TIME 2014 Election

Democrats Positioned to Elect Republican Congressman in Washington State

Washington Primary
Fourth Congressional District candidate Dan Newhouse smiles after learning Aug. 5, 2014 in Yakima, Wash. that he was one of the top two finishers in the congressional primary. Gordon King—Yakima Herald-Republic/AP

The question these days in central Washington is not whether a Democrat or a Republican will represent the Congressional district, but what kind of Republican. And Democrats will play a big role in making the decision.

For the first time in the state’s history, Washington’s top-two system will pit two congressional candidates of the same party: Tea Party-backed former Redskins tight-end Clint Didier and state legislator Dan Newhouse. Democrats, upset with having no representation in the general election, will likely turn to Newhouse, the moderate alternative endorsed by incumbent Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.).

“It’s hard for me to believe that all of those people who have been voting for Democrats over the past decade are suddenly going to vote for Didier—I just don’t see that happening,” says Democrat Jay Clough, who ran unsuccessfully against Hastings the past two cycles. Of the around 75,000 Democrats who have voted the past few cycles in Washington’s 4th district, Clough suspects that “at least half if not more” will go to Newhouse, and only a “small contingent” will sit out of the race or throw in a write-in ballot. In 2012, 38% of the district voted for Barack Obama.

“Newhouse is most likely going to win because of Democratic support,” says Clough.

It’s clear why Democrats wouldn’t like Didier, who ran and lost races for statewide office twice before winning the primary this year by around 6,500 votes. In an interview with the Tea Party News Network this year, Didier said that he wants to go back to the gold standard, abolish the Federal Reserve, end foreign aid, and relinquish the United Sates’ membership in the United Nations. He has been endorsed by Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin.

Newhouse, who served under former Democratic governor Christine Gregorie as the state’s Department of Agriculture director, calls himself a “strong conservative” on his website. But despite the lack of good polling in the region, the nonpartisan election handicappers at the Cook Political Report say the race is leaning Newhouse due to “his greater appeal with Democrats.”

“While we don’t like Newhouse—he doesn’t agree with us on very many issues…[he] has been appointed by a Democratic governor in a pretty prestigious position and has said publicly that he not only is willing to but sees it as a duty of holding office to work with the other party,” says Clough. “There’s a difference between that and a guy who wants to tear down basically the structures of government in our country.”

“It’s not a huge stretch to say that Democrats have a lot more in common with Newhouse than Didier,” he adds.

Larry Stickney, the Didier campaign manager, says that Didier’s personality and views on protecting civil liberties, including opposition to National Security Agency domestic surveillance and “unconstitutional wars,” will attract Democrats to their side. Stickney called Newhouse a “cheerleader for the John Boehner crowd” but Didier “a bit of a populist conservative.”

“He’s a guy with some charisma and even some celebrity from his NFL days—kind of favorite son status here,” says Stickney of Didier. “[He] has a lot of personal appeal and some of the Democrat folks are willing to forgive him maybe on some of his conservative views because they like him.” He adds that the Democrats “don’t seem to be really super organized” too.

Indeed, the Democrats have not embarked on any voter mobilization efforts, although Clough and other party leaders have “suggested” voting for Newhouse, according to Clough. “What I’ve said as chair of the Benton County Democrats is that we will not work for a Republican candidate because we’re not Republicans,” Clough says. “We’re Democrats.”

“Right now we’re trying to do what’s best for our community,” he adds. “And what’s best for our community right now is not Didier.”

TIME 2014 Election

DSCC Back On Air to Support Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in Lexington, Ky., on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Pablo Alcala—AP/The Lexington Herald-Leader

The DSCC returns to Kentucky in its bid to oust the top Senate Republican

The official Democratic group working to saving the party’s Senate majority is going back on the air to provide a late boost to Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky Democrat trying to throw out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a week after the group shocked political observers by appearing to pull out of the race.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will reserve $650,000 in advertising, according to a DSCC official, who said that internal polling shows undecided voters turning to her.

A week ago, it appeared that Grimes would be left on her own as she entered the home stretch of the race with the DSCC going dark in Kentucky. A Real Clear Politics polling average shows McConnell with a slim but persistent lead.

It is unclear if the DSCC ad buy will move the needle in Grimes favor, but the spending will take away money the Democrats could use elsewhere.

Election handicappers place the odds in favor of Republicans to take the majority; the GOP needs a net gain of six seats and have pickup opportunities in many states, including Montana, West Virginia, Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa and North Carolina.

