POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 11/19

Waxman Beats Dingell in Steering Committee Vote

The House Democratic Steering Committee chose Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) to be chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee next year — “a stinging rebuke” of the sitting chairman, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), CQ Politics reports.

Waxman won a 25-22 vote over Dingell in a closed-door meeting. However, the full House Democratic Caucus must approve or reject the decision Thursday. 

The fight underscores the tensions within the Democratic caucus on high-profile issues such as climate change. Dingell favors a market-based approach toward reducing global warming; Waxman has pushed for a more-aggressive approach towards cutting greenhouse gases.

Obama Policy Leaders Chosen

President-elect Obama’s transition team released a list of policy working group leaders who will “develop the priority policy proposals and plans from the Obama Campaign for action during the Obama-Biden Administration.” 

Economic: Daniel K. Tarullo
Education: Linda Darling-Hammond
Energy and Environment: Carol M. Browner
Health Care: Sen. Tom Daschle
Immigration: T. Alexander Aleinikoff, Mariano-Florentino (Tino) Cuéllar
National Security: James B. Steinberg, Dr. Susan E. Rice
Technology, Innovation and Government Reform: Sonal Shah, Julius        Genachowski, Blair Levin

Expect to see all of these people take senior roles in the Obama administration.

Daschle Tapped for HHS

Former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) has been offered the job of Health and Human Services secretary by President-elect Obama and has accepted the job, according to Roll Call.

“Daschle, who served in the Senate until he lost his re-election bid in 2004, also is set to take on the position of ‘health care czar’ in the Obama White House, ensuring that he does not get bigfooted on matters relating to health care policy.”

New Yorkers Approve of Clinton Moving On

A new Marist poll shows 55% of New York voters want President-elect Obama to choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State while just 31% think Clinton should remain in the U.S. Senate and 14% aren’t quite sure.

To fill her seat, 43% of voters think Gov. David Paterson (D) should appoint State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.  Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) tie for a distant second with 5% each.

Clinton Announcement Likely Next Week

According to Politico, the negotiations between the Clintons and President-elect Obama’s transition team “are rapidly moving toward formal offer and acceptance… Both sides want to get it done and believe she can be announced as Secretary of State before Thanksgiving, which is a week from tomorrow. Barring a snag, look for an announcement some time next week.”

Said one Clinton source: “I think it’s likely, because she does have a sense of history, and we are at a critical moment in our history. And as much as she loves being in the Senate, it’s all hands on deck as far as making the Obama administration a success.”

Corzine Holds Edge in Re-Election Race

In a first look at New Jersey’s 2009 gubernatorial race, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) leads U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie (R), 42% to 36% among registered voters, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

The big problem for Corzine is that he has a net negative approval rating and that voters, by a 51% to 37% margin, say that he does not deserve to be reelected.

Minnesota Recount Begins

“Two weeks after the closest U.S. Senate election in Minnesota history, a massive hand recount of all 2.9 million votes gets underway today, with local officials working under the scrutiny of top lawyers brought in by both candidates,” according to theMinneapolis Star Tribune.

“At stake is possible control of the Senate, where Democrats are within a few seats of a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority, putting intense pressure on county auditors who now find they may have to explain every decision they made in the closest race in the country.”

Clinton May Need to Pay Debt Before Accepting Post

According to Bloomberg, Sen. Hillary Clinton “will face a financial decision if she is nominated as secretary of state: what to do about the more than $7 million in debts left over from her presidential campaign.”

“She could pay off the bulk of her debt by liquidating her Senate campaign committee account. She also could legally continue to raise money, though that may present ethical concerns if she is serving in the Cabinet.”

However, Politico notes that taking the post could give Clinton “a powerful case to make to the Federal Election Commission about why it should forgive her campaign debt through a settlement process not unlike filing for bankruptcy.”

Meanwhile, a piece in the Wall Street Journal suggests Bill Clinton is going to extraordinary measures to assure the Obama team that his charitable and business activities will not present conflicts for his wife should she join the administration.

Crist Remains Popular in Florida

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) remains overwhelmingly popular with a 68% to 18% job approval rating that makes him a strong favorite for re-election in 2010, but Sen. Mel Martinez’s (R-FL) 42% to 33% approval rating makes him much more vulnerable, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

Stevens Loses Re-Election Bid

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) lost his re-relection bid to Mark Begich (D), the Associated Press reports. 

The latest tally showed Begich ahead by 3,700 votes — more than the 2,500 overseas ballots still uncounted.

Democrats have now added seven seats to their majority.

In Search of Bill Clinton

A Psychological BiographyIn the mail: In Search of Bill Clinton: A Psychological Biography by John Gartner.

However, a Washington Post review notes that at the end of his introduction Gartner “denies that he was wholly ‘seduced’ by Bill Clinton, ‘the great seducer,’ which will come as quite a surprise to anyone who has read the preceding 13 pages — not to mention anyone who manages to make it all the way to the end, more than 400 pages later. In Search of Bill Clinton does have its interesting moments and occasional insights, not all of which are in Clinton’s favor, but overall it borders on hagiography, the work of someone who at times appears to be in the grips of a schoolboy crush.”

McCain Will Run for Re-Election

“After much speculation that his failed presidential bid would be his last campaign, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has decided to run for re-election to his Senate seat in 2010,” according to Roll Call.

Said a GOP source close to the Arizona senator: “He’s ready to get back. He likes the game. He likes the deals.”

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