was established in 2003.
“Those aren’t numbers that we’re familiar with. ... It’s not in synch with information that we have,” O’Donnell said. He declined to talk about any poll numbers the Sherwood campaign might have.
Carney said he was pleased by the numbers, which he said “simply reflect what we’ve been seeing in the district as we travel around. People want a representative they can be proud of, and they don’t think they’re getting that with Mr. Sherwood.”
Carney said his campaign plans a Washington visitor of its own – U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., is expected to visit the district Oct. 10.
In another indication Sherwood’s seat might be in jeopardy, the Rothenberg Political Report declared over the weekend that the race in the 10th Congressional District is a “pure toss-up,” after rating the race last month as a toss-up that leaned to the Republican’s favor.
The rating was part of a survey of close House races by the non-partisan Internet and print journal that concluded the Democrats are on track to pick up 15 to 20 seats and take over control of Congress.
Officials at Rothenberg could not be reached for comment Monday.