POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 3/15

Bennet Leads Romanoff in Colorado

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Colorado finds Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) leading primary rival Andrew Romanoff (D), 40% to 34%.

“Support in this race may end up having to do more with personalities than ideology, as there’s no real divide in support along liberal/moderate lines for now… For now this is a real race, but it remains to be seen whether Romanoff can compete with Bennet financially and his ability to do so will have a lot to do with whether he can win over the quarter of voters who are undecided.”

Birtherism Alive in Virginia

Not Larry Sabato catches Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) talking about how to legally challenge President Obama’s citizenship.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Falling in love with you could really fuck up my plans for becoming President.”

— John Edwards, as recounted by his mistress, Rielle Hunter, in an interview with GQ.

When Staffers Eye Their Boss’ Job

“Since World War II, the number of seats in Congress occupied by former Congressional staffers has dramatically increased, with many in the positions once held by their former bosses. In the current session of Congress alone, 75 one-time staffers are now Members… Of this group, a survey by Congress.org found that over two dozen inherited the seats of retired Members they once worked for.”

“And at least six staffers are currently vying for seats in elections coming up this year.”

Party Threatens Wavering New York Democrats

The Working Families Party — a major New York player “whose ballot line is a prized asset to Democratic candidates” — will not endorse any member of Congress who votes “no” on health care reform, Ben Smith reports.

“The decision could have real local weight because New York is home to several moderate Democrats who are sitting on the fence on health care, and the party has in the past provided the margin of victory to some of those Democrats. Upstate Reps. Scott Murphy, Mike Arcuri, and Bill Owens, and Staten Island Rep. Michael McMahon, are all reportedly undecided or leaning against the bill.”

Edwards May Face Deposition Over Sex Tape

The Daily Beast notes things “are indeed about to get worse for John Edwards, almost all of it his own doing. Besides making a sex tape, Edwards apparently thought it was good strategy to have the mother of his love child file an invasion of privacy lawsuit against his nemesis — a long-trusted political staffer named Andrew Young, the author of the bestselling tell-all, The Politician.”

The lawsuit gives Young the opening to force Edwards and his lover “to sit and answers questions under oath about their relationship, finances, and 2-year-old child. An eerily similar deposition, connected to a legal case involving Paula Jones and involving President Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky, was what led to Clinton’s impeachment.”

“In Clinton’s case, the smoking gun was the infamous blue dress. In this case, it’s the sex tape.”

The Health Care End Game

Mark Halperin: “Despite the endless second-guessing, hand-wringing, finger-pointing and doomsaying (from the left, the right, the center and, predictably, the fourth estate), the President is on the precipice of an extraordinary legislative achievement. If he is victorious, he will get his win in much the manner he anticipated before he took the Oval Office — dirty, dragged-down and drawn-out.”

Justice Tea Party

Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has launched the tea-party-linked group Liberty Central Inc. The group is a nonprofit lobbying outfit whose website will organize activism around a set of conservative “core principles.”

Said Thomas: “I adore all the new citizen patriots who are rising up across this country. I have felt called to the front lines with you, with my fellow citizens, to preserve what made America great.”

The Los Angeles Times: “The move by Virginia Thomas, 52, into the front lines of politics stands in marked contrast to the rarefied culture of the nation’s highest court, which normally prizes the appearance of nonpartisanship and a distance from the fisticuffs of the politics of the day.”

The Big Short

A must-read out this week: The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis.

Washington Post: “What’s so delightful about Lewis’s writing is how deftly he explains and demystifies how things really work on Wall Street, even while creating a compelling narrative and introducing us to a cast of fascinating, all-too-human characters.”

The author gave a fascinating interview on 60 Minutes last night.

Read more…

Cahill’s Renegade Run

The Boston Globe has an interesting piece on the “against the odds” bid for governor by Timothy Cahill.

“There is no roadmap or handbook for the Democrat-turned-independent. He is a virtual solo act, lacking the natural base of activists and interest groups major-party candidates enjoy. There will be no huzzahs at a convention of the faithful, few, if any, shared fund-raising lists, and little chance at major endorsements that generate publicity and volunteers.”

“No independent candidate has won a statewide election in Massachusetts. None has come close.”

