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

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."

An Illinois Republican congressional candidate who gained notoriety last month by comparing "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson to Rosa Parks argued in a Tuesday email that Democrats' plan to extend unemployment benefits effectively pays Americans not to work "forever."

Ian Bayne, who is running in the Republican primary to defeat Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), said in a fundraising email that "the Democrat plan on unemployment [is] a plan to 'pay people not to work forever.'"

"This is a perfect example of the difference between a tea party position and an establishment position," Bayne continued.

Democrats are currently seeking to push a three-month extension of unemployment insurance that recently expired for over one million Americans.

Bayne said in December that Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson was a modern day Rosa Parks after Robertson told GQ magazine that African-Americans were "singing and happy" in America's Jim Crow South.

(Photo credit: Ian Bayne for Congress)

After criticizing Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) for not wearing proper protective gear when shooting a rifle, National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Communications Director Brad Dayspring did the exact same thing.

Here's what happened: In November, Grimes, who's running against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted a picture of herself shooting a rifle and inviting the Kentucky Republican to go shooting with her.

Dayspring, over Twitter, responded "No eyes & ears? Poor gun safety display. Yikes!" Other Republican strategists joined in on critiquing Grimes as well.

But then a month later, Dayspring tweeted a photo of himself shooting a gun without the headgear he was criticizing Grimes for not wearing. The Huffington Post screencapped the tweet:

According to the gun safety rules from the National Rifle Association, when shooting a gun "shooting glasses and hearing protectors" are recommended for both the shooter and anyone watching.

"I am wearing ear protection, and both Alison Lundergan Grimes and I should have been wearing eyes," Dayspring told The Huffington Post in an email. "Everyone should wear protection when shooting, especially elected officials and public figures who serve as examples for the greater public. Hopefully Alison Lundergan Grimes can admit and acknowledge the same."

Dayspring also responded to The Huffington Post report over Twitter.

The Grimes campaign did not respond to an email from TPM.

Add this episode to a banner year for the NRSC. The committee had a habit of making a number of notable goofs in 2013. Maybe they'll hit the mark in 2014.

Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), the conservative challenger to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), argued that hip-hop and a society that "values rap and destruction of community values" is the reason for gun violence.

McDaniel made the comments in the promo for a syndicated radio program he hosted from 2004 to 2007. Those comments were flagged Saturday by the Darkhorse Mississippi blog and reported Tuesday by Mother Jones.

"The reason Canada is breaking out with brand new gun violence has nothing to do with the United States and guns," McDaniel said in the teaser. "It has everything to do with a culture that is morally bankrupt. What kind of culture is that? It's called hip-hop."

The corrupting aspects of hip-hop, per McDaniel, aren't based on race. It promotes "destruction of community values," he said.

"Name a redeeming quality of hip-hop. I want to know anything about hip-hop that has been good for this country. "And it's not—before you get carried away—this has nothing to do with race. Because there are just as many hip-hopping white kids and Asian kids as there are hip-hopping black kids. It’s a problem of a culture that values prison more than college; a culture that values rap and destruction of community values more than it does poetry; a culture that can’t stand education. It’s that culture that can’t get control of itself."

In the same segment McDaniel argued that waterboarding, as used on Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks, was an effective tool only demonized by liberals.

"Waterboarding is something they do to people to make them talk. It is torture, to the liberals. It is a fairly humane form of torture, if you classify it as such," McDaniel also said. "Here's what happens: You make the guy believe he's going to drown. And as you know it's a pretty strong fear—drowning. Well this guy, Muhammad, he spoke all day. He spoke all night. Anything and everything, just let me avoid the waterboard. Because you see Mr. Muhammad here apparently had a problem with drowning. And that worked."

In 2013 news broke that the tea party favorite attended at least one Neo-Confederate event.

McDaniel is a favorite of outside conservative groups and has been endorsed by The Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks and The Madison Project.

Virginia state Del. Barbara Comstock, the former Republican opposition researcher and ex-chairwoman of Scooter Libby's defense fund, is taking her next step in politics: she's running for Congress.

Comstock announced Tuesday that she's running to succeed outgoing Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA). Comstock is the first Republican to officially jump into the race for Wolf's seat since he announced his retirement, according to Roll Call.

Prior to jumping into political office Comstock conducted opposition research for the Republican National Committee. She also chaired the defense fund for I. Scooter Libby and served as the lead investigator for the House Government Reform committee in the 1990s when it was chaired by Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN).

Comstock, first elected to Virginia's House of Delegates in 2010, is running for a competitive district. Democrats see Wolf's seat as an excellent pickup opportunity and its Cook Partisan Voting Index has it leaning very slightly Republican. The district went narrowly for Mitt Romney in 2012 and also narrowly for President Barack Obama in 2008.