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

Former California state Sen. Tony Strickland (R) is waiting on the sidelines in case there's an opening in Congress.

The Republican congressional candidate is positioning himself to immediately run for Rep. Buck McKeon's (R-CA) congressional seat if McKeon decides not to seek re-election. But he's trying to do it without anyone noticing.

Here's the background: In April, Strickland filed for a rematch against Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) in California's 26th Congressional District. Strickland previously ran against Brownley in 2012 and lost 52 percent to 47 percent. But in December, Strickland for Congress quietly refiled to run in the 25th Congressional District, McKeon's district. Rumors have been swirling over the past year about whether the 75-year-old chairman of the House Armed Services Committee will run for re-election, but he still hasn't publicly made a decision.

Strickland's campaign, when pressed, wants to make clear that none of this is by mistake. He meant to refile for the 25th District after initially filing to run in the 26th District.

"He's not running in 26," Strickland spokesman Jeff Burton told TPM. "If Chairman McKeon decides to retire then Tony would certainly consider running to replace him."

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A super PAC supporting Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) reported raising $1.5 million in 2013.

The Fund for Louisiana's Future raised $725,000 in the second half of 2013, fundraiser and attorney Charlie Spies, who is associated with the super PAC, confirmed to TPM on Wednesday. That brings the Fund's total haul to $1.5 million with $1.3 million cash on hand.

Vitter is currently mulling running for governor later this year. In December, Vitter sent out a fundraising email where he described the support he's gotten about the prospect of running for governor.

"Many good friends and supporters have encouraged me to run for Governor in 2015 -- to bring my focus and leadership to the challenges we face as a state," Vitter wrote in the December fundraising email.

The fundraising numbers were first reported by The Advocate.

Former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) issued his most direct attack against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) since he began hinting at a possible bid to defeat the incumbent senator.

In a fundraising email from the New Hampshire Republican Party Brown said "Shaheen and her liberal special interest allies in Washington are scared."

"They're scared because they know that New Hampshire voters are fed up with her failed leadership and they're ready to replace her in 2014," Brown said. "But Washington politicians like Harry Reid won't let her go down without a fight. Shaheen has been a loyal foot soldier for her party leadership and an automatic vote for the failed Obama agenda."

Brown went on to argue that Shaheen, with the support of liberals in Washington, has already spent six figures on "misleading ads" against him and to boost her. Brown then pivots to attacking Shaheen on Obamacare, a common attack by Republicans in the 2014 election cycle.

"Shaheen promised that Granite Staters could keep their health insurance if the liked it. But today, tens of thousands of New Hampshire families have lost their health care, medical options are decreasing and premiums are going up," Brown continued. "Shaheen promised to address our debt and deficits, but instead she voted for the wasteful stimulus boondoggle that added to the debt but didn't add jobs."

The email came the same day the pro-Democrat Senate Majority PAC super PAC attacked Brown in a new ad, describing him as a tool of Wall Street and big banks.

Brown has already taken steps that suggest he's gearing up for a Senate run in New Hampshire. He recently sold his house in Massachusetts and bought one in New Hampshire and has also fundraised for the New Hampshire Republican Party.

Read the full email below:

Jeanne Shaheen and her liberal special interest allies in Washington are scared.
They're scared because they know that New Hampshire voters are fed up with her failed leadership and they're ready to replace her in 2014.

But Washington politicians like Harry Reid won't let her go down without a fight. Shaheen has been a loyal foot soldier for her party leadership and an automatic vote for the failed Obama agenda. During her unaccomplished term in the Senate, she has voted with President Obama 95% of the time, cast the deciding vote for ObamaCare, and even voted against all of the grandfathering amendments offered to protect New Hampshire families' current healthcare plans.

Please Help The New Hampshire Republican Party Defeat Shaheen By Donating $100, $75, $50 or $25 Today.

So it's no wonder liberal and out of touch special interest groups in Washington are rushing to Senator Shaheen's defense and trying to prop her up by attacking me and distorting my record. They are already spending over $150,000 on misleading ads because they don't want voters to focus on Shaheen's abysmal record and her broken promises.

Shaheen promised that Granite Staters could keep their health insurance if the liked it. But today, tens of thousands of New Hampshire families have lost their health care, medical options are decreasing and premiums are going up. Shaheen promised to address our debt and deficits, but instead she voted for the wasteful stimulus boondoggle that added to the debt but didn't add jobs.

In November, New Hampshire voters get a chance to hold her accountable and replace her with a fiscally responsible candidate. But Republicans will need to launch a vigorous campaign against the millions of dollars in special interest money that Shaheen's Washington allies are willing to spend to protect her.

That's why your contribution to the New Hampshire Republican Party is so important. Help them fight back against Barack Obama and Jeanne Shaheen's liberal agenda by donating today.

Two House Democrats announced plans to retire on Wednesday.

Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Mike McIntyre (D-NC) have decided not to seek another term.

McIntyre, a member of the shrinking pool of Blue Dog Democrats, just barely won re-election in 2012. A Democratic aide confirmed to TPM that the North Carolina Democrat will retire.

McCarthy has also recently completed chemotherapy for lung cancer at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

"Today, I am announcing I will not be seeking reelection," McCarthy said in a video posted by Newsday. McCarthy goes goes on to say that retirement has been "something I have been thinking about really from the half past year." The New York congresswoman, a strong proponent of gun control suggested that the shooting massacre at Newtown Elementary School kept her from stepping down sooner.