The DSCC ad buy was first reported by Politico.

TIME 2014 Election

Jeanne Shaheen Admits to Headwinds in New Hampshire Debate

Big picture issues have made the environment a tough one for Democrats, says the former governor

Towards the end of the one-hour New Hampshire Senate debate on Tuesday night, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen frankly discussed what could bring her down in two weeks on Election Day.

“Sometimes there’s factors that are beyond your control,” said Shaheen, when asked by the moderator, NBC’s Chuck Todd, on what she learned in her losing Senate bid in 2002. “There are things happening in the country that affect a race. And I think we’re seeing this now in this race. We’re seeing a lot of concern about what’s happening in the world. We’re seeing my opponent who has been grandstanding to make political gain on [Islamic militants in Iraq and Greater Syria], on the border, on Ebola.”

Shaheen hit the nail on the head: if she, a well-liked former governor, loses her reelection race it will be in large part because her opponent, Republican Scott Brown, has capitalized once again in an environment that’s unfavorable to Democrats. Brown, who rose in the 2010 GOP wave to represent Massachusetts as Senator, has done a good job recently in closing the gap in nationalizing the election; on Friday, the nonpartisan election handicappers at the Cook Political Report reported that the race was a “toss-up” after months leaning Shaheen. In the debate Tuesday, Brown again and again hammered Shaheen as an Obama puppet and touted himself as “the most bipartisan senator.”

“She’s voting with the President 99% of the time,” said Brown several times, including in his final remarks. “And that’s not good for New Hampshire.”

“Unfortunately when she went to Washington she changed,” he added.

Shaheen, for her part, struck a nuanced line on her support of the President. When asked if she approved of the job President Barack Obama is doing—“yes or no”—Shaheen split: “In some ways I approve, in some ways I don’t approve.” When asked if the President should have done more to quell the violence in Syria, she hit the President’s lack of military response after throwing down a “red line” on chemical weapons. When asked if passing the President’s major health care law was a “proud accomplishment” for her, Shaheen said “absolutely.”

“I think that making sure that almost 100,000 people in New Hampshire have access to health care is real progress for people in the state,” she said, adding that her support of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is a “fundamental difference” between the two candidates.

At various points throughout the night, Shaheen did turn the race to where she wanted it: Brown versus Shaheen. In one of the loudest cheers of the night, Shaheen ripped her opponent for flirting with a bid for Massachusetts governor before moving to New Hampshire and starting up his Senate campaign.

“I don’t think New Hampshire is a consolation prize,” she said.

But the political environment still favors Brown. When asked who she would support as Senate Majority Leader, Shaheen said she is open to replacing the current incumbent, Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid.

“I’m not sure who our choice will be,” she said, to some laughter. “I’m not going to speculate on who [it should be] but I think it’s important for us to have a contest in these positions because we need to think about how we’re doing business in the Senate.”

Brown gave a simpler response to one of the loudest cheers he received all night.

“Harry Reid is the problem,” he said. “And we have to get rid of him because he’s holding everything up right now.”

“So let me just say, it’ll be anybody except Harry Reid,” he concluded.

Brown and Shaheen’s next and final televised debate will be on October 30.

TIME 2014 Election

Republican Candidate Allegedly Fat Shames Opponent’s Staffer

California Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, poses for a picture on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 23, 2014.
California Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, poses for a picture on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 23, 2014. Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

The ugly accusation comes in one of the closest and most controversial House races in the country

Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio allegedly ridiculed a female aide to his Democratic opponent by comparing her in an email to a photo of an overweight woman wearing only a bra and eating a snack.

DeMaio, a candidate for California’s 52nd Congressional District, sent the picture without text on January 22 to two members of his campaign, spokesperson Dave McCulloch and former policy director Todd Bosnich, according to a copy of the document. The email in question has the subject line “Kate Lyon,” the name of California Democratic Rep. Scott Peters’ deputy campaign manager. The photo of a woman partially undressed is not of Lyon.

The DeMaio campaign declined to comment on the authenticity of the email when contacted by TIME. “We are done responding to Mr. Bosnich’s politically motivated smears,” said Dave McCulloch, a spokesman for DeMaio, in an emailed statement. “Carl is focused on his plan to reform Congress and create jobs.”

The story was first reported by the San Diego CityBeat.

