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Wake Up To Politics - April 9, 2015

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Thursday, April 9, 2015
579 Days Until Election Day 2016It's Thursday, April 9, 2015, I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!
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Election Central

  • CA-24: Democratic Rep. Lois Capps to Retire After 17 years in the U.S. House, Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) announced Wednesday that she will not seek a tenth term.
  • Capps first arrived in Congress in March 1998, after winning a special election to succeed her husband Walter Capps, who died of a heart attack while in office.
  • “I’ve been so humbled and honored that you would trust me to be your representative to Congress. But now I think it is time for me to return home, back to the community and family that I love so much,” the Californian announced in a video. “And so I'm announcing that this 114th Congress will be my last, and at the completion of this term I will retire.”
  • Capps’ seat could become a pick-up opportunity for Republicans (she only won 52% of the vote in 2014), although Cook Political Report rated the race as “Likely Democratic” following the announcement.
  • Why? The incumbent’s daughter, Laura Capps, a Democratic strategist, is widely expected to enter the race – bringing her name ID with her, and her husband, former Obama aide Bill Burton.
  • In response to her mother’s announcement and questions as to whether she will continue the family dynasty, the junior Capps has just deigned to tweet:  “I’m so proud of mom & her amazing career. In response to q’s about what it means for me, there is plenty of time to discuss in days to come!”
  • NV-SEN: Reid’s Handpicked Successor Enters Race for Senate Former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) announced her plans Wednesday to run for the seat being vacated by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
  • Just hours after her announcement, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) endorsed her, following the incumbent’s lead: Reid endorsed her last month, when he announced his retirement and she had not yet announced her candidacy.
  • The open seat will be hotly contested; Republicans are expected to make a play for it in attempting to heighten their control of the Senate. Cortez Masto could also face a primary battle: Rep. Dina Titus may run as well.
  • “I’ve spent my life and career fighting to protect the families of Nevada. And today, I’m proud to announce that I am running to become the next U.S. Senator from Nevada,” Cortez Masto’s announcement read. “As a native Nevadan, former prosecutor and Attorney General I care about the people of our state and that’s who I’ll be standing up for in the Senate.”
  • If elected, Cortez Masto would be the first Hispanic woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Capitol Hill News

  • Senate Status Update On recess
  • House Status Update On recess
  • Bipartisan Reform to NCLB Introduced Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, have introduced a proposal to reform the education law No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
  • The bipartisan bill keeps in place annual math and reading tests to every U.S. student grades 3 through 8, and still requires states to act on the worst-performing schools. The difference from NCLB is states decide what they want to do about those schools, as opposed to the federal government setting penalties.
  • States would also be able to decide whether and how they want to evaluate teachers under the proposal, while the Education Department would be prohibited from participating in setting standards for achievement: while states must have “challenging” math, reading, and science standards, the control is moved from the federal government to the individual states.
  • A statement from White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the Alexander-Murray bill an “important step,” saying, “President Obama will continue to insist on providing our schools with greater flexibility to invest in what works, making sure that teachers aren’t confined to teaching to the test, putting resources behind innovation in our education system, and expanding opportunities for America’s children to attend high-quality preschool.”

White House Watch

  • Obama Administration Steps Up Advocacy on Behalf of LGBT Americans President Barack Obama is already a trailblazer when it comes to support for the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) Americans: he is the first U.S. President to endorse same-sex marriage, the first to say “gay” in an inaugural address, and the first to say “transgender” in a State of the Union address.
  • Now, he’s not only talking the talk: he’s walking the walk. Thursday morning, President Obama released a statement opposing “conversion therapies” aimed at homosexual and transgender youth. An executive order from the president Wednesday barred discrimination against gay and transgender employees in companies contracting with the federal government.
  • And Wednesday, the Obama Administration announced a gender-neutral restroom would be placed in the White House complex, to account for LGBT staff and visitors. “The restroom will be located in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where much of the White House staff works,” according to Politico.
  • “The White House allows staff and guests to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity, which is in keeping with the administration’s existing legal guidance on this issue and consistent with what is required by the executive order that took effect today for federal contractors,” White House spokesman Jeff Tiller said.
  • The President’s Schedule President Obama is in Jamaica today, on a trip that will also take him to Panama. This is Obama’s 40th foreign trip, and will bring him to 50 foreign nations visited, according to CBS’ Mark Knoller.
  • At 9:45 AM, the President will meet with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller.
  • At 12:20 PM, he will meet with leaders of 20 Caribbean nations at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.
  • Also at the university, the President will hold a town hall with young Caribbean leaders.
  • At 4:15 PM, President Obama will participate in a wreath laying ceremony ay National Heroes’ Park War Memorial in Kingston.
  • At 5 PM, Obama departs Jamaica, arriving in Panama City, Panama at 6:45 PM.
  • At 7:25 PM, he meets with personnel and families at the American embassy in Panama.
  • Biden’s Day Vice President Joe Biden will speak today at the National Defense University. His remarks will focus on U.S. policy in Iraq.
  • Later today, Biden will attend a political event in San Francisco, California.

Race to 45

  • Travel Tracker Many eyes will be on Rand Paul, on the second day of his announcement tour, today as he holds an event on the deck of the U.S.S. Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. The rally was placed on the former World War II-era Navy aircraft carrier to stress Paul’s national security credentials, but now the location has extra meaning: its proximity to North Charleston, South Carolina, where Walter Scott, a 50-year-old African-American man was killed last week by a white police officer.
  • Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who represents both Mt. Pleasant and North Charleston in the U.S. House, will speak at Paul’s event – although he won’t formally endorse Paul. Sanford’s loyalties are split: Paul endorsed Sanford before the latter’s 2013 House election, but Sen. Lindsey Graham – who is Sanford’s home-state senator and fellow member of the South Carolina congressional delegation – is the godfather to one of Sanford’s sons.
  • Also today – Republicans Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, as well as Democrats Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb will ALL be in Iowa.
  • The Republicans will be at some of the same events: Jindal, Perry, and Santorum will all participate in a debate on energy at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Des Moines. In addition, all five GOP potential or formal presidential candidates in Iowa today will participate in events related to the 8th annual “Homeschool Day” sponsored by the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educator (NICHE).

Today's Tidbit

  • FLOTUS Talks Sasha and Malia First Lady Michelle Obama sat down for interview on “Live! with Kelly and Michael” during the White House Easter Egg Roll, and was asked about her daughters.
  • The question was centered on Malia and Sasha Obama’s naming as two of the 25 Most Influential Teenagers of 2014 by Time Magazine (I list I couldn’t crack).
  • The First Lady responded: “They are not influential. They just live here [at the White House]. They have done nothing to gain influence.”
  • Also, in an interview with Rachel Ray airing today, the First Lady revealed that Malia, 16, has learned to drive. Her driving instructors? Members of her Secret Service detail, because “they wouldn't let me in the car with her,” the First Lady told Ray.