Friday, July 20, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2007 – 2:08 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Cuts Lender Subsidies to Bolster Student Aid
  • Partisan Acrimony Reaches Full Boil in Senate
  • Anti-War Bloc in House Vows to Oppose Further Iraq Funding
  • Transportation-HUD Funding Fight Moves to House Floor
  • Hoekstra Urges Probe of CIA Cooperation in Secret Prison Case
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Today in Washington

The House is not in session.

The Senate meets for speeches only; returns at 10 a.m. Monday to begin debate on Higher Education Act reauthorization bill (S 1642).

The President meets with military support organizations.

In Washington,  the Washington Forum hosts a discussion on China’s university student associations, with Lidia Louk, Falun Dafa Club, Columbia University; Xiaodan Wang, former student, University of Minnesota; Visiting Asst. Professor Larry Liu, American University; Jingning Li, former president of Chinese Student and Scholar Association, Catholic University; and others. 2-4 p.m., Room 2105, Rayburn House Office Building.

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Top Stories

Senate Cuts Lender Subsidies to Bolster Student Aid

Senators aiming to curtail lender subsidies and use the funds to beef up aid for college students and graduates took a major step Friday toward reversing years of Republican policies.  [Read More]

Partisan Acrimony Reaches Full Boil in Senate

Partisan acrimony has come to a full boil in the Senate, with both parties accusing the other of bad will and abusive parliamentary hijinks.  [Read More]

Anti-War Bloc in House Vows to Oppose Further Iraq Funding

A group of 69 House Democrats has put the White House on notice that its members will not support any more war funding bills unless the measures include a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq.  [Read More]

Transportation-HUD Funding Fight Moves to House Floor

When the House takes up a $104 billion fiscal 2008 Transportation-HUD appropriations bill Monday, Republicans likely will try to reduce its spending total to the level sought by President Bush.  [Read More]

Hoekstra Urges Probe of CIA Cooperation in Secret Prison Case

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee on Friday called for the nation’s spy chief to investigate whether Central Intelligence Agency officers improperly aided a European probe of secret prisons the CIA operated abroad.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Athens Banner-Herald reports that Paul Broun’s narrow victory in Tuesday’s election for a vacant House seat in Georgia is likely to stand. Less than 100 provisional and absentee ballots remain to be counted, leaving former state Sen. Jim Whitehead with little chance of eliminating Broun’s 373-vote lead. Broun has declared victory, but spokesman John Stone said Whitehead won’t concede or ask for a recount until all the votes are counted and the Georgia secretary of state certifies the election.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Republican state Rep. Jonathan Paton has dropped out of the race to challenge Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., saying he will support state Senate President Tim Bee, a friend, though Bee hasn’t yet announced his candidacy. The Daily Star suggests that Paton could be “a possible candidate for Bee’s Senate seat” as he plans to file papers Friday to form an exploratory committee and start raising money.

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., has regained most of his speech and mobility and is nearing a return to his Senate office. His son, Brendan, said Thursday that his father should be back by the fall, possibly as soon as September. Brendan Johnson said his father speaks more slowly and softly than he did before the brain injury, but has no problems forming and communicating complex thoughts. “Unlike most politicians, his brain is working faster than his mouth is,” he joked. “Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., keeps in regular contact with Johnson. She said that the senator, barring a setback, told her he plans to run for re-election” next year.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
NEWARK, N.J.: Land-Seizure Ruling a Blow to 2,000-Condo Project
KING COUNTY, Wash.: County Bans Trans Fat, Mandates Menu Labeling
WASHINGTON, D.C.: I.G.: City Overpaid $97 Million for Medicaid
CALIFORNIA: Court Removes Cloud over Thousands of Sentences
THE CHESAPEAKE BAY REGION: Report: Warming Already Threatening Bay
THE GULF COAST REGION: House Panel: FEMA Ignored Formaldehyde Hazards

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Political Trivia

From an old Texas family, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, grew up in La Marque, a small town on the Gulf Coast. Her great-great-grandfather, Charles S. Taylor, was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. In an elementary school diary, Hutchison once penciled, “I want to be president of the United States.” But she says she never had any real political ambitions until a local GOP leader urged Hutchison, a TV reporter, to run for the state legislature. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for THURSDAY, JULY 19, 2007 – 2:18 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Senate Panel Approves Renewal of Health Insurance for Children
  • Democratic Plan to Ping-Pong Lobbying Bill Draws GOP Ire
  • Labeling Fight Put Off As Farm Bill Markup Proceeds
  • Currency Issue Puts China In Crosshairs Again
  • Stars Shine in Donor Lists for Democratic White House Contenders
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Today in Washington

The House continues consideration of the fiscal 2008 Labor-HHS spending bill (HR 3043).

