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Hotly-contested House races for 2014
This round of House targets includes four categories:
Also see below our previous listing of Congress' most vulnerable incumbents.
Two more House elections still pending in 2013
Winners and losers in Tuesday's election for the races we cover nationwide:
Click on the candidates above to see their issue stances (and others); and check back in the coming weeks to see additional coverage of the newly-elected officials.
Click for issue coverage of all governors and candidates for 2014.
Cory Booker wins New Jersey special Senate election
Democrat Cory Booker, the charismatic mayor of Newark, defeated conservative Republican Steve Lonegan, a former small-town mayor, according to tallies published online by The New York Times, Politico and the Star-Ledger newspaper.
Booker becomes the first black U.S. senator from New Jersey. In Washington, Booker will join Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina as the nation's only two black senators. He will fill the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Frank Lautenberg, who died in June at age 89.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican seeking re-election and a possible White House contender in 2016, chose October 16 as the special election date. Democrats said he could have scheduled the special election for November 5, the day of the general election, and accused him of self-interest and wasteful spending. They said he was avoiding being on the same ballot as Booker, who could attract Democratic and minority turnout and cut into Christie's chances of winning re-election by a large margin. Christie, who said politics did not play a role in the decision, said he wanted to let New Jersey voters have a permanent voice in the Senate as soon as possible.
Click for full voting record of Cory Booker's and Steve Lonegan's issue positions.
Clark wins Massachusetts Democratic primary in special House election, district MA-5
State Senator Katherine M. Clark bested six Democratic rivals Tuesday, winning her party’s nomination in the race to succeed Edward J. Markey in the US House of Representatives and setting her on course to likely become the state’s newest member of Congress. Clark, a Melrose lawyer captured 31.6 percent of the vote. Middlesex County Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian and state Representative Carl M. Sciortino trailed with 22 percent and 16.1 percent, respectively. As the Democratic nominee in a liberal district north and west of Boston — one that voted by more than 30 percentage points for President Barack Obama over Mitt Romney last November — Clark is now the strong favorite going into the December general election. She will face Frank J. Addivinola Jr., the Republican nominee, who won the Republican primary Tuesday night. Should Clark, 50, win on Dec. 10, she would become only the fifth woman in history to represent Massachusetts in the US House.
Click for Katherine Clark's issue positions.
New candidate pages during September
OnTheIssues uses the off-season (when there are few immediate elections pending) to establish issue pages for candidates in upcoming elections (mostly 2014). Below are our new issue pages first posted in September:
Click on the new candidates above to see their issue stances (and others); and check back in the coming weeks to see additional coverage.
Click for issue coverage of all Senate candidates.
New York Representative first in GOP to formally announce
Long Island Congressman Peter King has thrown his hat in the 2016 presidential ring. King is the first Republican to [formally] announce he’s running.
The congressman currently serving his 11th term announced his candidacy on a New Hampshire radio station during a visit to the state. New Hampshire historically holds the first primary in the nation
Click for issue stances of Rep. Peter King (R, NY).
Presidential contenders' opinions on Syria policy
As the United States prepares for military action against Syria, OnTheIssues.org opens a new "News" page this week, Topics in the News: Syria, to cover presidential contenders' opinions on Syria policy. This new page complements our prior "Topics in the News" coverage of Arab Spring; Israel & Palestine; and Iranian Nukes.
While OnTheIssues does not serve as a news source (we consider ourselves an "archive" instead), we do cover presidential contenders' views on current events, since they often serve as the basis for campaign debates. We sample below some of the 2016 contenders' views on Syria, focusing on how they apply to Mideast policy in general:
Click on any presidential candidate above to see their issue stances (and others); and check back in the coming weeks to see additional coverage.
Click for issue coverage of Syria war.
Former U.N. Ambassador to run in 2016 GOP primary
Ambassador John Bolton announced this week his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination for President. Bolton announced early and unambiguously because he is not as well-known as many other possible contenders. His credentials include:
Click for issue stances (with no mustache references) of Amb. John Bolton (R).
Sex scandal ousts former U.S. Rep.
Mayor Bob Filner reached a proposed settlement agreement with his legal adversaries Wednesday that likely sets the stage for the end of his brief, scandal-plagued tenure as San Diego’s 35th mayor. The tentative agreement centers around a lawsuit filed against the mayor and the city by a former Filner aide who accused him of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances. The City Council will consider the proposal at 1 p.m. Friday in closed session.
In exchange for Filner's resignation, the city will reportedly pay "some, if not all" of Filner's share of damages awarded in the lawsuit. At least 18 women have come forward to accuse the mayor, a Democrat and former member of Congress, of inappropriate behavior such as groping and unwanted kissing. He has apologized for his behavior and recently went through two weeks of therapy.
Filner, 70, served in Congress for 10 terms until he became the first Democrat elected to lead San Diego in 20 years.
Click for full voting record of Bob Filner's issue positions.
Steve Lonegan wins N.J. Republican Senate primary
The Associated Press projected a win by Cory A. Booker, the mayor of Newark, who had a wide lead over his nearest challenger, Representative Frank Pallone. They were trailed by Representative Rush D. Holt and the State Assembly speaker, Shelia Y. Oliver.
