WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Roland Burris, D-Illinois, is expected to announce Friday that he will not run for a full six year term next year, a well-placed Democratic source tells CNN.
Burris is currently serving the remaining two years of President Obama’s Senate term, but he has never been embraced by Democratic leaders in Illinois or Capitol Hill.
A Burris spokeswoman would not comment on the senator’s future political plans, but his office did release an advisory Thursday stating that he would make a “major announcement” during a speech Friday afternoon in Chicago. A spokesman for Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Illinois, said that Burris had spoken to Durbin but would only say “we will let him speak for himself” on Friday.
Burris was appointed to the seat in late December by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who had been arrested on federal corruption charges for allegedly trying to sell Obama’s seat to the highest bidder. Democratic Party leaders urged Blagojevich not to make an appointment, but he disregarded those wishes by naming Burris, a former state attorney general and state comptroller, to the seat.
Blagojevich was impeached and removed from office in January and Democrats grudgingly recognized Burris as the junior senator from Illinois. But he still faced an investigation and scrutiny at the same time he was trying to learn the ropes on Capitol Hill.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter called his fellow Democrat, Rep. Joe Sestak, a "flagrant hypocrite" and accused his rival of registering as a Democrat "just in time to run for Congress."
Sestak has said that he will challenge Specter, who has the backing of President Obama and party leaders, for the Democratic Senate nomination next year. Specter, a longtime Republican, switched his party registration to Democrat this year.
On Thursday, Specter's campaign sought to bring into question Sestak's roots to the Democratic Party. Specter's campaign sent out a list of Sestak's voting history in Delaware County, which the senator's campaign said showed that Sestak registered as an Independent in 1971, didn't vote in any primary elections from 1971-2005 and that he officially registered as a Democrat in February of 2006. Sestak was elected as a Democrat to the House in 2006.
"Congressman Sestak is a flagrant hypocrite in challenging my being a real Democrat when he did not register as a Democrat until 2006 just in time to run for Congress," Specter said in the statement. "His lame excuse for avoiding party affiliation, because he was in the service, is undercut by his documented disinterest in the political process."
Update, 7:11 p.m.: In a statement given to CNN, Sestak defended his record, saying he was an Independent while he served in the Navy because he believed that "military officers should be nonpartisan." He said he voted numerous times by absentee ballot, but that it is "all too common" for military votes to go uncounted because they arrive late.
"We've learned today that Arlen Specter can abandon his party, but he just cant quit making Republican swift-boat attacks on the integrity of Democrats who served in our military," Sestak also said in the statement. He added, "My question to Arlen Specter is this: do you regret voting for George Bush and John McCain? Why should Democrats support someone like you who actively campaigned as recently as last year for politicians with values like George W. Bush?"
WASHINGTON (CNN) –The House of Representatives will not take up a resolution honoring the late entertainer Michael Jackson, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday.
Pelosi called Jackson "a great, great performer" and acknowledged there is "lots of sadness." But the speaker said at a press conference that while members could express their sympathy on the House floor, she added "I don't think it's necessary" to pass a resolution.
"A resolution, I think, would open up (debate) to contrary views that are not necessary at this time to be expressed in association with a resolution whose purpose is quite different," Pelosi explained.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who spoke at the memorial service for Jackson on Tuesday in Los Angeles, has introduced HR 600, "Honoring an American legend and musical icon."
The resolution states, "Whereas Michael Jackson was not only an accomplished recording and performing artist, he was a noted humanitarian."
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., criticized the media's extensive coverage of Michael Jackson's death earlier this week, calling Jackson a "pervert," a "pedophile," and "child molester."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Democratic National Committee released a new Web video Thursday criticizing Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, for saying in a statement Monday that he wants to "cancel the rest of the stimulus spending."
The video accused the three-term Republican senator of being "just another member of the 'Party of No.'" It features a number of projects in Arizona funded by President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package.
Earlier in the day, the Republican National Committee released its own Web video blasting Obama for the stimulus package.
Full script after the jump
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske told CNN on Thursday that Michael Jackson's death is a "wake-up call" about prescription drug abuse in America.
"You know, the very sad and untimely loss of Michael Jackson is a wake-up call to the country about prescription drugs," Kerlikowske said in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on 'The Situation Room.' "I really don't know anything more than I have read about this. But if we can save lives and if we can bring to the attention of the people the dangers of prescription drug abuse, I think there is some benefit to this country."
