US Politics

  Frist Won't Run For President In 2008November 29, 2006 10:50 A major casualty in the failing 'War on Terror'...

Republican Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee won't run for president in 2008, FOX News confirmed Wednesday.

"I do not intend to run for president in 2008," Frist said in a statement.

Frist, the outgoing Senate majority leader, leaves a long list of potential contenders considering a campaign for the White House.

A formal announcement is expected later on Wednesday.

Frist ends a 12-year run in the Senate, where he rose in the Republican ranks to the position of majority leader. He pledged to leave the Senate after serving two terms.

Frist was a physician with no experience in politics when he defeated Democratic Sen. Jim Sasser to win his Senate post.

  Discovering A Reason To Remain RepublicanNovember 22, 2006 14:33 The 2006 election marked a milestone for me personally. For the first time in my life, I engaged actively in a political campaign, even forming a political action committee with colleague and friend Gary Horton to support the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 25th District, Robert Rodriguez.

Now a short review of my own political history, written previously in these essays.

I grew up in southeastern Iowa as part of an extended clan of Roosevelt Democrats primarily from northeastern Missouri, right across the border. These farmers embraced the Democratic Party because Franklin Roosevelt did more for the rural community than any other politician before or since, bringing electricity and even mail delivery to the backbone of American society.

I grew up believing the Republican Party represented the moneyed urban and industrial interests that cared little about the farming community. I gladly maintained this heritage through my college and law school years, even working for a short time on a Democratic candidate's failed run in the Iowa gubernatorial primary.

In the mid-'80s, I experienced a political epiphany while attending a speech concerning foreign policy in Omaha, Neb., by former Secretary of State Alexander Haig. I found myself agreeing with most of his points and found myself switching to the Republican Party solely on the basis of foreign policy and national security.

I believed at the time, probably correctly, that the Democratic Party harbored a natural hostility toward the institutions of national defense. I also believed Democrats were too sweet and pacifistic to "kill those who need killing," and voted happily twice for George H.W. Bush in 1988 and 1992, and then for George W. Bush in his successful run for governor of Texas upon moving there in 1994.

But in 2006, seeing the ruinous course Republican control of all three branches of government engendered, I switched hard in my voting, casting ballots for only two Republicans: the governor and insurance commissioner, and hewing closely to the Democratic line.
  Interesting Diverstity in Newly ElectedNovember 17, 2006 14:35 For millions of Americans and Canadians, it was a huge sense of relief to see the most corrupt, amoral and incompetent Congress, possibly in American history, go down to defeat. Those days, we can hope, are over, as the political agenda is now in the hands of a Democratic Congress.

For a few weeks, at least, we can enjoy that relief and not dwell on the fact that things may not get a whole lot better. Given the general state of American duh-mocracy (poisoned by money, gerrymandered seats, defective voting machines and dirty tricks), we have to keep our expectations in check.

A lot of the new Democrats look a lot like Republicans. We can focus on the fact that for the first time, a woman — and one with smarts and heart — will be the Speaker of the House, and that for the first time, both a socialist, Bernie Sanders, and a Muslim were elected. These are not small things. And Americans — despite being shamelessly lied to by the Republicans and abandoned by their media — came through in the end. They said enough is enough. Bless them.
  Lott Succeeds In Leadership ComebackNovember 15, 2006 09:11 Sen. Trent Lott, ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of remarks considered racially insensitive, won election to the No. 2 post Wednesday for the minority GOP in the next Congress.

Lott returned to the center of power by getting the position of vote-counting GOP whip, nosing out Sen. Lamar Alexander. Sen. Rick Santorum told reporters that Lott beat Alexander by a 25-24 vote.

After an intense evening in which both men lobbied colleagues during floor votes, the Republican caucus elected Lott, a one-time whip and majority leader, by secret ballot. Lott will be the GOP's second-in-command to Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who was elected unanimously to be the Senate minority leader in the new Congress.

With the midterm elections finished and Santorum, another candidate for the post, failing to win re-election, Lott cast himself as the more experienced candidate and the better choice for a job.

