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

The Republican staffer who was ousted from the Republican Study Committee for working with outside conservative groups has been named deputy chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

The staffer, Paul Teller, served as executive director of the RSC until he was pushed out for working with outside groups who have aggressively attacked establishment Republicans and Republican congressional leaders.

"Paul will help manage day to day operations of the office, work with coalitions, and guide Sen. Cruz's policy priorities," Cruz Press Secretary Catherine Frazier told TPM in an email.

Those outside groups include tea party organizations like the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Madison Project, and FreedomWorks.

"It is an honor and a privilege to work for Sen. Cruz," Teller said in a statement on Monday. "His leadership is truly motivating, and I can't wait to get started on our collaboration for liberty."

Cruz praised Teller as a tireless worker pushing for conservative principles.

"Paul's many years of experience working in Congress and his tireless work to advance conservative principles make him a tremendous addition to our team," Cruz said in a statement. "I look forward to working with him to keep making Texans' voices heard in Washington and to promote a positive policy agenda that will restore economic growth, rein in government overreaching, and protect Americans' personal liberties."

Teller starts January 16.

Photo from Paul Teller via Facebook.

This post was updated.

Tuesday night Florida voters will set the stage in the special election for the swing district previously held by the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL).

So far, experts estimate that it will be a good night for former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D) and Lobbyist David Jolly (R), the favored candidates in Tuesday's Democratic and Republican primaries, respectively.

The months leading up to Tuesday's contests, after Young passed away, have been engulfed in drama -- including a push to acknowledge Young's children from his previous marriage at his funeral. Below is a guide to the contenders looking to win a special election that has been dubbed a bellwether race.

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Virginia seems to have a knack for attracting consummate insiders seeking political office. First there was Terry McAuliffe, who managed to wage a successful campaign and buck Virginia's trend of electing a governor opposite the president's party. Now Ed Gillespie is planning to challenge Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). Gillespie is part of a small pool of uber Washington, D.C. insiders-turned-candidates -- but he may be even more of an insider than McAuliffe.

After numerous unsubtle hints, Gillespie is expected to finally announce his candidacy sometime in the next few days -- and is required by Virginia law to file by Feb. 1. Republicans see Gillespie as the top-tier candidate they had been looking for to challenge Warner, who has already amassed a formidable $7.1 million war chest and polling has shown is in a comfortable position to cruise to reelection.

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Kansas Republican Senate candidate Milton Wolf is out with a new campaign ad this week in which he runs over Obamacare -- literally.

In the ad, Wolf, a tea party challenger running to unseat Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) is taped driving his truck when the word Obamacare (with the 'O' replaced by the logo for President Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign) floats across the road. Wolf drives over it and there's an audible crunching sound. Text then reads "there's a better way."

The ad is 17 seconds long. It's unclear where, if at all, the ad will be broadcast.

Wolf, a distant cousin of Obama, has repeatedly highlighted his background as a physician that opposes Obamacare.

Wolf has also been endorsed by powerful conservative outside groups including the Senate Conservatives Fund, as first reported by TPM, and The Madison Project.

(Photo credit: Facebook)

Watch the ad below:

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) is in serious talks to co-chair the Priorities USA super PAC with former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina.

According to Politico, Granholm is being "seriously considered" for the top job. She would be running the powerful superPAC alongside Jim Messina, who served as President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign manager.

Buzzfeed, meanwhile, reports Grahnolm has been "tapped" to lead the super PAC. Buzzfeed also reports that John Podesta, the former head of the Center for American Progress, was originally being eyed to co-chair the super PAC. Podesta, however, is headed to serve as a top adviser in the Obama administration.

Granholm has served as an informal adviser to the super PAC.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is scheduled to campaign for Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) next Friday.

The appearance will come a week after new emails were publicized related to the the George Washington Bridge Scandal. Republicans in the state don't seem to be shunning the New Jersey governor.

