Pot lobby vows to blunt Wasserman Schultz – By Marc Caputo 2/19/15 5:33 AM EST Updated 2/19/15 5:33 AM EST


She angered medical marijuana advocates by opposing a voter initiative last year.

DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is pictured. | Getty

MIAMI — Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s interest in running for U.S. Senate has encountered strong resistance from a usual ally of her party: medical-marijuana activists.

Because of her congressional votes and her criticisms of a Florida medical-marijuana initiative last year, four political groups that advocate for prescription cannabis and drug decriminalization vowed to campaign against the Florida representative if she sought the Senate in 2016.

“She’s voted repeatedly to send terminally ill patients to prison. And we’re certainly going to make sure Floridians know that – not to mince words,” said Bill Piper, national affairs director with the Washington-based Drug Policy Alliance, which has received funding from liberal luminaries such as George Soros.

“This issue is evolving very quickly and hopefully she will evolve,” Piper said. “But if she doesn’t, you can expect medical marijuana patients and supporters to dog her on the campaign trail.”

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Six cities bid for Democratic National Convention in 2016 – By JAMES HOHMANN | 6/7/14 3:02 PM EDT


Celebration following President Barack Obama's acceptance speech September 6, 2012 at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. | Brett Flashnick/ for POLITICO)

The Democratic National Committee invited 15 cities to make a proposal. | POLITICO Photo

Six cities submitted bids to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016: Birmingham, Cleveland, Columbus, New York, Philadelphia and Phoenix, Democrats announced Saturday.

In April, the Democratic National Committee invited 15 cities to make a proposal and these are the ones that responded by the deadline.

A Technical Advisory Committee will now evaluate all six cities, making site visits and studying their logistical ability to handle the crowds of people. A final decision will be announced either late this year or in early 2015.

(Earlier on POLITICO: Brooklyn to bid for DNC 2016)

“Hosting a party convention is a true honor and we’re thrilled with all the fantastic options that we have going into the next cycle,” DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “We look forward to evaluating these bids and selecting a city to host this special gathering of Democrats.”

Republicans are much further along in their selection process. They’ve narrowed it down to four cities: Cleveland, Dallas, Denver and Kansas City. Last month, Cincinnati and Las Vegas were dropped from the running.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/democratic-national-convention-six-cities-bid-107560.html#ixzz342UgJHzF

Barack Obama pushes voting rights in Texas – By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE | 4/9/14 1:04 PM EDT Updated: 4/9/14 10:49 PM EDT


President Barack Obama makes a statement to the news media. | Getty

Democrats see a voting rights pitch as a way to drive midterm turnout among Obama voters. | Getty

President Barack Obama on Wednesday joined the larger Democratic effort to spotlight voting rights ahead of this year’s midterms, blasting “active efforts to deter people from voting.”

“Apparently it’s fairly active here in Texas,” he told supporters at a Houston fundraiser. “The idea that you’d purposely try to prevent people from voting? Un-American. How is it that we’re putting up with that? We don’t have to.”

On Friday, the president will continue his election-year push in a speech to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

(PHOTOS: Civil Rights Summit)

Attorney General Eric Holder delivered his own address to the group Wednesday in New York, recounting the Justice Department’s efforts on the issue since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act last year.

“Let me be very clear: Protecting the right to vote — the action that truly makes our nation an exceptional one — will continue to be a priority for this administration, for this Department of Justice, for this president, and for this attorney general,” Holder said.

Democrats see a voting rights pitch as another way to drive up midterm turnout among core Obama voters — most prominently African-Americans, but also Latinos, unmarried women, and current and recently graduated college students — the groups, party operatives point out, most at risk from restrictive voting laws.

(Also on POLITICO: LBJ’s poignant paradoxes)

The attorney general didn’t announce new policy Wednesday, focusing on existing DOJ lawsuits in North Carolina and Texas.

The president won’t break new ground, either: He’ll speak about voting rights as part of a speech about equality and justice, senior administration officials said this week, a preview of what will be a central talking point for the president when he hits the trail to rev up the base starting in late summer.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is announcing the first two state directors — in Texas and Ohio — Wednesday of its Voter Expansion Project, which will build a state-by-state tailored outreach plan, ramping up efforts to tackle existing laws and working with friendly secretaries of state to expand voter access, while challenging restrictive new laws in the courts and state legislatures.

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The secret to defeating GOP’s restrictive voting laws: Debunk “voter fraud” – JOE CONASON THURSDAY, MAR 20, 2014 10:04 PM UTC


GOP has discouraged minorities and the poor from voting. Can Bill Clinton’s new initiative expose their grift?

The secret to defeating GOP's restrictive voting laws: Debunk

Growing up in Jim Crow Arkansas, Bill Clinton saw how the state’s dominant political and racial elite maintained power by suppressing the rights of minority voters who threatened its authority — and as a young activist, worked to bring down that illegitimate power structure. So when Clinton says, “There is no greater assault on our core values than the rampant efforts to restrict the right to vote” — as he does in a new video released by the Democratic National Committee — the former president knows of what he speaks.

In the segregationist South of Clinton’s youth, the enemies of the universal franchise were Democrats, but times have changed. Not just below the Mason-Dixon Line but across the country, it is Republicans who have sought to limit ballot access and discourage participation by minorities, the poor, the young and anyone else who might vote for a Democratic candidate.

No doubt this is why, at long last, the Democratic Party has launched a national organizing project, spearheaded by Clinton, to educate voters, demand reforms, and push back against restrictive laws. Returning to his role as the nation’s “explainer-in-chief,” Clinton may be able to draw public attention to the travesty of voter ID requirements and all the other tactics of suppression used by Republicans to shrink the electorate.

