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WSJ: GOP Making Bold, Massive Bid to Take Senate.

Image: WSJ: GOP Making Bold, Massive Bid to Take SenateScott Brown, left, and Ed Gillespie

By Melissa Clyne

In its bid to gain the Senate majority in the midterm elections later this year, the GOP is crafting its strategy straight from the 2012 Democratic playbook, according to The Washington Post.

Republicans are casting a wide net to pick up the six seats needed to secure a majority, putting up viable candidates in a plethora of states where they hope to capitalize on President Barack Obama’s dismal job performance ratings as well as the national furor over Obamacare.

“The key to the Republican strategy is making the next tier of seats [and recruits] as large as possible since a few candidates will flame out, some incumbents will prove tougher to beat than they appear, and the national political environment could shift several times between now and November,” the Post notes.

Republicans need to win six new seats to flip the current Democratic majority of 55-to-45. In the current political climate, they are expected to gain between four and seven seats, according to the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. 

States where the GOP can prevail include Alaska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, West Virginia, South Dakota, Virginia, and possibly Minnesota. Five of the vulnerabilities stem from retirement announcements by Democratic senators Max Baucus of Montana, Carl Levin of Michigan, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, and South Dakota’s Tim Johnson.

Midterm elections are historically unkind to the sitting president’s party. Add to that the hysteria over a botched healthcare law rollout and millions of Americans receiving notices of canceled insurance plans and it’s a recipe for an ouster.

According to the Wall Street Journal, five states Obama won in 2012 — Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Virginia, and New Hampshire — are now considered vulnerabilities.

In Virginia, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie should be “a very credible contender who can raise considerable money,” according to the Rothenberg Report, and former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown trails New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen by just three points and he hasn’t even announced whether he intends to run.

“I’d be more worried if I were a Democrat than if I was a Republican,” Rothenberg Report editor Stuart Rothenberg told the Journal. “The Republicans’ prospects in the existing targets are improving because of the president’s approval ratings, and they are continuing to put other races on the board.”

By offering voters strong GOP alternatives in a variety of states, even those historically blue, Republicans hope that hijacking the Democrats 2012 strategy proves to be a winner.

“One thing’s for sure,” political columnist Chris Cillizza writes in the Post. “If they make it over the top this November, Senate Republicans should send their Democratic counterparts a nice thank you gift for showing them the way.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Sens. Kirk, Menendez Proposing New Iran Sanctions.

By Melissa Clyne

President Barack Obama’s victory in getting Congress to hold off on imposing newsanctions on Iran’s nuclear program may be fleeting.

Senators Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Mark Kirk of Illinois, are considering proposing legislation to impose new sanctions on IranThe Wall Street Journal reports.

Those sanctions would fall outside the interim, six-month window for negotiations set in the agreement struck in Geneva last month between Iran and the P5+1 powers— Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States  — that negotiated it.

“I have been a proponent of pursuing additional sanctions prospectively … but I’m beginning to think based upon on all of this that maybe what the Senate needs to do is to define the end game, or at least what it finds as acceptable as the final status,” Menendez said. “Because I’m getting nervous about what I perceive will be acceptable to [the administration] as a final status … versus what the Congress might view as acceptable.”

The administration has been treading lightly since the announcement of the interim deal, arguing that taking more immediate action could be counterproductive and kill chances for future negotiations. Under the agreement, Tehran agreed to limit uranium enrichment in exchange for the easing of international sanctions for six months.

Iran Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has stated any new sanctions would be interpreted as the end of the interim agreement.

The White House is lauding itself after the Senate Banking Committee agreed to “a pause” to let the administration pursue a comprehensive deal with Iran and the House called off a vote on a non-binding resolution for new sanctions.

Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, conceded that taking action during “delicate negotiations” with Iran could eliminate the possibility of a long-term deal and “shatter Western unity on this issue.” The Senate Banking Committee oversees sanctions legislation in the Senate.

“We should make sure that if the talks fail, it was Iran that caused their failure,” he said,Reuters reports. “We should not give Iran, the P5+1 countries or other nations a pretext to lay responsibility for their collapse on us.”

To appease critics who accuse the Obama administration of being too soft on the notoriously nefarious Iran, the White House has blacklisted companies and individuals from Singapore to Ukraine for allegedly helping Tehran evade international sanctions on its oil trade, according to the Journal.

The Iranian foreign minister says that by doing so, the United States has acted “against the spirit of the Geneva deal,” The Jerusalem Post reports.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Senate Confirms New SEC Head, Mary Jo White.

The Senate confirmed Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday in a voice vote.

Both Republicans and Democrats had expressed support for President Barack Obama’s pick to lead the agency, Politico reports. She previously served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York where she gained a reputation as a tough prosecutor of mobsters and terrorists.

White cleared the Senate Banking Committee on a 21-1 vote, the lone no-vote being Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who had issues with White’s stint as a defense attorney for the banking and finance industries.

White assured the committee during her confirmation hearing that she could be effective and that she had spoken with SEC ethics officials on having to recuse herself from some issues. She was told recusals are not unusual for SEC members, she said.

Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., praised White’s quick confirmation, on the first day of Congress’ return from a two-week break.

“After meeting her, listening to her testimony and closely reviewing her qualifications, it came as no surprise that she received such overwhelming bipartisan support for her confirmation,” Johnson said in a written statement Monday.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Greg Richter

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