To Democrats Wavering on Health Care

Washington Post: “Obama intends to lobby wavering House Democrats to vote for a Senate version of the legislation and to support the subsequent reconciliation process…  Among the rewards Obama is ready to offer, White House officials said, are election-year visits to competitive congressional districts, where a presidential appearance can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds.”

New York Times: “The White House has signaled to lawmakers that assistance for midterm elections — for example, presidential visits and fund-raisers — will be prioritized for those who support the bill.”

Early Races Give Clues About November

May 18 is the date to circle on the congressional primary calendar.

As Chris Cilliza notes, what happens that day in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Kentucky “will tell us much about the mood of the electorate heading into the November midterm elections. That third Tuesday in May is the de facto Super Tuesday of the 2010 cycle, with a slew of contested Senate primaries and special elections sure to be interpreted ad nauseam for omens of the races this fall.”

Quote of the Day

“To me it shows, as a society, how cut off from the truth we are, that a magazine that pays their sources and every once in a while gets something factually correct is now eligible for a Pulitzer. Wow, we’re all going to hell.”

— Rielle Hunter, in an interview with GQ, on the National Enquirer stories about her affair with John Edwards.

Rielle Hunter Talks

For the first time, Rielle Hunter talks about her affair with John Edwards in an extensive new GQ interview which the Washington Post correctly notes is “a doozy.”

“Hunter says she’s still in love with ‘Johnny’ and believes he loves her. That they went to bed together the day they met. That his marriage was ‘toxic,’ that he feared ‘the wrath of Elizabeth.’ That it was Young’s idea for the coverup in which he claimed paternity. That she had no idea how much money — now the subject of a grand jury inquiry — was being funneled to her from top campaign donors.”

“The nearly 10,000-word Q&A is accompanied by photos of Hunter styled as Jennifer Aniston might be for a glossy mag: Glowing skin, blond hair, curled on a bed in a white shirt and strand of pearls, bare-legged with a glimpse of panties. There is also a picture of Hunter holding her daughter.”

Obama Losing Chance to Reshape Judiciary

“An early chance for the Obama administration to reshape the nation’s judiciary — and counter gains made in the federal courts by conservatives — appears close to slipping away, due to a combination of White House inattention and Republican opposition,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“During President Obama’s first year, judicial nominations trickled out of the White House at a far slower pace than in President George W. Bush’s first year. Bush announced 11 nominees for federal appeals courts in the fourth month of his tenure. Obama didn’t nominate his 11th appeals court judge until November, his 10th month in office.”

“Moreover, Obama nominees are being confirmed at a much slower rate than those of his predecessor, largely because of the gridlocked Senate.”

The Liberal Leader of the Court

Jeffrey Toobin has a rare interview with Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens noting that “more than anything, his career shows how the Court has become a partisan battlefield…. When Stevens leaves, the Supreme Court will be just another place where Democrats and Republicans fight.”

Once Again, Republicans Want More Time

The Hill reports Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee are asking Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), chairman of the committee, “for more time to consider financial regulatory overhaul legislation.”

The move is reminiscent of the health care bill, which spent months in fruitless bipartisan discussions that ultimately yielded no Republican support.

Dodd has already “spent weeks negotiating with Republicans” on the committee, such as ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), but has been unable to gain Republican backing despite concessions.

Another Strange Ad from Fiorina

Swampland has the latest attack ad from U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina (R) — infamous for the “Demon Sheep” attack on primary opponent Tom Campbell (R) — this time aimed at Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

Ben Smith notes the ad, titled “Hot Air,” describes Fiorina as “a 5-foot-6-inch fireball” and attacks Boxer’s record with special ferocity, saying she “spent 18 years in the Senate and only passed three tiny bills.”

Read more…

A Big Week for Health Care

Domenico Montanaro has a very good video primer of what to look for as we head into what could be the final week for health care reform.

He also notes that a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on health care will be out on Tuesday.

Unions Play Hardball on Health Care

Greg Sargent reports that unions are taking “a shot across the bow of House Dems wavering on health reform,” threatening to pull support and even field primary opponents for a “no” vote on the Senate bill.

Key quote: “This is the most important issue on everyone’s plate. We’re sending a message to Democrats: If you can’t support this, we can’t support you.”

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