Archive for January, 2012

NC Governor Bev Perdue won’t seek second term

North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat, announced Thursday that she will not seek reelection in 2012, opening the gates for a battle for the state’s governor’s race:

Perdue, who turned 65 earlier this month, was set for a rematch of her 2008 race with former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory (R), but she has been plagued by low approval ratings and faced some tough odds this year.

In a statement released by her campaign, Perdue said she wanted to focus on education reforms rather than an all-comsuming reelection campaign.

“It is clear to me that my race for re-election will only further politicize the fight to adequately fund our schools,” she said. “A reelection campaign in this already-divisive environment will make it more difficult to find any bipartisan solutions.”

Perdue has struggled recently with reports about campaign finance violations, and some top aides to her 2008 campaign have been indicted . Perdue has not personally been implicated in any wrongdoing.

Names that are likely to be bandied about as possible Democratic replacements include Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, and former congressman Bob Etheridge.

McCrory has announcement that he will formally launch his GOP campaign next week.

Perdue, a Democrat, served in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 1987 to 1991, and in the North Carolina Senate from 1991 to 2001. In 2000, she became North Carolina’s first female lieutenant governor and won reelection in 2004. Perdue defeated Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, a Republican, in the 2008 governor’s race and was sworn in as the first woman governor of North Carolina in January of 2009.

Perdue’s administration and that of her predecessor, Mike Easley, have been tainted by scandal. Easley became the first North Carolina governor to admit to a felony, and Perdue was fined by the state Board of Elections for accepting flights aboard campaign donors’ aircraft. Peter Reichard, the Perdue campaign’s finance director, was charged with obstruction of justice. Reichard also served as Easley’s finance director for his 2000 gubernatorial campaign.

- JP

Bachmann says she will seek 4th term in U.S. House

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, in the wake of her unsuccessful run for the GOP presidential nomination, announced Wednesday she will seek a fourth term in the U.S. House:

Bachmann declared her plans in an interview with The Associated Press. The Republican congresswoman had been mum on her plans since folding her presidential campaign after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses earlier this month.

“I’m looking forward to coming back and bringing a strong, powerful voice to Washington, D.C.,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann will be a formidable candidate in Minnesota’s 6th District, where other Republican hopefuls had stood aside until she made a decision on running for re-election. Some experts had speculated that Bachmann might instead turn to a career in talk media.

Bachmann is a potent fundraiser who raised $13.5 million in her last House race, but would likely start from scratch after the presidential campaign. A campaign finance report that would show how much money she can bring to the race isn’t due until the end of the month.

Bachmann also faces uncertainty over how her district will be reshaped. One redistricting plan put forth by Democrats would throw her into a race with Rep. Betty McCollum, a six-term Democrat who represents the St. Paul area. A special redistricting panel is due to issue maps late next month.

In 2000, Bachmann won a seat in the Minnesota State Senate. Two years later, after redistricting forced her to run against another incumbent, Bachmann won the seat for the newly drawn State Senate District 52. As a State Senator, Bachmann was focused on culturally conservative issues, such as opposition to abortion and gay marriage.

Since winning election to the U.S. House of representatives in November 2006, Bachmann has served Minnesota’s 6th congressional district, which includes the northernmost and eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities and St. Cloud. She has the distinction of being the first Republican woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress from Minnesota.

- JP

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Steps Down from Congress

In a message to her constituents posted to Youtube, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords announced Sunday that she is leaving Congress:

“I have more work to do on my recovery so to do what is best for Arizona I will step down this week,” she said.

Giffords served five years in the House of Representatives, and qualified for a congressional pension earlier this month.

She said she would return to public service.

“I will return and we will work together for Arizona and this great country,” she said in the two-minute video.

In a television interview broadcast in November, she said she would not return to Congress until she was “better.”

After Giffords submits a resignation letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Gov. Jan Brewer, the governor will set a date for special elections to choose who will finish out Giffords’ term, which — like all House terms — runs through the end of the year.

On January 8, 2011, Giffords was a victim of an assassination attempt wile meeting with constituents at a Tuscon supermarket. She was critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head. Thirteen people were injured and six killed in the shooting, including federal judge John Roll and Giffords aide Gabriel Zimmerman. The Congresswoman was later brought to a rehabilitation facility in Houston, Texas, where she recovered some of her ability to walk, speak, read and write. On May 16, 2011, she had recovered enough to travel to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the launch of the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, commanded by her husband Mark Kelly.

Jared Lee Loughner was detained by bystanders until he was arrested by authorities and charged with 49 counts of killing federal government employees, attempting to assassinate a member of Congress, and attempting to kill federal employees.

Giffords served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 2001 to 2003. She was elected to the Arizona Senate in 2002, took office in January of 2003 and was re-elected in 2004. He resigned her State Senate seat in December of 2005 to run for the U.S.Congress.

Now in her third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Giffords is a member of both the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrat Coalition. She sits on Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

- JP

Huntsman out of GOP race

Fromer Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr. told his advisors Sunday that he intends to withdraw from the Republican presidential race, bringing his candidacy to and end a week before the South Carolina primary:

Mr. Huntsman, who had struggled to live up to the soaring expectations of his candidacy, made plans to make an announcement as early as Monday. He had been set to participate in an evening debate in Myrtle Beach.

Matt David, campaign manager to Mr. Huntsman, confirmed the decision in an interview Sunday evening. “The governor and his family, at this point in the race, decided it was time for Republicans to rally around a candidate who could beat Barack Obama and turn around the economy,” Mr. David said. “That candidate is Gov. Mitt Romney.”

