Sunday, November 19, 2017

A state senator and small-town lawyer pulled off a surprising win in Virginia's Democratic primary for governor, besting a former legislative colleague and the well-funded Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Tuesday's victory by Democrat Creigh Deeds sets up a rematch this fall with Republican Bob McDonnell.

Deeds lost to McDonnell in the race for attorney general four years ago by only 323 votes out of almost 2 million cast — the closest race in modern Virginia history.

Honoring a lobbyist?

Lawmakers rarely shine a positive spotlight on lobbyists, much less publicly toast them and rave about their style on Capitol Hill.

But they did just that on Tuesday night for consumer advocate Joan Claybrook, who retired earlier this year as the head of the watchdog group Public Citizen. The organization held a dinner event in honor of her 27-year leadership.

From a living room in Kansas to a bagel shop in New York to an Alabama church, Democrats have started mobilizing support for President Barack Obama's healthcare reform plans.

New Hampshire on Wednesday became the sixth U.S. state to authorize gay marriage, deepening a New England niche for same-sex weddings and the spending that comes with them.

New Hampshire's Democratic-controlled House of Representatives endorsed gay marriage in a 198-176 vote, hours after the state Senate approved the legislation 14-10 along party lines, making the state the fourth this year to back gay marriage in the United States.

Governor John Lynch, a Democrat, signed the bill, which goes into effect on January 1.

Moderate Republicans to conservative Republicans: Turn down the volume — especially on Rush Limbaugh — and open your minds. The party's future might be at stake.

Such warnings about the GOP's right wing, along with finger wagging about a "shrill" and "judgmental" tone, marked the moderate response in the latest back-and-forth within the Republican Party.

Republicans aren't letting this one slide.

The GOP has seized on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's accusation that the CIA lied about using waterboarding on terrorism suspects, contending that the California Democrat's remarks have demoralized the intelligence community. House Republicans on Thursday demanded that a bipartisan panel investigate her allegations.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday sharply criticized President Barack Obama's handling of terrorism policy and defended harsh interrogation methods that Obama has labeled torture.

In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute on the same day Obama defended his approach to terrorism, Cheney said Obama's decision to ban tough tactics "is unwise in the extreme."

"It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness and would make the American people less safe," said Cheney, long viewed as a leading hawk in the Bush administration.

The Republican Party leader, who has struggled in his early months in power, declared an end on Tuesday to the party's search for answers to its problems and took aim at President Barack Obama.

"The honeymoon is over," said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele. "We are going to challenge those policies that we believe are wrong, and we are going to do so without apology and without a second thought."

When he was vice president and often holed up in an "undisclosed secure location," Dick Cheney was all but invisible. Now that he's out of office, he seems unavoidable.

While former President Bush has remained silent back in Texas, Cheney, in selected interviews, has been almost incendiary. Democrats are delighted because he's unpopular generally -- approval ratings around 30 percent -- and a divisive figure within the Republican Party, which seems too cowed to rein him in.

Sarah Palin, the Alaska governor pulled from the U.S. political periphery onto the 2008 Republican presidential ticket, has signed a deal to write her memoirs with HarperCollins.

Palin, who was Sen. John McCain's vice presidential pick, did not disclose how much she would be paid by the publisher, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

"This is an incredible opportunity and I am excited to work with HarperCollins to tell my story and Alaska's story," Palin said in a statement.