POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 6/17

Ensign Quits Leadership Post

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) resigned his Senate Republican leadership post after admitting having an affair with a staffer, the AP reports.

More Proof Burr is Vulnerable

The latest Public Policy Polling survey out of North Carolina finds just 29% of voters think Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) deserves another term while 49% think it’s time to give someone else a chance.

When tested against a generic Democratic candidate, Burr trails 41% to 38%.

The problem for Democrats: They can’t seem to find a candidate to run. PPP didn’t test any specific Democratic names this month.

Quote of the Day

“You know, I think that Wall Street seems to maybe have a shorter memory about how close we were to the abyss than I would have expected.”

— President Obama, in an interview with
Bloomberg, on some calls from Wall Street to “get government out of the economy.”

Oxendine, Barnes Lead Races for Georgia Governor

Political Wire got an advance look at a new Strategic Vision poll in Georgia that shows John Oxendine (R) leading the Republican race for governor with 35%, followed by Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) at 13% and Rep. Nathan Deal at 12%.

On the Democratic side, former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) stays in front with 49%, followed by Attorney General Thurbert Baker (D) at 30%.

Madigan Urged to Consider Senate Bid

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) “is under pressure from top Democrats to abandon her long-expected campaign for governor and instead seek President Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat next year, a switch she’s seriously considering,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Madigan’s political director said she will probably decide “within four to six weeks” whether to run for governor, Senate, or a third term as attorney general.


Maloney Takes Aim at Gillibrand

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) is taking aim at Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) “character” as she considers challenging her in the 2010 Democratic primary, the New York Daily News reports.

Said Maloney: “Some people run to get elected,” said Maloney. “She’s, to my knowledge, never passed anything. She spends all her time fund-raising. I spend my time doing things.”

“The brief comment marked an escalation of the upper East Side congresswoman’s attacks on Gillibrand.”


Obama Extends Some Benefits to Gay Partners

Later today, President Obama signs a presidential memo granting same-sex benefits to federal workers. the New York Times reports.

First Read: “This move, however, seems mostly about placating gay-rights advocates who have been angered by 1) the administration’s hesitance in overturning “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; 2) its brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which Obama has promised to repeal; and 3) Obama’s invitation of Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the prayer at the inauguration. In fact, some wealthy gay supporters of Obama have become so mad that they’re taking their names off an upcoming Biden fundraiser. Of course, the Obama White House has been very reluctant to get involved in cultural issues, and it seems intent on avoiding all the early mistakes Bill Clinton made (like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”). Yet today’s presidential memo is a reactive attempt to quell the anger coming from the gay community. But even the memo doesn’t seem to go far enough for gay-rights advocates.”

Meanwhile, several
Political Wire readers point out this new site on Obama’s plan for gay rights.




Daily Pulse on Health Care Politics

Ezra Klein says “the central problem facing health reformers is a simple one: America’s health-care system is a mess. But a lot of people rely on it very heavily. But how do you merge the need for root-and-branch reform with the public’s fear of rapid change?” 

“The answer, put simply, is that you don’t institute rapid change. You don’t take what people have. But you give them the option to trade up to something better. As the theory goes, if the current system really is so inefficient, and your alternative really is so much better, then the lure of lower costs and better quality will persuade Americans to switch to the new system of their own accord.” 

But navigating the politics to get there seems to get harder everyday.

Read more…




The Deal with God

“The Republican Party didn’t make a deal with the devil,” the Las Vegas Sun observes in the wake of Sen. John Ensign’s (R-NV) admitted affair.  “It made a deal with God, or at least people who said they were God’s representatives — a certain class of very political and ideological preachers.”

“The deal, engineered by Republican operatives such as Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, went like this: Be against gays and abortion and for prayer in the schools, and in return, those preachers would proclaim the GOP the party of God and deliver millions of suburban and rural voters — enough to win elections for three decades.”

“But the deal carried a risk: Any behavior by Republican officeholders or public figures that seemed at odds with a certain kind of Old Testament morality — a tryst in an airport bathroom, a painkiller addiction, a sexual harassment lawsuit — and voters might feel betrayed and manipulated. And the deal would collapse.”




Some House Members Urged to Stay Put

As Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) mulls running for governor of South Dakota in 2010, her party’s leaders are pressing her to run for re-election to Congress instead to help Democrats keep their majority, CQ Politics reports.

And she’s not the only one. A dozen House members have statewide races going and several more are thinking about it — to the consternation of leaders in Congress who want to keep incumbents in their seats.



Historical Quote of the Day

“He has no credibility left.”

— Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), quoted by the
Las Vegas Sun in 1998, urging Bill Clinton to resign after he admitted an extramarital affair.




Ensign Admits to Affair

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) is admitting he had an extramarital affair with a member of his campaign staff, KLAS-TV reports.

Said Ensign in a statement: “I deeply regret and am very sorry for my actions.”

“An aide in Ensign’s office said the affair took place between December 2007 and August 2008, with a campaign staffer who was married to an employee in Ensign’s Senate office. Neither have worked for the senator since May 2008. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Ensign has been
testing the waters for a possible presidential bid in 2012.

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