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Thursday, February 26, 2015
621 Days Until Election Day 2016It's Thursday, February 26, 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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- Senate Roundup: Ohio, Missouri, and California Ohio: Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) announced Wednesday that he would challenge Sen. Rob Portman (R) in 2016.
- Strickland served for twelve years in the U.S. House and four years as governor; he is a powerful fundraiser with a statewide electoral victory under his belt, making him a powerful recruit for Democrats.
- One drawback: his age. At 73, Strickland is fifteen Portman’s senior. In fact, he would be the 11th oldest U.S. Senator in American history.
- The former governor is also over four decades older than his Democratic primary opponent, Cincinnati city councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, who is 30 years old and expected to exit the race soon now that Strickland has announced.
- “I’m running for the United States Senate in 2016 because I am determined to restore the American Dream for working people in this country,” Strickland’s announcement statement read. “I believe in the American Dream because I’ve lived it…I know how difficult it is to move up in this world, and the deck is increasingly stacked against working people.”
- Strickland’s entrance sets up a competitive Senate race in the swing state, but the incumbent will be a powerful opponent: Portman is popular and had a war chest of $5.6 million at the beginning of the year.
- ---LINK: Strickland is just the latest in aging Democratic recruits lined up for 2016: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/02/where-is-the-democratic-party-youth-movement/386060/?utm_source=SFTwitter
- Missouri: Remember Todd Akin? The 2012 Republican nominee for Senate, poised to defeat incumbent Claire McCaskill, before imploding with his comments on “legitimate rape”.
- Akin has since stepped down from the U.S. House, but now he’s considering a return to politics. When asked by The Hill Wednesday about a primary challenge against Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) in 2016, Akin said he had “not ruled anything out”.
- Blunt, a centrist running for a second Senate term, already has a Democratic challenger in Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. The single most-helpful thing to Kander’s bid would be a primary challenger for Blunt, especially the conservative Akin.
- California: Former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) announced Tuesday that he would not seek California’s open Senate seat in 2016.
- Villaraigosa’s announcement clears the Democratic primary field for California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who joined the race just days after Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced plans to retire.
- In his statement declining a bid, Villaraigosa left open the option of a future political campaign: “I have decided not to run for the U.S. Senate and instead continue my efforts to make California a better place to live, work and raise a family,” he said. “We have come a long way, but our work is not done, and neither am I.”
- Villaraigosa always preferred being governor than senator, and could run when Jerry Brown, the incumbent Democrat, is term-limited in 2018. This could mean a face-off against Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is expected to run for governor then as well.
- Emanuel Fails to Get 50%, Chicago Mayoral Race Heads to April Runoff Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to win a second term Tuesday, instead being forced into an April runoff.
- Emanuel received just 46% of the vote, less than the 50% needed to win outright and avoid a runoff. On April 7, he faces Cook County commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
- That Emanuel, with his famed fundraising prowess and backing from President Barack Obama, could not clinch a majority of the vote underlines a split in the Democratic Party over economics. While the incumbent represents the establishment wing of the party, which includes the likes of Obama and Hillary Clinton – who Garcia attacks as working for big Wall Street banks and average Americans. The challenger hails from the more liberal, populist side of the party – more in the form of Elizabeth Warren.
- While Emanuel is expected to win the runoff, there are still six weeks left in the campaign – and it is symbolic enough that the election even had to reach that stage.
- Trump Considers Presidential Run…Again Once again, hotel mogul Donald Trump is considering a run for president.
- However, he is “more serious” than ever about a presidential bid in 2016, Trump told the Washington Post. The billionaire said he is staffing up in early primary states, and has delayed signing on as host for another season of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
- Even though most political watchers in and out of his own party view him as little more than a joke, Trump insists he is not kidding around.
- “Everybody feels I’m doing this just to have fun or because it’s good for the brand. Well, it’s not fun. I’m not doing this for enjoyment. I’m doing this because the country is in serious trouble,” he said to the Post Wednesday.