The Tennessee senator was not new to the art of counting votes among finicky colleagues, any one of whom can use Senate procedure to hold up business or kill legislation. A former Cabinet secretary and governor and now a deputy Republican whip, Alexander cast himself as a morale-booster for a demoralized Republican caucus.
  Fractures Started CO State GOP's FallNovember 14, 2006 13:05 It started four years ago when voters approved strict campaign-finance rules.

Soon after, Colorado's budgetary woes turned into a full-blown crisis and the Republican-controlled legislature couldn't agree on what to do. U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis declined to seek re-election, followed soon after by his GOP colleague U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

Then came Referendums C and D.

When Colorado's Republican Party finally reached bottom Tuesday night, with the historic loss of the Governor's Mansion, state legislature and a majority of the state's congressional delegation, it was the culmination of years of bad luck and bad decisions.

Now, party leaders find themselves heading into 2007 divided, with a shallow bench and no clear leader.

Looking back last week, several party leaders and insiders said they should have seen it coming.

"There were a lot of forks in the road and we've been taking the wrong road since 2002," said Sean Tonner, a GOP political consultant who has worked on numerous federal and state campaigns.

But with hindsight, they say, comes an opportunity to move forward, repairing fractures in the party and pooling resources for the future.

"There is nothing like minority status to concentrate the mind," said Gov. Bill Owens, who is leaving in January due to term limits. "We won't fight over the little things."

  Election Issues in OHNovember 14, 2006 11:37 The percentage of uncounted votes in the allegedly "fraud free" 2006 Ohio election is actually higher than the fraud-ridden 2004 election, when the presidency was stolen here. A flawed voting process that allowed voters to be illegally turned away throughout the morning on Election Day may have cost the Dems at least two Congressional seats and a state auditor's seat.

The evidence comes directly from the official website of GOP Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell Blackwell website. But researchers wishing to verify the number of uncounted ballots from that web site should do so immediately, as Blackwell is known for quickly deleting embarrassing evidence. In 2004, Blackwell deleted the evidence of excessive uncounted votes after the final results were tallied.

Despite Democratic victories in five of six statewide partisan offices, an analysis by the Free Press shows a statistically implausible shift of votes away from the Democratic Party statewide candidates on Election Day, contrasted with the results of the Columbus Dispatch's final poll. The Dispatch poll predicted Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland winning with 67% of the vote. His actual percentage was 60%. The odds of this occurring are one in 604 million.

  Pelosi Backs Murtha As House Democratic LeaderNovember 13, 2006 15:46 Nancy Pelosi, who unified fellow Democrats to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives last week, stirred division on Monday by backing John Murtha, a key foe of the Iraq War, as House majority leader over her current deputy.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, now the No. 2 Democrat in the House, brushed off the surprise endorsement by Pelosi, who is in line to be elected by the full House in January as speaker, the chamber's top job that helps set its legislative agenda.

Hoyer said he had the votes to be elected majority leader when his Democratic colleagues cast secret ballots on Thursday. The majority leader is one of the party's most influential positions, and serves as the spokesman during House debate as well as the party's chief negotiator with the Republicans.

"I look forward to working with Speaker Pelosi," said Hoyer, a Maryland moderate.

Andrew Koneschusky, a Murtha spokesman, replied: "He (Hoyer) likes to say the House election is in the bag. We'll see Thursday."

A public advocacy group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, blasted Pelosi, a California liberal, for backing Murtha, who it denounced as "one of the most unethical members in Congress."
  Hastert to Step DownNovember 11, 2006 09:34 House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) will not seek reelection to the Republican leadership when his members return as a minority party after taking heavy losses in Tuesday's elections, a Republican official tells TIME. Hastert, 64, a low-key former high school wrestling coach, was beloved by members as a "good cop," compared to the enforcer style of the longtime number two leader, former Rep. Tom Delay (R-Tex.). But Hastert was badly damaged by questions about how much he had known about former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and his contact with pages, and members felt Hastert also handled the aftermath of the revelations clumsily.

