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

Watch Obama Encounter a Jealous Boyfriend: ‘Don’t Touch My Girlfriend’

Politicans cast early vote ballots
President Barack Obama casts his early votes at Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center in Chicago Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. Antonio Perez—Chicago Tribune / Getty Images

'I really wasn't planning on it'

President Barack Obama held his own against a jealous boyfriend in Chicago on Monday.

“Mr. President, don’t touch my girlfriend,” said a man identified by CNN as Mike Jones, as Obama cast his early ballot in the Illinois state elections next to a woman named Aia Cooper.

“I really wasn’t planning on it,” Obama said, without looking up from his ballot, as Cooper laughed. A visibly embarrassed Cooper then offered an apology on behalf of her fiancé. Obama was sympathetic, though, joking “there’s an example of a brother just embarrassing me for no reason.”

After a brief conversation as the two finished voting, the video shows, Obama gave Cooper a quick kiss on the cheek, to give Jones “something to talk about.”

[CNN]

Read next: Obama Votes Early in Chicago

TIME 2014 Election

Super PAC Backed by Nancy Pelosi Concedes Likely Democratic Defeat In 2014

Weeks before election day, Democrats have turned their sights to the next election cycle, hoping for better results.

The Nancy Pelosi-backed super PAC campaigning for House Democrats has thrown in the towel on the party’s chances to retake the House majority this year, telling donors in a email fundraising note that it needs their help for 2016.

“I don’t think I will shock anyone by saying that it is an uphill climb to win a majority in the House this year,” the email, titled “Long-term planning,” from House Majority PAC states. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t lay the groundwork for 2016 now.”

Acknowledging that retaking the majority was always a long shot at best for House Democrats is one thing, but saying it publicly just two weeks before polls close is another. Pelosi is barred by law from dictating messages to the super PAC, though it has a history of following her public comments. She has appeared at events for the group, which is run by former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aides and focused on her goal of retaking House control.

At a press conference earlier this month, Pelosi said, “I think we’ll do okay,” when asked about the upcoming election, before shifting focus to 2016. “You know what, their days are numbered,” she said of Republicans. “I know that in two years there will be a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president.”

At an event Monday in San Francisco with Hillary Clinton, Pelosi again focused on 2016, without predicting the outcome of the current election cycle. “I am frequently introduced as the highest-ranking woman in political office in our country,” Pelosi said. “I’d like to give up that title and elect a Democratic woman for President of the United States. And soon.”

Last week DCCC Chair Steve Israel said the party is up for a “tough and unpredictable” election night, saying there are 32 races within six points—enough to tip the balance. But in recent weeks the party has had to refocus on shoring up its incumbents, not targeting potentially vulnerable Republicans.

The House Majority PPAC email was sent in the name of former DNC Chair and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. It says the party must keep fighting this year to maintain any hope of retaking the majority for the next Democratic president—a thinly-veiled hint to potential White House hopeful Hillary Clinton.

“Important legislative actions like raising the minimum wage and immigration reform are virtually dead,” the email continued. “Instead House Republicans would prefer to waste their time trying to dismantle Obamacare. That is exactly the fate our next Democratic president’s agenda will suffer in 2016 if we don’t regain the majority.”

“If we want to have a chance at 2016, we have to hold the line in the House now,” the email concludes.

In a follow-up email to donors Tuesday morning, House Majority PAC Executive Director doubled-down. “Did you see Governor Dean’s message, friend? He’s right. 2014 isn’t about winning the majority — it’s about laying the groundwork for electing a Democratic majority in 2016 to get our next Democratic president’s back.”

Correction: The original version of this story misidentified the people who founded the House Majority PAC. They were former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aides.

TIME 2014 Election

South Carolina Congressional Candidate Calls Gay Couples ‘Gremlins’

“They’re these creatures that are so destructive," Anthony Culler said

A South Carolina Congressional candidate called same-sex couples “gremlins” out to “destroy our way of life” in a seven-minute Facebook video released Monday.

