- Ford Denies Smoking Crack
- Very Close Race for Senate Nomination in Georgia
- Welcoming 100 Sandy Hook Moms
- Bonus Quote of the Day
- Gingrich Warns Republicans About Overreach
Posts by Niels Lesniewski
April 29, 2013
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. offered Sen. Lindsey Graham his support for re-election — including a pledge to “rip your skin off for you” if it helps the South Carolina Republican’s 2014 prospects.
“I told him I’ll come to South Carolina and campaign for him or against him, whichever will help the most — I know which it’ll be,” Biden said at an April 26 forum hosted by The McCain Institute for International Leadership. ”I’m going down there to to the JJ next weekend, Lindsey, and I assure you I will rip your skin off for you, and I expect a thank-you note.”
April 11, 2013
Updated 4:20 p.m. | An outside watchdog group filed ethics complaints against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggesting possible misuse of official staff for campaign purposes.
“Using taxpayer-funded resources to pay staffers to dig up dirt on political opponents isn’t just an ethics violation, it’s a federal crime,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement that explained the complaints filed with both the FBI and the Senate Ethics Committee.
The allegation is that legislative assistants were working on government time for political purposes, conducting opposition research against potential Democratic challenger Ashley Judd. As CREW itself acknowledges, the campaign has said that the individuals in question conducted the research on their own time.
April 5, 2013
When many Kentucky voters head to the polls for next year’s Senate primary and general elections, they’ll for the first time be able to make their next stop a local watering hole or liquor store.
On Thursday, Democratic Gov. Steven L. Beshear signed a package of liquor law changes that included a repeal of the antebellum-era prohibition of alcohol sales while polling places are open on Election Day in Kentucky.
“My administration, working cooperatively with the General Assembly, is taking an important step toward improving the business structure of alcohol sales and licensing in Kentucky. Not since the days of Prohibition has Kentucky undertaken such a comprehensive rewriting and modernization of our laws governing alcohol,” Beshear said in a statement.
March 28, 2013
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., warned Bluegrass State reporters Wednesday not to expect an announcement about a possible 2016 presidential bid until next year, while also opining about other policy priorities.
“I want to be part of the national debate,” Paul said. “I think the country faces a lot of problems, and I do want to be a part of trying to bring about answers and solutions for making the Republican party big enough that we can be competitive again, but I won’t make any decision until 2014 or so.”
Paul also would face re-election to the Senate in 2016.
Speaking to press assembled at the University of Kentucky, where the tea party favorite gave a wide-ranging policy speech, Paul spoke about some of his favorite subjects, including the gun violence debate and his bids to curtail foreign aid to countries such as Egypt. Paul also spoke about the Kentucky Legislature’s approval of legislation regarding regulation of industrial hemp production. Full story
March 27, 2013
The Supreme Court’s focus this week on gay marriage has put Democratic senators seeking re-election in 2014 under a microscope, with no shortage of media outlets asking their offices about evolving views on the issue.
With the court taking up the constitutionality of a portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted the federal definition of marriage to opposite sex couples, several Democratic senators have determined in recent days that now is the time to make public revised or clarified stands on the marriage issue. Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who is up for re-election in 2014, became the latest Democrat to announce her support for gay marriage Wednesday morning in an interview with the Raleigh News & Observer.
March 15, 2013
Sen. Rob Portman, a possible 2016 presidential contender, announced Friday that he now supports gay marriage rights – a “change of heart” he arrived at after his son Will confided that he was gay.
The Ohio Republican, who was vetted as a possible GOP vice presidential nominee in 2012, revealed his position change in an interview with CNN and a newspaper opinion piece.
“My son came to Jane — my wife — and I, told us that he was gay and that it was not a choice,” Portman said in the interview, adding that the news led to a very personal process for the senator that included discussions with clergy. “During my career in the House and also the last couple years here in the Senate, you know, I’ve taken a position against gay marriage,” he said.
Portman also wrote an opinion piece in Friday’s Columbus Dispatch to expand on how his position has evolved, saying that he heard from his son two years ago. He acknowledged that younger people overwhelmingly support gay marriage. “In some respects, the issue has become more generational than partisan,” Portman wrote. Full story
February 21, 2013
Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune told some elementary school students Thursday that he does not plan to seek the presidency.
“Do I plan on running for president?” Thune said. “I don’t. I enjoy the job I have. And being the president is a very, very hard job.”
Thune made the comment during questioning from a room full of second-graders at Mark Twain Elementary in Sioux Falls in Thune’s home state of South Dakota. They were videotaped by KELO-TV, the local CBS affiliate. Thune previously passed on a 2012 run for the White House.
February 13, 2013
While several senators have already announced retirement plans ahead of the 2014 cycle, Sen. Thad Cochran said he’s putting off his decision until “the end of the year or the beginning of the next year.”
“I haven’t decided yet — too early,” said the affable Mississippi Republican Wednesday. “I’m deferring making a decision until later in the term.”
Cochran’s measured approach may not be welcome news to ambitious Mississippi Republicans, who have waited decades to run for his seat in this solidly GOP state. Cochran was elected to the Senate in 1978, the first Republican elected to the Senate from Mississippi since reconstruction.
January 26, 2013
Updated: 11:40 a.m. | Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin announced on Saturday that he will not seek a sixth term in the chamber. The news was first reported by the Associated Press.
“After 40 years, I just feel it’s somebody else’s turn,” Harkin said in a lengthy statement. “I don’t by any means plan to retire completely from public life at the end of this Congress. But I am going to make way for someone new in this Senate seat. I think that is right not just for me, but for Iowa, as well.”
Harkin, who is 73 years old, serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as well as the Appropriations subcommittee that handles the budgets for many of the same agencies. He passed up a chance to become chairman of the full Appropriations Committee after the death of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, late last year.
