Washington (CNN) - File this one under all politics is local.
New Orleans will be rocking this weekend as Mardi Gras season is well underway and the hometown Saints contend in the Super Bowl. But all the celebratory hoopla is raising questions about Saturday's elections which include an open primary for Mayor.
In Orleans Parish eleven mayoral candidates, Democrats and Republicans, will be on the ballot to replace Mayor Ray Nagin, a Democrat who is term limited. If no candidate wins 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote getters will go headto head in a runoff.
On Election Day across the Crescent City there are five carnival crews scheduled to hold their annual Mardi Gras parades . Starting at noon many streets will be blocked off as the floats and marching bands make their way down the wide avenues and residents will line the streets grasping for beads and doubloons. Many will also be making preparations for Super Bowl celebrations.
Washington (CNN) - Hours before he will be sworn into office, Massachusetts Sen.-elect Scott Brown named Steven Schrage his chief of staff Thursday.
Schrage recently held the Scholl Chair in International Business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a policy firm in Washington, D.C.
"Steven Schrage is a professional who knows his way around Washington," Brown said in a statement. "His knowledge and experience will be extremely useful in helping to advance the work of my office as we build the best team in the Senate to serve the people of Massachusetts."
Washington (CNN) – After Scott Brown gets sworn in Thursday afternoon, he won't just be taking Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, he will also be taking over his plush office space in the Senate Russell building.
Several Senate sources tell CNN that the Senate Rules Committee, which assigns office space, decided to give Brown Kennedy's old digs as a matter of convenience.
An aide to Senate Rules Chairman Chuck Schumer says because Brown is coming in "midstream" it would be too hard to start moving Senators around.
Senator Paul Kirk, D-Massachusetts, also moved into Kennedy's office for the same reason.
Brown aides and other Senate sources say Brown will have temporary offices for a few days to allow Kirk and his staff to move out.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama plays the role of fundraiser-in-chief Thursday evening, as he delivers remarks at two events for the Democratic National Committee.
The president is scheduled to speak and take questions at a DNC fundraising reception at the Capitol Hilton in the nation's capitol in the early evening. A few hours later Obama is expected to speak at a DNC fundraising dinner at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
A Democratic party source tells CNN that the two events could bring in around $2.5 million dollars.
The DNC had $13.2 million in the bank and carried a debt of $4.7 million as of the beginning of the year. The DNC's counterpart, the Republican National Committee, had $8.4 million in the bank and no debt as of January 1, putting both party committees on an equal financial footing as the 2010 midterm elections cycle heats up.
The president has another party event Saturday, when he will headline the DNC's winter meeting in Washington.
–CNN Political Editor Mark Preston contributed to this report
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
Washington (CNN) – Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes endorsed Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday for his own four-year term, following a bruising primary battle for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Hynes told reporters that he called Quinn this morning to offer his support in the upcoming campaign. The primary was held Tuesday, but the race was so close that Hynes waited to get a fuller picture of the results before conceding the race.
"We did the right thing," Hynes said. "We made sure all the voters were counted."
Washington (CNN) - Add Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to the growing roster of possible 2012 GOP presidential contenders attending this year's Southern Republican Leadership Conference in April. Jindal won't have to travel far, as the conference is being held in New Orleans.
"SRLC will be a tremendous opportunity to highlight our state's incredible economic momentum," said Jindal in a statement released Thursday morning by the conference.
"Governor Jindal has been a tremendous leader for the state of Louisiana," said SRLC Director Charlie Davis. "His bold reforms and extraordinary vision have made him one of the GOP's rising stars."
SRLC is a major gathering of Republican officials and activists from 14 southern states. The event is held every two to four years and a presidential straw poll is usually conducted.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama strongly criticized controversial anti-homosexuality legislation being considered by Uganda's legislature during an appearance Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast.
The organization which sponsors the breakfast, the Fellowship Foundation, has been associated with efforts to pass the bill, according to the ethics group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
The measure would punish sexual activity between persons of the same sex with long jail terms or death.
It is "unconscionable to target gays or lesbians for who they are," Obama said.
The measure being considered in Uganda is "odious," he added.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also criticized the bill during an appearance at the breakfast.
CREW had protested Obama's appearance at the breakfast, claiming in a statement that the event "designed to appear as if government-sanctioned, actually serves as a meeting and recruiting event for the shadowy Fellowship Foundation," also known as "The Foundation" and "The Family."
New York (CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton plans to return to Haiti Friday to meet with Haitian leaders, visit a clinic and deliver supplies, his foundation said Thursday.
Clinton, the U.N. special envoy for Haiti, got the added responsibility Wednesday of overseeing aid efforts and reconstruction in that country, following a magnitude-7.0 earthquake January 12 that devastated the capital and surrounding areas.
More than 200,000 people were killed, the Haitian government has said.
"More than three weeks after the earthquake, the relief efforts in Haiti have been increasing to meet staggering needs, but the long road to recovery has just begun," Clinton said in a statement.
Washington (CNN) - An ethics group has protested President Barack Obama's plan to appear Thursday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, raising questions about the event's sponsor.
"The breakfast, designed to appear as if government-sanctioned, actually serves as a meeting and recruiting event for the shadowy Fellowship Foundation," Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said in a statement.
The organization, also known as "The Foundation" and "The Family," has ties to efforts in Uganda to pass an anti-homosexuality law that would punish sexual activity between persons of the same sex with long jail terms or death, the ethics group said.
A Ugandan legislator who introduced the bill - which was roundly condemned by human rights groups - was scheduled to attend the breakfast but his invitation has been revoked, the group said.