A victory, after an abbreviated and contentious contest with some of the state’s best-known Democrats, would make Mr. Booker a heavy favorite to win the October general election in an overwhelmingly Democratic state that has not sent a Republican to the Senate in four decades. That would make him the country’s only elected black senator.
In the special general election in October, Mr. Booker will face Steven M. Lonegan, a former mayor of Bogota, N.J. and gubernatorial candidate, who easily won the Republican primary on Tuesday, the A. P. projected.
Click for full voting record of Cory Booker's and Steve Lonegan's issue positions.
17 competitive Governor's races so far, for 2014
There are only two gubernatorial elections in 2013, but 36 elections in 2014. Of the 36 elections next year, 17 have serious challengers so far. Those 17, plus the 2 races for 2013, are listed below, with links to OnTheIssues coverage of each candidate we have covered so far.
Click on any gubernatorial candidate above to see their issue stances; check back in a few weeks to see additional coverage.
Click for complete 2014 Gubernatorial coverage
DCCC targets 17 House Republicans; Cook lists 8 vulnerable Dems
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to target 17 House Republicans with a grass-roots push over the August recess, according to an internal party email obtained by CQ Roll Call. “In the majority of these districts we have field staffers on the ground, coordinated through the respective state parties, to define and hold accountable vulnerable Republican incumbents, through earned media tactics, messaging amplification, and community outreach,” wrote Ryan Daniels, the deputy national press secretary and African-American media adviser. The DCCC’s list includes some of this cycle’s most-often mentioned vulnerable Republicans, but there are some lesser-known targets as well.
On the other side of the aisle, the Cook Political Report listed 8 Democratic races as "toss-up's", meaning that those incumbents are particularly vulnerable to a Republican challenge. Only one Republican incumbent, Gary Miller (R, CA-31) was listed as equally vulnerable on the GOP side. Some of the DCCC-targeted Republicans are only "Lean Republican" districts, according to Cook's report, which means they are possibly vulnerable; and most are "Likely Republican" districts or "Solid Republican" districts.
Update Oct. 2013: Added target list from National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC)
Democrats face a tough task this cycle in their quest for the majority. They must pick up 17 seats to take the speaker’s gavel, but the number of competitive races this cycle is much smaller than in previous years. Still, the committee plans to target dozens of Republicans throughout the fall and this cycle.
To summarize the combination of the two reports above: The Democrats would have to win all 17 of their targeted races against incumbent Republicans, while simultaneously holding all 8 vulnerable seats, in order to win a majority of the House of Representatives.
Click for complete 2014 House coverage
Coverage of early entrants into 2014 Senate races
OnTheIssues this month begins our coverage of the 2014 Senate races. While it might seem "early" to regular voters, the 2014 Senate races are well under way, and there are plenty of races to cover. We list below the newly-covered entrants -- at least those who look like they will survive until the primary voting -- and ask our readers to check back over the next few weeks as we fill in their issue stances.
Click for complete 2014 Senate coverage
Head of DHS will head University of California system
Janet Napolitano's resignation as secretary of Homeland Security on Friday sets up a potentially bruising fight for President Barack Obama in nominating a successor for the high-profile role. Here are some potential candidates for the job:
Click for full voting record of Janet Napolitano, or other Cabinet members'' issues positions.
Leaves open a second run for the presidency
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that he will not seek re-election next year, bringing an end to his record-setting tenure as chief executive of the Lone Star state. Perry, 63, has been the state's chief executive since December 2000, when George W. Bush left to become president.
Perry left open the possibility that he would try again and run for the White House, saying any "future considerations" will be announced "in due time and I will arrive at that decision appropriately." He recently rehired Mark Miner, a longtime aide who was one of the advisers behind his 2012 presidential bid.
Perry said he is focused on "actively" serving out the next 18 months as governor and will work "to create more jobs, opportunity and innovation." He is also paying close attention to a special session of the Texas Legislature that is going on now. Lawmakers are considering a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy that would also close most of the state's abortion clinics, which Perry vowed would pass.
For much of the nation, however, Perry is known for his ill-fated White House bid last year. Once considered a top conservative alternative to eventual Republican nominee Mitt Romney, Perry briefly was leading in early public opinion polls but faltered quickly. His "oops" moment during a televised debate, in which he forgot the name of the third federal agency he wanted to eliminate, solidified for many that Perry wasn't ready for the White House. The Texan dropped out of the 2012 race ahead of the South Carolina primary.
"If he plans to run for president again, he needs to be free of the governor's office so he can give his full attention to putting together a top-flight campaign team and prepare himself substantively, especially on foreign policy and national security issues," one political scientist said.
Click for issue stances of Gov. Rick Perry (R, TX).
Special election for 18-month term
Veteran Democratic US Representative Edward J. Markey beat Republican businessman Gabriel E. Gomez today in a special election for US Senate in Massachusetts that was marked by its brevity and by low voter interest. Markey had 55 percent of the votes, compared with 45 percent for Gomez, with 96 percent of precincts reporting.
