POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/10

Special Election Must Be Called to Replace Lee

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has the power to call a special election to replace Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY), who resigned over a scandal today, the Albany Times Unionreports.

The party candidates to succeed Lee “are chosen not by a petitioning and primary process, but by a weighted vote of the county party chairs in the district.”

On the list of possible candidates: Carl Paladino (R), the 2010 gubernatorial nominee.

Lee Resigns After Photos Surface

In what might be the fastest scandal ever, Rep. Christopher Lee (R-NY) resigned his seat in Congress.

His statement: “I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents. I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness… I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately.”

Flashback of the Day

“Through the Internet, with a few keystrokes and the click of a button, a young person can call up information for a research project, make new friends or discover new hobbies. At the same time, responding to what may seem like a friendly e-mail or an appealing marketing offer can have serious consequences. Private information and images can so easily be transmitted to friends and strangers alike.”

— Rep. Christopher Lee (R-NY), writing for the Tonawanda News in June 2009, with advice that could have prevented this story.

House Republicans Lose Another Vote

House Republicans “endured another embarrassing floor loss,” just a day after a vote on the Patriot Act also failed, reports Politico.

“A bill that would retrieve money already paid to the United Nations failed Wednesday afternoon 259-169, 290 votes were needed for passage. The bill is the third to fail under House stewardship this week.”

 

Romney Rewrites His Book

David Bernstein reports that for the new paperback edition of No Apology, Mitt Romney significantly rewrote two sections: one dealing with the economic stimulus bill (to be more critical), and the other addressing — you guessed it — Massachusetts health care reform.

The rewritten version proclaims that “Obamacare will not work and should be repealed,” and “Obamacare is an unconstitutional federal incursion into the rights of states.” Romney also blames the Massachusetts legislature for altering his plan and  criticizes current Gov. Deval Patrick (D) “for botching the implementation.”

Congressman Posts Shirtless Photos Online

Gawker catches Rep. Christopher Lee (R-NY) trolling for dates on Craigslist, where the married lawmaker allegedly posed as divorced “lobbyist” and “fit fun classy guy” and posted photos to prove it.

After initially refusing comment, Lee’s spokesman said that the congressman believed he’d been hacked.

Unfortunately, the emails “were sent more than a week before the alleged hack. The shirtless photo — which, according to metadata contained in the picture, was taken in Washington, D.C. — was taken with a Blackberry, the same mobile device that Lee uses, which means the hacker would have also had to access the photos on Lee’s phone.”

Update: Lee told Fox News he was not willing to talk about the issue, adding “I have to work this out with my wife.”

Update II: Lee resigns “effective immediately.”

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Politicians, I think are too bland today. I don’t know what they believe in. Nothing wrong with throwing a coffee cup at someone if you’re doing it for human rights.”

— Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA), quoted by the Somerville Journal.

Republicans Creep Further Into Social Issues

The Boston Globe notes that House Republicans are continuing to highlight social issues, including “a host of new antiabortion measures,” in a risky move that will be sure to please social conservatives but may alienate independents.

“The move is being watched closely as a test of how far Republicans are willing to try to extend influence beyond their economic agenda and push a social issue that has inflamed politics and divided Americans for decades… Republican focus on abortion could present a political danger for the party, which scored big gains in the midterm elections due partly to independent voters who were attracted to the GOP’s platform of economic issues”

Patrick Nearly Quit

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) nearly resigned early in his first term due to his wife’s diagnosed depression, according to his forthcoming book, A Reason To Believe, of which the Boston Globe obtained an early draft.

Writes Patrick: “We had long conversations about the possibility of my resigning and resuming our private lives. There were moments when I was willing — being governor is an episode in my life; Diane is my life — but she didn’t want to feel responsible for giving up something we had worked so hard for. There were other moments when Diane, imagining the resumption of her role as first lady, asked me to quit, but I said we should wait to decide until she got out of the hospital.”

Softening Obama

Christian Science Monitor: “Mrs. Obama has been conducting a round of TV interviews in recent days, appearing on everything from NBC’s Today show to the Pentagon Channel to promote her campaign to fight obesity among kids. And at pretty much every stop she has dropped interesting tidbits about her husband that may serve to soften and humanize him at a time when the 2012 campaign is beginning to take shape.”

Nebraska Looks to Change Electoral System

With Republicans holding a significant edge in the Nebraska state legislature, the Omaha World Herald reports an effort to return the state to a winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes is highly likely.

“The controversial process that allows Nebraska’s electoral votes to be split by congressional district dates back to 1991, when Nebraska parted company with most of the rest of the nation. It has since survived several challenges by Republicans, who describe it as unfair. However, momentum for the repeal effort stepped up after 2008, when Obama won an electoral vote in the Omaha district — the first time the state’s electoral votes were split since the law was passed.”

Paul Determined to Repeat CPAC Straw Poll Victory

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is launching “an extensive, and expensive, campaign” for a repeat victory in the annual straw poll at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, according to Ben Smith.

“The evidence so far this year is that Paul — who won big in 2010, and whose energetic core of supporters have proven a lot better at winning him beauty contests than primaries — is in it to win it… A source close to the conference said the Paul group bought 1,000 tickets to the conference, and a Paul aide told another Republican that they’d recruited at least 700 supporters to vote for him.”

Early Voting Favored Democrats in Ohio

An interesting Bliss Institute study of early voting in Ohio finds that it “on balance favored Democratic candidates compared to election-day voting.”

Nelson Hires Campaign Manager

In the clearest indication yet that he’ll run for re-election in 2012, KETV-TV reports Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) hired a campaign manager — the same man who ran his 2006 campaign.

