Democratic Rep. Bill Owens announced Tuesday that he won’t seek reelection in 2014, the latest in a string of recent retirements by House moderates. His decision will will leave Democrats defending a vulnerable House seat in upstate New York this fall.Owens, who is serving just his second full term after coming to Congress via a special election in 2009, said in a statement: “After careful thought and consideration, I have decided not to seek reelection for the 21st Congressional District this November…. It is time for me to undertake new endeavors and spend more time with my family.”
But the “related news” section of Owens’s website, below his retirement announcement, might be more telling. The next news release listed is titled, “Owens Frustrated With Stalled Farm Bill Negotiations.” A handful of other moderates from both parties have also announced retirements in the past few months, with many citing congressional gridlock as part of their impetus for getting out of the legislating game. According to National Journal‘s 2012 vote ratings, Owens was the 10th-most conservative Democrat from that year still in the House. Two other conservative Democrats (Reps. Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina) have already announced their retirements, making their seats likely Republican pickups in the 2014 elections.
Owens was also facing a tough reelection in a battleground district, with Republicans touting former Bush official Elise Stefanik as one of their stronger recruits this cycle. President Obama carried the 21st District with 52 percent of the area’s votes in both 2008 and 2012, but it was a longtime Republican seat, represented by current Secretary of the Army John McHugh, before Owens captured it in 2009. Both that year and in 2010, Owens won despite getting only 48 percent of the vote, thanks to third-party candidacies splitting the vote.
A slate of moderate Republicans, including Reps. Jon Runyan of New Jersey, Tom Latham of Iowa, Frank Wolf of Virginia, and Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania, will also retire in 2014, sparking competitive election races.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."