Markey, who has served nearly 37 years in Congress, sought to portray Gomez as too conservative for Massachusetts. Gomez, who has never held elected office, described himself as a “new kind of Republican” who would reach across the aisle in a gridlocked Washington.
Vice President Joe Biden traveled to the Bay State yesterday to try to rally the Democratic faithful. Biden criticized Gomez as a new-style Republican like those responsible for gridlock in Congress, who believe only in a “trickle-down” economy from the wealthy.” “They think compromise is a dirty word,” Biden said. “I was in the Senate for a long time. If you read anything about me, you know I had a good relationship with Republicans,” Biden said. “These new guys the last six or seven years are fundamentally different than everybody before them. ... They’re the new Republicans. They’re the tail that is wagging the dog in the U.S. Senate.”
Click for full voting record of Rep. Markey or Gabriel Gomez, or excerpts from the Massachusetts Senate debates.
Special election in Missouri's 8th district
Conservative Republican state Rep. Jason Smith, whose steep rise in Jefferson City coincided with Missouri’s sharp political move rightward, is headed for Congress. Smith, 32, of Salem, easily won Tuesday’s special election for the vacant 8th Congressional district seat in southeastern Missouri, beating fellow state Rep. Steve Hodges, D-East Prairie, by a more than 2-to-1 ratio.
Smith said in an election night interview with the Associated Press that he planned to fly to Washington today with the hope of quickly taking the oath of office. “We’ve been without representation in the 8th District the last 134 days, and I’m going to stay up there until the speaker of the House will swear me in,” Smith said.
Smith, a bachelor attorney from a fourth-generation farm family in southeastern Missouri, will succeed former U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Cape Girardeau, who resigned in January to go into the private sector. He also goes in with a hard-right political philosophy that sharply contrasts with that of Emerson, who was widely viewed as a moderate.
Smith will be seated in Congress within a month and will become one of its youngest members. Smith was elected to the Missouri House in 2005 at age 25 and went on to become one of youngest speaker pro tems in state history.
Click for issue stances of Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R, MO-8);
we'll be adding issue stances for Rep. Jason Smith (R, MO-8) this week.
Interim appointment in 2013; maybe special election too
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) passed away Monday morning at the age of 89.
The only thing that is clear is that when a U.S. Senate vacancy occurs, New Jersey’s Governor does appoint someone to fill the seat until a successor can be elected. What state law makes complicated is the timing of the election to choose that successor. Conflicting provisions of N.J. state law say that a vacancy would require a special election to be held on November 5 of this year. As a result, Republican Gov. Chris Christie would appoint a successor who would theoretically have to run five months from now. The Governor does have the discretion to call a special election anytime between now and November 4, 2014.
That will kick New Jersey’s Senate race into high gear in the coming days, particularly on the Democratic side where Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. Frank Pallone, who has not announced his campaign, have for months been prepping for a potentially bruising primary battle. Booker had previously said he wouldn’t announce his Senate campaign formally until after this year’s governor’s race, in which he is a prominent surrogate for state Sen. Barbara Buono, Christie’s Democratic challenger. Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat long thought to be interested in Lautenberg’s Senate seat, will also have to decide whether or not to launch a campaign.
Meanwhile, Christie could look to install a placeholder Republican in the interim. A special election, particularly with a character like Booker, will inevitably distract from the gubernatorial contest between Christie and Buono, who is trailing the popular incumbent governor by 30 points and needs all the party support she can rally from inside and outside the state. But what Buono will lose in visibility, she could gain in turnout with Booker’s name on the ballot. Christie has not announced yet how he will proceed.
Gov. Christie could, as is often the case in situations like these, choose to select a close ally from his own party as a replacement for Lautenberg. A few obvious possibilities are state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., the party’s 2006 Senate nominee; Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno; and Joe Kyrillos, a close Christie ally whom the GOP nominated for the Senate in 2012.
Of course, it’s possible--though less likely--that Christie would appoint a Democrat to the seat. He is campaigning as a bipartisan governor in a very blue state, after all. Tapping a Democrat would be seen as a major stroke of bipartisanship. Replacing a Democrat with a Democrat and then saying the voters should decide what happens next in November would no doubt be very well received by Democrats and moderates.
[Update: Gov. Christie set the primary for Aug. 13 and the general election for Oct. 16, though he did not say whom he might appoint in the interim. "I don't dawdle," he assured, saying he'd make the appointment call "relatively quickly."]
Click for full voting record of Frank Lautenberg (D, NJ).
10th member of Congress to opt out of 2014 elections
With an early morning video message to supporters, embattled Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann announced she would not run for re-election next year.
"My dear friends, after a great deal of thought and deliberation, I have decided next year that I will not seek a fifth congressional term to represent the wonderful people of the Sixth District of Minnesota," Bachmann said in the Wednesday morning video. "I've never considered holding public office to be an occupation."
The high-profile congresswoman had a narrow re-election last year and is under federal investigation for her 2012 presidential campaign. A recent poll found that a rematch with her 2012 Democratic challenger, Jim Graves, was a dead heat.
