POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 4/21

Rahm Slips

White House chief of staff tells Lynn Sweet he never intended to disclose his ambitions to be mayor of Chicago some day.

“The question came up at the end of a wide ranging interview. The usually disciplined Emanuel says he slipped up.”

The Upper House

Here’s a new book for my reading list: The Upper House: A Journey behind the Closed Doors of the U.S. Senate by Terence Samuel.

“They come to Washington for varied and complex reasons — driven perhaps by some deep emotional commitment to an issue, or believing that their time in Congress can make their dream of the presidency a reality. No matter what their motivation or particular route, freshmen have three traits in common: they will be members of one of the most powerful deliberative bodies on the planet; they will have far less leverage and influence than they might have imagined; and finally, none of them — not even the most experienced political hand — will have any idea exactly what will take to succeed as a United States Senator.”

Republicans Leading Democrats in Online Advertising

ClickZ says that Republican congressional candidates are outgunning their Democratic counterparts in online advertising.

“Consultants on the right and left, along with digital media sellers, say Republican House candidates are serious about using Web ads and other online efforts this midterm election season. They suggest key factors include the desire to take back the majority in that chamber, complacency among Democrats, and even attitudes among party leadership.”

Ensign’s Big Haul

Sen. John Ensign’s re-election campaign took in just $50 in contributions during the first quarter of 2010, TPM reports.

The scandal-tarred senator is up for re-election in 2012.

Crist Will Run as an Independent

“Reliable sources” tell the Southern Political Report that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) “is preparing to announce sooner rather than later that he will leave the GOP and continue his run for Senate as an independent. Sources add that the speech Crist will use in his announcement is now being drafted.”

“The only thing that likely would stop a Crist independent run now is for the pressure from disillusioned Republicans and longtime Crist supporters to put so much pressure on him not to run at all that he relents. That pressure is mounting almost by the hour. Or that pressure could only speed up his party switch.”

McCain Ready to Drop Crist

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — who almost certainly would not have won the 2008 Republican presidential nomination without Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s (R) key endorsement — told The Hill that he would not support Crist in his U.S. Senate race if he runs as an independent.

Quote of the Day

“Let’s change the system and talk about what the possibilities are. I’m telling you that this works. You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor. They would say I’ll paint your house. [That’s] what people would do to get health care with their doctors. Doctors are very sympathetic people. I’m not backing down from that system.”

— Sue Lowden (R), the front-running challenger to Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), in an interview on Nevada Newsmakers suggesting that health care could be paid for using the barter system.

Democrats Go Big

President Obama called Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) from Air Force One to tell him that Democrats are moving forward with an immigration overhaul in a month, according to the Wall Street Journal.

That’s in addition to a financial reform bill to be considered by the Senate in a few days, a climate change bill to be introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) next week and the confirmation of a coming Supreme Court nominee.

First Read: “Back in January, after the GOP’s victory in Massachusetts, there was plenty of talk that Democrats would go small, not big. But they’re presently acting as if there’s no tomorrow — which, of course, could very well be the case after Nov. 2.”

Spending Money to Raise More Money

“Both the national Democratic and Republican party committees spend about two-thirds of the money they take in on the care and comfort of committee staffs and on efforts to raise more funds, with lavish spending on limousines, expensive hotels, meals and tips,” a Washington Post analysis shows.

Monthly reports “illustrate cultures in which vast sums are consumed with limited accountability.”

“Neither committee appears to have clear internal spending guidelines, and their reports do not explain hefty expenditures in categories such as ‘office supplies’ and ‘tips’ that consume tax-exempt party funds.”

The RNC’s Expensive Meeting

The RNC spent more than $340K at a semi-annual meeting in Honolulu in January,The Hotline reports, “the latest example of the party spending lavishly on itself while GOP officials worry they won’t have enough money to take advantage of a promising national landscape this fall.”

The figure does not include airfare for 33 staffers, which could amount to tens of thousands more.

Cohen May Be Back in Illinois

Scott Lee Cohen — who quit as the Democratic party’s nominee for lieutenant governor in Illinois over allegations of domestic violence — hinted he may run for governor as an independent, the Daily Herald reports.

Cohen recently ran into Gov. Pat Quinn (D) at a baseball game where he told the governor to “get ready for a big surprise.”

Cohen will have to file a petition with 25,000 signatures before June 21 to make it on the November ballot.

Arizona Legislators Vote to Check Obama’s Citizenship

The Arizona House voted for a provision that would require President Obama to show his birth certificate if he hopes to be on the state’s ballot when he runs for re-election, KPHO-TV reports.

It would require U.S. presidential candidates who want to appear on the ballot in Arizona to submit documents proving they meet the constitutional requirements to be president.

Five Senate Races the Tea Party Could Impact

The Daily Caller looks at the Senate primary races where the Tea Party may play a big role in determining the winner.

They are: Nevada, Arizona, Kentucky, Florida and Utah.

Obama Gets No Health Care Bounce

A new Quinnipiac poll finds President Obama’s job approval at 44%, his lowest approval rating since his inauguration.

Notes pollster Peter Brown: “President Obama’s approval rating hovers at an all-time low. The White House had predicted passage of the health care overhaul would boost his fortunes, but that has not been the case, and that legislation itself remains decidedly unpopular.”

The survey also finds that 53% of American voters are “very confident” or “somewhat confident” the president will make the right decision in nominating a U.S. Supreme Court justice, while 46% percent are “not too confident” or “not confident at all.”

Rubio Under Federal Investigation for Credit Card Use

Federal law enforcement agencies have launched an investigation into the use of American Express cards issued by the Republican Party of Florida to elected officials and staff — including U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R), the St. Petersburg Times reports.

“Political parties, which are tax exempt, are allowed to spend money only on political activities, such as fundraising, running campaigns and registering voters. While it’s commonplace for party officials and politicians to wine and dine donors, the Florida party allowed credit cardholders to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges with little oversight.”

Sessions Sets the Bar

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), head of the House Republican campaign effort is bullish on his party’s prospects for the midterm elections, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Anything less than winning a majority, he said, “is a warm bucket of spit.”

Spitzer’s Suspicious Activity

The Albany Times Union has a copy of the suspicious activity report that shows how Eliot Spitzer’s peculiar request to have his name stripped from a $5,000 wire transfer three years ago “triggered the federal investigation that unraveled a high-priced prostitution ring called the Emperors Club and brought down a governor in the process.”

Ben Smith: “The five-page report is full of red flags and is apparently the result of a quite detailed investigation by the bank of its own customer — good news for those who deplore the role of banks in facilitating their customers’ crimes, though probably also good reason for criminals to pull their money out of North Fork.”

Quote of the Day

“I know he’s a very plugged-in mayor and reads a lot of blogs, so he’s obviously on top of things.”

— White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton, quoted by Politico, on Mayor Michael Bloomberg learning of President Obama’s speech in New York before receiving an official notification.

Bennett On Track to Get Bounced at Convention

Dave Weigel has a private survey of Utah Republican delegates that shows Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) is on track to lose at the state party convention on May 8.

“When more than 1,000 delegates were polled on their choices in the Senate race, just 15% chose Bennett. When asked for a second choice, only 5% picked Bennett. In the first test, he’s barely in the top three, which raises the possibility of the three-term senator getting knocked out of the convention in the first round of voting.”

The current front runner is Mike Lee (R), who gets 35% of first-choice votes and 22% of second-choice votes.

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