- - Monday, July 18, 2011

MASSACHUSETTS

Speculation mounts on Warren bid for Senate

President Obama’s decision not to pick Elizabeth Warren to head a new consumer protection agency is pumping up speculation that Ms. Warren could launch a Senate bid against Sen. Scott P. Brown, Massachusetts Republican, a top Democratic target in 2012.

Some Massachusetts Democrats said Monday that the consumer advocate would need to launch her candidacy sooner rather than later to counter Mr. Brown’s popularity across the state and nearly $10 million in his campaign account.

Democrats fret that the party, which has been unable to find a big-name challenger to take on Mr. Brown, may be squandering a prime chance to reclaim the seat held by for nearly half a century by Edward M. Kennedy.

Top national Democrats desperate to find a strong challenger have been urging Ms. Warren to run.

REPUBLICANS

GOP to recruit Hispanic statehouse candidates

Republicans hope to recruit 100 Hispanic candidates for legislative seats across the nation in 2012, looking to strengthen its bench of GOP officeholders.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that works to elect Republicans to statewide and legislative offices, said Monday it intends to spend at least $3 million in hopes of sending more Republican Hispanic leaders to statehouses while making inroads with female voters and voters under age 30.

Hispanics accounted for more than half of the U.S. population increase in the last decade, and Republicans said the demographic trends would have a major influence on the political landscape in the next decade.

“If we don’t adapt now to changes that are taking place in the country, we will face a very different electorate in a couple of cycles than we do today,” said Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman who leads the RSLC. “If we don’t change our performance with some of these key constituencies, we’ll have a very difficult time being a majority party.”

Mr. Gillespie and others involved in the effort said they hope to build upon 2010, when Republicans helped elect several high-profile Hispanic candidates, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico.

REPUBLICANS

RNC raises $19M, still owes $17.5M

The Republican National Committee raised $19 million in the past three months, but is still $17.5 million in debt.

The committee said Monday that it had raised $36.6 million this year, including $19 million in the second quarter, and had $7.3 million in the bank.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus started his term in January with almost $25 million in red ink.

The RNC’s goal is to build up a fund to give to the party’s eventual presidential nominee, who will face President Obama and his deep-pocketed re-election campaign.

CAMPAIGN 2012

RNC chief wants probe into White House video

The head of the Republican National Committee is asking for a Justice Department investigation of President Obama over a fundraising video and email the GOP chief claims is “apparent criminal behavior.”

Reince Priebus on Monday wrote Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to complain that Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign filmed a Web video in the White House’s Map Room and then mailed it to supporters. Federal law prohibits political activity in government offices; the Map Room is in the executive mansion, but not the office-filled West Wing.

Previous presidents have faced questions about political activity in the White House, and two of Mr. Obama’s predecessors have concluded that using the residence does not violate the law. Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Bill Clinton filmed ads at the White House.

HOUSE

Bill would limit aid to Pakistan, Palestinians

A House panel has unveiled a bill that would impose limits on U.S. aid to Pakistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, with an eye toward the worldwide fight against terrorism.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee will consider the legislation by the committee’s chairwoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, on Wednesday. The Florida Republican released an initial draft on Monday.

Among its limitations, the bill would require the secretary of state to certify Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terrorism before Islamabad could receive civilian and security assistance from the U.S. The restrictions on aid to the Palestinian Authority would require that no member of Hamas or a foreign terrorist organization serves in a policy position.

The legislation would authorize spending. A separate spending bill would provide $40 billion for the State Department and foreign aid.

NUCLEAR POWER

NRC chief urges quick review of nuke-safety changes

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko is urging his agency to decide within 90 days how to proceed with safety changes intended to improve the U.S. nuclear industry’s response to catastrophic events, such as the tsunami that crippled a nuclear plant in Japan.

A task force appointed by the NRC said last week that nuclear-plant operators should be ordered to re-evaluate their earthquake and flood risk. The task force also recommended adding equipment to handle simultaneous damage to multiple reactors and ensuring electrical power and instruments are in place to monitor and cool spent fuel pools after a disaster.

Mr. Jaczko said Monday that 90 days is enough time to review the recommendations.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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