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

There's something puzzling about the first campaign ad by House Speaker Thom Tillis' (R-NC), who is challenging Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC).

The ad features Tillis bashing Obamacare while simultaneously wearing a pin of an autism advocacy group that highlighted the benefits of the new law, like prohibiting coverage denial for a pre-existing condition, which autism has sometimes been classified as.

"Obamacare is a disaster but the president won't admit it," Tillis said in the ad, which he released Thursday, while wearing a puzzle piece-shaped pin that is a symbol for Autism Speaks, which supports autism research and awareness.

"The debt's out of control and neither party has stopped it," Tillis continued. "Kay Hagan enabled President Obama's worst ideas. She refused to clean up his mess. So you and I have to clean up hers."

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The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) has already invested nearly $1 million of its $2 million haul in Matt Bevin, the Republican challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the Senate primary.

The group announced Friday that it had reached its goal of raising $2 million to boost its preferred Senate candidates. Of that $2 million, $985,994 went to Bevin. Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-KY) got the most money next with $515, 993. McDaniel is challenging Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS).

SCF has continuously attacked McConnell during even the earliest days of the 2014 election cycle. McConnell hasn't taken those attacks lying down. In November the top Senate Republican said SCF gives conservatism "a bad name."

Here's the breakdown of how much each SCF endorsed candidate got:

Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has a message for the GOP: the party can retake the Senate but only if there are no "foolish" moments.

In an interview with The Hill, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) ally and often proxy for the Speaker of the House predicted that Senate Republicans could pick up the six seats needed to retake control of the Senate. He cautioned though that Republicans have to "make sure that we don't do something foolish" that could endanger their chances.

The comment by Cole likely alludes to former Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) whose bid against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) largely collapsed after he said the female body has ways of shutting down a pregnancy if it is the result of "legitimate rape."

In the early days of the 2014 midterm election cycle the GOP has already taken steps to prevent a repeat of a Todd Akin moment. The National Republican Congressional Committee held meetings with aides to incumbent House Republicans to teach them about "messaging against women opponents."

Democrat Alex Sink has far out-fundraised her Republican opponents in the special election for the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young's (R-FL) congressional seat.

Sink, the former Florida gubernatorial candidate, raised $1.1 million so far in the special election. Of that haul she has $1 million cash on hand, more than the Republicans also running in the seat, according to The Washington Post on Thursday.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Kathleen Peters (R-FL) announced raising just $170,000 with $18,000 cash on hand. Republican David Jolly said he raised $338,000 with $142,000 cash on hand.

In 2010 Sink narrowly lost the governor's race to now-Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R).

A Republican super PAC has raised over $1 million toward boosting a possible Republican primary challenger to Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL), who pleaded guilty to cocaine possession last year.

The Values are Vital super PAC has received a $525,000 donation from Ronald Firman, a retiree from Florida and the group's treasurer, and $485,000 from Las Vegas attorney Martin Burns, according to Bloomberg News. The group's goal is to replace Radel with Florida state Rep. Paige Kreegel (R).

Anthony Farhat, the chairman of the super PAC, said that the group's aim is not to defeat Radel over his cocaine plea, but said Radel "created his own demise."

"I'm just trying to do what I can as a business owner in this district…I'm trying to say 'Hey, I don't want to see our district continue to make mistakes,'" Farhat said according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Kreegel previously ran in the 2012 Republican primary against Radel. He has not said whether he plans to challenge Radel again.

Radel has been in rehab since his plea before the D.C. Superior Court and plans to return to Capitol Hill early next week.

Updated: January 2, 2013, 3:48 PM.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is getting a primary challenger.

Ohio Tea Party leader Ted Stevenot plans to announce his candidacy for governor on Jan. 7. Stevenot's decision to challenge Kasich follows the Ohio governor promoting the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare in Ohio. Stevenot has strongly criticized Kasich for highlighting the expansion.

