(CNN) - GOP Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah announced Thursday he will not seek his party's nomination as write-in candidate in next month's primary.
The announcement comes two weeks after Bennett failed to garner enough Republican support at the state convention to appear on the ballot.
Facing significant anger aimed at Washington and at some of his past votes, Bennett was eliminated from seeking re-election as a Republican, becoming the first incumbent to fall victim to the growing anti-Washington mood ahead of the 2010 midterm elections.
Bennett came in third in a second round of balloting at the state party convention behind more conservative candidates Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee. In a final round of voting, neither Lee nor Bridgewater won 60 percent of the vote needed to win the nomination. They will now face each other in a primary election June 22.
(CNN) - Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway is putting the heat on GOP rival Rand Paul over Paul's recent comments regarding the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Paul - the Tea Party favorite who easily beat Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the state's May 18 Senate primary - repeatedly dodged questions in recent media interviews about whether he thinks parts of the landmark legislation amount to a constitutional overreach.
An interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal last month highlighted Paul's controversial views during which he said: "I don't like the idea of telling private business owners-I abhor racism-I think it's a bad business decision to ever exclude anybody from your restaurant. But at the same time I do believe in private ownership. But I think there should be absolutely no discrimination on anything that gets any public funding and that's most of what the Civil Rights Act was about to my mind."
Following his primary victory on Tuesday, Paul was again questioned over his views regarding the legislation on National Public Radio and MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. In response to questions, Paul said he supports the 46-year old measure except for the provisions that outlaw private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race.
While stressing that he is opposed to discrimination in any form, Paul suggested the measure runs up against individuals' First Amendment and property rights.
"I think what's important in this debate is not getting into any specific 'gotcha' on this, but asking the question 'What about freedom of speech?' Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things that freedom requires," he said.
(CNN) - Just two weeks after finishing a surprising second in Indiana's Republican Senate primary, state senator Marlin Stutzman is making another bid for office.
Stutzman announced Thursday that he would seek the House seat of fellow Republican Mark Souder, who is resigning following his admission of an extramarital affair.
"We must have strong, principled, accountable leadership in Washington that will stand strong for Hoosier values and represent 'We the People,"' said Stutzman, in formally announcing his candidacy.
Souder abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday, after acknowledging that he "sinned against God" by engaging in a relationship with a member of his staff. The 59-year-old married father of three, who just won a competitive primary, said he will leave office at the end of the week.
Souder, a social conservative, was first elected to Congress in 1994 and represents Indiana's third Congressional district, located in the northeast region of the state.
Stutzman is a farm owner in the district. He won the backing of many Tea Party activists and of conservative Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina in his bid for the GOP Senate nomination. He lost to former Sen. Dan Coats but came out ahead of former Rep. John Hostettler, who was much better known across Indiana.
Other GOP candidates may jump into the contest for the open seat. Party caucuses of committee members will choose the nominees in the race. No date has been scheduled for the special election.
Former Fort Wayne city councilman Tom Hayhurst is the Democratic nominee for November's general election. He could become his party's pick for the special election.
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn
(CNN) - Bill Clinton is heading home to Arkansas to try and help out a fellow Democrat battling for her political life.
The former president and former Arkansas governor will campaign with Sen. Blanche Lincoln on Saturday at an event in the Little Rock area.
The two term senator will face off against Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in a June 8 runoff election in the battle for the Democratic nomination. Lincoln won 44.5 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Democratic Senate primary, with Halter, who's gained the help of union and progressive groups as he challenges Lincoln, grabbing 42.5 percent, and conservative Democrat DC Morrison at 13 percent. Since no candidate won a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two candidates is necessary.
"I'm extremely grateful for President Clinton's support in this campaign and look forward to our 'Countdown to Victory' kickoff event," says Lincoln, in an email released by her campaign Wednesday night.
Along with the star-power that Clinton brings to his former home state, he could also play a pivotal role in bringing out African American voters, a key constituency group that Lincoln will need to beat Halter.
(CNN) - Meg Whitman's very large lead over Steve Poizner in the battle for the California Republican gubernatorial nomination has dramatically shrunk, according to a new poll.
A Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) survey released early Thursday morning indicates that 38 percent of likely GOP primary voters back Whitman, a former eBay CEO who served as an adviser and surrogate for Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, with 29 percent backing California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. A large number of voters, 31 percent, are undecided.
Whitman's nine point advantage is down from a 50 point lead in a PPIC poll conducted in March.
Poizner has attacked Whitman in recent weeks with a barrage of commercials questioning her conservative credentials, her poor voting record, and her links to Goldman Sachs.
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) - After falling three votes shy, Democratic leaders in the Senate plan to try again Thursday to secure enough votes to push Wall Street reform forward.