The battle to succeed him will be bruising, as members attempt to allocate blame for the Foley mess. Among those seeking to replace him at the top of the House leadership, which will now be the minority leader, are House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), now second in the House leadership, and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), chairman of the House conservative caucus, the Republican Study Committee. Other possible candidates are Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), now chief deputy whip and one of the most popular and hard-working members of the leadership, and Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), now chairman of Energy and Committee.

The Speaker plans to announce his departure this week and perhaps as soon as today, officials said. Leadership elections are scheduled for next Wednesday but are likely to be pushed back to closer to the deadline under party rules, which is Dec. 20.

Hastert had long planned not to seek reelection to his House seat in 2008. His officials biography says he is the first Republican Speaker in more than a century and one of only two Republicans to preside over consecutive electoral seat gains in the U.S House of Representatives, and is also one of two Republicans to be reelected Speaker for four consecutive terms.

  Rove Surprised at Results of 2006 ElectionNovember 11, 2006 09:31 At the White House senior staff meeting in the Roosevelt Room at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Chief of Staff Josh Bolten thanked Karl Rove for his hard work in the elections, and the group around the big table burst into spontaneous applause. It was a much-needed moment of cheer for Rove, the President's chief strategist, after Republicans lost the House and were headed toward the same fate in the Senate in midterm congressional elections that turned into a blue rip tide of voter ire.

"The profile of corruption in the exit polls was bigger than I'd expected," Rove tells TIME. "Abramoff, lobbying, Foley and Haggard [the disgraced evangelical leader] added to the general distaste that people have for all things Washington, and it just reached critical mass."

Exit polls showed heavy discontent with the course of the war, and Bush announced the departure of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld the next day. But Rove took comfort in results of the Connecticut Senate race between the anti-war Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who ran as an independent after losing the Democratic primary over his support for the war. "Iraq mattered," Rove says. "But it was more frustration than it was an explicit call for withdrawal. If this was a get-out-now call for withdrawal, then Lamont would not have been beaten by Lieberman. Iraq does play a role, but not the critical, central role."

And he does not believe his data let him down. "My job is not to be a prognosticator," he said. "My job is not to go out there and wring my hands and say, 'We're going to lose.' I'm looking at the data and seeing if I can figure out, Where can we be? I told the President, 'I don't know where this is going to end up. But I see our way clear to Republican control.' "

  Lieberman: Call Me A DemocratNovember 10, 2006 13:16 Sen. Joe Lieberman, who won re-election as an independent, has a message for his Senate colleagues in the next Congress: Call me a Democrat.

The three-term Connecticut lawmaker defied party leaders when he launched his independent bid after losing to Democrat Ned Lamont in the August primary. During the campaign, he vowed to be an"independent-minded Democrat"if he were re-elected. In Tuesday's election, Lieberman won strong GOP support and given the closely divided Senate, Republicans are expected to court him.

So will he count as a Democrat or an independent who caucuses with the majority Democrats? In an e-mail message late Thursday, Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein said the senator will begin his new term as a Democrat.

With the Democratic takeover of the Senate, Lieberman is in line to become chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

In a post-election news conference, Lieberman said he was reassured by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid that he would retain his seniority when the new Senate convenes.

  Bolton Faces Tougher Bout For UN PostNovember 10, 2006 13:08 John Bolton's prospects for winning Senate approval to stay on as UN ambassador essentially died Thursday as Democrats and a pivotal Republican said they would continue to oppose his nomination.

Nonetheless, the White House on Thursday resubmitted the nomination to the Senate. Bush appointed Bolton temporarily in August 2005 while Congress was in recess, an appointment that will expire when Congress adjourns, no later than January.

"He has been extraordinarily effective up there at the UN, and now is not the time to have a gap in your UN ambassador," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), who was defeated Tuesday, told reporters in Rhode Island he would continue opposing Bolton.

"At this late stage in my term, I'm not going to endorse something the American people have spoken out against," Chafee said.
  Allen Concedes Defeat, Sealing Transfer Of SenateNovember 09, 2006 20:29 Virginia Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) conceded today, putting the Senate in Democratic hands for the first time since 2003 and giving the Democrats a sweep of both houses — a seismic shift in the Washington political climate .