Bosinch has also accused DeMaio of sexual harassment, saying DeMaio repeatedly groped him and made unwanted sexual advances on the job. The San Diego County District Attorney declined to bring charges this week after an investigation of those claims. DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman, is openly gay and has been touted as a “new kind of Republican.”

According to a recent poll by U-T San Diego and 10News, the race is too close to call, with DeMaio favored by 48% of voters and Peters favored by 45%. The margin of error in the poll was 4.3%.

The Peters campaign released a statement after the email was made public.

“Kate Lyon is one of the most experienced and respected members of our staff,” said Alex Roth, the Peters communications director. “She previously worked as an attorney, for NARAL Pro-Choice America and for Planned Parenthood. It is disgusting and despicable that this champion for women’s rights, or any woman, would be demeaned this way. I wish I could say it is shocking, but coming from Carl DeMaio, nothing is shocking.”

TIME 2014 Election

Ebola Travel Ban Wins Support From Another Embattled Democratic Candidate

Jeanne Shaheen,Scott Brown
United States Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), right, listens as her Republican rival, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown speaks during their debate , Monday, Oct. 6, 2014 in Conway, N.H. Jim Cole—AP

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is the latest Democrat to open up to an Ebola travel ban

Over the past several days, New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown has not let up hammering his Democratic opponent about Ebola.

On Thursday, he called on President Barack Obama to institute a travel ban from West Africa. On Friday, he said Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, is “rubber-stamping the President’s policy,” by opposing his position. He also told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade that if 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had won, Ebola wouldn’t be a problem. The next day he wrote a letter urging Shaheen to accept a travel ban, saying that the position goes “beyond partisan politics.”

By Monday, Shaheen could take no more. “Senator Shaheen has contacted New Hampshire officials about local preparedness,” her spokesman Harrell Kirstein said Monday afternoon, just days after Shaheen said a travel ban did not make sense. “She strongly supports any and all effective measures to keep Americans safe including travel bans if they would work.”

Brown and other Republicans in tightly contested Senate races have put Democrats on their heels by following public polls that show a majority of the country wants to combat Ebola with a travel ban, even though health experts warn that such a move would make the crises in West Africa worse and ultimately increase the likelihood that the virus travels again to the United States.

Shaheen joins an ever-growing cohort of vulnerable Democrats running for Senate that have moved on the issue. Over the past week, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, and Georgia candidate Michelle Nunn, have announced they are in favor of some type of travel ban. On Friday, North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan even flip-flopped in favor of a ban, saying she supported it just days after saying it would not help.

Other Senate Democratic candidates may still shift under Republican and public pressure. On Tuesday, a Washington Post-ABC poll found that two-thirds of respondents support restricting entry to the United States for people who’ve been in the West African affected countries. The next Senate Democratic candidate to support a travel ban could very well be Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, who has advocated to expand airport screenings, but has faced pressure to commit to a ban from her opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.).

Dr. Pearson Cross, an associate political science professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, says that Landrieu could face a “high,” short-term political cost otherwise. “If Landrieu doesn’t support a travel ban it may be spun that she is insufficiently concerned with protecting America and Louisiana’s health and interests in the name of political correctness,” says Cross. “That could be used in a campaign ad and on the trail where people are quite concerned about this fast-moving and often misunderstood issue.”

On Friday, Cook Political Report, the nonpartisan election handicapper, threw the race from leaning Shaheen to a “toss-up,” citing the unfavorable Democratic environment, voters finally tuning in with two weeks left in the race and Brown’s campaign abilities. “There’s been a lot of public attention to the threat of Ebola, so it’s definitely playing here,” says Dr. Dante Scala, an associate political science professor at the University of New Hampshire. “I’m sure there’s a lot more concern about that among voters than there is about the Senate race itself. I think it transcends politics in that way.”

With the political winds growing so strongly, even the White House has, at times, encouraged Democratic candidates to criticize the administration over Ebola. Last week, Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley, who is running for Senate against Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst and said he would consider the travel ban, admonished the Administration for not acting fast enough. Asked about the comments, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Braley was “somebody that has a reputation for being willing to speak truth to power, whether they’re in the same party as him or not.”

“I think this is another indication that he’s willing to do that,” Earnest added.

TIME 2014 Election

Democratic Senate Candidates Back Ebola Travel Ban

Amid vocal Republican calls for travel restrictions

Two Democrats in hard-fought Senate races bucked the Obama Administration and health experts Friday, announcing their support for increased travel restrictions on flights from West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak there.

