Washington (CNN) - The senator responsible for promoting Democrats in senate races nationwide said the Republican Party is "cannibalizing" its moderates.
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, reacted to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to abandon the Republican senate primary and launch an independent bid. Menendez is the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
"This is an example of what's happening in the Republican Party across the country where they're cannibalizing each other," Menendez told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King in an interview that aired on CNN's John King, USA.
Crist's decision essentially launched a three-way general election race pitting him against former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio – expected to become the Republican nominee - and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek.
Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama has started meeting face-to-face with possible Supreme Court nominees, including talks Thursday with federal judge Sidney Thomas, a senior administration official told CNN.
Thomas serves on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and is from Billings, Montana.
The senior administration official would not disclose the other recent meetings, but acknowledged the activity is a sign that the process has reached an important new phase and Obama is edging closer to a selection.
Obama has said he intends to nominate a candidate to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens by the end of May, so that the Senate can complete the confirmation process in time for the new Supreme Court session in the fall.
According to the senior administration official, Obama is still going through a lot of reading material as he considers contenders and has more one-on-one meetings planned.
St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN) - Declaring that his only loyalty is to the people of his state, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced Thursday that he will run for the United States Senate as an independent rather than a Republican.
The move sets the stage for an unprecedented three-way race in which Crist will test whether he can win federal office without the formal backing of a political party.
"I could have chosen to stay in the [Republican] primary, but frankly for me, this your decision," he told a crowd of about 300 supporters and campaign volunteers gathered in a picturesque St. Petersburg park overlooking Tampa Bay. "It's not one club's decision or another."
When it finally came, Crist's declaration of independence was somewhat of an anti-climax. With poll after poll suggesting that he stood no chance of winning the GOP nomination over his ascendant rival, former House Speaker Marco Rubio, Crist began hinting at an independent bid weeks ago. News of his decision leaked a day early.
Crist told reporters after the speech that he made up his mind to run without party affiliation "late last night." Asked if he could raise the kind of money needed to run a competitive campaign in the nation's fourth largest state, Crist responded: "I already have."
Washington (CNN) – As many Americans rail against big banks and lawmakers push for financial reform, Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Chris Dodd of Connecticut will attend a New York fundraiser with some top Democratic donors who also have ties to Wall Street.
The Monday fundraiser will be hosted by Jane Hartley, a longtime Gillibrand supporter, at her Manhattan home. Hartley does not work in the financial industry, but her husband is Ralph Schlosstein, president and CEO of the investment firm Evercore Partners. Schlosstein also served in the Carter administration.
Politicians have long rubbed elbows with Wall Street executives, who have traditionally been an important source of campaign dollars. But Gillibrand and Dodd's attendance at the event could prove politically embarrassing.
Dodd is the chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which is deeply involved in crafting legislation to reform to Wall Street. In November, Gillibrand hopes to win a full six year term after New York Gov. David Paterson appointed her to the seat left vacant when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State.
The senators' attendance at the event could give critics political ammunition in what has become a major battle over which party is cozier with Wall Street.
Washington (CNN) – Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Florida, wasted no time Thursday detailing his campaign strategy on how he will approach an expected three-way general election contest for Florida's open Senate seat.
"I feel that this doesn't change our campaign," Meek said at a press conference 30 minutes before Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced that he was abandoning the Republican primary and, instead, run as an unaffiliated candidate. Meek is expected to be the Democratic nominee.
A Quinnipiac University poll, released two weeks ago, suggested that Meek will begin the general election race behind both Crist and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, who now has a clear path to the Republican nomination.
Meek said he intends to attack both candidates on their records, arguing that Rubio is too conservative to win in Florida and claiming Crist is inconsistent.
Washington (CNN) - Florida Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio reacted Thursday to Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to leave the GOP senate primary and run as an independent.
"This is a great opportunity to see our republic at work," Rubio said Thursday in Miami. The former Florida House Speaker spoke from a baseball field ahead of his son's championship tee ball game.
Rubio will now face-off against Crist and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek in a three-way race.
While Rubio called Crist and Meek "good people," he accused the governor and congressman of being wrong on the issues.
"I remain the only candidate that will stand up to this agenda," Rubio said, an apparent slam against the Obama administration's policies.
Rubio said that heading into the race he did not think he would have to run in a general election against two candidates. But Rubio said that is the nature of American democracy.
Washington (CNN) – Gov. Charlie Crist's decision announcement Thursday that he will run for Senate as an unaffiliated candidate means that his name will be placed beneath at least eight others on Florida's general election ballot in November.
According to the Florida Secretary of State's office, the order that candidates are listed on the state's ballot is predetermined by law. The winner of the Republican primary will receive top billing, followed by the winner of the Democratic primary and then any candidates who have qualified to run as members of Florida's more than 30 registered "minor parties." These candidates are listed in the order in which they qualified for the ballot.
Last on the ballot, also listed in the order that they qualified, are candidates running without party affiliation – listed as NPA. This is where Crist's name will appear.
Four candidates have already qualified to run unaffiliated, ensuring that their names will be above the governor's on November's ballot: Sue Askeland, Bruce Ray Riggs, Bobbie Bean and Rick Tyler. Additionally, two minor party candidates have already qualified and will also be listed before Crist's: Libertarian Alexander Andrew Snitker and Bernie DeCastro of the Constitution Party of Florida.
St. Petersburg, Florida (CNN) – At least three members of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s campaign staff resigned on Thursday shortly after Crist announced he is quitting the Republican Party and running for Senate as an independent.
Crist’s campaign attorney Benjamin Ginsberg, a veteran GOP legal player who advised both Bush-Cheney presidential campaigns and later Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign, sent Crist his resignation letter moments after Thursday’s announcement.
Communications Director Andrea Saul and Press Secretary Amanda Hennenberg – the campaign’s main conduit to the media – also resigned their positions. Both Republicans moved to Tallahassee from Washington, D.C. to work for Crist’s Senate campaign.
“It has been an honor to work for Gov. Crist, and I wish him all of the best," Saul told CNN.