The Senate continues consideration of a student loan reconciliation bill (HR 2669).

The President tours Nashville Bun Company in Tennessee; delivers remarks on the budget at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.

In Washington,  the Center for Strategic and International Studies holds a discussion with Takao Toshikawa of the Oriental Economist Report, and Michael Green of CSIS on the effects of sagging public opinion about the Liberal Democratic Party on the Shinzo Abe administration in the upcoming July 29 elections. 3 p.m., B-1 Conference Level, 1800 K St., N.W.

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Top Stories

Senate Panel Approves Renewal of Health Insurance for Children

The Senate Finance Committee approved a $60 billion children’s health insurance bill Thursday, endorsing a bipartisan deal and defying a presidential veto threat.  [Read More]

Democratic Plan to Ping-Pong Lobbying Bill Draws GOP Ire

Congressional leaders have hatched a plan to bypass a traditional conference committee in an effort to force final passage of a long-stalled lobbying and ethics bill.  [Read More]

Labeling Fight Put Off As Farm Bill Markup Proceeds

Food labeling advocates and meat packers have been given a week to strike a deal on mandatory country-of-origin labeling, temporarily averting what was expected to be a heated debate over the hot-button issue.  [Read More]

Currency Issue Puts China In Crosshairs Again

Leaders of two Senate committees plan to mark up bills aimed at China’s currency practices before Congress departs for the August recess.  [Read More]

Stars Shine in Donor Lists for Democratic White House Contenders

Financial contributors to the Democratic presidential hopefuls number in the hundreds of thousands, but celebrities and other public figures who opened their checkbooks naturally stand out from rank-and-file supporters.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Denver Post reports that Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., “took in hefty contributions from corporate executives, political action committees and the chief Democratic campaign fund as he raised $1.1 million in the past three months” in his bid for the open Colorado Senate seat. His “early infusion of funds is believed in political circles to help attract more money,” said Paul S. Ryan, FEC program director for The Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit government watchdog group. “The early money is the most difficult to raise, but it’s the most important to candidates,” Ryan said. “It not only makes you look good, but it deters opponents from throwing their hat into the ring,” he added.

According to the Bradenton Herald, “Signs increasingly are pointing toward a rematch between U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and Christine Jennings for the 13th Congressional District seat next year. Jennings, the Democrat who is still contesting her 2006 election loss to Buchanan, has scheduled ‘an important speech to friends and supporters’ at a Sarasota restaurant today. Her spokesman confirmed Wednesday that Jennings has decided on her political future and will discuss it, but declined to say what she plans to do.” The paper noted that, at the end of an e-mail announcing the speech, was the statement, “Paid for and authorized by Jennings 2008.” But Jennings may face a Democratic primary: “Michael LaFevers, a Bradenton Democrat who announced plans to run for the seat but failed to qualify in 2006, has opened a campaign account and filed paperwork for a 2008 run, records show.”

The Savannah Morning News, reports that Republican “State Rep. Buddy Carter says he is ‘seriously’ considering taking on U.S. Rep. John Barrow next year and will make up his mind within a month.” Barrow won re-election in the GA12 district last year by only 864 votes. Carter, 49, is in his second term in the Georgia legislature representing parts of Chatham and Effingham counties and owns three local pharmacies. If he enters the race, Carter could face GOP primary contest; former Augusta mayor Bob Young has been mentioned as a possible Republican contender. Barrow already has over $736,000 cash on hand for his re-election campaign.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
THE NATION: NYC, D.C. Get Boost in Anti-Terror Funds
MARION COUNTY, Ind.: Governor Orders County Tax Reassessment
CALIFORNIA: 2,100 Sex Offenders Must Relocate
FLORIDA: Governor Revives Executions

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Political Trivia

Although Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., made it to the Senate four years before Sander M. Levin won his House seat, he says he has always looked up to his older brother. Both absorbed a passion for politics from their father, a lawyer active in social justice causes in Detroit. “My older brother was a tremendous role model for me,” Levin says. “As a kid, he always involved me in his group. He’s sort of a lifelong best buddy for me.” Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for WEDNESDAY, JULY 18, 2007 – 2:35 P.M.

