Archive for May, 2010

Tea Party Darling Enters Race to Replace Souder

Rep. Mark Souder hasn’t even tendered his resignation yet after having an affair with a staffer and Republicans are already lining up to replace him. One of them, a favorite of the Tea Party, announced his intentions to run on Thursday in Goshen, Indiana. Marlin Stutzman is a first term Indiana State Senator from Howe. He ran in the Indiana Senate primary race for the Republican Party to replace outgoing Democratic Senator Evan Bayh. Stutzman placed second to former Senator Dan Coats, losing by less than 10 percent.

A special election in the 3rd District to complete Souder’s term through this year hasn’t yet been set by Governor Daniels. Republican and Democratic committeemen will pick the special election nominees through caucuses. Democrats are expected to pick their nominee for the fall’s general election, Tom Hayhurst, to run in the special election. Hayhurst gave Souder a run for his money in 2006, coming within ten points of victory, one of the closest elections that Souder ever faced in this heavily Republican district.

Senate Passes Wall Street Reform Along Party Lines

Democrats won a major victory on Thursday as the Senate passed Wall Street reform by a 59-39 vote. The bill would increase oversight of Wall Street banks and ends bailouts of those institutions. Only four Republicans joined fifty-five Democrats in passing the bill: Senators Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and both Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine.

Two Democrats voted against the bill, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and Maria Cantwell of Washington, saying that the bill did not go far enough in regulating Wall Street. Republicans opposed the legislation, saying that the government overstepped its reach. Sen. Robert Byrd, (D-WV) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) missed the vote.

“Those who wanted to protect Wall Street, it didn’t work. They can no longer gamble away other people’s money,” said Majority Leader Harry Reid. “When this bill becomes law, the joyride on Wall Street will come to an end,” he added. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives where it will be reconciled with a previously passed House version.

Republicans Vote to Kill Wall Street Reform

The Republican Party voted in unison against a financial reform bill that would regulate Wall Street. The attempt by Senate Democrats to end debate on the bill failed by a vote of 57-42, owing to the fact that 60 votes are required to get anything done in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid blamed newly minted Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown for reneging on a promise to vote in favor of the bill. Even with Brown’s support, two Democrats voted against ending debate, arguing that it was not strong enough. Republican complaints have been that the bill goes too far.

Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin explained his vote against the bill by stating that he wants the bill to be stronger: “After thirty years of giving in to the wishes of Wall Street lobbyists, Congress needs to finally enact tough reforms to prevent Wall Street from driving our economy into the ditch again. We need to eliminate the risk posed to our economy by ‘too big to fail’ financial firms and to reinstate the protective firewalls between Main Street banks and Wall Street firms. Unfortunately, these key reforms are not included in the bill. The test for this legislation is a simple one – whether it will prevent another financial crisis. As the bill stands, it fails that test. Ending debate on the bill is finishing before the job is done.”

The truth is that the Party of No does not care about the country’s economic future – only their political standing and support for their donors. They voted against a stimulus act that had over $300 billion in tax cuts to middle class taxpayers. They voted against a health care bill that extends insurance to virtually everyone. They voted against extending unemployment benefits. And when they had a chance to stand up to Wall Street, they voted against Wall Street reform. Enough is enough. Send the GOP a message that obstruction is not how to run a country. Vote Democrat in the fall.

GOP Congressman Mark Souder Resigns Amid Sex Scandal

Indiana Congressman Mark Souder has announced that he will resign this Friday after admitting to having an affair with a female staffer. Souder was elected in 1994 and is among the “Republican Revolution” freshman that helped the GOP take control of the House that year. His conservative record, including opposition to gay marriage, apparently does not match his personal life. He represents Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District.

It’s also interesting that the media has already lost interest in the story. CNN.com has it neither on their front page, nor on their Politics page as of Thursday morning. Just a few months ago we heard about the Eric Massa resignation non-stop for several weeks amid accusations of sexual harassment. Republicans at the time demanded to know what Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew about his conduct (she had heard only rumors), yet such demands are not forthcoming towards their own party’s leadership when one of their members has an actual affair. Politics as usual from the GOP.

Not only will his affair cost him his seat (and potentially the Republicans the seat as well), it will also cost taxpayers. It is estimated that the special election to replace him will cost counties in Northeastern Indiana approximately a half million dollars. Allen County alone, which includes Fort Wayne, will need at least $275,000 in order to fund the special election. This is despite spending cuts and freezes in most Indiana cities, counties and state government.

British Election Ends in Hung Parliament

For the first time since 1974, the British people have elected a hung parliament in which no party has won a majority of seats. With 326 seats needed to form a majority government, the Conservative Party has failed to reach the mark that just weeks ago seemed inevitable. Overall, the Conservatives saw a 5 percent swing in their direction from the last national election in 2005.

The Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, is in talks with the ideologically dissimilar Liberal Democrats to form a government. Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, is seeking electoral reform in the country that would base a party’s seats in parliament on their percentage of the vote – a system similar to most other European countries. Despite achieving 23 percent of the vote, the Liberal Democrats only managed 57 seats, a decline of 5 seats from 2005. It’s obvious why they would want reform.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the Labour Party has vowed to fight on, despite losing a resounding 91 seats in the 650 seat chamber. If Cameron does not bow to the demands of the Liberal Democrats, it is hard to see what bargaining chip he has, as the Lib Dems could just as easily turn to the Labour Party, which has said they would consider such electoral reform. In fact, Brown released a statement saying he supports it.

The best source to keep updated on the British elections is without a doubt the BBC. They have a number of cool tools where you can examine race-by-race, as well as a proportional map that shows a better representation of how the country voted.

GOP Divided in Indiana Primary as Tea Party Loses

Today was primary day in the state of Indiana where an open Senate seat sent Republicans into a frenzy. Three major candidates vied for the party’s nomination: former Senator Dan Coats, former Rep. John Hostettler and State Senator Marlin Stutzman. The seat is currently held by Senator Evan Bayh, retiring after serving two terms. His retirement announcement came too late for Democrats to file for the May 4 primary. The state Democratic Party is expected to nominate Southwest Indiana Congressman Brad Ellsworth.

Primary Results

Dan Coats – 39%
Marlin A. Stutzman – 29%
John N. Hostettler – 23%
Don Bates, Jr. – 5%
Richard Behney – 4%

99% of precincts reporting

The vote was a test of the Tea Party appeal in Indiana. Marlin Stutzman started the race as a no-name candidate, but surged with support from the likes of far-right Republicans like Jim DeMint and Mike Huckabee. The fact that someone like Marlin Stutzman managed nearly 30% of the vote, with no name recognition across the state, has to be startling to establishment Republicans looking to pick up Bayh’s seat.

The establishment candidate in this race – Dan Coats – only managed 40 percent support. Will Tea Partiers rally around a Senator-turned-lobbyist? Will they support a candidate who was deemed a “carpetbagger” by his primary opponents for moving to Indiana from Virginia only to run for this seat? Most of them likely will, but uniting the Republican Party in Indiana will certainly be much more difficult than it will for the Democrats, who did not have a bruising primary. That said, Coats currently leads in statewide polling. Brad Ellsworth, meanwhile, has yet to run a statewide ad. I fully expect this to be a close race come November.

Meanwhile, across the border in Ohio, Democrats nominated Lt. Governor Lee Fisher to take on former Bush budget director Rob Portman. He defeated Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. Ohio is a mirror image of Indiana, where retiring Republican Senator George Voinovich is leaving an open seat for a possible Democratic pickup opportunity. The most recent polling shows Lee Fisher slightly ahead of Rob Portman, although this will likely be a close one to watch as well.

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