Bachmann's announcement makes 10 members of Congress who have announced their retirement for the 2014 elections:
Click for issue stances of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R, MN)
Taxpayers of Alabama must fund special election; less than 5 months into a 2-year term
Jo Bonner will leave Congress effective Aug. 15 for a position as vice chancellor of government relations and economic development at the University of Alabama System, according to friends. Bonner is the younger brother of Judy Bonner, who was named president of the university in Tuscaloosa last fall. It will be up to Gov. Robert Bentley to set a special election for Bonner's seat. Bentley's office had no immediate comment today.
Alabama political consultants mentioned three potential Republican candidates who are likely to run in the special election to fill Bonner’s 1st District seat. They are:
Bonner said in a press release:
Click for issue stances of Rep. Jo Bonner (R, AL)
Returns to Congress after resigning from Governor's seat in 2009
I received the news about the outcome of the special election in my home district at a peculiar time. I was in the middle of an episode of “House of Cards.” My phone buzzed. “Your boy from SC won his seat back?” a friend texted, referring to Republican Mark Sanford’s victory Tuesday night over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch for a House seat from South Carolina. My friend has known I’ve often felt like a one-woman diplomatic envoy in D.C., attempting to explain the rationale of my fellow Carolinians to those unfamiliar with the southern Lowcountry.
I returned to watching Rep. Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), who was in his home district of Gaffney, S.C. While attempting to placate some of his constituents, Underwood turned to the camera — a style frequently used on the show — and spoke directly to the audience. “What you have to understand about my people is that they are a noble people. Humility is their form of pride. It is their strength; it is their weakness. And if you can humble yourself before them they will do anything you ask.”
The lines were so haunting, so apropos I could have sworn Mark Sanford was voicing them directly to me from my MacBook. I replayed the scene again. And again, making sure it was not the real congressman-elect uttering those words. That deep-seated cultural humility is the missing element that outside observers miss when trying to explain the outcome for the 1st Congressional District in South Carolina. It would’ve been miraculous for a Democrat like Colbert Busch to have won in this deep red district. But the truth is that the majority of voters there would rather a weeping Mark Sanford, hat in hand, acknowledging his imperfections than a polished business woman who has a famous, wealthy brother. No question.
If anything, the marital problems and mid-life breakdown ingratiated the former governor to South Carolinians. What people loved about him from his years in Congress was his ability to remain humble. He slept in his office. He carried pigs onto the House floor. He made campaign signs from plywood. His literal fall from the opulence in the Governor’s mansion only furthered his cause in the eyes of many. And Sandford was happy to oblige. The race felt as if he was groveling for a chance to return to his former job. And if he stumbles again, will it be all the more endearing to South Carolina voters? Probably.
Click for issue stances of Representative-Elect Mark Sanford (R, SC) or excerpts from the South Carolina race
Gomez and Markey win; and the rest of the 2013 list
2013 is an "off-year" for elections, but there are still plenty of races to cover....
Click for House coverage, Senate coverage, and Gubernatorial coverage
Sixth term ends in 2014
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is retiring rather than seek re-election in 2014. First elected in 1978, Baucus has been the top Democrat on the powerful committee since 2001. The likely Democratic candidate to succeed him would be former governor Brian Schweitzer, sources said.
At times infuriating his Democratic colleagues, Baucus worked with Republicans to co-write the Bush-era tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug plan, but he also served as the lead defender against George W. Bush’s 2005 effort to partially privatize Social Security and played a critical role in writing President Obama’s national health-care plan. From conservative-leaning Montana, Baucus has voted against Democratic initiatives on some social issues, most recently last week’s effort to create an expanded background check system for gun purchases.
The Baucus retirement also could have dramatic policy ramifications. No longer bounded by his own 2014 re-election, Baucus can now push for comprehensive tax reform without concerns about the political ramifications, his allies say.
Click for full voting record of Max Baucus (D, MT).
Special election winner Robin Kelly (D, IL) sworn in
Former Illinois State Rep. Robin Kelly was sworn in Thursday as the new congresswoman in the 2nd District, two days after winning an easy victory in the special election to replace the disgraced Jesse Jackson Jr.
She was sworn in twice--once officially by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and once ceremonially by Vice President Joe Biden. In her comments in the House, she stressed her commitment to combating gun violence, passing comprehensive immigration legislation, creating jobs and improving the health care system.
"I ran for Congress so that I could work to bring about a safer, less violent and more prosperous future, one in which our children can grow up without the fear of gun violence," she said on the House floor after taking the oath of office.
Click for issue stances of Robin Kelly (D, IL).
Open Senate in Nebraska in 2014
Nearly four years after a vanishing act that led to revelations of an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman, the former South Carolina governor has won the GOP nomination for a House seat he once occupied. And during his victory speech, his former mistress--now his fiancee--stood smiling at his side.
If he achieves his quest for redemption by defeating Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch, Sanford will join a string of politicians who have bounced back from disgrace or disaster for impressive second act, from Richard Nixon to Jerry Brown.