In This Issue

  • With Iraq Amendment Blocked, Reid Sets Aside Defense Bill
  • Senate Likely to Tackle Homeland Appropriations Next Week
  • House Panel Approves New Farm Subsidy Limits
  • House Panel Approves Ban on IRS Use of Private Tax Collectors
  • Chinese Imports Under New Scrutiny
  • Underdog Holds Slim Lead in Georgia House Runoff
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Today in Washington

The House considers the fiscal 2008 Labor-HHS spending bill (HR 3043).

The Senate set aside consideration of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill (HR 1585); now debating education reconciliation bill (HR 2669).

The President participates in a discussion about health care initiatives at computer accessories manufacturer Man and Machine, Inc., in Landover, Md.; meets with import safety working group.

In Washington,  Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies hosts a forum on transport and trade in Greater Central Asia. Focus on “The New Silk Roads,” a new book edited by S. Frederick Starr. 5:30 p.m., Kenney Auditorium, 1740 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.

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Top Stories

With Iraq Amendment Blocked, Reid Sets Aside Defense Bill

After a rare all-night debate whose outcome was never in doubt, Senate Republicans Wednesday blocked a vote on a Democratic measure to require a withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq by next spring. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., responded by setting aside the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill for now.  [Read More]

Senate Likely to Tackle Homeland Appropriations Next Week

The Senate is expected to take up the homeland security appropriations bill next week, making that the first of the 12 fiscal 2008 spending bills to reach the floor this year.  [Read More]

House Panel Approves New Farm Subsidy Limits

Under a manager’s amendment to the 2007 farm bill adopted Wednesday by the House Agriculture Committee, the wealthiest American farmers would no longer be able to collect government subsidies.  [Read More]

House Panel Approves Ban on IRS Use of Private Tax Collectors

The House Ways and Means Committee capped a long-running dispute Wednesday by approving a bill to revoke the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to use private debt collectors.  [Read More]

Chinese Imports Under New Scrutiny

Lawmakers opened a new front against Chinese imports today, assaulting the economic giant for sending U.S. consumers poisoned seafood, unsafe tires and children’s toys and other faulty products.  [Read More]

Underdog Holds Slim Lead in Georgia House Runoff

Underdog Paul Broun held a slim 373-vote edge Wednesday over fellow Republican and former state Sen. Jim Whitehead in Georgia’s 10th Congressional District as election officials waited for absentee, provisional or military ballots to arrive and be counted.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Denver Post reports that Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, who announced his resignation Tuesday, had briefly considered running for the open Senate seat in his home state of Colorado, but decided against it. Nicholson said he had received many calls about seeking the seat being vacated by GOP Sen. Wayne Allard, but “I looked at it and considered it briefly and decided not to run.”

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Democrat Bob Olson said Tuesday he will challenge 6th District Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., instead of running for the U.S. Senate. Olson had lagged in opinion polls and fundraising behind two well-financed Democrats, comedian Al Franken and trial lawyer Mike Ciresi, and said state and local party leaders had encouraged him to switch to the House race. The daily said Olson “didn’t become a resident of the 6th District until Monday.”

The Tacoma News Tribune reports that Washington state Sen. Rodney Tom announced he will enter the Democratic primary for the 8th District House seat held by GOP Rep. Dave Reichert. Tom said he is running because he has the experience that Darcy Burner, the Democrat who challenged Reichert in 2006, lacks. Tom, who was a Republican before switching parties last year, said his moderate stance is a better fit for the district. Burner, a former Microsoft executive, said she has better name recognition in her favor and the advantage of getting an earlier start to her campaign.