North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan and Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn backed the travel ban as Republicans are increasingly criticizing the Obama Administration over its handling of the crisis, which has now led to three cases of the deadly disease being diagnosed in the U.S. Both their Republican opponents have been vocal in backing a travel ban.

“I am calling on the Administration to temporarily ban the travel of non-U.S. citizens from the affected countries in West Africa,” Hagan said in a statement Friday. “Although stopping the spread of this virus overseas will require a large, coordinated effort with the international community, a temporary travel ban is a prudent step the President can take to protect the American people, and I believe he should do so immediately.”

The statement marked a turnabout for Hagan, who said Wednesday that a travel ban is “not going to help solve this problem” and “not going to contain the epidemic.” Hagan’s opponent, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, seized on the apparent flip-flop. “When I came out strongly for an Ebola travel ban, Sen Hagan said it wouldn’t help,” he said on Twitter. “Now she agrees with me?”

A few days after Nunn’s opponent, businessman David Perdue, called for “immediate flight and travel restrictions,” Nunn said she supported a “temporary travel ban” to affected countries in West Africa with an exception for military and health workers.

Experts widely agree that travel bans would only make it more difficult to contain the outbreak in West Africa by hampering aid efforts.

Hagan and Nunn are fighting in two of the closest Senate races in the country.

TIME White House

Obama Signs Order to Secure Government Credit Cards From Data Breaches

US-POLITICS-OBAMA-CFPB
President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order to implement enhanced security measures on consumers' financial security following remarks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in Washington, DC, October 17, 2014. SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images

"Identify theft is now America's fastest growing crime," said Obama.

President Obama signed an executive order Friday to improve security measures for government credit and debit cards, equipping them with microchips in place of the standard magnetic strips and PINs. Obama discussed the new order during remarks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Friday.

“Last year . . . more than 100 million Americans had information that was compromised in data breaches in some of our largest companies,” said Obama, referring to high-profile security breaches at Target and Home Depot. “Identify theft is now America’s fastest growing crime. These crimes don’t just cost companies and consumers billions of dollars every year, they also threaten the economic security of middle class Americans who worked really hard for a lifetime to build some sort of security.”

“The idea that somebody halfway around the world could run up thousands of dollars in charges in your name just because they stole your number or because you swiped your card at the wrong place at the wrong time—that’s infuriating,” said Obama. “For victims it’s heartbreaking. And as a country we’ve got to do more to stop it.”

Obama highlighted the efforts of Home Depot and Target to secure their systems after being hit by breaches this year. They will join Walmart and Walgreens in installing chip and PIN technology in all their stores, most by the beginning of next year. Obama also noted that the Federal Trade Commission will develop IdentityTheft.gov for victims to aide the reporting and remediation process with credit bureaus.

“Identity theft has been American consumers’ number one complaint for more than a decade, and it affects people in every community across the nation,” said Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “I welcome the opportunity for the Federal Trade Commission to participate in this new initiative advancing efforts to address this insidious problem on behalf of consumers.”

The White House also called on Congress to pass data breach and cybersecurity legislation. “The current patchwork of laws governing a company’s obligations in the event of a data breach is unsustainable, and helps no one,” wrote the White House in a statement.

With reporting from Sam Frizell

 

 

 

TIME ebola

WHO Acknowledges Flubbed Response to Ebola Outbreak

A World Health Organization (WHO), instructor teaches new health workers during a training session on Oct. 3, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia.
A World Health Organization (WHO), instructor teaches new health workers during a training session on Oct. 3, 2014 in Monrovia, Liberia. John Moore—Getty Images

It blamed in part "politically motivated appointments."

A new report reveals that the World Health Organization privately acknowledged it could have done more to contain the ongoing global Ebola outbreak, which has claimed the lives of around 4,500 people primarily in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

“Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall,” WHO said in a “draft internal document” obtained by the Associated Press.

The WHO, the United Nations health agency, blamed in part the “politically motivated appointments” of Dr. Luis Sambo, the WHO regional director in Africa, according to the AP. WHO also points fingers at its Guinea office for failing to obtain visas for Ebola experts and for tying up $500,000 in aid in red tape.

WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan did not fully understand the agency’s leadership issues in West Africa until days after a June meeting of the agency’s top outbreak officials, according to the documents.

“This (was) the first news of this sort to reach her,” reads one of the forms. “She is shocked.”