Sanford has stressed his fiscal conservatism while agreeing to discuss his past, at least in general terms. He ran a campaign ad in which he talked about learning "how none of us go through life without mistakes" and his belief in a "God of second chances."
"The events of 2009 absolutely represent a failure on my part for which there were and always will be at some level consequences," Sanford said at last week's debate. "But that does not mean because you've had a failure in your personal life, that you cannot step back into life again."
Click for issue stances of Gov. Mark Sanford (R, SC)
Supreme Court ruling expected in May or June
Several establishment Democrats and Republicans have "come out" this week in support of gay marriage, surrounding the Supreme Court hearing two major cases on the issue. The Supreme Court heard cases on the Defense of Marriage Act (the federal ban on gay marriage) and Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California.
Click for previous Supreme Court coverage
|Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI) announces retirement: March 8, 2013|
Carl Levin sent political shock waves through the state when he announced Thursday that he would not run for a seventh term.
Even with the suggestion weeks ago that Levin might not run, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, a Cascade Township Republican, had floated the idea of running to supporters. A spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Levin leaving "offers us a real pickup opportunity."
Democrats might be quick to point out, though, that though Republicans have won statewide in other seats, including governor and attorney general, a Republican hasn't won a U.S. Senate seat in Michigan since 1994, when Spencer Abraham was elected to a single term. The woman who beat him, Democrat Debbie Stabenow, is now poised to become the state's senior senator.
Levin's older brother, Sander Levin, 81, represents the 9th Congressional District and lives in Royal Oak. He is the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Levin becomes the sixth member of the Senate to announce he will not run for re-election next year, joining Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va. At present, Democrats hold 53 seats in the chamber, with two Independents caucusing with them, to 45 Republicans. In 2014, 20 seats currently held by Democrats will be open and 13 seats held by Republicans will be.
|Two new Cabinet appointees: March 4, 2013|
President Obama nominated two new Cabinet members; below is the list of 2013 changes in the Cabinet:
|Mike Johanns (R, NE) announces retirement: Feb. 18, 2013|
Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns, who was a safe bet to win a second term in 2014, announced Monday that he would forgo re-election. Republicans are heavily favored to hold the open seat in the conservative state.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) is term-limited from seeking re-election in 2014 and is considered a likely candidate in the race to replace Johanns. If Heineman doesn’t run, the GOP faces the prospect of a crowded and bruising primary.
The state has three Republican congressmen-- Jeff Fortenberry, Lee Terry and Adrian Smith -- but Fortenberry is viewed as most likely to run.
The two men who lost to now-Sen. Deb Fischer in the 2012 primary are likely to look at the race: state Attorney General Jon Bruning and state Treasurer Don Stenberg, the quintessential tea party candidate in 2012. Also mentioned is businessman Pete Ricketts, who lost to then-Sen. Ben Nelson (D) in 2006.
|State of the Union speech: Feb. 12, 2013|
President Obama delivered the first State of the Union address of his second term, outlining his agenda for the second term, with particular emphasis on the economy, energy, and gun control. The mainstream media focused on First Lady Michelle Obama's new bangs.
Senator Marco Rubio delivered the official Republican Party response to the President, and Senator Rand Paul delivered the Tea Party response. Both highighted the need for less government as the means to end the Great Recession, in contrast to Obama's call for additional stimulus spending and additional taxes. The mainstream media focused on how Sen. Rubio reached for a glass of water in the middle of his speech.
Coverage of the State of the Union address from Examiner.com:
"Michelle Obama was the toast of the star-studded and politico-filled crowd on hand at Congress to hear her husband's speech, still rocking her much talked about bangs that looked as if they might have been trimmed a bit in recent days but still as flattering as ever as worn by the FLOTUS on Tuesday night."
Coverage of the State of the Union address from The Atlantic Magazine:
"Marco Rubio's mid-speech lunge for an awkwardly placed bottle of Poland Spring water during his delivery of the official Republican Party response to the State of the Union immediately became the break-out moment of his remarks Tuesday night."
|Governor's State of the State speeches: through Feb. 3, 2013|
President Obama's State of the Union speech will occur next week on Tuesday, Feb. 12. But Governors' State of the State speeches are well under way already.
We excerpt 25 governors' state of the state speeches which took place in January, 2013. Two dozen more are scheduled for February and later; we'll excerpt those too.
|Mo Cowan appointed to U. S. Senate: Jan. 30, 2013|
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has picked William “Mo” Cowan, his former chief of staff, to serve as the state’s interim US senator until the successor to John F. Kerry is chosen by the voters in a June 25 special election. The temporary post will make him the first African-American to represent Massachusetts in the Senate since Edward Brooke held the seat as a Republican from 1966 to 1978.
In choosing Cowan, Patrick rejected former US representative Barney Frank’s request to be given the job. A primary election for the seat is set for April 30 and US Representative Edward Markey is so far the only high-profile Democrat to formally enter the race.
|Sen. John Rockefeller opts out of 2014: Jan. 17, 2013|
Editorial: As [West Virginians] reflect on Sen. Jay Rockefeller's announcement last Friday that he will not seek re-election in 2014, we hope they pause to remember the many contributions he has made to the Mountain State and the nation, for almost 30 years as one of the state's two senators, and before that as governor and secretary of state.