A spokesman said the senator is “leaning toward running.”

Webb Will Not Run for Re-Election

The buzz was right: Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) announced today that he won’t seek reelection.

Senate Democrats see DNC Chairman Tim Kaine as a top prospect to replace him, and a source tells Ben Smith the former Virginia governor “hasn’t shut the door on the possibility.”

Other names mentioned: Former Rep. Tom Perriello, former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe and former Gov. Douglas Wilder.

Will Nikki Haley Sue?

Will Folks published steamy excerpts from what he says is a forthcoming book about his affair several years ago with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) — and then her dared her to sue him.

“By the way, anytime Haley wants to sue us for libel, we’re waiting … in fact, it might be good to get some sworn statements on the record as it relates to this case, don’tcha think?”

During the gubernatorial campaign last year, Haley pledged to resign if the charges of the affair proved true.

Well Compensated for a Losing Effort

Meg Whitman (R) may have lost her bid for California governor, but California Watchnotes her campaign staff were paid quite well.

Key staffers: Campaign manager Jill Hasner ($948,000); senior adviser Jeff Randle ($550,000); finance director Sara Myers ($439,438); deputy campaign managers W. Todd Cranney ($389,000) and Tucker Bounds ($324,572.)

Santorum Says Loss Proved His Conservative Credentials

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) spins his landslide 18-point re-election loss into what he hopes will be a vote getter in a bid for the GOP presidential nomination, theAP reports.

Said Santorum: “It’s not like I ran to the middle. I was going out and talking about things that probably caused me to lose more.”

Will Moderate Democrats Actually Save Health Care Reform?

While many believe moderate Senate Democrats are emerging as a threat to the health care reform law, Ezra Klein thinks they may actually be the only thing holding it together.

“The danger, as I say at the end, is not that the law does get changed, but that it doesn’t. That the GOP won’t let it thrive and the Democrats won’t let it die and so it just limps along… Eventually, Republicans are either going to have to actually bring out a plan of their own — and that hasn’t worked very well for them any of the other times they’ve tried it — or they’re slowly going to lose ground in this debate, and as we get closer to the next election, more and more Republicans will begin looking for an out. Democrats should be willing to give it to them. Will they love the policy? Probably not. But policy isn’t the only ingredient in the law’s success. Buy-in matters, too. If Republicans make peace with the law and become more willing to participate constructively in its implementation and perfection, that’s worth a lot in terms of how well it ultimately works.”

Tea Party Defiance

The surprising defeat in a vote to reauthorize parts of the Patriot Act shines new light on the influence of the Tea Party on House Republicans.

First Read: “The question for House GOP leaders — as well as the Obama White House — is what the vote means on future matters, such as the upcoming push to raise the debt ceiling. This was the first test of the vote-counting abilities of the House GOP leadership. And either they knew this was going to go down and wanted to make a point, or they were surprised, which means their job in keeping their caucus in line is going to be as tough as the so-called ‘Conventional Wisdom’ crowd has been predicting.”

How Influential Was the DLC?

With the Democratic Leadership Council shutting down soon, Nate Silver looks at the group’s legacy noting it’s “a complicated matter — one that requires a consideration of the entire course of the Democratic Party, and indeed of American politics in general, over the past quarter-century.”

“At the very least, however, claims that the D.L.C. saved the Democratic Party from oblivion seem dubious. Although it elected Mr. Clinton in 1992, a lot of other Democrats — including more liberal ones — probably would have won that election as well. And Mr. Clinton and the D.L.C. were unable to save the party from a huge defeat in 1994, when it lost control of the House for the first time since 1955 and was unable to regain it until 12 years later.”

Brown Hopes to Raise $25 Million

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) announced that he plans to raise an astounding $25 million for his reelection bid in 2012, reports the National Journal.

“A war chest that size would likely dwarf the fundraising capabilities of the nascent Democratic field, which has been slow-forming in the face of poll numbers showing Brown as the state’s most popular political figure. Democrats have been further intimidated by Brown’s expected haul so far — estimated at around $10 million — still nowhere near the benchmark he set on Tuesday.”

His efforts are being helped by a book tour for Against All Odds which he pairs with fundraising events.

Rahm Crushing Field in Latest Poll

A new ABC7/Richard Day Research poll in Chicago finds Rahm Emanuel way ahead in the race for mayor with 54%, nearly quadrupling second place Gery Chico at 14%. Trailing are Miguel del Valle at 8% and Carol Moseley Braun at 6%.

Emanuel needs to break 50% to avoid having a runoff.

Dodd May Be Top Hollywood Lobbyist

Former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) “is in negotiations to be named president of the Motion Picture Association of America, the most sought-after and lucrative lobbying job currently open in Washington,” Mike Allen reports.

Dodd has been mentioned for months as a possible head for the MPAA, after several other top candidates, including former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) wound up not making deals.

Flashback: Dodd told the CT Mirror last summer he would not become a lobbyist after leaving Congress.

RNC Convention Team Spent Big

Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s 2012 convention team “raked up nearly $1 million in charges — using a line of credit backed by federal funding — before they were fired by the newly elected party chairman last month,” the Tampa Tribune reports.

Example expenses: “They rented an exclusive waterfront mansion, wined and dined at five-star restaurants and hired family members and friends, all on the taxpayers’ dime.”

“Since the 1970s, the federal government has subsidized both the Republican and Democratic party conventions as part of the public financing program for presidential campaigns. Parties can use the money for any legitimate political expenses.”

 

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