(CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remains extremely vulnerable to a Republican challenger this November, according to a new poll.
A Mason Dixon/Las Vegas Review-Journal survey of registered Nevada voters indicates Reid losing to the leading two Republican challengers by double digits. Against state GOP chairwoman Sue Lowden, Reid faces a 52-39 percent deficit while the Nevada Democrat is down 51-40 percent against businessman Danny Tarkanian.
But Reid's fortunes may be boosted by the presence of potential Tea Party-backed candidate John Ashijian, a businessman in Las Vegas who has no political experience. According to the poll, Reid would win a three-way race that included a Tea Party candidate, garnering 36 percent of the vote compared to 32 percent for a generic Republican. The Tea Party candidate registered 18 percent.
Yet Reid's overall approval rating remains dismal, with only a third of Nevada voters giving the Senate majority leader positive reviews.
Washington (CNN) - Top Democrats tore into one of their Republican counterparts Monday for blocking an extension of unemployment benefits that would provide assistance to millions of jobless Americans.
The Senate adjourned last week without approving extensions of cash and health insurance benefits for the unemployed after Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Kentucky, blocked the measure by insisting that Congress first pay for the $10 billion package.
Bunning, who is retiring at the end of this year, said he doesn't oppose extending the programs - he just doesn't want to add to the deficit. Democrats claim the bill is an emergency measure that should not be subject to new rules requiring that legislation not expand the deficit.
As a result of the Senate's inaction, many jobless people starting Monday were no longer able to apply for federal unemployment benefits or the COBRA health insurance subsidy.
"The irony of all this is we're out trying to fill that (financial) hole created by the (recession) which cost 8 million people" their jobs, Vice President Joe Biden said. "At a time when so many families are in so much pain we shouldn't be shutting the few valves of relief. ... We should be opening that spigot a little wider not shutting it down."
(CNN) - He might be an underdog as the 2012 presidential field shapes up, but former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum continues to put in some early legwork as he considers a White House bid.
Santorum will be the keynote speaker at the Dorchester County County Republican Party breakfast in South Carolina on May 22, the group said Monday. It will be his second trip to the early primary state in recent months.
His busy itinerary also includes a speech to the Iowa Christian Alliance next week – his second trip to the Hawkeye State - and a headline appearance at the headline the Cheshire County Republican Lincoln Day Dinner in New Hampshire in late April.
Santorum served two terms in the Senate before losing re-election in 2006.
UPDATE: This is Santorum's third trip to South Carolina, not his second.
Washington (CNN) - A liberal group that last week said the White House has a "loser mentality" is continuing to round up support for using the parliamentary maneuver called reconciliation to pass a health care public option.
"Robert Gibbs had a loser mentality when he said 50 votes don't exist in the Senate for the public option when well over 50 existed before," Progressive Change Campaign Committee co-founder Adam Green told CNN. "We're going to prove him wrong."
The PCCC has added five senators to its list of those who have expressed support for using reconciliation - which requires a simple 51-vote majority in the Senate - to pass a public option. The number of senators who support the cause now totals 30.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin's office is among the five senators to submit a statement to the PCCC this weekend.
New York (CNNMoney.com) – Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood on Monday blamed a senator's filibuster for furloughing thousands of federal employees and threatening state jobs while shutting down highway construction projects nationwide.
"As American families are struggling in tough economic times, I am keenly disappointed that political games are putting a stop to important construction projects around the country," wrote LaHood, in a press release. "This means that construction workers will be sent home from job sites because federal inspectors must be furloughed."
LaHood was referring to the one-man filibuster of Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., who has blocked a bill that would, among other things, provide a short-term extension of the Highway Trust Fund, which is a federal fund set up to pay for transportation projects around the country.
Bunning spokesman Mike Reynard did not speak directly about the job disruptions cited by LaHood, when asked about it by CNNMoney.com, but he reiterated Bunning's belief that if 100 senators support the bill, they should come up with the $10 billion to fund it on a pay-as-you-go basis.