A third-place finish in the New Hampshire primary last week failed to jump start his flagging candidacy, aides said, and his campaign limped into South Carolina with little money. Mr. Huntsman has spent days pondering his future in the race, but aides said that he concluded he was unlikely to topple Mitt Romney or match the momentum of his Republican rivals in the conservative Southern primary.

In a twist of political irony, Huntsman’s withdrawal from the race comes on the same day that he was endorsed received the endorsement from The State, the largest newspaper in the Palmetto State.

Huntsman has served a number of U.S. presidents. He worked as a White House staff assistant for Ronald Reagan, and he was George H.W. Bush’s as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and later U.S. Ambassador to Singapore. As George W. Bush’s Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, Huntsman guiding the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China into the World Trade Organization.

Huntsman was elected Governor of Utah in 2004 and was easily re-election in 2008. He resigned the governorship in August, 2009 to go to work for the Obama administration as the U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. He resigned his diplomatic post January 31, 2011 to explore a presidential run.

- JP

Alternate Universe: Conservatism Defined Down

The conservative movement is a far piece from where it was in 2008. I recall when Sarah Palin was named “Conservative of the Year” by Human Events Magazine in ’08, and Ann Coulter wrote the article about it.

In 2010, there was an election in which Palin and the Tea Party were very influential forces, and a number of conservatives won seats in the Congress.

But in 2011, things changed. Coulter was no longer praising Palin, as she had done in 2008. Instead, she was smearing her on Laura Ingraham’s radio program, with Ingraham piling on the attack against the GOP’s most recent vice presidential candidate and the first woman to have that distinction.

Now in 2012, we have the spectacle of Rush Limbaugh shilling for Mitt Romney and attacking Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. Former editorial sources of conservative comfort, including National Review and the Washington Examiner, have endorsed Romney and are attacking Gingrich and Perry. But mostly they rail against Gingrich because he’s one within striking distance of Romney.

It’s like the familiar “alternate universe” science fiction plot in which the protagonist wakes up one day and finds himself in a world which looks exactly like the one he’s known all his life, but people familiar to him are behaving in quite unfamiliar ways. They seem like pod people whose bodies have been inhabited by some alien consciousness. It’s as if the world he knew had suddenly gone mad.

What happened to erstwhile conservatives in the year between the 2010 midterm elections and late last year? I’m at a loss to explain it and can only take my best guess. I think its because conservatives are so desperate to hold Barack Obama to a single presidential term that they are willing to define down their conservatism because they have been convinced that is the only way to send him packing. They have bought into the “electability” myth — hook, line and sinker.

Such desperation has led conservatives to ignore that tiny voice of skepticism that used to be ever present in their heads. No longer listening to their inner skeptic, they have sadly become gullible creatures. How else can one explain the internals of recent surveys which show some who self-identify as “very conservative” or “tea party members” tell the pollsters that they intend to vote for Romney? Say what you will about the former governor, he was never a movement conservative, and despite his attempts to reach out to the tea party movement, its members never accepted him as one of their own, as they did Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and other populist-leaning conservatives.

South Caroline and its rapidly approaching GOP presidential primary may be the last stand for Ronald Reagan conservatism. If we define it down to some ConservativeLite® alternate-universe conservatism, the rock-solid principles the great man worked for, stood for and governed by will crumble into dust. If true conservatives cannot put aside their differences and unite behind the conservative candidate closest to Gov. Romney in the latest polls, they’ve lost the battle and perhaps the greater war. Morning in America will become our past instead of our hopeful present, and that city on a hill will have lost its shine. And our hero in the science fiction story will never get back to his real world, but will remain trapped in a story arc in which he discovers — to his horror — that he has become the alien.

- JP

Congressman Jerry Lewis to retire

Jerry Lewis of California, the senior Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, announced Thursday he will not run for re-election this year:

“After months of consultation with loved ones and family, my wife Arlene and I have decided to retire from public life. We are deeply grateful to so many who have provided their support over the years. I have worked hard to justify that support,” Lewis said in a written statement.

Lewis, who is serving his 17th term in the House, rose to prominence as a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, and chaired the panel in 2005. When Democrats regained control of the House, he remained the top Republican on the committee. But Lewis’ ability to steer millions of dollars in earmarks to businesses and local governments in his district attracted attention from federal investigators. No charges were ever filed, but law enforcement authorities did look into his ties to lobbyists, including former California Rep Bill Lowery, who represented various clients who received millions for federally funded projects.

After the GOP took over the majority in 2010, it banned earmarks. Because of internal party rules limiting tenure on top committee spots, Lewis would have needed a waiver to chair the spending panel again. Lewis remained on the committee as a senior member, but opted against a bid to lead it, perhaps recognizing the tea party fueled anti-spending freshman class elected that year might be skeptical of his reputation for doling out federal money.

In addition to Lewis, California Republicans Elton Gallegly and Wally Herger also said they won’t run next November. So far a total of five House Republicans and nine House Democrats are not running for re-election in 2012.

Lewis began his political career as a member of the San Bernardino School Board from 1964 to 1968 and worked on the staff of Congressman Jerry Pettis in 1966. He served as a member of the California State Assembly from 1969 to 1978. In 1974, Lewis ran in a special election for the California State Senate, but lost to Democrat Ruben Ayala.

Lewis is a member of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership, and his 2008 ACU voting record 84 percent. Although he considers himself pro-life, Lewis supports stem-cell research.

Lewis was chair of the House Republican Conference from 1989 to 1992 and served as the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee during the 109th Congress. In the 110th and 111th, he served as Ranking Member on the committee. Though he sought the chairmanship again when Republicans regained control of the Congress in the 2010 election, it was instead given to Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky.

- JP