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

Shannon Richardson, a Texas-based actress who has had small parts in movies and television shows including "The Walking Dead" and "The Vampire Diaries," was charged Friday for allegedly mailing a threatening letter to President Barack Obama. She was not charged in connection with the ricin found on the Obama letter or the two other ricin-tainted letters she allegedly mailed to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mark Glaze, the director of Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns group.

Richardson's arrest marked an abrupt twist in a case in which authorities say she initially contacted law enforcement and accused her husband, Nathaniel, of committing the crime. Court documents in the case reveal what led to Shannon's arrest, including her alleged failure of a lie detector test, evidence the letters were printed from her laptop, and the fact her husband has an alibi for when the printing occurred. Nathaniel Richardson has not been charged.

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A new web video from Rep. Ed Markey's (D-MA) Senate campaign attacks his Republican rival, businessman Gabriel Gomez, for his positions on women's issues. A source on the Markey campaign told TPM they see women's issues as a major weakness for Gomez and are planning more similar attacks.  

"Gabriel Gomez has shown a serious vulnerability on women's issues, and so we're going to continue to highlight his willingness to support pro-life justices for the Supreme Court who'd overturn Roe v. Wade and refusal to take a position on measures like the Blunt Amendment," the source said. "Gomez's support erodes the more he's forced to come clean and talk about these issues."

A recent poll showed Gomez's support among women voters is dropping. At a debate between Gomez and Markey on Wednesday, Gomez said he would not support or oppose the nomination of a potential Supreme Court justice based solely on their position on abortion. 

The Markey campaign's new web video, which is entitled "24-Hour Flip Flop" begins with Gomez's statement in the debate that he thinks requiring a woman to wait 24 hours before getting an abortion "is not asking a lot." The video goes on to note Gomez tried to clarify that comment the day after the debate and said he would oppose any plan to establish 24-hour abortion waiting periods.

Text appearing in the video claims Gomez's evolving position on waiting periods "isn't the first time Gomez has been uncertain of his views on women's issues." It goes on to highlight Gomez's reluctance to say definitively whether he supports or opposes amendments that would ban federal funds for abortion or allow employers to deny birth control coverage. 

"How can Massachusetts women really trust someone so uncertain about women's health issues?" text in the video asks.

Gomez has stated on mulitple occasions that, though he is "personally pro-life," he would not seek to change current abortion laws if he enters the Senate. Will Ritter, a spokesman for the Gomez campaign, repeated this argument and pointed to Markey's past opposition to abortion when asked about the new web video. 

"Its not surprising Ed Markey and his allies are desperate in their attempts to pretend Gabriel Gomez supports something he does not. Gabriel  Gomez has stated from Day One that he will not go to Washington to change the law on abortion," Ritter said. "The only candidate in this election who supported a constitutional ban on abortion is career Washington politician Ed Markey."

Watch the Markey campaign's video below.

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Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus discussed E.W. Jackson, the GOP's nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia, in an interview on Washington D.C. radio station WMAL Friday. Priebus praised Jackson after he was asked whether numerous controversies surrounding him might be "a distraction" in Virginia's hotly-contested gubernatorial race. He also said he believes voters in the race will remain focused on the Republican nominee for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, and his Democratic rival, Terry McAuliffe. 

"I think that he’s a pretty dynamic guy. But ultimately this is about Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe," Preibus said of Jackson. "I think we know that, you know it’s never, just like in the Presidential election. It’s usually never about the VP, it’s always about the presidential candidate, it’s all about the governor. ... That’s what’s going to matter, in the end, but, obviously, I think it’s good to have an articulate lieutenant governor that can work hard underneath, and move votes, and help out the top of the ticket."

Since he won the GOP's nomination to run for lieutenant governor last month, Jackson has generated a slew of headlines for past statements he made criticizing gays, accusing President Barack Obama of harboring “Muslim sensibilities,” comparing Planned Parenthood to the KKK, praising the Constitution's original clause to count blacks as three-fifths of a person, and for his efforts in the late 1980's to fight desegregation in Boston

Listen to a clip of Priebus' comments on Jackson, which a Democratic strategist flagged to TPM, below.

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Newark Mayor Cory Booker is reportedly planning to officially enter the special election to replace deceased New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg on Saturday. According to the Associated Press, Booker's plans were confirmed by a member of his campaign staff. Booker did not respond to a request for comment from TPM. 

Last December, Booker announced he was considering running for Senate in 2014, after the end of his term in Newark. After Lautenberg's death, Gov. Chris Christie scheduled a special election to replace him on Oct. 16. The primary is scheduled to take place Aug. 13. 

Polls have shown Booker well ahead of his potential Democratic rivals, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ). Holt announced his candidacy Thursday. Pallone is reportedly running but has yet to make an official announcement. Wealthy Democratic activist and Hoboken Councilwoman Beth Mason is also reportedly considering throwing her hat into the ring. 

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Former Minnesota state Rep. Tom Emmer is making good on his promise. During the lengthy recount that followed his failed 2010 gubernatorial campaign, he vowed not to go away "regardless what happens."

Emmer eventually conceded that race after weeks of legal wrangling, but he returned to politics Wednesday and announced his intention to run for the House seat Rep. Michele Bachmann is leaving behind. Loyal TPM readers will no doubt remember Emmer from his 2010 race, which even before it devolved into court cases and recounts, was a rather wild ride complete with talking dolls, coin-throwing attacks, and drinking drama.

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Updated at 3:15 p.m.

On Thursday, Chris Christie announced the appointment of a close ally, New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa, to serve as an interim replacement for the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Citing his family, Chiesa, who will be sworn in Monday, said he will not run in the special election to hold the seat beyond the fall. Chiesa is not an especially well-known figure, even within the Garden State, but he and the governor have a relationship that goes back over two decades.

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Chris Christie's opponent in the New Jersey governor's race has launched an effort to drum up opposition to his plans for a special election that critics have called self-serving. Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono sent a petition to supporters Thursday asking them to "demand" Christie reverse his decision to hold a special election in October to fill New Jersey's seat in the U.S. Senate that became empty with the death of Democrat Frank Lautenberg Monday.

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In their debate Wednesday night in the Massachusetts Senate special election, Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez and Democratic Rep. Ed Markey each took every opportunity to brand the other as a product of his national party out of step with the state's voters. At every turn, Markey characterized Gomez as being in lockstep with national Republicans and Gomez cast Markey as a "hyperpartisan" creature of Washington.

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Action movie star Steven Seagal has made headlines in recent days for helping a congressional delegation arrange meetings with Russian officials and for a potential plan to make him the face of one of the country's largest weapons companies. Seagal's Russian connections highlighted a lesser known role the actor, martial arts expert, and blues guitarist has played in recent years, that of a politically-connected globetrotter who dabbles in a seemingly contradictory blend of Buddhism, activism, and heavy weaponry.

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At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) called for a special election to replace the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg to be held on Oct. 16. A primary will take place on Aug. 13. Christie will appoint an interim replacement to serve in Lautenberg's Senate seat until the election is concluded. Though he did not reveal whom he plans to choose, his deft handling of the situation has already allowed Christie to sidestep several potentially sticky situations and may have created an obstacle for one of his top rivals.

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