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Hoyer MIA in Helping Murtha

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is turning a blind eye to his one-time rival Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), even as the veteran lawmaker appeals for help in what’s become the political fight of his career.

In recent days, Murtha has been turning to his fellow lawmakers for money, and many have answered the call — flooding his coffers with more than $130,000 in past few days.

But Hoyer, who dueled with Murtha two years ago for the Majority Leader post, has not. That makes him the only elected member of House Democratic leadership yet to contribute to the Pennsylvania Democrat’s suddenly tight re-election battle.

Hoyer and Murtha’s bitter contest in 2006 divided the Caucus and prompted then Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to weigh in on behalf of Murtha, her longtime ally. Hoyer won the race by 63 votes in what Pelosi at the time acknowledged was a “stunning victory.” But tensions between Hoyer and Murtha have lingered.

Now, Murtha is facing a surprisingly tough re-election challenge from Republican candidate William Russell. The vocal Iraq War critic was expected to coast to his 19th term but complicated that task recently when he referred to his own constituents as racists and rednecks.

To fund a last-minute blitz aimed at saving his seat, Murtha’s campaign is hitting up every possible source of funds, with appeals to liberal activists, defense industry lobbyists — and fellow lawmakers.

Pelosi, Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), and Caucus Vice Chairman John Larson (Conn.) have ponied up $7,000 each — $2,000 from their respective re-election accounts and $5,000 from their political action committees. Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) cut a check for $2,000 from his re-election account.

Murtha also picked up another $9,300 combined from Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) and George Miller (Calif.), co-chairs of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Meanwhile, fellow members of the Appropriations Committee, on which Murtha chairs the Subcommittee on Defense, have kicked in more than $37,000 this week. His Keystone State colleagues contributed another $12,000. And Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), whom Murtha backed in the presidential primary, forked over $5,000 from her leadership PAC.

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