While Rockefeller has done much good, he has continued to stray from the beliefs of many of his constituents, and there are those who felt he would face a difficult re-election had he decided to pursue it. Whether that, or his proclaimed need to spend more time with family and other projects, is the real reason for his decision, his early announcement leaves many to question how will he spend the next two years of his term.
Will he continue to move further left, as he's demonstrated with his support of Obama's Affordable Care Act (a highly unpopular law in the Mountain State)? Or will he more closely represent his constituents, even though he has nothing to fear now that he won't be seeking office again? It would be hard not to respect what he's done for West Virginians. However, that respect could be tarnished if the senator spends the remainder of his term propagating his own agenda at the expense of state residents' concerns and beliefs.
OnTheIssues.org is now fully prepared for the 2014 Senate races. Our 2013-2014 Senate page includes the list of 33 Senators up for re-election in 2014, plus their likely opponents (including Rep. Capito in WV and all other possible opponents).
If you think it's ridiculously early to start considering the 2014 elections, please see our page for the 113th Senate as elected. It contains only the newly-elected Senators from the November elections, plus those re-elected and those serving in the Senate since the January 2013 swearing-in (that's called the "113th Congress").
|Chuck Hagel nominated for Secretary of Defense: Jan. 7, 2013|
President Obama today rounded out his second-term national security team, nominating former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to head the Department of Defense and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan to lead the CIA.
Obama's selection of Hagel is expected to trigger a political storm over his confirmation in the Senate, where a bipartisan group of critics has already lined up against the pick. The criticism stems from Hagel's controversial past statements on foreign policy, including a 2008 reference to Israel's U.S. supporters as "the Jewish lobby," public encouragement of negotiations between the United States, Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian group the State Department classifies as terrorists, and his stance on how to deal with Iran. "Hagel has consistently been against economic sanctions to try to change the behavior of the Islamist regime, the radical regime in Tehran, which is the only way to do it, short of war," Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said last month. The Nebraska Republican has also drawn fire for his outspoken opposition to the 2003 U.S.-led war in Iraq and the subsequent troop "surge" ordered by then-President George W. Bush in 2007, which has been credited with helping bring the war to a close.
On the left, gay rights groups have criticized Hagel for comments he made in 1998 disparaging then-President Bill Clinton's nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg James Hormel as "openly, aggressively gay." Hagel has since apologized for the remark as "insensitive." Giving nod to some of Hagel's more controversial views, Obama even praised Hagel's "willingness to speak his mind even if it wasn't popular, defied conventional wisdom."
In an interview with his hometown paper, the Lincoln Journal Star, Hagel today launched a rebuttal to critics, whom he said have "completely distorted his record." He said the confirmation process will allow him to show his "unequivocal, total support for Israel" and support for sanctions on Iran.
Hagel is a decorated Vietnam veteran and businessman who served in the senate from 1997 to 2009.
|113th Congress inaugurated: Jan. 3, 2013|
The outgoing 112th Congress was panned by pundits and Americans alike, with approval ratings as low as 12%. But 95% of members who made it to the ballot retained their seats. The new incoming class features a record number of female (100), Latino (31), Asian American (12) and openly gay or bisexual (7) members, along with 43 African Americans.
And while a great many of those serving the previous two years are returning, the 113th Congress' class of more than 90 new lawmakers features plenty of historical firsts, including enough new women, LGBT members, Asian Americans and Latinos to set records.
There are 82 new members of the House -- 35 Republicans and 47 Democrats -- and 13 new senators, including appointee Tim Scott, R-S.C., who will be the upper chamber's only African-American. Scott, an appointee who replaces Jim DeMint, will be the first black senator from the South since Blanche Bruce of Mississippi in 1881 and the first Republican African-American senator since the 1970s.
Republican Ted Cruz, a Cuban-American who beat Texas's lieutenant governor in an upset primary, is the first Latino to represent the diverse state of Texas in the Senate.
Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren, who became a folk hero among financial system reformers after the financial crisis, will sit on the Senate's banking committee. She's one of a record 20 women in the new Senate.
Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who defeated Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, will be the first openly gay senator.
Six of the new senators came from service in the U.S. House, including former Rep. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, the first Asian-American woman to serve in the upper chamber. (She's also the first Buddhist.)
Arizona's Jeff Flake will join six other Mormon colleagues in the upper chamber.
All told, the partisan breakdown will narrow slightly in Democrats' favor. In the House, there will be a total of 233 Republicans, 200 Democrats, and two vacancies (likely to be filled by one Republican and one Democrat, respectively.)
In the Senate, Democrats will continue to control the Senate--but with a slightly larger 55-45 majority than the 112th, counting Sens. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Angus King (I-Maine), who will caucus with the Democratic Party. Republicans lost two seats, and Democrats gained two, including the closely-watched race in Massachusetts between Elizabeth Warren and departing Sen. Scott Brown.
|Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (D, HI) appointed to Senate: Dec. 27, 2012|
U.S. Sen.-designate Brian Schatz left for Washington aboard Air Force One tonight after he was selected by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to replace the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. Schatz, 40, will be sworn in Thursday so he can participate in Senate votes to avert a fiscal cliff of federal tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January.
