December, 2014

How a Blogger Rocked the House GOP Leadership

Huffington Post: “In early December, Lamar White, Jr., a third-year law student and liberal political blogger, got to work on a tip about Rep. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican… White, by his account, simply Googled ‘Steve Scalise’ and ‘David Duke’ and immediately found a couple posts on a white supremacist site that have since consumed the sleepy holiday political news cycle and rocked the Republican House leadership.

Oregonian First Lady Used Staff for Personal Use

Emails show Oregonian First Lady Cylvia Hayes asked Gov. John Kitzhaber’s (D) staff to help with mundane tasks like sneaking cats into a hotel room and complaining to an airline, the Oregonian reports.

“The 500 pages of records capture communications between Hayes on her personal email accounts and a scheduler in Kitzhaber’s office. They were released as the governor’s office continues to whittle away at a months-long backlog of public records requests.”

North Dakota GOP Wants to Change Succession Law

North Dakota Republicans will propose a bill to change the manner in which open Senate seats are filled, amid rumors that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is considering running for governor in 2016, the Say Anything Blog reports.

Heitkamp would choose her own successor under current law. The proposed change would require Senate vacancies to be filled by special election.

Meeting Steve Scalise

New Orleans Advocate reporter Stephanie Grace: “This is what I remember about the first time I met Steve Scalise nearly 20 years ago: He told me he was like David Duke without the baggage.”

“The baggage, of course, was Duke’s past, his racist and anti-Semitic views and his former role as a KKK grand wizard. Scalise disavowed Duke then, as he did once again this week… But the other part of the sentence, the part about their similarity, was the rub. Scalise may have been naïve about how to express himself to a newcomer, but he was already a savvy politician who knew that, even though Duke had lost the governor’s race a few years earlier, Duke voters were still around. And those Duke voters also were potential Scalise voters.”

GOP Tries to Contain a Race Scandal

“House Republican leaders, poised for a celebratory takeover of Congress next week, instead found themselves scrambling Tuesday to defuse a racially charged controversy over one lawmaker’s speech a decade ago to a white supremacist group,” the New York Times reports.

“The controversy erupted as Republicans were making a renewed effort to reach out to black voters. It threatened to cloud their agenda after capturing control of the Senate and adding to their House majority in last month’s election. Republicans anticipated using their new power to focus on economic growth and potentially find areas of common ground with President Obama, both elements of a broader push to demonstrate that the party can govern at a time when lawmaking in Washington has all but come to a halt.”

Washington Post: GOP ramps up damage control

McCain’s Tea Party Purge

“Nearly a year ago, tea party agitators in Arizona managed to get John McCain censured by his own state party. Now, he’s getting his revenge,” Politico reports.

“As the longtime Republican senator lays the groundwork for a likely 2016 reelection bid, his political team is engaging in an aggressive and systematic campaign to reshape the state GOP apparatus by ridding it of conservative firebrands and replacing them with steadfast allies.”

Big Money Politics Gets Even Bigger

“The 100 biggest campaign donors gave $323 million in 2014 — almost as much as the $356 million given by the estimated 4.75 million people who gave $200 or less,” Politico reports.

“And the balance almost certainly would tip far in favor of the mega-donors were the analysis to include nonprofit groups that spent at least $219 million — and likely much more — but aren’t required to reveal their donors’ identities.”

Obama Approval at Highest Point in More Than a Year

The latest Gallup poll shows President Obama’s approval rating is at its highest in over a year, The Hill reports.

“The latest three-day polling average, from Dec. 27-29, puts Obama’s approval at 48 percent, the highest it has been since August 2013. Obama’s disapproval is also 48 percent, marking the first time his disapproval has not been higher than his approval since September 2013.”