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Ear to the Ground

Warren Shows Up McConnell, California Fights Back Against Wal-Mart, and More

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Posted on Jun 3, 2013

Election Time: New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s death Monday from viral pneumonia raises an interesting question in the Garden State about filling his seat. Under state law, the governor—in this instance Republican Chris Christie—gets to pick who fills the post until a special election is held. What makes the process complicated, according to Cook Political Report’s Jennifer Duffy: the timing of that election. That’s because, according to Duffy, there are two conflicting provisions in the law about when the election would actually occur. “According to one provision, the law says that if a vacancy occurs more than 70 days before the next regularly scheduled statewide general election, then it will be filled during that general election,” Duffy writes. If that provision is followed, then the election to fill the Senate seat would be held in November. “However, another provision in state law says that a special election will be held in the next regularly scheduled statewide general election (e.g., this November) only if the vacancy occurs more than 70 days before the state’s primary election,” she explains. “New Jersey’s primary election is tomorrow [June 4, 2013]. If a vacancy occurs less than 70 days before the primary, then the vacancy would be filled at the next general election.” In that case, the special election would be held in November 2014. (Read more)

Payback Time: For years, Wal-Mart has gotten away with paying its workers sub-poverty level wages as it increases its own profits, effectively relying on taxpayers to cover the cost of health insurance and other benefits for those it employs. With Medicaid expanding in 30 states as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the company has now resorted to cutting employee hours to push more of its workers onto Medicaid, thereby again increasing Wal-Mart’s profits. But one state—California—has had enough. The state legislature is working on legislation that would impose hefty fines on companies like Wal-Mart to end the practice. Under the proposal, employers would be fined up to $6,000 for each employee who ends up on Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. According to Forbes: “The amount of the fine is no coincidence. A report released last week by the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce, estimates that the cost of Wal-Mart’s failure to adequately pay its employees could total about $5,815 per employee each and every year of employment.” (Read more)

Maryland Maybe: Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is considering getting back in to electoral politics. Steele, an MSNBC contributor, told the network’s Chuck Todd that he is weighing a bid to become the governor of Maryland. Before his stint at the RNC, Steele served a single term as the state’s lieutenant governor. “We’re looking at it,” Steele said of a political run in the reliably blue state. “You’re gonna take a look at the numbers. Maryland’s a tough state; there are a lot of challenges there.” Steele’s last attempt at running for office in Maryland was in 2006, when he lost the U.S. Senate race to Democrat Ben Cardin. (Read more)

Warren’s Win: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s push to fundraise for the Republican candidate in the Massachusetts Senate race seems to have backfired. After McConnell put a call out for donations to Gabriel Gomez on Friday, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren responded by imploring her own supporters to match McConnell’s goal in a fundraising plea for Congressman Ed Markey, the Democratic candidate in the race. She wrote in an email Friday: “Mitch McConnell said it himself: Gabriel Gomez will help right-wing Republicans and Tea Party radicals to stop President Obama’s agenda. If Mitch McConnell can raise $32,000 for Gabriel Gomez today, why don’t we match it for our friend Ed Markey?” Warren’s plea ended up being far more successful than McConnell’s. Her request for donations ended up doubling the goal that the Kentucky senator had set, raising more than $65,000 for Markey. (Read more)

Video of the Day: Republican Congressman Darrell Issa is getting heat from his own party after calling White House press secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar” Sunday morning on CNN over his handling of the IRS scandal. On Monday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., responded to the charges leveled by Issa during an appearance on “CBS This Morning.” Noting that he doesn’t “like to use that word,” McCain said, “I think that we should let these investigations take their course, let the facts come out.” He added that the last few hearings had reflected well on the IRS.

 

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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