Abercrombie chose Schatz from a list of recommendations from the Democratic Party of Hawaii that included U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and and Esther Kiaaina, the deputy director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Inouye had asked Abercrombie to name Hanabusa, who represents urban Honolulu's 1st Congressional District, as his "last wish" before he died last week at 88 of respiratory complications. "Having served as chair of the Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee when the succession law was passed, I fully respect the process and the governor's right to appoint a successor," Hanabusa said in a news release.
Schatz will become the state's senior senator. U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, who was elected in November to replace the retiring U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, would be the junior senator. Schatz will serve until voters in 2014 elect a senator to fill out the remainder of Inouye's six-year term, which runs through 2016. Schatz said he plans to run in 2014 and in 2016.
|Sen. John Kerry (D, MA) to resign: Dec. 21, 2012|
President Obama nominated Kerry as the next secretary of state, a post friends and colleagues say he is well-suited for. The son of a Foreign Service officer has thought deeply about matters of war and peace, and has logged thousands of hours traveling the globe on various diplomatic quests. As a boy living in Europe during the Cold War, Kerry biked around communist East Germany despite his father’s warnings and hunted for D-Day casings on the beaches of Normandy. Those close to him said they believe he made a conscious decision after the 2004 presidential race to leverage his new influence in the international arena.
Gov. Deval Patrick wants the next interim senator to pledge not to run in the upcoming special election — adding he expects to name someone to the temporary spot “pretty quickly” after U.S. Sen. John Kerry is confirmed as Secretary of State by the Senate. “I expect to appoint someone who does not plan to run for the seat because, practically, I think that’s going to be hard for that person to do successfully,” said Patrick. He refused to rule out the possibility that the appointee may also run, however.
Gov. Patrick has spoken with the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, about the appointment. “Those conversations are in the spirit of confidentiality and I will respect that confidentiality,” said Patrick. In addition to Kennedy’s name, former Gov. Michael Dukakis and the retiring U.S. Rep. Barney Frank have been mentioned for the appointment. Patrick will not name a temporary appointment until after Kerry is confirmed by the Senate, which is likely after Jan. 3. The special election won’t start until Kerry hands in his letter of resignation.
A WBUR poll of 500 registered voters finds voters view Sen. Scott_Brown favorably, despite the fact that in November they chose to elect Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren in his stead. [The poll] matched him up theoretically against U.S. Reps. Ed Markey, Mike Capuano, Steve Lynch and former U.S. Rep. Marty Meehan, and in each one of those cases, Brown led by between 17 and 19 points. Lynch did issue a statement saying if a Senate seat were to become available, he “would give serious consideration to running.”
|Sen. Daniel Inouye (D, HI) dies: Dec. 17, 2012|
Daniel K. Inouye died today of a respiratory ailment at a Bethesda, Md., hospital, ending a life of remarkable service for his country and Hawaii that included sacrificing his right arm in World War II combat and spending 50 years as a U.S. senator. He was 88. His last words were, "Aloha."
In a letter to Gov. Neil Abercrombie that was delivered at 11 a.m. on Monday, just hours before his death, Senator Daniel Inouye apologized for his inability to fulfill his term and made a request for his successor to the United States Senate, according to Senator Inouye's office. Inouye's representatives said that his last wish was for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to replace him, citing her intellect and presence and saying it would be a seamless transition if he were to choose her. By law, the state Democratic party will submit three names to Abercrombie for consideration.
As the most-senior member of the majority party, Inouye served as Senate Pro Tempore, making him third in line to the presidency behind Vice President Biden and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). Less than two hours after Inouye’s died, the Senate passed a resolution naming Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) as the new president pro tempore. Leahy was first elected to the Senate in 1974.
In other Senate news, Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Scott will become the first African-American senator from the South since the late 19th century after he was chosen Monday by Gov. Nikki Haley to fill Jim DeMint’s soon-to-be-vacated seat.
|Last House seat decided for 2013: Dec. 9, 2012|
In Louisiana's 3rd District runoff election, four-term Congressman Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, beat freshman Tea Party member Jeff Landry, R-New Iberia, by a healthy margin. Boustany received 61 percent and over 58,000 votes in the district, which was redrawn after a 2010 census showed a population slowdown in the state. Fellow Republican incumbent Rep. Landry received 39 percent and over 37,000 votes.
Boustany's victory represents another victory for the Republican rank-and-file over its right flank, piggybacking on several GOP establishment and Democratic wins over Tea Party candidates on Nov. 6.
Landry was heavily favored by Tea Party groups and picked up several key conservative endorsements, including the now-split FreedomWorks, Citizens United, Tea Party Nation and the Family Research Council, which hosts the annual Value Voters Summit. Meanwhile, Boustany has been able to grab some key local endorsements, including Louisiana House of Representatives Speaker Chuck Kleckley, state legislators from both sides of the aisle and various mayors and local officials.
