(CNN) – A wealthy former hospital executive who became one of the most visible opponents of President Obama's health care reform effort is launching an upstart bid for governor in Florida.
Rick Scott, the founder of Conservatives for Patients' Rights, will challenge Attorney General Bill McCollum for the Republican nomination as a "conservative outsider," an adviser said Tuesday. State Sen. Paula Dockery is also seeking the GOP nod but trails McCollum in polls.
The statement accompanying Scott's announcement boasted breathlessly that Scott "shook up the Florida political establishment" by jumping in the race, which will pit the GOP winner against Alex Sink, the Democratic state Treasurer. All three are looking to succeed Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for Senate instead of pursuing a second term.
(CNN) - Andy Stern, the head of one of the most powerful labor unions and a top ally of President Obama, is resigning his post, according to a report from the Washington Post.
Stern has been at the helm of the 2.2 million-member Service Employee International Union since 1996 and initiated the then-controversial move to split with the AFL-CIO in 2004. He went on to found the Change to Win labor federation in 2005 - a federation of six major unions which heavily supported President Obama's election bid.
A spokeswoman for the SEIU would not confirm or deny the reports, but said Stern will
address these rumors at the close of the SEIU Executive Committee meeting this week."
SEIU also played a key role in the health care debate over the last fall, spending millions of dollars promoting the Democrats' plan on the airwaves and pressuring House Democrats in swing states to support the legislation.
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama will travel to Poland to attend the state funeral of the Polish president and first lady, who died in a plane crash last week, the White House announced Tuesday.
Obama will leave Saturday night for the funeral on Sunday in Krakow, Poland, for President Lech Kaczynski and first lady Maria Kaczynska, according to the White House statement.
"The president will travel to Krakow to express the depth of our condolences to an important and trusted ally, and our support for the Polish people, on behalf of the American people," the statement said.
Washington (CNN) – Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln raised $1.3 million in the first three months of 2010 and has $4.3 million cash on hand, her campaign said Tuesday.
But Lincoln's numbers indicate she has been unable to match the pace set by Lieutenant Gov. Bill Halter, who will face off against Lincoln in the Democratic senatorial primary - now only five weeks away.
While Halter has not released official fundraising totals for the first quarter, he was able to raise $2 million in the month of March alone, campaign spokeswoman Laura Chapin told CNN Tuesday.
Halter's challenge from the left makes Lincoln's already difficult re-election bid even more complicated. Should she defeat Halter in the Democratic primary, she will still face a Republican candidate in the general election.
Washington (CNN) – As Republicans begin to prepare in earnest for this year's midterm elections, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is again challenging his party to do more than oppose Democratic initiatives.
Instead, Gingrich told a gathering of conservative bloggers at The Heritage Foundation Tuesday that the GOP should develop a positive agenda for 2010 that can carry Republicans through to the next presidential election in 2012.
Rather than running from 'the party of no' label developed by Democrats as a talking point against congressional Republicans, some Republicans have embraced the idea of resisting the priorities of the White House and the Democratically-controlled Congress as the midterms inch closer.
"There is no shame in being the party of no if [Democrats are] proposing an idea that violates our values, violates our conscience, violates our Constitution," former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said last week at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. But, speaking at the same event, Gingrich offered a very different vision. "There are many things that we can say yes to," he told his fellow Republicans.
Asked about the split between himself and Palin, Gingrich said Tuesday that running only on opposition to the Democrats may result in success later this year, but doing so would leave the GOP without a clear road map for how to wield the levers of government should they regain control of Congress.
"You can't govern by saying no," the former House Speaker said.
"Imagine we won a huge victory [in November]. Imagine that John Boehner's the new [House] Speaker. Imagine that Mitch McConnell is the new [Senate] Majority Leader. What's their agenda? It can't just be yelling no."
Washington (CNN) - A new national poll suggests the Democrats have improved their position in this year's battle for Congress, but they still have quite a way to go before their majority status in the House of Representatives could be considered safe at the ballot box.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that if elections for Congress were held today, 50 percent of the public would back the Democratic candidate in their congressional district, with 46 percent supporting the Republican candidate. That's a switch from CNN's last poll, conducted in late March, when the GOP had a 4-point advantage. The margins are within the poll's sampling error.
The generic ballot question asks respondents if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district, without naming any specific candidates. The Democrats currently hold a 253-177 advantage in the House, with four seats that the Democrats once held vacant and one seat that the GOP held vacant. Republicans need to win 40 seats to take back control of the chamber.
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama has invited senators from both parties to a meeting to talk about the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy, the White House announced Tuesday.
Obama invited the Senate's majority and minority leaders - Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada and Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky - as well as the Democratic chairman and ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee - Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the White House said in a statement.
The meeting to discuss the opening created by the upcoming retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens will be on April 21 at the White House, according to the statement.
Listen: CNN's Bill Mears discusses the short list
Subscribe to the Political Notebook podcast in iTunes
TOPICS: 2010 midterm elections, 2012 GOP primary and general election, opinion of Sarah Palin, favorable ratings on Palin, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Democratic Party, Republican Party, tea Party movement
Full results (pdf)
(CNN) – House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer admitted Tuesday that the protests and rallies by Tea Party activists across the country are having an impact on lawmakers' decisions about running for another term.
"Do I think that negative atmosphere that's been created by the Tea Party and by others certainly goes into the thinking of Members? I think it does. I think you honestly have to point out that it does," Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen and pad session in the Capitol.
But Hoyer maintained that Tea Party activists had nothing to do with Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak's announcement last week not to run for re-election. "Bart Stupak is a very courageous Member; he wasn't forced out by anybody." Hoyer said he took Stupak at his word that representing a large rural district made it tough to spend time with his family.
The Majority Leader said "I would urge all the members who are here to run, to seek re-election." He noted that currently more House Republicans have decided to retire than House Democrats, and argued that if the atmosphere was a big factor then the opposite would be true.
Washington (CNN) - As President Barack Obama hosts a major international summit in the nation's capital, a majority of Americans say that he wins the respect of world leaders, according to a new national poll.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation released Tuesday indicates that 56 percent of the public believe that international leaders respect Obama. While that's down 16 points from a year ago, Obama scores higher than his predecessors.
"President Obama does fare better on that question than Bill Clinton did in 1994 or George W. Bush did after the start of the war in Iraq," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The 56 percent he gets on that question now is down significantly from 72 percent who felt that way last March, when Obama was still in his 'honeymoon' phase and his poll results on virtually every question were in the political stratosphere."
The president on Tuesday is hosting the second day of a two-day summit of 47 nations focusing on how to better safeguard nuclear weapons materials, both old and new, and keep them out of the hands of terrorists.