- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2010

SENATE RACE

Ex-senator to take on Indiana’s Bayh

In a recruiting coup, former Republican Sen. Dan Coats plans to challenge Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana in November, Republican officials said Wednesday.

The GOP has sought new opportunities to pick up seats and cut into the Democratic majority on Capitol Hill after Republican Scott Brown’s recent upset in a special Senate election in Massachusetts.

Mr. Coats brings a high profile to the Indiana race, where Republicans think the two-term incumbent may be vulnerable.

It was in 1998 when Mr. Coats decided not to seek re-election, avoiding a race with then-Gov. Bayh. Since then, Mr. Coats has served as ambassador to Germany under President George W. Bush and worked as a lobbyist in Washington.

The GOP officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mr. Coats hasn’t announced his intentions.

ENERGY

Panel: Biofuels key to success

A presidential task force recommended spending more money to make biofuels such as ethanol, saying the nation is likely to fall short of mandates for more environmentally friendly energy.

An energy task force presented President Obama with a report outlining how the United States’ production of fuel from plants or animal waste was unlikely to meet the goal Congress has demanded. The current production of 12 billion gallons annually is hardly the 36 billion lawmakers have mandated by 2022.

The group recommended more aid for the biofuel industry with a combination of federal dollars and private-sector investments.

SENATE PRIMARY

Coons to seek Democratic ticket

DOVER, Del. | New Castle County Executive Chris Coons is stepping into the void left by Attorney General Beau Biden and will seek the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat formerly held by Mr. Biden’s father.

Mr. Coons announced Wednesday that he is running for the Senate seat held by Ted Kaufman, a longtime confidant and former Senate chief of staff for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Kaufman was appointed to fill the seat until an election could be held for the remaining four years of the term Mr. Biden won in 2008 and gave up to serve as vice president.

Mr. Coons, widely seen as the Democrats’ fallback candidate after the younger Mr. Biden dropped out, is expected to face Republican Rep. Mike Castle in November. Mr. Castle, a former two-term governor who is the longest-serving U.S. House member in state history, has never lost a political campaign.

JUSTICE

Holder made decision to charge suspect

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. says he made the decision to charge the Christmas Day terrorism suspect in the civilian system with no objection from all the other relevant departments of the government.

In a letter to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, the attorney general says that the FBI told its partners in the intelligence community on Christmas Day and again the next day that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab would be charged criminally.

Mr. Holder’s letter was the latest volley in a vigorous counterattack by the Obama administration to Republican charges that the arrest and FBI interrogation of the Detroit suspect was a mistake that cost a chance to learn key information.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Jenny Sanford: E-mails spell end of marriage

CHARLESTON | South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford says the final blow to her marriage came when racy e-mails between Gov. Mark Sanford and his mistress were published.

She tells ABC’s Barbara Walters in an interview airing Friday on “20/20” that her husband talking about his lover’s tan lines and body parts is nothing one ever wants their children to read on the Web.

The e-mails were published last year by The State newspaper in Columbia. Mrs. Sanford said her sons were devastated when they read them.

The governor disappeared for five days last summer and returned to reveal an affair with his Argentine mistress.

Mrs. Sanford has filed for a divorce that will be finalized later this month. The “20/20” interview coincides with the release Friday of her memoir, “Staying True.”

TREASURY

Debt limit expected to be reached soon

The Treasury Department says it expects to hit the government’s debt ceiling by the end of February, putting pressure on Congress to raise the limit from its current level of $12.4 trillion.

Treasury said it is working closely with Congress to raise the ceiling. The Senate has approved legislation to increase it by $1.9 trillion to $14.3 trillion, but the House has yet to pass the measure.

Congress approved a smaller increase of $290 billion in late December, allowing the government to borrow for about two more months.

On Monday, the Obama administration released a budget that projects this year’s deficit will reach $1.56 trillion, an all-time high. As a percentage of the economy, it is the highest since World War II.

MARYLAND

Scandal-plagued mayor says goodbye

BALTIMORE | Baltimore’s scandal-plagued mayor says her administration has much to be proud of.

Mayor Sheila Dixon gave a farewell address at Wednesday’s Board of Public Works meeting. She will step down Thursday amid a scandal over gift cards and other gifts she received while serving as City Council president several years ago.

Mrs. Dixon did not mention the scandal in her remarks, which lasted about 10 minutes. She says it’s been a “privilege” to serve as mayor, and now she’s beginning “a new chapter.”

She spoke about accomplishments, including the lowest homicide totals in 20 years, a new recycling program and a jobs program for young people.

After her remarks, Mrs. Dixon refused to discuss a court filing by State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh that called her arrogant and unrepentant.

TEA PARTY

Palin burnishes grass-roots credentials

Sarah Palin will attend the kickoff rally next month of the “Tea Party Express III” in Searchlight, Nev., hometown of Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, solidifying the former Republican vice presidential candidate’s links with the grass-roots movement.

Mrs. Palin also plans to attend another tea party rally in Boston on April 14, in addition to her keynote speaking role in the first national Tea Party Convention, which begins Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.

The Tea Party Express plans a nationwide bus tour in about 40 cities, kicking off in the tiny Nevada town of Searchlight on March 27. The tour ends April 15 in Washington, D.C., where there will be a “giant taxpayers march,” according to the group’s Web site.

“Across the country, tea partiers will be sharing our vision for America’s future, a vision that promotes common-sense solutions to out-of-control spending and an out-of-touch political establishment,” Mrs. Palin, former governor of Alaska, wrote in USA Today.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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