Eye Opener: Obama's personnel moves and politics
Happy Wednesday! Bill Owens (D) won New York's traditionally Republican 23rd Congressional District early Wednesday morning, giving Democrats one net victory among the political positions once held by Obama administration officials. But it gets much harder for the president's party to defend such positions next year.
John McHugh resigned from the Upstate New York Congressional seat to serve as secretary of the Army, paving the way for Owens's victory. Democrats also held the California Congressional seat once held by Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher and earlier this year easily kept the seats once occupied by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.
As for next year, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's successor, Sen. Michael Bennett (D-Colo.), is expected to face a tough primary and an even more competitive general election. In Kansas, Sen. Sam Brownback (R) is all-but certain to replace former governor and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (D), while in Arizona, the race is heating up to replace former governor-turned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano (D).
Hillary Rodham Clinton's move to Foggy Bottom elevated Kirsten Gillibrand (D), whose political fate is still unclear. Political handicappers also expect a spirited Senate race in Delaware if (when!) state Attorney General Beau Biden (D) decides to run for his father's old Senate seat against Rep. Mike Castle (R).
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• Cabinet and Staff News: VA Secretary Eric Shinseki vows to fight veterans homelessness. OMB Director Peter Orszag warns of lingering economic ills. Ex-Homeland Security secretary nominee Bernard Kerik discharged from the mental health unit of a jail.
• Spy vs. spy, or at least wannabe vs. wannabe, on Facebook: The agency started using the social-networking Web site back in 2007 and finds it "a useful tool to help answer potential applicant questions," a spokesman said.
• FHA digging out after loans sour: Although the agency has tightened credit standards, many of the 2007 and early 2008 mortgages are going bad.
• OPM proposes reinvestigation rule for certain employees: Federal employees who work in law enforcement, have fiduciary responsibilities and others in similar positions would have to go through a reinvestigation every five years under a new proposed rule.
• Congress extends benefits to military spouses: Lawmakers on Monday sent President Barack Obama a bill that allows military spouses to claim residency in the same state as their wives or husbands.
• Critics call TSP mutual fund option risky: Lawmakers and union representatives on Tuesday questioned the proposed mutual fund window for the plan, claiming it could subject participants to unnecessary risk.
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