"And after what happened at Newtown, so many voices came out…and their voices were so strong," McCarthy continued.

McCarthy was passed over in 2009 to fill then-Sen. Hillary Clinton's Senate seat for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand when Clinton was appointed to be Secretary of State.

An Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate has a counter-proposal to minimum wage hike proponents: let's lower it instead.

Businessman Bruce Rauner, who polls have found to be leading the pack of Republicans seeking the nomination to challenge Gov. Pat Quinn (D), told a local radio station that he wants to see the state's minimum wage of $8.25 an hour lowered to $7.25 an hour.

"I will advocate moving the Illinois minimum wage back to the national minimum wage," Rauner told Illinois's WGBZ-AM radio station according to the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday. "I think we've got to be competitive here in Illinois."

Quinn and the Obama administration have both called for an increase in the minimum wage. Obama wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and Quinn has called for raising the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour.

Quinn's re-election campaign was quick to shoot back at Rauner.

"Instead of alleviating poverty, this cruel and backwards proposal would take thousands of dollars from working people who are doing some of the hardest, most difficult jobs in our society," Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said according to Sun-Times.

A November Public Policy Polling survey found Rauner leading the field of Republican candidates. That poll found Rauner with 24 percent of the vote of likely GOP candidates followed by state Sen. Bill Brady with 17 percent, and state Treasurer Dan Rutherford with 14 percent and state Sen. Kirk Dillard with 10 percent.

A Montana Republican congressional candidate attended a seminar in December which featured a speaker that has argued environmentalists are "domestic terrorists" and that a small group of bankers are secretly in control of global politics, according to Mother Jones.

The candidate, Montana state Sen. Matt Rosendale (pictured) attended an event that featured the leader of Defend Rural America, Kirk MacKenzie. Rosendale is running for Montana's outgoing Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT) congressional seat, but many Republicans are running for the nomination and a clear frontrunner has yet to emerge.

Mackenzie has argued that a core group of bankers led by the Rockefeller and Rothschild families are actually pulling the strings of global politics. This theory can be traced back to at least the 1960s, when a pamphlet called The Profound Revolution argued that a New World Order had constructed an international shadow government, and later theorists expanded on this, saying the Order was aided by a league of "international Jewish bankers" chiefly spearheaded by the Rothschilds. MacKenzie has also argued that the Endangered Species Act is a "fraud."

In an interview with Mother Jones, Rosendale said he disagreed MacKenzie said about bankers and environmentalists.

"I don't believe that using inflammatory rhetoric on either side of a debate is productive," MacKenzie told the magazine in an email. "I try to use, and furthermore, strive to focus on the actual facts surrounding and impacting any issue."

But Rosendale did not completely denounce MacKenzie.

"[I]t is critical for the United States to maintain our sovereignty and not surrender it to any other entities."

As of October, Rosendale had raised $321,000 for his campaign, according to The Missoulian.

(Photo credit: Facebook)

The Republican National Committee touted a set of new radio attack ads as its first major attack ads of 2014. But the committee spent only $3,100 total on the new ads, according to The Hill.

The ads targeted 12 Democrats running in the 2014 election cycle. They argued that those Democrats lied to them "big time" on Obamacare. The ads were a continuation of the attack strategy Republican plan to use throughout 2014: hit Democrats again and again on Obamacare.

So far though, the RNC seems to want to invest only a few bucks in that line of attack. In some districts the RNC spent just $15 on the new ads, according to The Hill. Two hundred and sixty five dollars were spent in three markets to attack Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) who's running for Senate. In Iowa the RNC spent $580 in six markets attacking Rep. Bruce Braley (D), also running for Senate.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, the RNC spent just $30 of radio airtime in Anchorage, Alaska to hit Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK).

In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday RNC Chairman Reince Priebus refused to say how much his committee had spent on the ads.

The RNC tried to brush off the tiny size of the ad buy.

"It's funny, for all the talk about the size of the buy, the Democrats sure are reacting to our ads hitting them on Obamacare," RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski told The Hill.

Senate Majority PAC, a pro-Democratic super PAC, is out with a new ad on Wednesday attacking former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) as a puppet for Wall Street and big banks.

The ad is the latest example of Democrats making preemptive attacks against Brown in anticipation of the former Massachusetts senator challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Brown has taken steps that indicate plans to run against Shaheen.

"Now he's shopping for a Senate seat in New Hampshire. Really? That's good for Wall Street and great for Scott Brown. But it doesn't make sense for New Hampshire," the voiceover in the ad said.

Senate Majority PAC spent $160,000 on the ad, which is set to air for the next ten days in New Hampshire, according to The Washington Post.

The ad was also named #Bqhatevwr, a dig at Brown for a tweet he once wrote (he says he wrote it accidentally) that has since become an Internet joke.

When Brown was in the Senate he was one of the most successful fundraisers thanks, largely, to Wall Street donations. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Brown's major donors were in finance and real estate.

(Photo credit: Youtube)

Watch the ad below:

One factor contributing to Rep. Jim Gerlach's (R-PA) decision to retire from the House of Representatives? Money, according to the chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party.

"It's a tough job," Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason said in an interview with The Philadelphia Daily News. "You don't make a lot of money."

Members of the House make $174,000 per year, according to the Congressional Research Service. To put that in perspective, the 2012 census report found that the median household income in the United States is, adjusted for inflation, $51,017.

Gerlach announced his plans to retire on Monday. In a statement he said that it is "simply time for me to move on to new challenges and to spend more time with my wife and family."