His first task is to debunk the claims of “voter fraud,” fabricated by Republican legislators and right-wing media outlets, as the rationale for restrictive laws. Lent a spurious credibility by the legendary abuses of old-time political machines, those claims make voter suppression seem respectable and even virtuous.

Some years ago, the Brennan Center for Justice, based at New York University and led by former Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldman, issued a 45-page report on voter fraud that remains definitive. “There have been a handful of substantiated cases of individual ineligible voters attempting to defraud the election system,” the report noted. “But by any measure, voter fraud is extraordinarily rare.” And because fraud is so unusual, GOP countermeasures, such as voter ID, do much more harm than good.

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http://www.salon.com/2014/03/20/the_secret_to_defeating_gops_restrictive_voting_laws_debunk_voter_fraud_partner/

The vice president doesn’t understand what Democrats are so worried about in 2014. – By David Catanese Feb. 27, 2014


Biden Gives Democrats a Plan to Scratch the 6-Year Itch

Vice President Joe Biden delivers remarks during the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting at the Capital Hilton on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

Vice President Joe Biden can’t recall another time in the last 40 years when the majority of Americans agreed with his Democratic Party on every major issue.

Nonetheless, he said Democrats remain too timid, defensive and reactive about their positions heading into a challenging midterm election year. In a speech at the winter Democratic National Committee meeting Thursday, he essentially told state party leaders to stiffen their spines.

[READ: Democrats Can’t Run From Obamacare, Even if They Never Voted for It]

“What are we worried about?” Biden asked an assembling of state party chairs inside the Capital Hilton in downtown Washington, D.C. “If we run on what we believe, if we run on our value set, which happens to be totally consistent with where the American people think we should be on the substantive set of issues, we will win. We will win.”

Biden’s comments come as the Democratic Party is strategizing on how to navigate the politically perilous sixth year of Barack Obama’s presidency, a time when, historically, the party out of power makes electoral gains. The highest priority for Democrats is holding on to the Senate, where the party is fending off challenges in six states Obama lost twice.

In recent weeks, Democratic incumbents in red states like Sen. Mark Pryor in Arkansas and Sen. Mark Begich in Alaska have made explicit breaks with Obama and some of his policies – a demonstration of the president’s unpopularity in their states.

But Biden suggested that approach has its drawbacks in a year when the Democratic base needs extra incentive to turn out. He lamented that members of his party are overly worried about the avalanche of outside money facing them, rather than embracing a proactive posture to combat GOP attacks.

“Let’s not get too hung up here on the idea about the super PAC,” he said. “What we’re worried about is the Koch brothers and their friends bringing in millions and millions and millions of dollars. I’m still one of these guys who believes money can’t buy an election when you’re selling a bad set of goods.”

Biden advised Democratic candidates should always demand that their opponents articulate what they’re for, turning what often becomes a referendum on the president’s policies into a stark comparative choice.

“What they’re for, they don’t want to talk about,” he said. “We are too shy, we are not talking about it enough, in my opinion.”

The minimum wage, equal pay for women, background checks on gun owners, marriage equality and immigration reform are all issues backed by a majority of Americans, Biden contested. Though the Affordable Care Act’s popularity has taken a measurable hit in many key states, the vice president stressed it was still more popular than a repeal of the law.

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http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/02/27/biden-gives-democrats-a-plan-for-scratching-the-6-year-itch-at-dnc-meeting

Democratic noise machine targets Christie – By ALEXANDER BURNS | 1/14/14 5:03 AM EST


wFrom left, clockwise: Loretta Weinberg, Chris Christie, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Mark Sokolich, Bill Pascrell, Barbara Buono and Bill de Blasio are shown in this composite. | AP Photos

The all-hands-on-deck strategy recalls the heyday of the 1990s Clinton scandals. | AP Photos

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For years, Chris Christie was one of the country’s most gifted political thespians: More than any other contemporary Republican, he mastered the art of crafting dramatic moments for TV and online consumption and watching the nation thrill to the raw force of his personality.

Now, the New Jersey governor, whose aides once took pride in creating viral videos of his town hall smack-downs, is battling a set of adversaries wielding many of the same media tools against him.

The Garden State’s unfurling retribution scandal — in which at least three Christie associates have been tied to a scheme to deliberately disrupt traffic near the George Washington Bridge — has quickly become a case study in the evolution of the powerful messaging apparatus that national Democrats have built in the Obama era.

(QUIZ: How well do you know Chris Christie?)

The Christie uproar would be a sensational story under any circumstances, thanks to the governor’s status as a leading presidential contender and a set of raw facts that are alternately troubling and profoundly entertaining. Christie’s aides and appointees didn’t need much help getting themselves into deep trouble. But with only a minor show of force from an array of entities on the left, “Bridgegate” has become a full-blown national political maelstrom.

And this time, Christie may not be stronger than the storm.

Most voters following the Bergen County intrigue likely found out about it last week, when the Record newspaper obtained emails showing that Christie’s deputy chief of staff had sent a message apparently green-lighting the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge.

But for nearly a month prior to the publication of those emails, the Democratic National Committee was plugging away at an anti-Christie message that has now become the talk of the political world and that a web of liberal groups, politicians and talk-show hosts have joined together to amplify.

(Also on POLITICO: Chris Christie faces audit on Sandy funds)

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http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/democrats-new-jersey-governor-chris-christie-george-washington-bridge-scandal-102118.html?hp=t1_s