Monday, April 27, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, April 9, 2015, 6:57 PM
Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro. (File Photo: Laurence Kesterson / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro has fielded calls from Democratic leaders urging him to jump into the race for U.S. Senate, according to an Associated Press report.

Shapiro has spoken with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) – who is set to become the Senate’s top Democrat in the next Congress – and Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.), who is leading Democrats’ 2016 Senate campaign efforts, AP reported.

So far former Congressman Joe Sestak is the only Democrat running in the race to take on Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.). But many Democrats are wary of the unconventional Sestak in a race that will be critical to the party’s hopes of taking back the Senate.

Jonathan Tamari @ 6:57 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 7, 2015, 3:45 PM
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) reacts as he exits the podium after speaking to the media during a news conference in Newark, New Jersey April 1, 2015. (Eduardo Munoz / Reuters)

WASHINGTON -- As he battles the weight of the U.S. Department of Justice, Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) is pushing back with a team that includes one of Washington’s most high-powered lawyers, a communications chief who has worked on presidential campaigns, a crisis consultant who was once held a high-ranking post at the justice department, and a longtime New Jersey insider.

Together, the group has vast experience in high-stakes political affairs. Now they will be charged with picking away at the feds’ 68-page indictment, countering criticism, building support, and advancing Menendez’s message as he tries to withstand a deluge of negative press and public pressure.

The indictment unveiled last week alleges that Menendez accepted bribes, in the form of numerous flights on private jets, luxurious stays in Paris and the Dominican Republic and more, in exchange for using his office to help the personal and business interests of Salomon Melgen, a South Florida eye doctor and major campaign donor.

Jonathan Tamari @ 3:45 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Monday, April 6, 2015, 11:57 AM

WASHINGTON – Joe Sestak just finished walking 422-miles across Pennsylvania -- and slipped three points further behind Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), according to a Quinnipiac University poll out Monday.

Toomey (R., Pa.) holds a 13 point edge over Sestak, a Democrat, in a potential 2016 match up, according to the survey. It found that 48 percent of voters would back Toomey in a head-to-head match up, against 35 percent for Sestak.

A Q Poll in February -- before Sestak's walk began -- gave Toomey a 10-point lead.

Jonathan Tamari @ 11:57 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 2:20 PM
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is trailed by reporters as he walks to the Senate floor for a series of votes March 26, 2015. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Bob Menendez wants to show Russia a red card.

With a potential indictment on corruption charges looming as early as Wednesday afternoon, the New Jersey Democrat led a letter signed by 13 senators – including Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) -- urging soccer’s world governing body to move the 2018 World Cup out of Russia as punishment for that country’s aggression in Ukraine.

The letter was sent to Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, which oversees the event.

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POSTED: Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 2:12 PM

WASHINGTON –Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) is expecting a federal indictment Wednesday, according to two New Jersey Democratic sources.

Menendez has been traveling, but is expected to be back in New Jersey tomorrow and people around him expect the long-awaited corruption charges to be brought then -- though there is some caution that there could yet be delays; previous predictions of imminent charges have proven premature. The case is being handled by the Department of Justice in Washington, but a grand jury has been meeting in Newark.

Politico reported the expected indictment Tuesday morning.

Jonathan Tamari @ 2:12 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 11:58 AM
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the Center for American Progress March 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. Clinton joined a panel in discussing challenges facing urban centers in the United States. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Pat Toomey isn’t named in the latest Quinnipiac Poll, but the Republican senator probably likes it anyway.

The poll, out Tuesday morning, shows Hillary Clinton’s numbers sinking in Pennsylvania – and that could be a key factor in Toomey’s tough 2016 re-election fight.

The poll, one of three Quinnipiac released in swing states (Ohio and Florida are the others), shows a sharp drop in Pennsylvanians approval of Clinton, the Democratic front-runner in waiting. Her favorability in Pennsylvania stood at 48-47, according to the poll, down from 55-38 Feb. 3. And her lead in the commonwealth has narrowed in head-to-head matchups against Republican hopefuls like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Clinton even trails Rand Paul, 45-44. (Clinton’s ratings also fell in Ohio and Florida, the survey found). 

Jonathan Tamari @ 11:58 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, March 20, 2015, 4:51 PM
Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican, will chair the Task Force to Investigate Terrorist Financing.

WASHINGTON – Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick will lead a House task force aimed at finding ways to cut off financing for terrorist groups, the House Financial Services Committee announced this week. 

Fitzpatrick, a Republican, will chair the Task Force to Investigate Terrorist Financing, which will work on the issue for six months and recommend legislation, if needed, to bolster U.S. efforts to stop financing from reaching terrorist groups such as ISIS.

The bipartisan task force of around 20 lawmakers will look into “terrorist financing, evaluating the security of the U.S. banking system and asking the tough questions as to whether or not we are doing enough,” Fitzpatrick said in a telephone interview Friday.

Jonathan Tamari @ 4:51 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 4:22 PM
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – In the latest Senate flare up, Republicans are getting some help from Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), reflecting how the ground has shifted under him since the GOP took over the Senate in January. 

Three times this week, including once Wednesday, Casey has voted to advance a bill that has faced fierce Democratic opposition over language restricting federal spending on abortion.

Each time, he has been one of just four Democrats to back the bill while the rest of his party’s senators oppose it in a procedural blockade that has stalled the measure. All of the Democratic supporters, like Casey, come from moderate to conservative states -- the others being from Indiana, North Dakota and West Virginia. The bill won 57 votes Wednesday, but needed 60 to overcome a Democratic filibuster threat. 

Jonathan Tamari @ 4:22 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog

Jonathan Tamari is the Inquirer’s Washington correspondent. He writes about the lawmakers, politics and policy that affect Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Tamari previously covered the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL. Before that he worked in Trenton, reporting on the characters and color of New Jersey state government. He lives in Washington.

Reach Jonathan at jtamari@phillynews.com.

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