Opinion: Why the Pennsylvania Special Election Is Not So Special
Such contests are more about storylines than winning

All elections have consequences, but on a scale of zero-to-life-changing, Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb has fewer real-world consequences than most.

You wouldn’t know it from the screaming national headlines or the colossal amount of cash both parties are putting up to occupy the seat for the next nine months (almost $12 million in ad spending alone), but the reality of special elections this cycle is that they are more about winning a storyline than about winning any House seat.

Opinion: Donald Trump Has Already Won His Trade War
President makes good on promise to people who put him in office

One dark, cold night in 2016, Donald Trump made a promise to 6,000 chanting fans and potential voters who had come to see him speak in an unheated, dirt floor rodeo hall in Pendleton, South Carolina.

“We’re going to make America great again. We’re going to make it rich. We’re going to bring our jobs back from China and Mexico.”

Opinion: Time’s Up for DiFi? Not If Democrats Are Smart
Veteran California senator fights a good fight

When Democrats chanted, “Time’s up! Time’s up!” at the California state convention this weekend, they weren’t protesting serial sexual harassers, as the Hollywood-based #TimesUp movement was founded to do. And they definitely weren’t calling for equal opportunities for women in leadership, the other goal of the Time’s Up movement.

Instead, the protesters were heckling Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California’s senior senator, as she walked off the convention stage where she made her case for re-election in 2018.

Opinion: Save the RINOs, Save Yourselves
Mitt Romney would add a voice of moderation


Mitt Romney is running for Senate. He found new political life by bashing President Donald Trump — who on Monday proceeded to endorse him anyway. (Even a candidate video that sideswiped Trump at least twice wasn’t enough to deter the president.)

Opinion: Meet the Deficit Doves
Deficit hawks soar like a rock

Do you remember the deficit hawks of the last decade, that breed of budget cutter so single-minded and focused on reducing, rather than growing, government debts and deficits that you knew what they were going to say before they said it?

Military spending needed a pay-for. Medicare Part D? Too expensive. For every legislative idea their congressional colleagues cooked up to solve a problem, the deficit hawks rightly pointed out that spending money the country doesn’t have is itself a problem, especially without a plan to reduce spending in the out years.

Opinion: Crumbs? ‘I’ll Take It!’ And Democrats Should Too
Tax cuts are showing up in paychecks, and that’s definitely not hurting the GOP

Democrats could not believe their luck this weekend when House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted — and then deleted — a boast about the $1.50 raise a high school secretary received as a result of the GOP tax cut bill that President Donald Trump signed at the end of the year.

“She said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year,” Ryan tweeted.

Opinion: Why Democrats Are Desperate for Some Kennedy Dazzle
The JPK3 boomlet is upon us, and it starts with the State of the Union

It’s hard to describe the full swoon among progressives that’s been underway since House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi announced that Rep. Joe Kennedy III, known among liberal super-fans as “JPK3,” had accepted the deceptively difficult task of delivering the response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

“My God, he looks like a red-headed Ted,” wrote a contributor on The Daily Kos, the website that re-established itself in 2017 as a hugely influential forum for progressive activists.

Opinion: Women Played a Key Role in Harassment Bill
In the #MeToo era, some lawmakers may be scurrying for cover

When people talk about women running for office, we hear a lot about numbers. X-number of women are running. Women make up y-percent of Congress or elected officials. When x and y are equal, then we’ll finally see a difference in our government.

But beyond the numbers, if you really want to see the difference it makes to have women from both parties at the table when legislation is drafted, look no further than the bill introduced last week to finally begin to change the way sexual harassment has been dealt with in Capitol Hill offices since the Congressional Accountability Act passed in 1995.

Opinion: Welcome to S-Town
Congress should try fixing problems instead of creating them

You have to wonder what’s going through newly elected Sen. Doug Jones’ mind as he experiences his second full week in the Senate. Can you imagine winning an election against an accused pedophile, only to arrive in the one square mile of America that is crazier than the circumstances that brought you here?

What about Sen. Tina Smith, who replaced Al Franken after he voluntarily resigned for sexual harassment he said he mostly never committed?  Congress made even less sense on Tuesday, when the prevailing debate among senators was not about Korea or nuclear war or the economy or education, but over whether President Donald Trump had called Haiti and all of Africa a “shithole” or a “shithouse” in a meeting with senators last week.

Opinion: The Women Who Could Take Back the House for Democrats
Trump presidency a catalyst for action

In a typical election cycle, EMILY’S List hears from 900 or so women who are interested in running for political office. As of this week, less than a year after President Donald Trump took office, more than 25,000 women have reached out to the group, whose goal is to help elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.

That unprecedented number tracks with what I’ve seen covering special elections for the House and Senate in 2017. Particularly in Alabama and Georgia, I kept seeing female voters showing up in huge numbers to work for Democratic candidates, even when the women themselves weren’t Democrats, or had never been particularly political at all.

Opinion: Democrats’ Picks to Repeat Alabama Upset in the South
Some feel good about their chances in the 2018 midterms

When Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race last week, Jones became the first Democrat to be elected statewide there since 2006. When he is sworn into the Senate a few weeks from now, he will notice he’s not like the others, since he and Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida will be the only two Democrats to represent states in a deep red swath of the Deep South from Texas to North Carolina.

But a combination of the Jones victory, along with a group of unusually promising candidates and a polarizing president in the White House, has Democrats in the South feeling genuinely decent about their chances in the 2018 midterm elections. They’re not exactly whistling Dixie, but they are humming a different tune for once.