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Both Reps. Boustany and Landry are currently serving in the "lamw duck" session of Congress. Four special election winners have also been seated in the "lame duck" session; please see OnTheIssues' coverage of the special election newcomers' sponsorships and the lame duck bills.
|Sen. Jim DeMint resigns: Dec. 7, 2012|
DeMint announced Thursday that he would resign to become president of the Heritage Foundation. The move puts DeMint at the head of the most prominent conservative nonprofit organization in Washington. DeMint’s decision marks a monumental change from a not-so-long-ago era when abandoning a prime perch in the Senate to head a think tank would have been unthinkable. But the past decade has shown the influence that figures outside of elected office — whether tea party leaders or anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist — can have on the conservative movement.
DeMint’s job at Heritage will almost certainly come with a great deal more money than his $174,000 Senate salary. The terms of his deal are unknown, but the man DeMint will replace, Edwin Feulner, makes more than $1 million a year.
DeMint retires from the Senate having exerted an enormous amount of influence on the institution — yet without ever having passed a single piece of significant legislation. Rather than rising up the Senate ranks to influence legislation, DeMint chose to be a cheerful starter of civil wars. With his Senate Conservatives Fund, DeMint assembled candidates and money to wage primary fights against establishment Republicans he deemed insufficiently conservative.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will appoint someone to fill the seat until a special election in 2014. She could appoint herself, or buy some time by appointing someone who is seen as having no ambition to run in 2014—such as David Wilkins, a well-liked and respected former state lawmaker who served as U.S. ambassador to Canada under President George W. Bush.
But conservatives are urging her to name someone who would be interested in keeping the seat. A popular pick would be Rep. Tim Scott, who could become the only current black U.S. senator at a time when the GOP is trying to reach out to minorities.
|House endorsement survey: Dec. 3, 2012|
OnTheIssues has gathered issue stance summaries by several 2012 rating organizations. All of the organizations rated some or all of the 2013 newly incoming House members.
We also include older ratings from the same organizations, for comparison. When the organization's ratings are identical from year to year, we just include the newly-elected people with a new date on the old page. When the rating system differs, we include both pages separately. For example, the new "NARAL" page is just endorsements; the older one rates every member on a 0% to 100% scale.
|Senate races for 2014 begin: Dec. 1, 2012|
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) told a local radio station she plans to run for reelection in 2014, when she is expected to be a top target of Republicans. In 2012, North Carolina voted for Mitt Romney, elected a Republican governor and netted the GOP at least three House seats.
Sen Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said Tuesday that he hasn’t decided whether he will run for reelection in 2014. “I’ll make that decision in time,” Rockefeller said, without offering specifics. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) announced Monday that she will run for Rockefeller’s seat.
OnTheIssues.org is now prepared for the 2014 Senate races. Our 2013-2014 Senate page includes the list of 33 Senators up for re-election in 2014, plus their likely opponents (including Rep. Capito in WV, and Sen. Hagan's possible opponents in NC).
If you think it's ridiculously early to start considering the 2014 elections, please see our page for the 113th Senate as elected. It contains only the newly-elected Senators from the November elections, plus those re-elected and those serving in the Senate which will be sworn in, come January 2013 (that's called the "113th Congress").
|Jesse Jackson resigns: Nov. 21, 2012|
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from Congress on Wednesday, ending a once-promising political career. House Speaker John Boehner has received Jackson's letter of resignation, a Boehner spokesman said.
Jackson, the son of the civil rights leader, was first elected in 1995. He has been on medical leave since mid-June and twice sought treatment at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder. The Democrat was easily re-elected to a ninth full term on Election Day, even though his constituents haven't seen or heard from him in months.
Once considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, Jackson is being investigated on allegations that he misused campaign funds; any deal would likely include jail time. He also has been the subject of a long-running House Ethics Committee investigation stemming from allegations that he raised money for then-Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich in exchange for appointment to the U.S. Senate. Jackson has denied wrongdoing.
|84 new House members: Nov. 16, 2012|
There are still several House races being recounted, but OnTheIssues has set up issue coverage for all of the incoming members of the United States House of Representatives.
The final count is 35 new Republicans and 49 new Democrats -- we'll be filling in all of their contacts and issue stances over the next week or two -- plus filling in the several undecided race results.
Following are the most interesting new House members, in three categories:
|District||Party||New House Member||VoteMatch||Contact|
1. Re-elected Former House members
2. Special election winners
|NJ-9||Democrat||Donald Payne Jr.||VoteMatch||Contact|
|MI-11||Democrat||David Curson||(Elected to lame duck session only)|
3. Races being recounted
|AZ-8: U.S. Rep. Ron Barber (D) vs. Martha McSally (R); pending recount|
|CA-51: State Sen. Juan Vargas (D) vs. Michael Crimmins (R); pending recount|
|LA-3: Runoff election scheduled for Dec. 8|
|NC-7: Mike McIntyre (D) vs. David Rouzer (R) (Pending recount)|
These final House election results mean the 113th Congress (beginning in January 2013) will be divided 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats. OnTheIssues predicted 235 Republicans to 200 Democrats, so we were only off by one out of 435 seats!