The Senate on Wednesday, after months of negotiation and debate, rejected a bid to end debate on far-reaching legislation to overhaul the rules of finance.
The measure aims to stop bailouts, shine a light on complex financial products and strengthen consumer protection.
Washington (CNN) - Two Republican sources at Wednesday’s House GOP Conference meeting tell CNN that there was a lot of grumbling about the party’s loss in a special election Tuesday for the vacant House seat in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district.
Democratic candidate Mark Critz topped Republican Tim Burns by double digits in the battle to succeed the late Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha.
“People should be rumbling – members sure were,” said one of the sources.
Both sources, one a Republican lawmaker and one a senior GOP staffer, said National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Pete Sessions took responsibility for the loss and promised to study the results and learn the lessons of the Burns’ defeat.
Both sources said they did not believe there would be an effort to replace Rep. Sessions as chairman of the NRCC, but said it was made clear there is deep dissatisfaction.
The accounts also exposed anew long festering tensions or rivalries among House Minority Leader John Boehner and some of his deputies in the leadership. The two sources, both from the more conservative factions of the House GOP caucus, noted it was the Ohio Republican who tapped Sessions for the NRCC’s top post and said most of the NRCC’s top staff have ties to Boehner.
The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world.
For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com
CNNMoney: Wall Street reform fails test
After months of negotiation and debate, far-reaching legislation to overhaul the rules of Wall Street failed a key test vote in the Senate on Wednesday, casting a shadow over Democratic efforts to push the effort forward. The measure aims to stop bailouts, shine a light on complex financial products and strengthen consumer protection. The vote was 57 to 42. Under Senate rules, Democrats needed 60 votes to move ahead to a final vote. Two Democrats opposed the bill, and two Republicans voted for it. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to bring up the bill for another vote on Thursday at 2:30 pm ET. He had wanted a final vote by Friday, but that appears unlikely now.
CNN: Reid accuses Scott Brown of breaking word on vote
Moments after narrowly losing a key vote on the hotly contested Wall Street reform bill Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a news conference that another senator "broke his word with me." It was a rare public rebuke of a fellow senator, and while Reid, D-Nevada, and his aides refused to identify the individual or provide specifics about the charge, other Senate aides from both parties said Reid was referring to Scott Brown, the new Republican senator from Massachusetts. An aide to Brown confirmed that the senator had signaled to Reid he would vote for the motion to end debate on the financial regulations bill, but said it was conditioned on changes that had not been made by the time of the Wednesday's procedural vote.
Wall Street Journal: Ban on Pet Provisions Proves Too Much for Lawmakers
They said they wouldn't. They tried to stop themselves. But they're doing it anyway. As they debate a more than 1,500-page bill intended to overhaul Wall Street and prevent the next financial crisis, senators from both parties are inserting pet provisions into the legislation. Buried among more than 300 amendments to the bill are efforts to keep Social Security numbers off documents processed by U.S. prison inmates; regulate the oil, gas and mining industries; condemn Myanmar for human-rights violations; and control the sale of minerals from war zones. In order to smooth passage of a high-priority bill, congressional leaders said they would ban any provisions that didn't have something to do with the financial industry.
New York Times: Democrats See Hope for Fall in Victory in House Race
Congressional Democrats on Wednesday seized on their special election victory in a Pennsylvania House district and other primary results as evidence that they can stem Republican political momentum, as both parties sifted through Tuesday night’s returns for lessons to learn and mistakes to avoid heading to November. After hearing for months that they were on the verge of losing control of the House, Democrats said the decisive victory by Mark Critz, a Democrat, in the blue-collar district formerly represented by the late John P. Murtha, showed they remain competitive in the kinds of hotly contested regions Republicans need to win to have a real chance of capturing the House.
CNN: House Republicans grumbling over loss in PA special election
Two Republican sources at Wednesday’s House GOP Conference meeting tell CNN that there was a lot of grumbling about the party’s loss in a special election Tuesday for the vacant House seat in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district. Both sources, one a Republican lawmaker and one a senior GOP staffer, said National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Pete Sessions took responsibility for the loss and promised to study the results and learn the lessons of the Burns’ defeat.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Murtha successor looks to what's next
Sipping a Pepsi and looking disoriented when an aide called him "congressman," Mark Critz on Wednesday cast about for an answer to a question he now gets to ask himself. "I've been chasing this for 85 days now," said Mr. Critz, who had just been elected to fill out the term of his late boss, U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha. "There is that sense of, OK, what next?" In a campaign that delineated the space between politics and governance, Mr. Critz and his Republican opponent, Tim Burns, spent the past three months hammering each other with charges that sometimes strained credulity. Both parties effectively nationalized the election.