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
THE NATION: Police Officer Deaths Highest in Three Decades
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla.: Facing Indictment, Commissioner Quits
COLORADO: Capitol Gunman Didn't Draw Weapon
KENTUCKY: Governor's Contributor Gets Ethics-Panel Job
FLORIDA: Bonds to Bolster Hurricane Fund

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Political Trivia

A recovering alcoholic, Rep. Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., speaks freely about his struggles with addiction. He says he slipped into alcoholism as a college senior, and recognized the need to do something about it in 1981 when he woke up in jail in Sioux Falls, S.D., after a night of drinking and fighting, with little memory of what had happened. “Every day, I have to recover,” he says. “Every day I do healthy, positive things so I won’t take another drink.” Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

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CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for TUESDAY, JULY 17, 2007 – 2:28 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Nicholson Resigns as VA Secretary
  • Both Sides in Iraq Debate Seize On New Intelligence Assessment
  • Senate Panel Proposes Increased Spending on Food, Drug Safety
  • Ways and Means Bill Aims To Curb Identity Theft
  • Last-Minute Endorsement Boosts Whitehead in All-GOP Georgia Runoff
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Today in Washington

The House considers a motion to go to conference on recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission (HR 1) and appoint conferees; adds earmarks to the fiscal 2008 Energy-Water appropriations bill (HR 2641) and considers the fiscal 2008 Labor-HHS spending bill (HR 3043).

The Senate continues consideration of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill (HR 1585), with all-night debate planned on an amendment requiring an Iraq troop redeployment to begin within 120 days and be completed by April 30, 2008.

The President participates in Congressional Gold Medal ceremony to honor Dr. Norman Borlaug, agricultural scientist and Nobel Prize winner; meets with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In Washington,  the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest releases a report on a study showing that newer cancer chemotherapy and other treatments are more effective than others in prolonging life and health of patients. Speakers include Dr. Frank Lichtenberg of Columbia University, and Rep. Mike Ferguson. R-N.J. 5-6:30 p.m. Rayburn Room B-354.

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Top Stories

Nicholson Resigns as VA Secretary

Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson announced Tuesday that he will leave his post by Oct. 1 to return to the private sector.  [Read More]

Both Sides in Iraq Debate Seize On New Intelligence Assessment

Members of Congress were quick to look for partisan advantage Tuesday in a new intelligence report describing a “persistent and evolving” terrorist threat to the United States.  [Read More]

Senate Panel Proposes Increased Spending on Food, Drug Safety

A Senate Appropriations subcommittee approved a funding measure Tuesday that would significantly increase spending on food and drug safety.  [Read More]

Ways and Means Bill Aims To Curb Identity Theft

Governments and companies would face new restrictions on how they could use Social Security numbers under a bipartisan bill that the House Ways and Means committee was expected to approve Wednesday.  [Read More]

Last-Minute Endorsement Boosts Whitehead in All-GOP Georgia Runoff

A last-minute endorsement in the special election runoff in Georgia’s 10th district further bolstered former state Sen. Jim Whitehead’s status as the odds-on front-runner to beat fellow Republican Paul Broun and become the newest member of the 110th Congress after Tuesday’s vote.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Arizona Republic reports that “Rep. Rick Renzi has only about $20,000 in his campaign bank account, raising fresh questions about whether the embattled Republican plans to seek re-election next year. Renzi stepped down from all his committee assignments in April after the FBI raided his family business in Sonoita. . . . Investigators are looking into whether former business partners of Renzi’s would have benefited improperly from land-swap legislation he introduced.” Renzi’s new campaign finance filing “listed a total of $456,000 in debt, an amount that dwarfs the total cash Renzi has raised this year.”

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “Brushing aside questions about U.S. Sen. David Vitter’s alleged adultery, Rep. Bobby Jindal said Monday that his first major action as governor would be a special legislative session devoted to passing stronger ethics laws.” Jindal, a Republican, like the senator, “rebuffed several questions” about Vitter’s problems and “criticized the state Legislature for its failure to pass several ethics-related bills during the recently concluded two-month session.” But he “did not say how he would change the ethics laws . . . With barely three months left before the Oct. 20 primary, Jindal has yet to provide any details of what he would seek to do if elected.”

The Austin American-Statesman reports, “Democratic state Rep. Rick Noriega of Houston, addressing reporters outside the Capitol, formalized his exploratory committee for a 2008 bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican John Cornyn” on Monday. “Cornyn, seeking election to a second six-year term, reported $5.3 million in his campaign kitty as of the end of June. He declined Monday to say whether he would prefer to face Noriega or Mikal Watts, a Democrat and San Antonio trial lawyer who is exploring the Senate race with almost $5 million banked.”