Kerlikowske, who is referred to as the drug czar, said more people die each year from drug overdoses than from gunshot wounds. And he said there are a lot of different problems that contribute to the high fatality numbers. To combat this issue, Kerlikowske said he advocates prescription drug monitoring programs passed by individual states and a media campaign focused on keeping young people off these types of medication.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The parents of Sen. John Ensign gave a total of $96,000 to the family of Cynthia Hampton, a woman with whom the Nevada Republican had carried on an extra-marital affair, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the Nevada senator's attorney.
"In April 2008, Senator John Ensign's parents each made gifts to Doug Hampton, Cindy Hampton, and two of their children in the form of a check totaling $96,000," said Paul Coggins of Fish & Richardson, who is representing Ensign. "Each gift was limited to $12,000. The payments were made as gifts, accepted as gifts and complied with tax rules governing gifts.
"After the Senator told his parents about the affair, his parents decided to make the gifts out of concern for the well-being of long-time family friends during a difficult time. The gifts are consistent with a pattern of generosity by the Ensign family to the Hamptons and others.
None of the gifts came from campaign or official funds nor were they related to any campaign or official duties. Senator Ensign has complied with all applicable laws and Senate ethics rules."
The revelation comes one day after Doug Hampton, the husband of Ensign's former mistress, told Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston that Ensign paid Cynthia Hampton, who was also an employee of Ensign's political action committee and re-election campaign, more than $25,000 in severance when she stopped working for Ensign's political operation.
(CNN) - Who wouldn't want a big name to headline a major fundraiser? And the Iowa Republican Party is going after one of the biggest draws right now, Sarah Palin.
As first reported in the Des Moines Register and confirmed by CNN, the state GOP is courting the Alaska governor to be the keynote speaker at their annual Ronald Reagan dinner this autumn. The event is the party's largest fundraiser of the year, and has become a popular stop for White House hopefuls.
Aides to Palin have not immediately responded to inquires from CNN regarding whether the outgoing governor will attend the dinner.
Palin shocked many across the country last week when she announced that she would not only not run for re-election next year, but that she would resign as governor later this month.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Tom Coburn - who confronted fellow Sen. John Ensign in an effort to convince him to end an extramarital affair - denied allegations Thursday he'd suggested Ensign pay off the husband of the woman he was having an affair with, telling reporters on Capitol Hill that he would not berevealing the content of his conversations with the Nevada senator:
Reporter: At no point did you suggest payments be made?
Coburn: A categorical (denial) is exactly what I just said.
Reporter: But you denied millions, did you suggest payments at all?
Coburn: I categorically deny that, period.
Reporter: But do you deny that you were there at the February 2008…
Coburn: I was there.
(CNN) – Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told an interviewer that he could not say whether or not President Barack Obama is a socialist, and that the president would not have been elected if he had been honest with Americans about his agenda.
Bush would not answer the question of whether he agreed with the assessment of some congressional Republicans that the president is a socialist. "I don't know. Define socialism for me," he told Esquire magazine. "It's a word... I believe he's a collectivist. He believes that through collective action, through government, you can solve more problems." He added that he believed the word "socialism" was a pejorative, and "didn't help" the GOP make its case.
The brother of former President George W. Bush and son of former President George H.W. Bush dismissed the idea that his party's policies were unpopular with most Americans. "I don't think there's any seismic shift. The Democrats have won on tactics," he said. "Barack Obama would not have gotten elected if he'd let us in on his secret plan prior to the election," he said, pointing to the president's economic agenda and energy proposals.
"....He made it appear like McCain was going to raise taxes, which was unfair, but there was no response back. When there was an ideological component, it was generally centrist or even center-right. Had he said what he was going to do as a candidate, (Obama) would have lost."
He downplayed the president's approval ratings, which remain above average. "First of all, who cares?" he said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Even in a slumping economy, Charlie Crist is justifying his reputation as a master fundraiser.
The Florida governor raised an average of $86,000 a day since jumping into the race for Mel Martinez's Senate seat in May, his campaign reported Thursday.
Crist collected $4.3 million in donations in the second fundraising quarter of 2009, despite entering the race on May 12 - 41 days into the quarter.
He has so far raised nearly 13 times as much as his Republican primary rival Marco Rubio, who announced last week that his campaign has raised $340,000.