Montana Republican Sen. Conrad Burns conceded earlier today in his reelection bid after his Democratic challenger, Jon Tester, claimed victory Wednesday.

Coupled with Allen's defeat, those Senate victories give the party a 51-49 Senate majority, counting two independents who are expected to caucus with the Democrats.

In conceding to Democrat Jim Webb, Allen said a recount would only increase the acrimony that has recently characterized the political landscape.

"I do not wish to cause more rancor by protracted litigation which would, in my judgment, not … alter the results," he said. "I see no good purpose being served by continuously and needlessly expending money and causing any more personal animosity."

Noting that the results were close, Allen urged supporters to stay strong. "Sometimes winds, political or otherwise, can blow the leaves off branches and even break limbs," he said. "But a deep-rooted tree will stand, stay standing. It'll regrow in the next season."

Within hours, Webb responded, saying that he and Allen plan to have lunch next week to ensure a smooth transition. Allen called on President Bush to "publicly denounce campaign tactics that have divided us," noting the midterms have seen "an unnecessarily brutal campaign."

  Democrat Patrick Elected Mass. GovernorNovember 07, 2006 19:37 Democrat Deval Patrick, who led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Clinton, overcame Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey on Tuesday to win the Massachusetts governorship.

First in his class in middle school, Deval's potential was recognized by a teacher who recommended him to A Better Chance, a Boston-based organization that awarded him a scholarship to Milton Academy in Milton, Massachusetts.

After graduating from Milton in 1974, Deval attended Harvard College, the first in his family to be formally educated beyond high school.

Born in 1956, Patrick grew up in one of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods, living on welfare and sharing a single bedroom with his mother and sister.
  Ohio Elects Democrat GovernorNovember 07, 2006 19:34 Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland won for governor in scandal-scarred Ohio on Tuesday, ending 16 years of Republican control of the office leading into the 2008 presidential election.

Strickland, 65, defeated fiscally and morally conservative Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who gained national attention for his handling of the 2004 election that clinched President Bush's victory that year.

Strickland's win in Ohio was based on a statistical analysis of the vote from voter interviews conducted for The Associated Press by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

The governor's job will be a catbird seat for the 2008 presidential election because the state's leader will be influential in campaigning for his party's candidate. No Republican has won the presidency without taking Ohio.
  Democrats Score Upsets In Key RacesNovember 07, 2006 19:27 Resurgent Democrats toppled Republican senators in Pennsylvania and Ohio and gained ground in the House Tuesday, challenging for control of Congress in midterm elections shaped by an unpopular war in Iraq and scandal at home.

Aided by public dissatisfaction with President Bush, Democrats also elected governors in New York, Ohio and Massachusetts for the first time in more than a decade.

"I'd rather be us than them," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois lawmaker in charge of the House Democratic campaign effort, as the returns rolled in.

Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania became the first Republican senator to fall to the Democrats, losing his seat after two conservative terms to Bob Casey Jr., the state treasurer.

  Battle For Congress' SoulNovember 02, 2006 11:02 Democrats in their wildest dreams are hoping to win control of both the House and the Senate. But the Senate will be a tougher prize to capture.
The fight will come down to races in six or seven states. Among the key battles to watch are a liberal Republican trying to survive the anti-Bush tide, a Democrat trying to become the first black senator from a Southern state since Reconstruction and two hard-nosed Virginians clubbing each other.

  Arnold On Course For Crushing WinNovember 01, 2006 13:04 California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is poised to inflict a crushing defeat on Democratic challenger Phil Angelides, according to a new poll released on Wednesday, ahead of next week's elections.

The Republican action-hero-turned-politician has opened up a 16-point lead over Angelides ahead of the November 7 ballot and now appears to be coasting to an emphatic victory as Election Day looms.

A Field Poll released Wednesday gave Schwarzenegger a 49 percent to 33 percent margin over Angelides, a remarkable turnaround for the Austrian-born incumbent, who trailed his opponent one year ago.