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Today on Governing.com

State and local government news from CQ’s sister publication
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif.: Law Enforcement Network Shuns Sheriff
WASHINGTON, D.C.: City to Ask High Court to Reinstate Gun Ban
COLORADO: Gunman Slain Near Governor's Office
MICHIGAN: 3 University Officials Fired in Slaying Coverup

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Political Trivia

Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, says he likes working with Republicans. In early 2007, he teamed up with Republican and fellow Texan Michael C. Burgess, a physician, to pass a bill to upgrade states’ trauma care systems. It was a victory Green had sought for years, ever since he heard about a man, seriously injured in a car accident, who could not get treatment at an overcrowded Houston trauma center. The man had to be taken to Austin, where he died the next day. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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Monday, July 16, 2007

CQ Today Midday Update

Highlights from today's news on CQ.com
Midday Update for MONDAY, JULY 16, 2007 – 2:04 P.M.

In This Issue

  • Democrats Take Lead in 2008 Fundraising
  • Agriculture Secretary Calls House Farm Bill ‘Missed Opportunity’
  • Despite Veto Threat, Senate Finance Set to Expand Children’s Health Program
  • Sept. 11 Bill Expected to Advance This Week
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Today in Washington

The House considers measures under suspension of the rules, including a bill to allow the State Department to rehire retirees to help process a backlog of passport applications (S 966) and legislation to amend the Federal Deposit Insurance Act to prevent misrepresentation about deposit insurance coverage (HR 2547).

The Senate continues consideration of the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill (HR 1585). No roll call votes.

The President meets with the President of Poland Lech Kaczyński; makes remarks on Israeli-Palestinain issues; attends National Republican Senatorial Committee reception at a private residence in McLean, Va.

In Washington,  the American Petroleum Institute (API) hosts an interactive technology exhibit highlighting technologies used by oil and natural gas companies to find resources more efficiently and reduce environmental impact. Examples of 3-D and 4-D visualization based on seismic technology to explore for oil and natural gas, directional drilling, and deep water drill ships. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., House Rayburn Foyer.

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Top Stories

Democrats Take Lead in 2008 Fundraising

Energy on the political left is helping the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates significantly outraise their Republican counterparts at the midpoint of this year, according to reports filed over the weekend with the Federal Election Commission.  [Read More]

Agriculture Secretary Calls House Farm Bill ‘Missed Opportunity’

On the eve of a House committee markup of the 2007 farm bill, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns reiterated his concern that the measure doesn’t go far enough to reshape existing farm policy.  [Read More]

Despite Veto Threat, Senate Finance Set to Expand Children’s Health Program

Senate Finance Committee leaders plan to go to markup Tuesday evening on a major expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, defying a White House veto threat.  [Read More]

Sept. 11 Bill Expected to Advance This Week

Long-stalled legislation to implement some recommendations of the independent Sept. 11 commission is expected to advance to a formal House-Senate conference this week.  [Read More]

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Political Clippings

The Concord Monitor reports on a poll of 600 likely voters showing Democratic former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen leading Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., 56 percent to 34 percent, even though she is not an announced candidate. Sununu fares better against any of the Democrats actually seeking to replace him, with 46 percent supporting him to between 24 percent and 32 percent for the challengers. The poll conducted July 9-14 by Research 2000 had a plus or minus 4 percent margin of error.

WJAR-TV in Providence, R.I., reports that Republican Jon Scott, who lost to Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, D-R.I., last year, is thinking of challenging Democratic Sen. Jack Reed in 2008, despite calling it “an insurmountable race.” Said Scott: “I’ve got a reputation here in Rhode Island and down in D.C. — interestingly enough — for a guy who’s willing to take on a big name and willing to do it a little bit different way.”

The Connecticut Post reports Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said his campaign raised nearly $280,000 in the second quarter of this year, according to documents filed this week with the FEC. Democratic challenger Jim Himes said he has raised about $352,000. Although Shays “appears to be trailing Himes, he has plenty of time to catch up and has proved in past election campaigns to be a deft fundraiser.”

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Political Trivia

Raised by a single mother who operated a dance school out of the home, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and his three siblings grew up quickly, vacuuming the house and handling adult household chores at a young age. Yet DeMint sparked controversy during his Senate campaign when he asserted during a debate that unwed mothers with live-in boyfriends should not teach in public schools. He later apologized, saying it was up to states to decide who is fit to teach. (Source: CQ.com Member Profiles)

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