Harkin’s retirement sets off what is expected to be a highly competitive open-seat race in the swing state — one that is likely to feature two or more House members. Rep. Bruce Braley, who was exploring a run for governor, now tops the list of possible Democratic Senate candidates. Meanwhile, Republicans await word from two House members, Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham, on whether they will pursue the open seat. Full story
January 13, 2013
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke days of silence on Sunday evening to deny any knowledge or involvement in a Utah case in which a man claims to have funneled money to others in an attempt to get the Nevada Democrat to intervene in a Federal Trade Commission case.
“Senator Reid has no knowledge or involvement regarding Mr. Johnson’s case,” a statement from Reid’s office said. “These unsubstantiated allegations implying Senator Reid’s involvement are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true.”
A Utah man told federal investigators that he channeled money through the state’s new attorney general in a bid to convince Reid to intervene in stopping an FTC investigation against him.
“The truth is the worst thing I think I’ve done was I paid money knowing it was going to influence Harry Reid,” Jeremy Johnson told the Salt Lake Tribune. “So I’ve felt all along that I’ve committed bribery of some sort there.” Full story
December 22, 2012
Aware that he may need every vote possible to advance legislation in the days after Christmas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling on Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint a successor to fill Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s seat in time to vote this year.
Aloha State Democrats appear prepared to cooperate with the request. The state central committee will meet at 8 a.m. on the day after Christmas to select three names from which Abercrombie, a fellow Democrat, will make his selection, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Saturday. The meeting had originally been scheduled for the end of the week, after the Senate plans to reconvene.
“With the passing of my dear friend Senator Daniel Inouye, I have asked the governor of Hawaii to appoint Senator Inouye’s successor with due haste,” Reid said Saturday in a statement. “It is critically important to ensure that the people of Hawaii are fully represented in the pivotal decisions the Senate will be making before the end of the year.”
The Nevada Democrat’s statement came just one day after a moving memorial service for Inouye at the National Cathedral in Washington and the day before a formal service at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
December 17, 2012
In a letter delivered just hours before his death, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, wrote to Gov. Neil Abercrombie asking him to appoint Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to succeed him.
An Inouye aide described this as the senator’s “last wish” as a political figure. Inouye was a larger-than-life figure in Hawaii, suggesting that his dying request could carry tremendous weight with Abercrombie, a former 10-term House member. The Inouye endorsement should make Hanabusa the favorite for the seat.
December 7, 2012
Updated 11:55 a.m. | In the last days of the 2012 campaign, the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent $760,000 to the Missouri Republican Party, which appears to have used the money to run TV ads for Rep. Todd Akin’s ill-fated Senate campaign.
By not transferring the money until the first two days of November, people could only speculate as to the source of the cash infusion until after casting their ballots. Democrats would no doubt have targeted Republicans in other battleground states with ads and statements that the GOP was effectively backing Akin, despite indications to the contrary by the group’s chairman, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
Democrats were quick to pounce on the news Friday morning after a report by the Springfield News-Leader outlining the apparent connection between the $760,000 transfer and an ad buy by the Missouri GOP for practically the same amount in support of Akin.
December 6, 2012
UPDATED 10:53 a.m. | Sen. Jim DeMint will resign from the Senate early next month to take the helm of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, The Wall Street Journal first reported Thursday morning.
The South Carolina Republican, who was first elected to the Senate in 2004, has been a driving force among the conservative Republican Party base and the tea party movement. And he has often been a thorn in the side of Senate GOP leadership by supporting conservative primary candidates in 2010 and 2012 who later had trouble winning general elections.
“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” DeMint said in a statement. “I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas. No organization is better equipped to lead this fight and I believe my experience in public office as well as in the private sector as a business owner will help Heritage become even more effective in the years to come.”
The move came as a surprise on Capitol Hill, where the senator was in line to take over as ranking member of the Commerce, Committee next year, with aides already raising questions about how well he would work with Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.
South Carolina law allows the governor, Republican Nikki R. Haley, to make an appointment to fill DeMint’s unexpired term, in a state that would be safe Republican territory either way.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal announcing the move, DeMint, who had already said he would not seek another Senate term, indicated he still had work to do politically, but thought that the timing was right.
“This really gets my blood going again thinking about the possibilities. This is the time to elevate the conservative cause,” he said.
“Jim DeMint has shown that principled conservatism remains a winning political philosophy. His passion for rigorous research, his dedication to the principles of our nation’s founding, and his ability to translate policy ideas into action make him an ideal choice to lead Heritage to even greater success,” Heritage Chairman of the Board Thomas A. Saunders told employees this morning, according to the organization.
Fellow conservative GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania was among the first offer words of encouragement.
“Jim is not just a colleague; he is a friend and a mentor, and his departure will be a tremendous loss for the U.S. Senate and for the conservative movement. In eight years, he has personally led the effort to change the composition of the Senate for the better, and provided consistent and principled leadership in the fight for liberty and limited government. He will be missed,” the former Club for Growth president said in a statement. “I’m confident he will continue to play an important role in the ongoing public debate about the future of this country, and I wish him the best in his new position.”
November 21, 2012
Updated 3:18 p.m. | Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. submitted his letter of resignation from the House on Wednesday, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, confirmed.
In the letter to Boehner, the Illinois Democrat said that his resignation would be effective as of Wednesday, citing ongoing health issues.
“The constituents of the Second District deserve a full-time legislator in Washington, something I cannot be for the foreseeable future. My health issues and treatment regimen have become incompatible with service in the House of Representatives,” Jackson wrote.
Jackson also acknowledged the ongoing federal probe into his conduct, without getting into details of legal matters. Full story