Friday, December 19, 2014

POSTED: Monday, November 17, 2014, 2:19 PM

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) joined the Senate’s top-ranking Democrats Monday in urging President Obama to use executive authority to protect undocumented immigrants, much as the president is expected to do in the coming weeks, if not days.

“Because House Republicans have not acted, we fully support your decision to use your well-established executive authority to improve as much of the immigration system as you can,” said the letter, signed by Menendez along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and the top Democrats in the Senate, Richard Durbin (D., Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Patty Murray (D., Wash.) and the head of Democrats’ national Senate campaign arm, Michael Bennet (D., Col.).

Menendez is the highest-ranking Hispanic in the Senate and was part of the “Gang of Eight” that crafted a bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate last year. But the package has not come up for a vote in the Republican-controlled House, and with Republicans set to take hold of the Senate, too, in January, Democrats see executive action as their only avenue for changing the immigration system.

POSTED: Friday, November 7, 2014, 3:58 PM

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan (R., Pa.) will be aiming for a seat on the powerful House Ways and Means committee when Congress returns to Washington, according to two Pennsylvania Republican sources.

Meehan just won re-election to his third term, and could see his profile and influence rise if he gains a foothold on the committee, which oversees tax policy and is considered one of the most important in all of Congress. The panel will likely be led next term by former GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.)

Meehan, of Delaware County, hopes to replace fellow Southeast Pennsylvania Republican Jim Gerlach, who did not to seek re-election in his Chester County-based district. Keystone State Republicans are urging GOP leaders to give Meehan a slot on the committee, hoping to ensure that the region retains its voice on the panel. Meehan has been laying the groundwork with members of the Republican conference for some time now.

POSTED: Friday, November 7, 2014, 1:11 PM

WASHINGTON – After months of ads and attacks, we finally got results Tuesday. What do they mean and what’s next? 

As the last embers of Election Day die out, here are some thoughts on the future for Sen. Pat Toomey and Republicans and Hillary Clinton and Democrats, the failings of national Democrats’ House campaigns, Bucks County upstart Kevin Strouse, a secret weapon for the winning campaigns and the sad, scripted nature of campaigns. 

In no particular order … 

POSTED: Thursday, October 30, 2014, 4:04 PM
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Delaware Sen. Chris Coons sharply criticized Gov. Christie and New York Gov. Cuomo over their Ebola quarantine policies Thursday, writing that their plans “sent a dangerous, punitive message” to “dedicated people” needed to help stop the virus from spreading.

Coons, a Democrat who chairs the Senate subcommittee that oversees African affairs, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that “forced quarantines and the barring of people without Ebola symptoms are tactics not backed by science. Worse, they are likely to do more long-term harm than good. Public health experts warn that such measures would deter others from serving and increase the likelihood of potentially infected people actively avoiding U.S. monitoring efforts.”

Christie, a Republican, and Cuomo, a Democrat, last week imposed quarantine policies more strict than those of the Obama administration, sparking controversy over whether they were taking aggressive steps to prevent Ebola’s spread or were overreactions driven by grandstanding.

POSTED: Monday, October 20, 2014, 7:07 PM
Battling for a U.S. House seat, Republican Tom MacArthur and Democrat Aimee Belgard during a lighter moment at their debate in Moorestown. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – There’s more bad news for Democrats who had hoped U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan’s decision to retire would help them snatch his South Jersey congressional seat from Republicans.

House Majority PAC, which aims to help Democrats win House races, is moving its advertising buy from the competitive race to replace Runyan – featuring Republican Tom MacArthur and Democrat Aimee Belgard -- to the safe Democratic seat next door, in Camden County.

That means the PAC will instead be helping state Sen. Donald Norcross (D., Camden) as he runs against Republican Garry Cobb in the contest to replace former U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, a Democrat who resigned earlier this year. A spokesman for House Majority PAC confirmed the move in an e-mail but provided no further details.

POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 2:22 PM
Frank LoBiondo, a longtime Republican Congressman from the Atlantic City area.

WASHINGTON – A couple weeks ago one poll suggested that Democrat Bill Hughes Jr. might be within striking distance of a major upset of U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.) in South Jersey.

A new poll today says: not so fast.

And maybe not even close.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 2:13 PM
Battling for a U.S. House seat, Republican Tom MacArthur and Democrat Aimee Belgard during a lighter moment at their debate in Moorestown. (Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – Despite Republican Tom MacArthur’s personal wealth, the spending battle between he and Democrat Aimee Belgard has been surprisingly close so far – thanks to national Democrats’ investment in the most hard-fought congressional race in the region.

MacArthur, a former insurance industry executive, spent $1.9 million (much of it his own money) in his run for the House seat representing much of Burlington and Ocean counties in July, August and September, according to campaign filings released today.

Belgard, an attorney and Burlington County freeholder, spent about $590,000 over the same three-month span her campaign said today.  But the Democratic Congressional Committee helped by pouring $1.2 million into the race to attack MacArthur and close the spending gap. (The comparisons are not exact: the DCCC spending includes amounts expended in October; the candidate reports only go through Sept. 30).

POSTED: Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 12:11 PM
Battling for a U.S. House seat, Republican Tom MacArthur and Democrat Aimee Belgard during a lighter moment at their debate in Moorestown. (Elizabeth Robertson / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – A new poll says Republican Tom MacArthur has a 10 point lead over Democrat Aimee Belgard in the race for a South Jersey congressional seat, signaling that what was thought to be the toughest race in the region may not turn out so close after all.

MacArthur won support from 51 percent of likely voters in the district compared to 41 percent for Belgard, a Burlington County freeholder, according to the Monmouth University poll released Tuesday. Only 6 percent were undecided and the rest said they would support an alternate candidate in the contest to replace U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), who is retiring. The district includes much of Burlington and Ocean counties.

“This is not turning out to be the horse race that Democrats had hoped,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

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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