Capitol Hill quiet on Election Day: Piled up mail and 'I Voted' stickers

Life on Capitol Hill came to something of a standstill on Election Day with only a fraction of staffers in their offices and fewer tourists than usual grazing the Capitol’s halls.

A day’s worth of newspapers and mail piled up outside the doors of several vulnerable Democrats, including Reps. Bob Etheridge (N.C.), Mark Schauer (Mich.) and Harry Mitchell (Ariz.).

Of the staff that remained, many donned “I Voted” stickers; several Republicans sported big red “Fire Pelosi!” stickers on their collared shirts. The cafeterias were sparsely used, though gaggles of teenage House pages collected in the Longworth eatery, somewhat removed from the partisan shifts that were afoot at the polls nationwide on Tuesday.


Shadegg (R): 'I would support single payer' over individual mandate

Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), one of the most conservative members of Congress, raised some eyebrows today when he seemed to offer support a single-payer health insurance system.

Shadegg blasted the for-profit health insurance industry during an appearance on MSNBC today, finally declaring, "I would support single payer."

He quickly clarified his comment, saying he would simply like to see health insurance companies have more competition.

"I would support forcing American healthcare companies to compete right," he said "Now they have a monopoly."

That's similar to the argument Democrats have made for the public option, and in a statement to The Hill, Shadegg's office said a public option would be better than requiring individuals to buy insurance from the for-profit sector.

Here's the full statement, followed by the video of his interview today:

Congressman Shadegg believes health insurance companies should have to compete for our business as individual consumers.  Forcing them to compete, even through a public option, would be better than an individual mandate which will not work.  Specifically, on MSNBC he stated his position as follows:
“I would support forcing American health care [insurance] companies to compete…It is immoral in this society to say if you get health care from your employer, it’s tax-free.  But if you want to go out and buy it yourself, you work for a lawn mowing company in Arizona in my district, and you want to buy your own health insurance, you’ve got to buy it with after-tax dollars and this bill doesn’t fix that.  This bill says to that poor lawn man, you must buy health insurance, or your government is going to fine you, and you must buy it from the same for-profit companies that are not doing a very good job of holding down costs right now.”


S.F. mayor pulls out of Calif. governor's race, leaving Jerry Brown

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom pulled out of the California governor's race Friday in the face of blistering poll and fundraising numbers against Jerry Brown, now the last major Dem standing (and one who hasn't even officially announced his candidacy) to replace term-limited Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010 elections.

Newsom said in a statement:

"It is with great regret I announce today that I am withdrawing from the race for governor of California. With a young family and responsibilities at city hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to — and should be — done.

This is not an easy decision. But it is one made with the best intentions for my wife, my daughter, the residents of the city and county of San Francisco, and California Democrats.

...I will continue to fight for change and the causes and issues for which I care deeply — universal health care, a cleaner environment, and a green economy for our families, better education for our children, and, of course, equal rights under the law for all citizens."

Is Newsom really done? There's speculation that he may have stepped aside to set himself up for a lieutenant governor spot on a ticket alongside Brown. But his announcement definitely opens the door even wider for current attorney general and former Gov. Brown to waltz back into the governor's mansion -- or roller stake, as Californians like to remember the Linda Rondstat-dating governor of the late 1970s. Brown outraised Newsom nearly 7-to-1 in the first half of the year, and a Field Poll earlier this month showed Brown 20 points ahead of Newsom with Democrats (a quarter still undecided).

That poll also showed Brown, also a former mayor of Oakland, with a 31-point lead in Southern California, which seems to be out in the cold, so to speak, when it comes to the Democratic nomination. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa brushed off the long-held notion that he would run for governor in a north-south showdown in June, but Newsom's withdrawal brings up new questions of whether Villaraigosa will throw his hat back into the ring. Sure, Newsom and Villaraigosa both have their Achilles' heels -- namely, respective sex scandals -- but Villaraigosa's performance in this year's mayoral race brings concerns of its own. Villaraigosa upset sitting mayor James Hahn in 2005 to become L.A.'s first Latino mayor, but this March Villaraigosa won re-election with just 55 percent of the vote in a field of unknowns -- like Walter Moore, the ultimate L.A. grass-roots candidate, who got 2.7 percent of the vote in 2005 but got 26 percent against Villaraigosa in 2009.

Even on the GOP side, though, it's still a SoCal shutout: former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman, former congressman Tom Campbell and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner all hail from the Silicon Valley.


Hannity: 'I would run for office at some point in my life'

Conservative talk show host Sean Hannity isn't ruling out a more formal life in politics, according to some remarks he made on his television show Thursday night.

Appearing on a discussion panel, Hannity made reference to a report on the conservative website WorldNetDaily that he may run for president.

The bombastic anchor didn't address those rumors directly, but left the door open to elected office.

"I would run for office at some point in my life," he said. "Yes, I would."

Hannity had said that he would let divine providence guide him as to whether or not he'd run for office when questioned about a run for president.

"I've never made a decision in my life without -- whatever destiny God has you've got to fulfill it," Hannity said. "I'm not sure that's my destiny."

Interestingly, Hannity appeared on the panel alongside former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, who'd mulled running for Congress as a Republican against Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.) for a short amount of time before ruling out a challenge.

Watch a video of Hannity's remarks, flagged by the liberal group Media Matters for America, below:


Momentum builds for appointment to Kennedy seat

Massachusetts lawmakers are beginning to rally behind a plan that would allow for a special appointment to fill the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D) seat, giving Democrats in Washington the votes they need to advance their agenda.

State law requires a special election to fill a vacancy, to be held between 145 and 160 days of a vacancy occurring. The law was changed in 2004, when Sen. John Kerry (D) sought the White House and Republican Gov. Mitt Romney (R) held the power to appoint a replacement.

