Afternoon Fix: Michele Bachmann might move up 2012 decision

at 05:17 PM ET, 05/17/2011

The Gang of Six has lost a member, Michele Bachmann might not wait until June, Russ Feingold is taking on Claire McCaskill, and there are primaries going on in Kentucky and California.

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WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* The Gang of Six is now a Gang of Five — Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has dropped out. He said the chances of the group reaching agreement after months of negotiations are “not good,” but he could return if the current impasse on entitlements ends.

* Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum said on the radio today that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — who was tortured in Vietnam and has spoken out against torture in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death — “doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works.” McCain’s spokeswoman gave a one-word response: “Who?”

* Former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold (D) has taken on some members of his own party, bashing Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for opposing disclosure of political contractors’ political contributions. The former senator’s new advocacy group, Progressives United, says “we've decided to take on those legislators who are unwilling to stand up to corporate power, and we're naming names." Feingold is raising money to run web ads against the fellow Democrats. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) are also targeted.

* Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker will chair former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Iowa steering committee. “Matt Whitaker is a man who knows what’s important and he gets things done,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “That’s been true from his days as a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes team that played in the Rose Bowl to his determination as a U.S. Attorney who prosecuted dangerous criminals and put them behind bars.” Whitaker currently works at a law firm in Des Moines.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Michele Bachmann might announce a presidential bid sooner than planned. The Minnesota Republican House member told Fox News today: "Our Facebook has been lit up. Our donations are pouring in, and people are saying 'Michele, jump in. We want you to run'. We had announced earlier that we would be looking at a June entry date for a decision, one way or another, about this race. Possibly, we may move that up."

* Democratic redistricting maps could be out in Illinois as soon as tomorrow. According to Greg Hinz of Chicago Business, the plan will likely eliminate three GOP districts. Republicans consider that a victory, because they thought Democrats, who control the whole process here, could take out five of their seats. The plan reportedly will keep only one majority-Hispanic district (Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s seat) and three majority-black districts. Republican Robert Dold's district would be destroyed, and Rep. Aaron Schock (R) would be thrown in with a fellow GOP incumbent, either Tim Johnson or Bobby Schilling. Rep. Donald Manzullo (R) could also be pitted against Schilling.

* Ann Wagner (R) has launched a House bid in Missouri after dropping her senatorial ambitions in deference to Rep. Todd Akin (R), who announced his campaign today. “The Second Congressional District is the place where my husband Ray and I grew up, went to school, raised our children, work and go to church,” Wagner said in a statement. “And it is the place where I believe I can effectively represent with conservative leadership and values.” It’s likely to be a crowded GOP primary, with longtime Roy Blunt chief of staff Ed Martin and state Sen. Jane Cunningham in the mix.

* The Republican National Committee is considering turning over partial control of its voter file to a private entity that would boost the list with information purchased from consumer databases. Supporters say the plan would help the GOP target voters better than ever; detractors say it would diminish the organization by handing over a most valuable asset to outside operatives.

* Voters are voting today in Kentucky’s Republican gubernatorial primary and and California’s 36th district. Polls close at 8 P.M. local time in California (that’s 11 P.M. Eastern Time) and 6 P.M. E.T. in Kentucky.

THE FIX MIX:

Remember, CA-36 voters, Dan Adler’s wife is Korean:

With Rachel Weiner

 
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