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Daniel Strauss

Daniel Strauss is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He was previously a breaking news reporter for The Hill newspaper and has written for Politico, Roll Call, The American Prospect, and Gaper's Block. He has also interned at Democracy: A Journal of Ideas and The New Yorker. Daniel grew up in Chicago and graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in History. At Michigan he helped edit Consider, a weekly opinion magazine. He can be reached at daniel@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Daniel

A Republican who recently announced he was running for Congress in Virginia opposed making spousal rape a crime years earlier.

The candidate, state Sen. Richard "Dick" Black, argued against criminalizing spousal rape saying it's highly difficult to convict a husband of rape against his wife "when they're living together, sleeping in the same bed, she's in a nightie, there's no injury and so forth or anything."

In 2002, when the Virginia general assembly repealed legislation that exempted spouses from prosecution for rape, Black questioned if it's even possible to successfully prosecute a husband if he were to rape his wife.

That's not all though. As Mother Jones, which flagged Black's comments on Wednesday, notes, Black has also referred to emergency contraception as "baby pesticide," called abortion in America a "Holocaust" and opposed putting a statue of Abraham Lincoln at a location in Richmond, Virginia that was previously a Confederate site, according to Mother Jones.

Black announced he was running for outgoing Rep. Frank Wolf's (R-VA) House seat on Jan. 9.

(Photo credit: Bob Marshall for Senate)

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) will not be in North Carolina when President Barack Obama comes to deliver a speech on the economy on Wednesday.

Instead, Hagan will be in Washington D.C. as the Senate is in session during Obama's visit. The White House has brushed off suggestions that Hagan is trying to keep her distance from the president while she faces a tough re-election.

"I think Sen. Hagan's office has addressed that. I think she's here working on important business," White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday according to The Hill.

Hagan is facing a tough reelection fight. A recent Public Policy Polling survey found Hagan trailing or neck-and-neck with all the contenders running in the GOP primary to defeat the North Carolina senator. The poll found that in a head-to-head matchup with North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, the frontrunner in the primary field, the Republican leads Hagan 44 percent to 42 percent.

Republicans have interpreted Hagan's decision as a sign that she's trying to get as much distance from Obama as possible. But Democrats say that's not true.

"Kay Hagan is fighting for North Carolina in the Senate because that’s her job and that’s what North Carolinians want her to do," Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee press secretary Justin Barasky told TPM. "Faux outrage from Washington Republicans and their special interest backers is nothing more than smoke and mirrors to distract from a divisive Republican primary and the reckless and irresponsible agenda pushed by all of the GOP candidates in North Carolina."

This post was updated.

Updated: February 27, 2014, 1:37 PM

Before primary season kicks into high gear there's another regular part of any election cycle: retirement season. Below is TPM's list of congressional lawmakers who have decided to step down. We'll continue to update this list as more retirements are announced.

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State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-TX) reported raising $12.2 million since she jumped into the race for governor of Texas.

That $12 million in the last six months is above the $10 million that Davis was expected to announce and actually more than Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) raised. Abbott, the likely Republican nominee raised $11.5 million. In total
Abbott's campaign said he had $27 million cash for his gubernatorial bid.

Davis' campaign believes she must raise over $40 million to beat Abbott.

One of the steps former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie has taken before jumping into the Virginia Senate race is to remove a clip of him arguing for comprehensive immigration reform.

Gillespie removing the clip from his website of him discussing immigration reform with CNBC's Larry Kudlow (which you can view here) is likely a sign that Gillespie is making last-minute preparations before he officially jumps into the Virginia Senate race to take on incumbent Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). Politico first reported the clip's removal.

Comprehensive immigration reform is not popular with tea party Republicans or the conservative base, both of which Gillespie will have to win over to have any chance of beating Warner.

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who Gillespie worked for as communications director when Barbour was chairman of the RNC, suggested to TPM that Gillespie is unlikely to run as a tea party candidate but he still is a conservative Republican.

"I don't know what he is going to do, but if he were to run I guarantee he would run the kind of campaign to win a substantial majority, not a narrow majority, that he would cast his net wide -- which is the right thing to do," Barbour told TPM in a recent interview. "Ed's a solid conservative but he is not a purist. He is someone who wants to see good policy adopted and he's not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

Greg Brannon, the North Carolina Republican Senate candidate endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), likened being on food stamps to slavery.

