COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Prior to revelations of an extramarital affair that effectively brought an end to his political career, Mark Sanford was preparing to publish a book outlining his policy beliefs, his publisher told CNN Wednesday.
Sentinel, a conservative imprint of Penguin Group, has included a book by Sanford entitled "Within Our Means" in their Spring 2010 catalogue, the proofs of which have already been sent to the printers. It was described by the publisher as "a manifesto about fiscal conservatism - why the government needs to spend less and fix the deficit ASAP."
That was before Sanford's life changed forever. Sentinel associate publisher Will Weisser told CNN Wednesday that the company will "most likely" make an announcement about the book's fate later this week.
(CNN) - The Minnesota Supreme Court's decision Tuesday declaring Democrat Al Franken as the winner of that state's long-disputed U.S. Senate race ends a prolonged legal and political drama exactly 34 weeks, or 238 days, after the election was held in November 2008.
At the time the court released its ruling, the state's second U.S. Senate seat had gone unfilled since Republican Norm Coleman's term ended on January 3, 2009, for a total of 178 days. The seat will remain unfilled for several more days until Franken officially takes the oath of office next week, when Congress returns from the July 4 recess.
This is the longest a U.S. Senate seat has gone unfilled since 1975 and the fourth-longest period a Senate seat has gone unfilled since the direct election of senators began in 1913. Illinois holds the record for the longest unfilled senate seat, when it took two years to replace a senator who had died in office.
The longest vacancy due to a contested election was in 1975 in New Hampshire. That election was held in November 1974 but was not fully resolved for 10 months. After a prolonged and inconclusive recount, the seat was officially declared vacant on August 8, 1975, at which point a temporary senator was appointed to fill the seat. A special election was held on September 16, 1975, and the winner took office on September 18, 1975.
A list of the longest Senate seat vacancies is after the jump
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Justice Department has once again delayed the release of the CIA's internal investigation of its controversial interrogation and detention program.
The government had intended to complete its review of the 2004 Inspector General report two weeks ago. But continued interagency debate about how much of the secret report could be made public pushed back the deadline. Last week the Justice Department sent a letter to the Judge overseeing the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit saying it needed until July 1 to complete the process.
A Justice Department official told reporters on Wednesday the lawyers were still pouring through the material. White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said it was doubtful the inter-agency review would be completed this week.
COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - South Carolina Republican Party Chairwoman Karen Floyd seemed to suggest Wednesday that the time had come for Gov. Mark Sanford to consider resigning from office:
"For the past two days, I have been speaking with Republican leaders across South Carolina," she said in a statement. "There is clearly a growing view that the time may have come for Governor Sanford to remove himself and his family from the limelight, so that he can devote his efforts full-time to repairing the damage in his personal life."
Floyd has spent much of the last week talking privately with state GOP leaders about the scandal but has, until now, been publicly silent on whether Sanford should step down.
Floyd wasn't the only prominent South Carolina Republican to speak up on Wednesday. The Senate's powerful Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell also suggested that Sanford should leave the office. McConnell said Sanford "has lost the support of the people that is needed to govern."
While he didn't make an outright demand for Sanford to go, he asked the governor "to do the right thing for himself, his family and our state." If Sanford resigns and lieutenant governor Andre Bauer becomes governor, McConnell would then be promoted to lieutenant governor.
However, McConnell is one of the most powerful legislators in the state and people close to him say he would likely be reluctant to give up that position in order to take Bauer's spot.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Minnesota Sen.-elect Al Franken will be the featured speaker at Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's annual steak fry this September. Franken spokeswoman Jess McIntosh confirmed that the senator-elect would be speaking at the event and said that Franken had signed on to do so prior to this week's certification of his election. "Al was thrilled to be invited and [is] eager to attend," she said.
The event, one of the Iowa Democratic Party's largest fundraisers, has long been considered one of the biggest events in Democratic politics. In 2007, it featured virtually every Democratic presidential contender – Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson.