Opinion: The Real Year of the Woman
Female lawmakers are playing outsize role in sexual harassment debate

It takes a special kind of depravity for a congressman to suggest to a female staffer that she carry his child for $5 million and then retaliate against her when she declines the offer, as former Rep. Trent Franks reportedly did last year.

Nobody is winning a profile in courage award for asking female staff members to cuddle with him in his apartment and then firing them after they refuse, as former Rep. John Conyers Jr. was accused of doing before he resigned in disgrace. And you’d think that voters would somehow weed out a senator who apparently had a groping habit before he was ever in politics, but former Sen. Al Franken proved that conventional wisdom wrong.

Opinion: Wall Street’s Moral Superiority
Private companies act quickly while Congress dithers

When Wall Street, Hollywood, cable news and even Silicon Valley are beating you by a mile on the road to dealing with questions of morality, respect and human decency, you can rest assured you’re doing it wrong.

Washington, you’re doing it wrong.

Opinion: Ethics Committee Investigation for Harassment Is Not ‘Zero Tolerance’
Referring sexual misconduct allegations to panel is as good as doing nothing

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi had a profoundly terrible appearance Sunday on “Meet the Press,” when, among other things, she defended Michigan Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving Democrat in the House, in the face of multiple sexual harassment allegations against him from former female staffers.

First, Pelosi made a call for due process, which is always important, of course. But then she got into the weeds. “Just because someone is accused — and was it one accusation? Is it two?” she said to NBC’s Chuck Todd. “I think there has to be — John Conyers is an icon in our country. He has done a great deal to protect women.”

Opinion: Time to Investigate Members for Sexual Harassment
Congress needs to root out serial offenders

This is not a #MeToo column about sexual harassment on Capitol Hill. I worked in the Senate for nine years and never experienced anything other than professional conduct and opportunities for advancement in my own offices. I was once told my salary would be less than my male predecessor because I wasn’t “a powerful man,” but that’s another issue for another time, and a moment I wish I could go back to again and again, because I know now I could have argued for more and won.

This is a #GetReal column about sexual harassment on Capitol Hill, because now that the longtime problem of sexual harassment on the Hill has been acknowledged, even by members like Rep. Jackie Speier and Rep. Debbie Dingell, it’s hard to believe that the only solutions being proposed are mandatory sexual harassment training or legislation that continues to rely solely on the victims of harassment coming forward to address this embedded cultural disease.

Opinion: Now McConnell Believes the Women
Comments in response to allegations against Roy Moore

Senate Republicans are suddenly grossed out by their Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and his conduct 30 years ago, when five women say he either sexually assaulted them, sexually harassed them, or simply tried to date them when he was a single deputy district attorney in his 30s and they were teenagers, one as young as 14 years old.

Moore has completely denied the accusations, but did allow in an interview with Sean Hannity that if he had ever dated a teenager when he was in his 30s, he would only have done it “with the permission of her mother.”

Opinion: Rand Paul and Our Own Worst Enemies
Nothing is more important than how we treat fellow Americans

It was shocking to read over the weekend that Republican Sen. Rand Paul had been attacked at home in Kentucky, and then to learn that he had been mowing his own lawn when his next-door neighbor blindsided him with so much “high velocity severe force,” according to his spokesman, that it may take the senator weeks or even months to recover.

We don’t know what kind of bad blood, if any, might have existed between the senator and his neighbor Rene Boucher. But we do know that if there’s any place a senator should be able to feel safe, it’s in his own yard. That the attack on Paul came from his own neighbor, from within his own community, is the most disconcerting of all because, by my count, it is part of a growing list of instances in which Americans are literally becoming our own worst enemies.

Opinion: All About the Lobby — Linking the Mueller Indictments to a Tax Overhaul
Desperate for a win, the GOP is not sweating the small — or big — stuff

There’s something ironic about President Donald Trump promising to “drain the swamp,” three of his campaign aides getting indicted, two of those aids facing federal charges related to their work as lobbyists for a foreign government, and Congress barreling ahead to pass tax reform all in the same week.

If the events seem unrelated, they’re really not, because the entire illegal scheme that special prosecutor Robert Muller described in the indictments of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates on Monday had one ultimate goal — to influence members of Congress, in this case on matters related to the government of Ukraine.

Opinion: Avoiding Another ‘Brownbackistan’
Tax cuts in Kansas led to an economic train wreck

“Economic gold rush? Or fiscal wreck?” That was the question the Kansas City Star asked on May 23, 2012, the day after Gov. Sam Brownback signed a sweeping series of state tax cuts into law. Five years later, the Kansas tax cuts are looking a lot more train wreck than gold rush, with a $900 million deficit and Brownback’s fellow Republicans stepping in to reverse the cuts he pushed.

Kansas also offers an awfully timely cautionary tale for Washington lawmakers, who are hitting the gas on getting a tax reform package — any tax reform package — done by the end of the year in order to chalk at least one win on the board for 2017, but who don’t seem to be sweating the details just yet.

Opinion: The Women in Washington Staying for the Fight
Collins, Feinstein and Pelosi want to keep fighting for their causes

Sen. Bob Corker’s leaving the Senate, and who can blame him? At a certain point, life’s just too short to get called “Liddle Bob” on Twitter by anyone, especially by the president of the United States.

But even as Corker announced that he’d retire at the end of his term, two of the Tennessee Republican’s female colleagues decided last week they’re not going anywhere, at least not if they can help it. Both women said while they had considered leaving Washington, the job in the Capitol was too important to walk away from.