The video followed a lengthy statement the candidate posted to Facebook on Oct. 14 urging South Carolina voters to stand with him if they were for traditional marriage. “I made a comment that same-sex couples that want to destroy traditional marriage and our way of life, they’re gremlins,” said Republican Anthony Culler, who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. James Clyburn. “They’re these creatures that are so destructive.”

Culler went on say that while the 6th District where he’s challenging Clyburn is often referred to as “the black district” he believes it’s also a “Christian district” where many people share views like his.

“The people here—black, white, Democrat, Republican—we believe in family,” Culler said. “We believe in traditional family. We believe in the way that is has always been: one man, one woman. Government can make up any laws it wants to, it doesn’t make it right. Evil is evil. Wrong is wrong. “

The Republican has almost no chance of beating the 11-term congressman in the strongly Democratic district. The state Republican Party denounced Culler’s statements, saying “most people learned in kindergarten not to call other people names.”

“Our party believes in the conservative definition of marriage, but we also believe in loving our neighbors and treating them with respect,” South Carolina GOP chairman Matt Moore said. “Mr. Culler’s desperate, attention-seeking antics in no way represent the good, decent South Carolinians I’ve met across our state.”

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

TIME 2014 Election

On the Road with Rand Paul

Can he fix what ails the GOP?

The tattooed and pierced longhairs never showed up to see Senator Rand Paul speak with students at the University of South Carolina in Columbia last month. Those in attendance drew instead from the preppy set, with brushed bangs, blue blazers and proper hemlines, some wearing sunglasses on neck straps like jock jewelry. They mostly hailed from college Republican circles, and the room where they gathered, a wood-stained memorial to the state’s old power structure, was named for the politician who led the fight to protect school segregation in the 1960s.

You could call them activists, even rebels in their way. But this was not a gathering of losers and outcasts. Paul knew this. And that was the whole point…

Read the full story here.

TIME Congress

Record Number of Black Candidates Seeking Office

Cory Booker
Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker visits a campaign center Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Willingboro, N.J. Mel Evans—AP

(WASHINGTON) — More than 100 black candidates will be on the ballot in statewide and congressional races next month, a post-Reconstruction record that some observers say is a byproduct of President Barack Obama’s historic presidency.

At least 83 black Republicans and Democrats are running for the U.S. House, an all-time high for the modern era, according to political scientist David Bositis, who has tracked black politicians for years. They include Mia Love in Utah, who is trying to become the first black Republican woman to be elected to Congress.

Four other black women — Bonnie Watson Coleman in New Jersey, Brenda Lawrence in Michigan, Alma Adams in North Carolina and Stacey Plaskett in the Virgin Islands — are expected to win seats as Democrats, Bositis said. If they all win, and no black female incumbents lose, there should be 20 black women among House members, an all-time high, Bositis said.

There are at least 25 African-Americans running for statewide offices, including U.S. senator, governor or lieutenant governor, also a record number.

The previous record for black candidates seeking House seats was 72 in 2012, the year Obama, the nation’s first black president, was re-elected to a second term. The previous record for statewide contests was 17 in 2002, said Bositis, formerly of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank in Washington that focuses primarily on issues affecting African-Americans.

Those statewide numbers include Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina, the U.S. Senate’s only black members.

Booker is seeking a full term next month, having won a special election last year to replace the deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Scott, appointed last year, is seeking to finish out the two years remaining in the term of former Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned from the Senate in 2013.

An Obama “coattails effect” is partly responsible for this large candidate pool because it spurred blacks to vote, and encouraged them to pursue offices they might not have sought in the past, said political science professor Fredrick C. Harris, director of Columbia University’s Center on African-American Politics and Society. America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“It may be that this is a reflection of political opportunity,” Harris said. He noted a similar increase in black candidacies in 1988, when Jesse Jackson made a second, unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Bositis said the increase may also be a result of changing political demographics in regions like the South. “The fact is that many of the increases are occurring in states (especially in the South) where most whites are withdrawing from Democratic Party politics — leaving black candidates the nominations by default,” Bositis said.