Were a special election to occur, virtually all of the state's ten Democratic members of Congress have been mentioned as potential candidates, along with several widely-known officials who have held office in the state.

But with healthcare legislation and the rest of an ambitious Democratic agenda hanging in the balance, support is growing for a quick legislative fix, which would give Gov. Deval Patrick (D) the power to appoint a temporary replacement.

It is an idea Kennedy himself urged on his home state legislators. In a letter last week, Kennedy told Patrick and leaders in both chambers on Beacon Hill he supported changing the law.

Democratic leaders expressed willingness to push forward with such a proposal, but it would take time to work its way through the state legislative process, which could delay any possible appointment significantly and perhaps make the effort moot.

Patrick told a local radio station Wednesday that he would support such a change, and state Senate President Therese Murray has reportedly warmed to the idea after giving it a cold reception.

Patrick said he would urge the State Legislature to adopt the change.


Romney leads GOP field for 2012, though Obama leads all challengers

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney leads an early field of potential Republican challengers to President Obama in 2012, a new poll found, though Obama maintains an early lead over all would-be GOP opponents.

30 percent of Republicans prefer Romney in an early test of the 2012 Republican primary field, according to a survey conducted earlier this month by the Clarus Research Group.

The Massachusetts conservative leads a potential field including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), according to the poll.

22 percent of Republicans prefer Huckabee, 18 percent like Palin, 15 percent want Gingrich, and four percent support Jindal, according to the poll.

Still, President Obama maintains a comfortable lead over all the Republicans tested in the poll.

Obama leads Romney 47-38, Huckabee 48-38, Gingrich 52-34, and Palin 53-34.

Of all Republican candidates, Romney fares the best with independent voters -- claiming a two point edge over the president -- while Palin fares the worst, with Obama enjoying a 15 point margin above Palin.

The poll, conducted by live telephone interviews between August 14-18, has a 3.1 percent margin of error.

Labor launches ads to thank Specter for 'card check' reversal

A leading labor group is launched a series of online advertisements Friday, seeking to thank Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) for tentatively backing "card check" legislation -- and hold him to that pledge.

American Rights at Work, a nonpartisan group backed by organized labor, set off an advertising campaign on Pennsylvania and national news websites building on Specter's pledge at a conference of liberal bloggers earlier this month that he would back cloture for a modified version of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).

"I expect the cloture vote to occur on a modified version of the Employee's Free Choice legislation," Specter told the bloggers. "And I will support that cloture vote."

That position marked a reversal of Specter's previous stance, before he switched parties to seek reelection as a Democrat, when he pledged to not only oppose EFCA, but also any vote to end debate and bring it up for a final vote.

The American Rights at Work ad says Specter "listened" to that group in crafting his stance on the card check bill, a union organizing bill strongly supported by organized labor, and tells viewers to "thank Senator Specter and make sure he keeps listening."

The ad will run on national sites like the New York Times, Washington Post, and MSNBC websites, as well as several prominent political sites in Pennsylvania:,,,, and

View a sample of the ad below:


2012 watch: Romney headed to Michigan

Mitt Romney is headed to Michigan, a key GOP primary state that gave the former Massachusetts governor a big win in 2008.

Romney, whose father was governor of Michigan and an auto industry exec, will keynote the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference" in late September.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) will also speak at the event.

Hm, those are two Republicans who have more than a passing interest in solidifying their ties to the Michigan GOP...

Frank: Three or four House members may run for Kennedy's seat

Three or four Massachusetts lawmakers may look at running for the vacant seat in their state, but many will be discouraged because of plum House positions, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Thursday.

"Frankly, in 2004, most of us were thinking about running when John Kerry looked like he might become president, because we were in the minority," Frank said in a telephone interview on MSNBC. "And when you're in the minority, you don't have much of an impact."

Frank backed the idea of an interim senator to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) before a special election could be held, but said it would be a mistake for some lawmakers to give up high-ranking positions in the House.

But the veteran House member, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, seemed to take himself -- and others -- out of consideration for the Senate seat.

"I've got a committee chairmanship that's very important to me and to the things I'm trying to do," Frank said, naming Reps. Ed Markey (D) and Jim McGovern (D) as others with important positions.

"I think three or four may run, but I think many of us have positions now that it would be a mistake to give up," he added.

Frank praised the late senator, but noted that his voice had been absent for some months now in the Senate, as Kennedy had been holed up in Massachusetts during his struggle against cancer.

Candidate accused of abandoning Arena Football League

Ohio House candidate Jim Renacci's (R) day job as an Arena Football League owner was supposed to help him in his race against Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio).

But at least one AFL fan isn't happy to see Renacci take the plunge, noting that he was supposed to be responsible for saving the league from its impending doom.

Writing in the Grand Rapids, Mich., Press (where they also have an AFL team), columnist Brian VanOchten tears Renacci a new one:
No wonder the Arena Football League remains in limbo.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Jim Renacci, co-owner of the Columbus Destroyers and leader of the AFL Board of Directors' restructuring effort, has been preoccupied with launching a political campaign.

Renacci filed paperwork to run for a U.S. House seat in northeast Ohio.

And here's the punch line: He says his priority will be job creation.

The lack of leadership from Renacci, former mayor of Wadsworth, Ohio, has resulted in hundreds of jobs lost in numerous communities -- including Grand Rapids -- that supported AFL teams.

The AFL canceled its 2009 season last December because of financial problems amid crumbling economic conditions. The league recently announced it suspended operations indefinitely.

So, now, it appears Renacci has abandoned the league.