"Sen. Bunning supports this bill," said Reynard. "He believes it's essential, and he believes we should pass it. But he believes we should pay for it. "
Washington (CNN) - The Republican Study Committee organized a "Twitter day" Monday with 68 of their members.
The theme of the day is "My commitment," where the members who have Twitter accounts will send out a tweet starting with, "My commitment is" and then write about which they are passionate.
Rep. Tom Price, who chairs the Republican Study Committee, started the day by tweeting, "My commitment is health reform that empowers patients and not Washington."
The Republican Study Committee is a caucus of House conservatives who advocate for an agenda of conservative principles. The caucus has just over 115 members, but not all of them tweet. Throughout "RSC Twitter Day," the representatives will be using the hashtag "#RSC" to keep track of the tweets.
Another tweet came from Rep. Virgina Foxx: "My commitment: holding Washington accountable for its reckless spending & wasting taxpayers' $. hence my no-earmark pledge."
(CNN) - Add a primary challenge to Sen. Blanche Lincoln's growing list of political problems.
Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter announced Monday morning that he's launching a Democratic primary challenge to Lincoln, who was already facing a tough re-election battle this year.
"Washington is broken. Bailing out Wall Street, with no strings attached while middle class Arkansas tax payers with the bill. Protecting insurance company profits instead of patients and lowering health costs. Gridlock, bickering and partisan games while unemployment is at a 25 year high. Enough is enough. It is past time to put more Arkansas values in Washington," said Halter in an anti-incumbent message in a video posted on his Web site.
Four progressive organizations, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, MoveOn.org, and Daily Kos, released an e-mail pledging to raise half a million dollars over the next week for Halter, who worked in President Bill Clinton's administration. Halter is expected to formally announce his primary bid Tuesday when he files papers of candidacy at the state capitol in Little Rock.
(CNN) – Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is weighing in on the California gubernatorial race, announcing Monday she is backing former eBay CEO Meg Whitman's bid for the GOP nomination.
"California is my home and there is only one person running for Governor who can lead the way toward rebuilding our state," Rice said in a statement provided by the Whitman campaign. "In my experiences in and out of government, I find the most effective leaders to be those who maintain a clear vision, mobilize diverse groups, and inspire them to work together in confronting the most pressing challenges.
Rice, the former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under President Bush, is currently a professor of political science at Stanford University.
Whitman is battling state insurance commissioner Steve Poizner for the Republican party's nomination. A poll conducted late last month showed the former eBay chief with a 17-point over Poizner with nearly 4 in 10 Republican primary voters undecided. The primary is set for June 8.
(CNN) – Joseph P. Kennedy III, the 29 year-old grandson of Robert Kennedy, has closed the door on a potential 2010 congressional bid, the latest member of the Kennedy family to forgo a bid for state-wide office.
Kennedy, whose father Joseph P. Kennedy II, was a six-term Congressman from Massachusetts, had been widely floated as a possible replacement to current Rep. Bill Delahunt, should Delahunt decide to retire.
Speaking to the Boston Globe, Kennedy, a recent Harvard Law School graduate, said he enjoys his current post as assistant district attorney covering the state's Cape Cod region.
"I think that we've got a great congressman. He continues to serve the people of the 10th District well," he said. "I'm a longtime supporter of his, and I hope he runs again."
But Kennedy is not ruling out a future run for Congress.
New York (CNN) – Troubled New York Democratic Gov. David Paterson, who recently abandoned his quest for a full term, said Monday he will not resign his office. He also asserted that he retains enough authority to effectively govern one of the country's largest states for his remaining 10 months in power.
Paterson announced last Friday that he would not run for a full term. His announcement came in the wake of news reports that one of his top aides was involved in a domestic violence incident with a woman and that state police later pressured the woman to keep quiet.
Paterson has asked New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, a possible Democratic contender for the governor's office, to investigate the matter.
"I would think (resignation is) off the table," Paterson said at a question-and-answer session with reporters sponsored by the New York Observer. "In terms of authority of power, I have the power."
Paterson said "there is a hysteria I have been the victim of the past month. ... I find the whole discussion to be very remote from the issues we are facing right now."
New York, like many states, is facing a major budget crisis as a result of the economic downturn.