"We always welcome Gov. Christie to Florida," Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford said according to National Journal. "An unfortunate situation has taken place and he's addressed it. He's not hiding from it. I think he handled it well?

Weatherford's comments came a day after Christie gave an almost two-hour long press conference in which he addressed the new revelations.

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) warned that there's "no such thing as free lunch" for school children in Georgia, but he seems to have enjoyed a few.

An investigation by Georgia's WSAV channel 3 found that Kingston, who is currently running for Senate and recently suggested students work cleaning cafeterias in exchange for lunch, had expensed as much as $4,182 worth of lunches for his office over the past three years.

"Kingston and his staff expensed nearly $4200 in meals for business purposes to his congressional office, paid for by the American taxpayer," WSAV 3's Dan Kartunen reported. The amount could have purchased nearly 2,000 Georgia school lunches.

WSAV also found that Kingston also racked up $4,289 of free meals paid for by third-party groups like the Georgia Bankers Association and the Congressional Institute. Kingston has also travelled to a handful of continents on congressional business racking up $24,313 in costs. Those expenses include more than just meals. What's more, Kingston also expensed $145,391 worth of meals for campaign events.

In December Kingston, who is against a federal lunch program, also argued that poor students should sweep floors in exchange for lunch.

"But one of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria -- and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money," Kingston said. "But think what we would gain as a society in getting people —getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch."

Kingston was widely criticized for the remark. He defended the proposal as a "discussion about the work ethic in America."

The percentage of Americans identifying as liberal ticked up to a new record high, according to a new poll released Friday.

The new Gallup poll found that 23 percent of Americans identify as liberals, the highest number since Gallup started asking the question in its current form in 1992.

That finding is still eclipsed by the percentage of Americans identify as conservative. The Gallup poll also found that 38 percent of Americans identify as conservative, down from in 2010 when 40 percent said they identify as conservative. Thirty-four percent of Americans identify as moderate, the poll also found.

Another recent Gallup report found that in 2013 a record low number of Americans identified as Republicans.

The latest Gallup poll surveyed 18,871 adults aged 18 and older. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percent.

Image: Shutterstock/ Eugenio Marongiu

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) released a new campaign ad Friday in which he completely ignores primary challenger Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) and instead attacks the Obama administration.

The 30-second ad, titled "Astonishing," attacks the "astonishingly liberal" President Barack Obama and said the conservative, pro-life Cornyn has stood up to the president. The ad will be airing statewide.

"Astonishingly liberal. An administration that has squandered our trust. Using backhanded methods to change the very fabric of American life. Who stands up to him? John Cornyn," a narrator in the ad said. "Conservative. Pro-life. Lives the Second Amendment. Fights for truth from a dishonest Administration. He stands up to Obama every day. Pushes back. John Cornyn’s for us - for Texas."

Notably, the ad does not address or even allude to Stockman, who's running a long shot primary challenge against Cornyn. Stockman has been trying to gain traction against Cornyn since he jumped into the race by painting him as a secret liberal. But Stockman has been unable to win over any significant conservative support thus far.

Watch the new Cornyn ad below:

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie plans to formally challenge Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) as early as next week, according to The New York Times.

Gillespie, now a lobbyist, had previously strongly hinted that he would challenge Warner, who has amassed an impressive $7.1 million war chest for his re-election.

Gillespie is considered a top-tier candidate among the potential Republican bench but still, it is likely an upward battle for him to defeat Warner.

A September Quinnipiac poll found Warner with 61 percent job approval and 22 percent disapproval. Even 52 percent of Republicans in the poll approved of the job he's doing as senator.

According to the Times, Gillespie doesn't seem to be planning to run a tea party-style campaign. Instead he'll try run shake off a number of high profile GOP losses in 2013 including for the governor's office and attorney general. But to do that, Gillespie will have to win over tea partiers and far-right voters in the state that are skeptical of his candidacy because he was a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. Gillespie is conservative on a number of other issues though, including abortion.