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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

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.

Read More →

A conservative blogger at a rally for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) jokingly said Texans should start shooting if they see cars with California license plates.

The blogger, Bill Whittle, is a regular guest on Fox News and frequent contributor to Pajamas Media. He also previously wrote for National Review Online.

He was speaking at a Freedom Rally hosted by Texans for Freedom and Liberty on Saturday night.

"You will see a lot of cars coming west heading east on Interstate 10, and they're going to have California license plates," Whittle said in remarks flagged by Raw Story. "Now, if you see these cars pull into rest areas or hotels or restaurants, that's fine. Wave goodbye, make sure they go out on the Louisiana end."

Whittle went on to say that if you see those people drive into residential areas "you need to open fire on these vehicles immediately. Immediately. Not with 9mm or AR rounds, you need to put mortars on those things, you cannot take any chances."

The crowd laughing at Whittle's remarks. He then said that he's from California and that Californians are trying to move to Texas now.

"They will change it and mess it up," Whittle said referring to Californians moving to Texas. "Don't let that happen. Just start shooting."

(Photo credit: Facebook)

Watch the video of Whittles remarks, via Raw Story, below:

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) noted that Rep. George Miller's (D-CA) retirement announcement on Monday might be because the job is just too grueling.

In an interview with TPM on Monday Frank said he understood why Miller would want to retire from Congress: 40 years in politics can really take a toll on someone.

"I've been there and I understand why he would do it and I bet you that George will continue to play a very major role in advocacy but the question is not why he's retiring now," Frank told TPM on Monday afternoon, just a few hours after Miller announced that he would retire from Congress at the end of 2014. "I am not at all surprised that after 40 years of stress he just doesn't want to do it anymore."

Read More →

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) beat even among tea partiers.

Texas's Ellis County Tea Party posted the results of a new straw poll on Sunday which found Cornyn leading Stockman, 18.3 percent to 0.0 percent.

The whole premise of the Stockman candidacy is that he's more conservative than Cornyn and that the incumbent Texas senator -- even going so far as to call Cornyn a "liberal." So far, though, Stockman has struggled to gain much of any ground in the Republican primary against Cornyn. A private Republican poll of the GOP primary found Cornyn leading Stockman by a very comfortable 44 percentage points.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) put out his first feelers for a new roommate after Rep. George Miller (D-CA) announced his retirement plans on Monday.

Schumer, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Miller are housemates in a Capitol Hill rowhouse nicknamed the "Animal House" which has been profiled numerous times and has become the subject of the Amazon original series "Alpha House."

Former Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) also lived in the house before his retirement in 2010. Reporting on the shared living space have often highlighted its dirty conditions and compared it to a frat house.

Rep. George Miller (D-CA), a close ally of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), has decided to retire at the end of the year.

"I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish on behalf of children, working people and the environment, in my district and for our country, especially passage of national health care reform," Miller, the ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, said in a statement on Monday. "Now, I look forward to one last year in Congress fighting the good fight and then working in new venues on the issues that have inspired me. What a wonderful experience this has been."

Miller notified Pelosi on Wednesday and notified his staff on Monday, according to Politico, which first reported Miller's retirement and likened him to the House's version of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA).

Miller's decision means he will end a roughly 40-year stint in Congress. His retirement also means Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) will become the ranking member of the House Education and Workforce Committee.

Here's Miller's full statement:

This is a great institution and I cannot thank my family and my constituents enough for having given me the honor and privilege of representing my district in Congress these past 40 years. I have tried to repay them for their confidence by working hard every day to make our country a better place. I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish on behalf of children, working people and the environment, in my district and for our country, especially passage of national health care reform. Now, I look forward to one last year in Congress fighting the good fight and then working in new venues on the issues that have inspired me. What a wonderful experience this has been.

Pelosi, in a separate statement also praised Miller's time in office. Read her statement below:

“For 40 years in the House, George Miller has been the model of the serious, substantive and successful legislator. In the majority, as chairman of three committees, and in the minority as well, he has written some of the most creative legislation of our time – on health care, education, child policy and labor rights, and also on the environment, energy and national parks. George always incorporated the most current research of our best thinkers into innovative bills, and he passed most of them with bipartisan support.

“I especially value his long service to the Democratic Leadership as co-chairman of our Steering and Policy Committee, working with our Caucus to address jobs, economic innovation, child health and nutrition and a host of other national priorities. His foresight in the area of budget policy led him to originate the Pay-As-You-Go deficit reduction strategy that helped us balance the budget in an intelligent way.

“Now the Dean of California’s congressional delegation, George has always drawn a special inspiration from the creativity and innovativeness that is so crucial to our home state. He has worked closely with state leaders in so many fields to modernize education, reform natural resource policies, and serve the needs of children and those with special needs. And of course, he has always worked to reform water policy and enhance his beloved Delta.

“Capitol Hill and California are filled with Democrats and Republicans alike who have enjoyed working with George Miller and who deeply respect him because his dedication to the issues and his excitement for the legislative process are infectious and undiluted by the years he has served or the challenges he had faced. For me, as Speaker and Democratic Leader, George’s patriotism, wisdom and guidance have been especially valued, and he has been a close friend since my first days in the House.

“My sadness at his departure from Congress in 2015 is mitigated only by my certainty that he will utilize his exemplary knowledge and skills in a new venue where he will surely again be a successful leader for our state and our nation. I congratulate him on 40 years of inspired and inspirational leadership, I look forward to working closely with him during his last year of service in the House, and I wish him and Cynthia, and his beautiful family, many years of enjoyment and happiness together.”

This post was updated.

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