Political Scene

WHITE HOUSE

Daley tweaks Republican envoy

The White House is praising a departing U.S. ambassador for supporting the administration and working closely with President Obama.

Not much news there.

Except the diplomat - former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. - is a potential GOP opponent for Mr. Obama in 2012. And his ties to a Democratic president might not go over too well with Republican activists who play a large role in selecting the party’s nominee.

Mr. Huntsman is set to resign as ambassador to China in April.

Mr. Obama’s chief of staff, William Daley, tells NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Mr. Huntsman has done an excellent job as ambassador. Mr. Daley says Mr. Huntsman’s closeness in working with Mr. Obama is appreciated.

Mr. Daley got in a little jab by adding, in his words, “I’m sure he’ll talk about that in the primaries.”

HOUSE

Hearings planned on Muslim threat

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee says affiliates of al Qaeda are radicalizing some American Muslims and that he plans to hold hearings on the threat they pose to the U.S.

Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, tells CNN’s “State of the Union” that he sees an international movement with elements in the United States of Muslims becoming more radical and identifying with terrorists.

A Minnesota Democrat, Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the House, says that while it’s proper to investigate radicalization, he thinks it is wrong to single out a religious minority.

On Sunday, groups opposed to Mr. King’s hearings plan to rally in New York. President Obama’s deputy national security adviser will speak on the administration’s approach to countering domestic radicalization.

NEW MEXICO

Ex-lawmaker to run for Senate

SANTA FE | Former Republican U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson will enter the race for New Mexico’s U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Jeff Bingaman.

Two sources close to Mrs. Wilson confirmed to the Associated Press that she will announce her candidacy on Monday. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity Friday to avoid upstaging her formal announcement.

Mrs. Wilson will become the most prominent Republican in the Senate race. Conservative businessmen Greg Sowards of Las Cruces and Bill English of Alamogordo announced for the GOP nomination late last year.

The 50-year-old Mrs. Wilson represented the Albuquerque-area 1st Congressional District for five terms. She gave up the seat in 2008 to make an unsuccessful run for the GOP Senate nomination after Sen. Pete Domenici announced his retirement.

Mr. Bingaman said last month he will not seek re-election in 2012.

NEVADA

Report: Campaign skirted cash limits

CARSON CITY | Nevada’s secretary of state says his office is looking into whether former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid formed numerous political action committees that were used to funnel $750,000 into his campaign and skirt contribution limits.

The Las Vegas Sun reported Friday that Mr. Reid’s campaign formed 91 shell PACs that were used to funnel $750,000 into his campaign and skirt contribution limits. Mr. Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told the newspaper that the maneuvers were disclosed and in compliance with the law.

Secretary of State Ross Miller said Friday his office will carefully review the allegations and, if necessary, will consult with the state’s Election Integrity Task Force and the state Attorney General’s Office.

Mr. Reid lost the November election to Republican Brian Sandoval.

UTAH

Legislature passes immigration reform bill

SALT LAKE CITY | Utah lawmakers have approved an immigration package that includes an enforcement law reminiscent of Arizona’s but tempered with a guest-worker program for illegal immigrants.

The immigration measures approved by both chambers Friday night would allow illegal immigrants to get a permit to work in Utah. But they also include a requirement that police check the immigrant status of anyone stopped for a felony or serious misdemeanor.

Supporters say the entire package balances economic needs and compassion, while opponents argue it will likely encourage more illegal immigration.

Lawmakers initially balked at the enforcement measure, HB 497, because of what some viewed as a likely backlash. But sponsor Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, Orem Republican, garnered enough support for passage after amending it to focus on more serious crimes.

The Arizona law approved last year drew nationwide controversy over provisions requiring police, while enforcing other laws, to question a person’s immigration status if they have reasonable suspicion they’re here illegally. That aspect of the law was put on hold by a federal judge.

WHITE HOUSE

Eggs will roll in late April

“Get Up and Go!” The White House says that’s the theme of this year’s Easter Egg Roll, set for Monday, April 25.

The event will feature music, sports, cooking stations, story times and the rolling of hard-boiled eggs on the South Lawn. The activities are designed to complement first lady Michelle Obama’s national campaign against childhood obesity by promoting health and wellness.

Free tickets will be distributed by online lottery. Sign-up begins next Thursday at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time and closes March 13th at 11:59 p.m. The annual event is open to children ages 12 and younger and their families.

The tradition of rolling Easter eggs across the White House lawn dates to 1878.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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