Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

A Quinnipiac University poll of the New York City mayor's race released Wednesday showed Public Advocate Bill de Blasio firmly in first place with 36 percent of the vote, just shy of the crucial 40 percent threshold necessary for avoiding a run-off with the second place finisher.

The poll found City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in second place with 21 percent and former Comptroller Bill Thompson in third with 20 percent. There was a margin of error of four points, meaning Quinn and Thompson were essentially tied. Quinnipiac also found de Blasio would beat Quinn or Thompson by substantial double digit margins.

De Blasio is up six points from the last Quinnipiac poll, which was released August 13. Quinn dropped three points since that poll and Thompson went down two points. A Wall Street Journal/NBC 4/Marist poll released Aug. 16 showed de Blasio and Quinn tied for first place with 24 percent each.

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Televangelist Pat Robertson claimed on his show, the "700 Club," on Tuesday that gay people in San Francisco have deliberately spread AIDS using rings designed to cut people, according to a video published by Right Wing Watch.

"You know what they do in San Francisco? Some of the gay community there, they want to get people. So, if they've got the stuff, they'll have a ring. You shake hands and the ring's got a little thing where you cut your finger," Robertson said in the video. "Really. I mean it's that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder."

Right Wing Watch said the clip was edited out of the version of the show that was placed on the "700 Club" website and that the comments were made when Robertson was responding to a question from a viewer who was worried about driving with a man who had AIDS. 

"I must confess, I don't know all the ramifications of infection with AIDS," Robertson said in the clip. "I used to think it was transmitted by saliva and other things. Now, they say it may be sexual contact. So, what you want to say if you're driving an elderly man who has got AIDS, don't have sex with him."

Watch the full video below. 

(h/t Towleroad)

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Photos of former Secretary of State Colin Powell jumping on stage at the Apollo in the Hamptons event on Saturday delighted the internet Monday, but now there's footage of his performance. 

The New York Post's Emily Smith posted a brief clip to YouTube that shows Powell grooving alongside Jamie Foxx and Pharrell Williams as the two musicians performed a rendition of the ubiquitous summer hit "Get Lucky" that Williams recorded with Daft Punk.

Check out Powell's dance moves below. 

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An undisclosed settlement has been reached in the discrimination suit against celebrity chef Paula Deen and her brother, Earl "Bubba" Hiers and the case was dismissed in a Georgia federal court Friday, according to Georgia TV station WTOC.

Deen and her brother were being sued by a woman who said she was subjected to "violent, sexist, and racist behavior" while she worked at a restaurant owned by the siblings in Savannah, Ga.

The case earned nationwide attention when a deposition became public in which Deen admitted to having used racial slurs during her life and to having told the employee about her desire to have a "Southern plantation wedding" for her brother with an all black staff. Though Deen released videotaped apologies for her "inappropriate, hurtful language," the Food Network subsequently announced it would not renew her contract

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In the leadup to the 2012 election, entrepreneur, perennial presidential flirt and reality television star Donald Trump spent a good deal of time loudly spreading the false conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and, thus, ineligible to occupy the White House.

However, Trump seems far less interested in discussing the intricacies of 2016's birther-esque drama -- the Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) citizenship saga. TPM has attempted to speak with Trump multiple times over the past three days about the release of Cruz's birth certificate and revelations the senator holds dual citizenship in Canada and the U.S., but Trump has not responded.

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Come, journey down the Ted Cruz citizenship rabbit hole.

When the junior Republican senator from Texas and thinly-veiled 2016 presidential hopeful released his birth certificate last Friday confirming his birth in the far flung, foreign city of Calgary, an exhaustive analysis of the document began. After scouring the certificate a bevy of experts returned with some news: whether he likes it or not, Cruz is a Canadian-American.

His dual citizenship was apparently a shock to Cruz himself. Born in Canada to an American mother, he moved with his family to Texas when he was young and lived most of his life in the U.S., where he said he believed he solely held American citizenship. When asked about it this week, Cruz said he was unaware he had dual citizenship and vowed to renounce his Canadian birthright, something which could take him up to eight months.

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The Coalition To Stop Gun Violence did not get permission from Trayvon Martin's family before releasing a dramatic ad Monday re-enacting his killing.

Joshua Horwitz, the coalition's executive director, appeared Tuesday on MSNBC to discuss the ad, which argues against so-called "stand your ground" laws, and he said his group had not attempted to contact Martin's family about the video.

"We did not. We have a lot of survivors on staff. We work with survivors every day. I got a lot of support from our survivors around the country, but this was a decision we made as our own and we think that it's tastefully done and we think it's an important place to show," Horwitz said. "Obviously, we believe stand your ground should be repelled in the 26 states and the purpose of the video is show what the real results are of those laws."