Republicans have been heavily courting minorities, spending millions to woo black voters and to recruit women and minorities to run for state and local office. “If elected, these candidates will be great representatives for all their constituents and will continue to play a major role in the party’s efforts to expand the electorate,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Orlando Brown.

While the GOP is building up its numbers, the Democrats have a record number of African-Americans running for statewide and congressional offices, according to Bositis. There are at least 65 Democratic nominees, surpassing the previous high of 59 in 2012.

“The historic number of black Democrats running for office at all levels this year once again confirms that the Democratic Party is a broad coalition of Americans from diverse ethnic and professional backgrounds, focused on expanding opportunity for all and building ladders to the middle class,” said Kiara Pesante, Democratic National Committee spokeswoman.

TIME 2014 Election

Democratic Group Goes Dark in Key Senate Race

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 is not airing TV ads in Kentucky, where Alison Lundergan Grimes in campaigning to unseat Mitch McConnell

The Democratic candidate in one of the most closely-watched Senate races in the country is entering the homestretch of her campaign without TV advertising support from a key party group.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is not airing TV ads in Kentucky, a DSCC official confirmed, where Alison Lundergan Grimes in campaigning to unseat Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The DSCC has now spent more than $2 million in Kentucky and continues to make targeted investments in the ground game while monitoring the race for future investments,” the DSCC official said. The committee, Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, could still announce a TV ad buy in the future.

The DSCC, which has outraised its Republican counterpart group, is on the air in many other competitive states, including Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina and South Dakota, as the party fights to keep its Senate majority.

McConnell is leading Grimes by about three points, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polling data.

TIME

Iowa Senate Candidate Killed in Plane Crash

Dr. Doug Butzier, a Libertarian candidate running for Senate in Iowa, died in a plane crash in Dubuque on Monday night.

He died around 11 p.m. about one mile north of Dubuque Regional Airport, according to the local ABC affiliate. He was the pilot and only one aboard the aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash of the Piper PA 46-310P, a six-seater, single-engine aircraft.

Dr. Butzier grew up in Cedar Falls and lived in Dubuque working as the medical staff president at Mercy Medical Center, according to his campaign website. He had two sons, and was running against Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst.

Several high-profile U.S. politicians have died in plane crashes while running for Senate, including Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), Gov. Mel Carnahan (D-Mo.), Rep. Jerry Litton (D-Mo.) and Virginia GOP chairman Richard Obenshain.

TIME Congress

Montana Senator’s Degree Revoked Over Plagiarism Charges

John Walsh
Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) speaks on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on March 27, 2014 Charles Dharapak—AP

John Walsh is not seeking reelection

The Army War College revoked Montana Democratic Sen. John Walsh’s master’s degree Friday, almost three months after a report indicated he had plagiarized portions of a paper while enrolled as a student.

“Though I disagree with the findings made by the War College, I accept its decision with great humility and respect for the U.S. Military,” Walsh said in a statement. “I apologize to all Montanans for the plagiarism in my 2007 paper, and I am prepared to live with its consequences. I may not be a scholar but I am proud to have been a soldier who has served Montana and this great nation for 33 years in uniform.”

“As Montanans choose their next U.S. Senator over the next few weeks, I will continue proudly serving this state through the end of this term,” added Walsh, who isn’t seeking reelection. “I look forward to fighting for veterans and their families. I look forward to doing all we can for the small businesses that call our state home. I will keep fighting for the freedom of choice and equal pay for women, and for access to our public lands.”

Walsh dropped out of his race for another term in August. Montana Republican Rep. Steve Daines is favored to succeed him in the conservative state.

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