Stevenot is the former president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, a tea party group in the state. According to an announcement on the coalition's website, Stevenot will announce his candidacy on Jan. 7 at a press conference where he will also introduce his running mate, Brenda L. Mack, who served as the president of the Ohio Black Republicans Association.

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The Democrats targeted by the conservative Americans for Prosperity with a new major ad buy are slamming the new ads as "grossly misleading" and "lies" that misrepresent their positions.

On Thursday AFP, the Koch brothers-backed group, announced that it would spend $2.5 million on a round of ads attacking Sens. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) on Obamacare. The ads featured the three senators saying that Americans would be able to keep their old insurance plans if they liked it under the new healthcare law. But, the Democrats shot back, the ads take their words out of context. Both the Hagan campaign and Landrieu campaign noted that those two Democratic senators have strongly criticized parts of the healthcare law. Landrieu and Hagan both supported legislation that makes insurers offer the option of letting people keep their old policies permanently.

"A new year and a new smear from a Koch-brothers backed group that has no accountability to North Carolinians, takes secret, undisclosed cash and has a record of airing ads that fact checkers call ‘false,’" Hagan campaign communications director Sadie Weiner said in a statement on Thursday.

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Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (D) apologized for supporting legislation that banned same-sex marriage.

In an interview with LGBT news outlet Watermark Online, Crist was asked about his support for adding a ban on same-sex marriage to Florida's constitution.

"I'm sorry I did that," Crist said in the report published Thursday. "It was a mistake. I was wrong. Please forgive me."

Watermark then pressed Crist to elaborate on his position and discuss moving to support same-sex marriage.

"I made a mistake. I’m not perfect… please don’t hold me to that standard. And I’m sincerely sorry. I understand when it’s necessary to say I was wrong. That‘s the journey I’m on… and I’m still on it," Crist added. "As a Republican, on social issues I always felt I was a round peg in a square hole. I just didn’t fit. But I tried, until I couldn’t do it any more… until I had to say, ‘Enough is enough.’"

Crist is running in the Democratic primary for governor. Before running for Senate and switching parties Crist served as governor of Florida.

Crist has previously expressed regret (albeit not as directly as with Watermark) for signing the petition proposing adding a same-sex marriage ban to the state constitution.

"Would I do it today? No," Crist told The Miami Herald in 2013. "I think the best way to judge where my heart is, is to look at the deeds that I have done, whether as attorney general, governor — restoration of rights, civil rights cases, things of that nature, that I think show a compassionate heart and hopefully someone who cares and knows who the boss is — and the boss is the people of Florida."

Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) has a new Senate campaign manager.

Gingrey has appointed Patrick Sebastian, formerly the New Jersey state director for the Republican National Committee, to run his campaign, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Thursday. Sebastian has also worked on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's re-election campaign and Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.

In November Gingrey's campaign suffered a mass exodus as four top staffers all quit at once. The staffers told TPM that the departures had to do with a "leadership struggle" within the campaign.

Gingrey is running in a big GOP primary for outgoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss's (R-GA) Senate seat.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) is set to headline a fundraiser for Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), who's facing a primary challenge from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), on Thursday.

The fundraiser is the latest broadside in an increasingly contentious Democratic primary between Schatz, who was appointed senator by Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercromie (D) upon the passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), and Hanabusa.

The primary is less about ideology than about a personal divide. Inouye had said he wanted his protégée Hanabusa to succeed him, but Abercrombie appointed Obama campaign veteran and former Lt. Gov. Schatz instead.

"Senator Schatz is pleased to have the support of the Mayor given his leadership on common sense gun safety legislation and strong promotion of clean energy production to slow the effects of climate change," Schatz campaign manager Clay Schroers said in a statement. "Senator Schatz's priority is always delivering for Hawaii, and effective leadership in the Senate for Hawaii means developing relationships with leaders across the country."

The fundraiser is one of the first public appearances for Bloomberg since he left the mayor's office. A day earlier Bill de Blasio (D) was sworn in as the new mayor of New York.