[AP]

TIME ebola

Photographer Barred From Syracuse University Over Ebola Fears

Colgate v Syracuse
Seats on the Syracuse bench with the Syracuse Orange logo are seen prior to the game against the Colgate Raiders at the Carrier Dome on November 19, 2011 in Syracuse, New York. Nate Shron—Getty Images

He shows no signs of the virus

A three-time Pulitzer prize winning photographer was barred Thursday from teaching a workshop class at Syracuse University over fears that he had Ebola after covering the outbreak in Liberia, even though he is symptom-free and has been in the United States for more than the recommended incubation period.

The Washington Post’s Michel duCille, who found out about the school’s decision Thursday afternoon, told News Photographer magazine that he was “pissed off” for the revoked invitation.

“I just got off the phone with [Dean Lorraine Branham], and I am pissed off,” duCille told the magazine Thursday. “I am disappointed in the level of journalism at Syracuse, and I am angry that they missed a great teaching opportunity. Instead they have decided to jump in with the mass hysteria.”

“They missed a great teaching opportunity here for the students, to show them how to report the facts and practice good journalism,” duCille said. “Instead they went the alarmist route.”

Syracuse University Dean Lorraine Branham told the magazine that she had not known that duCille had been in Liberia until students raised concerns about their safety.

“This morning I learned that he had been at the CDC, I learned that he had been back 21 days, and I learned that he had been traveling with the [CDC] director, so yes, I knew,” Branham said Thursday.

“But even knowing that, it’s my responsibility to protect the students. 21 days is the CDC’s standard, but there have been questions raised about whether the incubation period is longer. I knew that parents would be upset. And at the end of the day my concern is about the students.”

[News Photographer]

TIME Congress

Lawmakers Grill Obama Administration Over Ebola Outbreak

Frieden and Fauci testify before a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis, in Washington
From Left: Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci testify before a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis, in Washington D.C. on Oct. 16, 2014. Jonathan Ernst—Reuters

Suggest travel restrictions as a potential solution

Updated at 8:36 p.m. ET

Republican lawmakers pushed for stricter travel restrictions Thursday, firing questions at Obama Administration officials after revelations that a health care worker infected with the disease flew on a plane shortly after treating a patient who had died of the virus.

Amber Joy Vinson worked to help treat Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who died on Oct. 8, at Texas Presbyterian Hospital but rode on an airplane on Oct. 13, just a day before she developed a fever. It was revealed late Wednesday night that the CDC had actually cleared Vinson to fly; she was diagnosed with Ebola on Tuesday.

Shortly after the hearing, President Barack Obama signed an executive order allowing the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security to call up any military and Coast Guard reservists needed for the Ebola response effort in West Africa, where up to 4,000 American troops are preparing to deploy. He also thanked the CDC for dispatching an additional team of 16 people with experience in Ebola to Dallas where they will train and assist in hospital infection control procedures.

“None of us can understand how a nurse who treated an Ebola-infected patient, and who herself had developed a fever, was permitted to board a commercial airline and fly across the country,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman. “It’s no wonder the public’s confidence is shaken.”

Upton joined other lawmakers, including Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and House Speaker John Boehner, who want the Administration to consider travel restrictions between the U.S. and West African countries, where the outbreak has killed more than 4,500 people. “It needs to be solved in Africa but until it is, we should not be allowing these folks in, period,” Upton said at the hearing.

Embattled Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden countered that the Administration can better track people from the most vulnerable countries in West Africa without restrictions on travel.

“Right now we know who’s coming in,” said Frieden. “If we try to eliminate travel… we won’t be able to check them for fever when they leave, we won’t be able to check them for fever when they arrive, we won’t be able—as we do currently—to see a detailed history to see if they’ve been exposed.”

When pressed by Murphy if the Administration would ever consider changing its mind, Frieden said it would “consider any option to better protect Americans.”

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said that he didn’t believe travel restrictions would be an effective protection measure, since people will find other avenues of travel. Waxman shifted blame from the CDC and the Obama Administration, instead focusing ire on Congress for “irrational budget cuts” that have dropped CDC’s funding by 12% when adjusted for inflation since 2006.

“We have our share of responsibility,” he said.

Obama said Thursday evening that he is considering appointing an Ebola czar. “It may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person,” he said, quickly adding that it wouldn’t be because people like Frieden “haven’t been doing an outstanding job working hard on this issue.”

“They are also responsible for a whole bunch of other stuff,” he said. Like flu season.

Read next: Here’s Who’s Blaming Who for Ebola

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