The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Franken had defeated incumbent senator Norm Coleman in the state's November Senate race. With the ruling, Franken became the Democratic caucuses' 60th vote in the senate. However, the former comedian dismissed the notion that he would be an automatic 60th vote.
"The way I see it, I'm not going to Washington to be the 60th Democratic senator," Franken said during a press conference held shortly after the court's ruling. "I'm going to Washington to be the second senator from the state of Minnesota and that's how I am going to do this job."
The steak fry will be held on September 13.
(CNN) – A senior State Department official said Wednesday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not go to Moscow for President Obama's meetings with Russian officials.
A senior White House official said the reason Secretary Clinton is skipping the trip is because the intensive physical therapy sessions that she's been undergoing due to her broken elbow would have been too difficult to replicate during a grueling trip overseas. The White House official said it was unclear who will stand in for Clinton, though typically in a situation like this the Deputy Secretary of State would travel in her place. The Secretary's number two at State is James Steinberg, a former deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Obama administration continued its outreach to the Muslim world Wednesday, introducing a special envoy for Islamic relations tasked with improving international dialogue at the grassroots level.
Farah Pandith, the State Department's new Special Representative to Muslim Communities, promised to pursue an "out of the box" approach to local engagement around the world.
"There is no one bullet that's going to fix everything. There's not one program that is going to be the magic program to engage with Muslims," she said at a State Department briefing.
"It's really listening. It's really understanding what's taking place on the ground. It's finding opportunities ... to get to know what others are saying, thinking and dreaming and believing, and acting as a facilitator and a convener and an intellectual partner when we can."
Pandith declined to engaged in many specifics about how she intends to pursue her agenda. She did, however, reference a long State Department history of using "a lot of different mechanisms," including town gatherings, meeting "like-minded thinkers that are innovators and entrepreneurs," and promoting various local community projects.
(CNN) - President Barack Obama's hitting the campaign trail later this month - not for himself, but for fellow Democrat Jon Corzine.
The New Jersey governor's re-election campaign team announced Wednesday that Corzine will be joined by Obama at a rally at Rutgers University in New Brunswick on Thursday, July 16. The White House confirmed the event.
While Obama has headlined seven political fundraising events this year, this will be the first campaign rally he's attended for a fellow Democrat since taking over as president in January.
A new poll of New Jersey voters suggests this year's gubernatorial battle between incumbent Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie may be tightening up a bit.
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) – One day after the Minnesota Supreme Court handed down it's unanimous decision in favor of Democrat Al Franken, the senator-elect thanked supporters and, for a moment, got emotional in a speech on the steps of the state capitol.
He seemed to strike a sentimental chord a couple of times, once when invoking former Minnesota Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash in 2002.
"It is of course technically true that this was Paul's U.S. Senate seat. But I don't think Paul saw it that way," Franken said. "This seat belongs to the people of Minnesota, and so did Sen. Wellstone, and so will I."
Franken spent much of his roughly fifteen minute speech thanking his wife Franni, his supporters, volunteers, campaign staff, and the people of the state he will soon represent.
"This was a historically close race. But it wouldn't have been if it weren't for Franni - I would have lost by kind of a lot," Franken said.
Al Franken is headed to Washington. Nearly eight months after Election Day, the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously declared Franken the state's next senator.
And once he is sworn in - presumably next week - the Democrats will finally have their so-called super majority; meaning they'll have 60 votes, which is enough to stop any Republican filibuster.
On paper it seems like a home run for Democrats and for President Obama’s ambitious agenda in the coming months. But in reality it might not be so easy.
For one thing, Democrats won’t always have the 60-vote majority because Senators Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd are both ill and are only likely to return for the most crucial votes. Also, Former Majority leader Trent Lott once said governing the Senate is like herding cats; and Senate Democrats have already proven they won't fall into line when it comes to some of the president's top priorities.
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