Benjamin Crump, a Florida attorney who represents Martin's family, appeared on MSNBC Live with Horwitz and said he does not think Martin's parents have watched the ad.

"Not that I'm aware," said Crump. "It's still emotional for them. Their son is gone and he is never coming back. So they have so much emotion tied to these things this they try to shy away from them."

Watch a video of Horwitz and Crump's appearance on MSNBC Live below.



Updated with video 12:11 PM.

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A web video released this week by a group opposed to "stand your ground" laws includes a dramatic re-enactment of the Trayvon Martin killing.

The video, which was released Monday by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, includes real recordings of 911 calls made by the man who shot Martin, George Zimmerman, as well as a neighbor on the night of the killing.

As the calls play, actors portraying Zimmerman and Martin are shown on the screen. The ad, which was entitled "Stand Up To Stand Your Ground," ends with Martin shown laying on the ground in his famous hoodie as the camera pans up to reveal other young men in hoodies labeled with the names of states that have so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws.

"Our laws should protect victims. Not create more," says text that flashes across the screen at the end of the ad. 

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence also created a website in conjunction with the video that attributes the existence of "stand your ground" laws to the "National Rifle Association (NRA) and its partners in the American Legislative Exchange Council." View the full ad below:

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Lorraine Lonegan, wife of Republican New Jersey Senate candidate Steve Lonegan wants to have a "woman to woman chat" with Oprah Winfrey. According to a press release Monday afternoon from the Lonegan campaign, Lorraine Lonegan sent Winfrey a letter "offering to share an inspiring story of a family man and small business owner."

"Dear Ms. Winfrey, The stories you have spotlighted on your show have given hope and inspiration to many people. ... The public receives your guests, and follows them long after they appear to check on their stories," Lorraine Lonegan wrote. "Ms. Winfrey, I have a story for you. A personal story. I would like to meet with you to discuss the biography of my husband, Steven Lonegan."

Steve Lonegan, who is the former three-term mayor of Bogota, N.J. won the U.S. Senate primary in the special election Aug. 13. On Aug. 1, Winfrey held a fundraiser for Steve Lonegan's Democratic rival, Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker. 

Read the full press release from the Lonegan campaign, which was entitled "Lorraine Lonegan Talks to Oprah Winfrey," below.

Lorraine Lonegan Talks to Oprah Winfrey


Metuchen, NJ - Lorraine Lonegan, wife of Steve Lonegan, sent a letter to Oprah Winfrey offering to share an inspiring story of a family man and small business owner.


Lorraine Lonegan wrote:


'Dear Ms. Winfrey, The stories you have spotlighted on your show have given hope and inspiration to many people. People who are having difficulties come to you for advice and guidance. The public receives your guests, and follows them long after they appear to check on their stories. Successes are celebrated, and failures endured by an entire nation.


Ms. Winfrey, I have a story for you. A personal story. I would like to meet with you to discuss the biography of my husband, Steven Lonegan. You may have heard his name as he is presently running for United States Senate against your candidate, Cory Booker. I would like the opportunity to bring my two adult daughters, Katharine and Brooke, with me to speak with you about sides of this family man that you should get to know. I feel that this is in keeping with the way you have proven yourself to be a media professional who can exhibit two sides to a story. This does not need to be in a public forum, although it can be. It is a woman to woman chat that would provide an intelligent exchange of ideas between people who care enough to step up and want to make a difference for people.


If something is not tried, it is 100% failed. I hope you respect our effort in this election enough to meet with me.'


Lonegan served as Bogota Mayor for twelve years, winning three times in a town that gave Barack Obama 67.5 percent of the vote in 2012.  He served for seven years as state director of Americans for Prosperity New Jersey, where he helped defeat liberal attempts to expand big government. Steve Lonegan is the conservative Republican candidate in the New Jersey special election for the United States Senate.  Lonegan stands firmly on the bedrock conservative values of small government, fiscal responsibility and individual liberty."

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Oregon's Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously upheld an ordinance that prohibits people from carrying loaded guns in public places within the city of Portland, according to The Oregonian.

In the ruling, Justice Richard Baldwin wrote the ordinance regulates "the manner of possession and use of firearms in public places," but does not ban them outright. According to The Oregonian, the ordinance has existed in Portland for "decades." The case that reached the Supreme Court resulted from the 2008 arrest of a man police encountered at a convenience store in possession of bags containing, pepper spray, knives, loaded magazines, and "two loaded 9-mm semiautomatic handguns."

In 2010, the Portland City Council voted to amend the ordinance to include a mandatory jail term for violators. The Chief Deputy City Attorney for Portland told The Oregonian the Supreme Court ruling would protect other similar regulations elsewhere in the state.

Photo by Shutterstock / Micha Klootwijk

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