"The answer is the Department of Agriculture should go away at the federal level," Brannon said in an interview with the North Carolina Tea Party highlighted by Mother Jones on Tuesday. "And now 80% of the farm bill is food stamps. That enslaves people. What you want to do — it's crazy but it's true — is teach people to fish so they can fish. When you're at the behest of someone else, you are actually a slavery to them [sic]."

Brannon has also argued that bipartisan compromises in Washington essentially "enslave" Americans.

Republicans may not have to worry about Brannon's views on what is or isn't slavery much longer. A new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday found Brannon's opponent in the GOP Senate primary, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), leading the field. The poll found Tillis leading the field with 19 percent support followed by Brannon with 11 percent, Republican challenger Heather Grant with 8 percent and Reverend Mark Harris with 8 percent.

South Carolina state Sen. Lee Bright (R) suggested that Congress should impeach federal judges so they will get in line, and possibly start with the Utah judge who struck down the state's ban on gay marriage.

"These federal judges are absolutely out of control on so many different fronts and I think if you just took the most egregious case, possibly the one out in Utah where basically the state constitution is being trumped by one federal judge and, in a sense, the will of a sovereign state," Bright, who is one of a number of candidates in South Carolina's Republican Senate primary seeking to unseat Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said in a radio interview with the Tea Party Express released Tuesday.

Bright went on to suggest that Congress should look at impeaching U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby who struck down Utah's ban on same sex marriage. Utah has since tried to stop gay marriages from happening in the state. Earlier in January the Supreme Court granted a temporary stay request to Utah over same-sex marriages in the state.

"What we ought to do is Congress ought to stand up and do its job and impeach one of these federal judges and I think when you do that —being a federal judge is a pretty good gig, and I think if you impeach just one, the rest of them will do the right thing," Bright said.

Bright is one of a number of candidates trying to replace Graham.

(Photo credit: Lee Bright for Senate)

Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in November.

"After careful thought and consideration, I have decided not to seek re-election for the 21st Congressional District this November," Owens said in a statement on Tuesday.

Owens is the latest in a number of House lawmakers who have announced retirements over the last few weeks. A day earlier Rep. George Miller (D-CA), a close ally of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), announced that he would retire at the end of the year.

Owens was first elected in 2009 after he won a special election, in what many media members dubbed a referendum on President Barack Obama since it was the first special election after his inauguration. In 2010 he also won re-election in a tight three-way race against Republican Matt Doheny and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

A super PAC that previously supported Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) has decided to throw its support behind Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) re-election campaign, who Stockman is challenging.

In a blog post titled on Monday William J. Murray, the chairman of the Government Is Not Good-PAC (GING-PAC), announced that the organization is switching its support.

"Senator John Cornyn is an asset to Texas, the Republican Party and the conservative movement, whereas Steve Stockman has abruptly moved from being a rising star to being an impediment to conservatives gaining control of the Senate in the upcoming election," Murray wrote in the blogpost, titled "The Steve Stockman Committee To Re-elect Al Franken." Murray argues that money from tea party supporters that go to Stockman would be better spent against Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).

Since Stockman announced his candidacy for Senate, the congressman has struggled to gain ground or any real endorsements. A Washington Post story noted that Stockman, in light of not being able to get significant backing, listed "past and present endorsements" on his campaign website including a conservative activist who died almost a year ago.

Murray, in his blog post, noted that GING-PAC endorsed Stockman in his 2012 congressional election and praised him as a "social and economic conservative." But, Murray continued, Stockman should not be challenging Cornyn, who is one of the most conservative lawmakers in the Senate.

"Steve simply does not seem to understand the reality that in politics, power is everything. In Congress your party either directs the agenda or watches the other party direct the agenda," Murray continued. "Keeping your party in power is sometimes more important than a single vote in a single bill. Living to fight again is actually sometimes more prudent than dying on your own sword and allowing the enemy to take all the ground." (H/t: Huffington Post)

For conservative opponents of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and congressional Republican leadership, Monday was a good day.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) announced this week that he hired Paul Teller as his deputy chief of staff. Roughly a month earlier, Teller was fired as the executive director of the Republican Study Committee, which has essentially served as the policy group for tea partiers and conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives. Teller had been accused of leaking RSC correspondence to outside groups --something that proved to be a thorn in the paws of Republican leadership. Now, Teller is joining Cruz who has become the standard bearer for ultra conservative opponents of establishment Republicans.

"It’s like dumping lighter fluid on the biggest flame out there and you get one giant conservative fireball!" Daniel Horowitz, the policy director for The Madison Project, a conservative outside group, told TPM in an email.

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