Washington (CNN) - Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Virginia, released a statement Wednesday responding to the investigation into a "suspicious incident" at his brother's home in Virginia:
"My number one priority right now is ensuring the safety of my brother's family, and I am grateful to law enforcement for their excellent work. While it is too early to say anything definitive regarding political motivations behind this act, it's never too early for political leaders to condemn threats of violence, particularly as threats to other Members of Congress and their children escalate. And so I ask every member of House and Senate leadership to state unequivocally tonight that it is never OK to harm or threaten elected officials and their families with anything more than political retribution. Here in America, we settle our political differences at the ballot box."
Washington (CNN) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, believes prayers for his wife after her car accident earlier this month prevented her from being paralyzed.
"With the prayers that have been offered all over the country for my little wife, that's meaningful to me," Reid said during a Capitol Hill press conference Wednesday, "because I'm confident that those prayers prevented my wife from being paralyzed."
Landra Reid, Reid's wife of more than 50 years, suffered a broken neck, nose, and vertebra in a car accident outside Washington on March 11. Their daughter, Lana Reid, was also in the vehicle but her injuries were not as serious.
Washington (CNN) – Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's second nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration side-stepped questions Wednesday about whether he supports unionizing the nation's 40,000 airport screeners, but acknowledged the president's support for unionization of screeners and said any such plan should be done in a way that would not hurt national security.
Treading lightly on a topic that helped to derail the president's first nominee, Robert Harding likened his role to those of presidential appointees who are advising the president on closing Guantanamo Bay or allowing gays in the military.
"My recommendations would be very unbiased, they would be very factual and I think that's what I owe the secretary (of Homeland Security) and the president," Harding said.
(CNN) – California voters will be able to decide this fall whether their state will be the first in the nation to legalize the possession of marijuana for nonmedicinal uses, advocates claimed Wednesday, saying they have the needed signatures for a ballot initiative.
The proposed ballot initiative legalizing adults' possession of up to one ounce of marijuana has collected almost 700,000 signatures, according to a statement from the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based organization.
Roughly 434,000 signatures are required to place an initiative on statewide ballot in California this year, the statement said. State election officials are expected to validate the signatures Wednesday, it said.
Washington (CNN) - Days after his address was posted online by a Virginia Tea Party activist, the FBI and local law enforcement officials are investigating a "suspicious incident" at the home of Rep. Tom Perriello's brother.
A line to the propane tank on his brother's gas grill had been "severed," an aide to the Democratic congressman told CNN.
"It was enough that he could smell the gas," the aide said.
The Albemarle County Fire Marshal's office confirmed they are investigating the incident - which took place in Ivy, Virginia - along with the FBI.
"While officials are not willing to characterize the exact nature of the incident because of the ongoing investigation, it did not involve an immediate threat to occupants of the residence," Lee Catlin, Community Relations Director for the Fire Marshal, told CNN. "However officials are taking the incident very seriously and conducting a vigorous investigation. Additional details will be released as the investigation continues."
Washington (CNN) - Democrats will get a boost if the Tea Party movement fields its own candidates in this year's Congressional elections, according to a new national poll.
A Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday morning also indicates that the 13 percent of American voters who say they are part of the Tea Party movement tend to be mainly white and Republican.
According to the poll, Americans say they'll vote for a Republican over a Democrat in the November elections by a 44 to 39 percent margin.
But the addition of a Tea Party candidate to the ballot changes the dynamic: The Republican candidate drops dramatically to 25 percent and the Democrat only slightly to 36 percent, while 15 percent would back the Tea Party candidate.
"The Tea Party could be a Republican dream - or a GOP nightmare. Members could be a boon to the GOP if they are energized to support Republican candidates," says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "But if the Tea Party were to run its own candidates for office, any votes its candidate received would to a very great extent be coming from the GOP column."
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted last month also indicated that Tea Party activists would vote overwhelmingly Republican in a two-party race for Congress, and if they ran their own candidates it would hurt the Republican Party.
"Virtually every vote the Tea Party candidate gets in a hypothetical three-way race would be siphoned from the GOP candidate, potentially allowing the Democrats to win in districts that they might have otherwise lost," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "While the concept of an independent third party is extremely popular, most Americans, including most Tea Party supporters, don't favor a third party that would result in a winner who disagrees with them on most major issues."
Washington (CNN) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to announce changes Thursday easing the Defense Department's controversial "don't ask don't tell" policy prohibiting homosexuals from serving openly in the military, a senior Defense Department official has confirmed to CNN.
The official said one of the changes will be that outings by third parties may no longer be automatic grounds for initiating separation proceedings, especially if it is proven that the person making the allegation has a grudge against the military member.
Gates' announcement will focus on regulatory changes that can be made at the Pentagon without the approval of Congress, which has been debating whether to change the law. President Barack Obama has asked for a repeal of the controversial measure.
(CNN) – Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is deadlocked with probable Republican opponent Pat Toomey in his difficult bid for re-election this year, according to a new poll.
A Franklin and Marshall College survey released Wednesday indicates that Toomey leads Specter 33 percent to 29 percent among registered Pennsylvania voters; 32 percent are undecided – a very high number. Toomey's 4 point advantage is within the poll's sampling error. In Franklin and Marshall's last poll, conducted in February, Toomey trailed Specter by 4 points.
Toomey is a former congressman and former head of the Club for Growth, a limited-government and anti-tax organization. Specter, a five-term senator, switched parties from Republican to Democrat last spring. At the time of the party flip, he cited the difficulty in winning the Republican primary against Toomey as a factor.
A Quinnipiac University survey of Pennsylvania voters conducted late last month indicated that Specter led Toomey 49 to 42 percent in a hypothetical general election matchup. That was up from a 44 percent tie in a Quinnipiac poll conducted in December.
Washington (CNN) - Following weeks of speculation, Dan Senor, a Defense Department official during President George W. Bush's administration, has decided not to run for Senate in New York.
Senor, the husband of CNN anchor Campbell Brown, had been mulling a challenge to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. She was appointed last year to fill the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. Republicans have yet to recruit a serious opponent for Gillibrand.
"Over the past few weeks, I took a very serious look at running for the Senate seat in New York," Senor said in a statement. "I ultimately decided this wasn't the right time in my family and business life for me to run.
Senor said he will "continue to look for ways to advance the policy debate here in New York, especially on issues that I am most concerned about: America's declining economic competitiveness, skyrocketing deficits and taxes, a national security strategy that is drifting and a morally equivalent foreign policy that is troubling."
He promised to stay involved in New York politics and lend a hand to whichever Republican decides to seek the seat.
Gillibrand also dodged a potential Democratic primary challenge earlier this month when former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford decided against a bid.
(CNN) – Here's the latest sign Rep. Mike Pence is mulling a possible presidential run in 2012: the Indiana Republican will address an anti-health care reform rally in Iowa City Wednesday night. Pence will be beamed into the event, put on by the Iowa Republican Party, via Skype.
Iowa City, of course, is where President Obama will visit on Thursday to promote the health care bill he signed into law this week.
The "Stand Up for Freedom Rally" will take place at the University of Iowa.
"I'm proud to have Congressman Pence standing with Iowans tonight and standing up against the continued assault on our personal and economic freedoms from the Obama administration and Iowa's congressional Democrats," Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn said in a statement.
Pence has already made political stops in Iowa, traditionally home to the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. He's also visited the early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.