- LINKS: Clinton Foundation Poses Problems for Hillary The Clinton Foundation, which Bill founded after leaving the White House and now bears Hillary and Chelsea’s names as well, is emerging as an ethics headache for Hillary Clinton’s campaign-in-waiting.
- Reports have surfaced that the foundation took donations from seven foreign governments while Hillary Clinton led the State Department, despite an agreement with the Obama Administration.
- In addition, Politico is reporting that Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved speeches Bill delivered for the foundation.
Capitol Hill News
- Down to the Wire on DHS Funding The Senate voted 98-2 Wednesday to proceed to debate on legislation that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
- This is the same bill Democrats have filibustered four times, so what’s different now? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has promised to take out provisions blocking President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and make a separate bill doing that.
- This creates the “clean” DHS bill Democrats have been asking for, ending the stalemate between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. There’s just one problem: any deal will also have to pass the much more conservative House of Representatives. In fact, the two votes against the DHS bill were not Democrats, but Republicans who opposed McConnell’s deal: Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Like many House Republicans, they would like to see Obama’s executive actions reversed.
- For now, it is clear the next steps will play out in the Senate, which must pass the deal soon: funding for the department runs out at midnight Friday. What’s next will be less clear: House Speaker John Boehner said he was “waiting for the Senate to act”.
- “Until the Senate does something,” Boehner continued. “We’re in a wait-and-see mode.”
- Today in Congress: Committee Roundup On the House side, the first congressional hearing on the President’s requested Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State will be held.
- Although the Foreign Affairs committee has jurisdiction, the hearing will be held by the Armed Services committee. The wittneses will be: Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.), former Army Vice Chief of Staff; University of Texas law professor Robert M. Chesney; and Brookings Institution fellow Benjamin Wittes.
- On the Senate side, the Judiciary Committee will vote on Loretta Lynch’s nomination to be Attorney General. The panel is expected to approve Lynch, sending the nomination to the Senate floor for debate and vote on confirmation.
White House Watch
- The President’s Schedule At 10:55AM, President Obama will meet with African-American faith and civil rights leaders.
- At 2:30 PM, the President will be interviewed by local news anchors from Kansas City, Fargo, Portland, and Seattle.
- Finally, at 4:30 PM, President Obama will be joined by First Lady Michelle Obama in hosting a reception for African-American History Month.
- Hillary “Not Doing Fitbit” Hillary Clinton spoke in Silicon Valley on Tuesday, hinting at her 2016 message on issues from net neutrality to the NSA to economic opportunity, equality, and more.
- But the line from the speech that struck me: the former Secretary of State and likely presidential contender said she is “like two steps short of a hoarder” when it comes to technology, as the owner of an iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, and a BlackBerry. However, “I’m not in a wearable frame of mine yet,” she said, rejecting new devices such as the Apple Watch. “You can tell I'm not doing Fitbit,” Clinton continued, referring to the wearable device that measures the number of steps you have walked in a day, and other exercise data.
- Why? “Do I really want something telling me I should do what I should do?” Clinton asked. Well…Ready for Hillary, the superPAC attempting to convince her to run for president, comes to mind.
Question of the Day
- Today’s Question The failure of Congress to reach a deal on funding for the Department of Homeland Security would result in a shutdown at the third-largest Cabinet department. What are the two largest Cabinet departments?
- Yesterday’s Answer I asked two questions Wednesday:
- 1) Who is the sitting U.S. Senator who teaches at Florida International University, where President Obama is speaking?
- The answer is Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who teaches a political science course there twice a week. President Obama probably didn’t run into Professor Rubio on Wednesday, however, since the latter was voting in Washington.
- GREAT JOB…Marlee Millman, Randy Fleisher, Tobias Gibson, Rick Isserman, and Steve Gitnik!
- 2) What are the two other bills President Obama has vetoed (other than the Keystone XL bill vetoed Tuesday)?
- The answers are: H.J.Res. 64, a continuing resolution, and H.R. 3808, the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act.
- GREAT JOB…Rick Isserman and Marlee Millman!