To go back a ways … Clay Aiken isn’t a runner-up for once. (There’s still time for that, come November.) To go back even further … Monica Lewinsky is speaking out again. (Last time we heard from her, she would have been hard-pressed to quote Beyonce, who was 16 in 1998.) And to go way, way back … the Washington Monument is opening again. (It has been only three years since an earthquake rattled the city but didn’t seem to break anything that wasn’t already broken.)
Here’s a glimpse at some of the stories your ABC News political team will be tracking in the week ahead:
Hillary Clinton is set to make her first campaign appearance of 2014 -- and she’s keeping it in the family, or at least very close to it. Clinton will be the main draw Thursday at a New York City fundraiser for Marjorie Margolies, the former Pennsylvania congresswoman who wants her old job back. Margolies also happens to be Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law, and she needs the boost in advance of the crowded May 20 Democratic primary for the Philadelphia-area district. This may be the last we see of Clinton on the trail at least until after her book publishes next month. Getting involved in a primary in a heavily Democratic House seat comes with some risk, especially if Margolies falls short. The appearance also comes at interesting time in Clintonland, wedged between the re-emergence of Monica Lewinsky and the publication of the highly anticipated memoir about Clinton’s time as secretary of state.
The 2014 primary binge continues next week, with contests in Nebraska and West Virginia Tuesday. Coming off this past week’s tea-party whiffs, most notably in North Carolina, the most closely watched contest will be in the Republican race for Senate in Nebraska. Ben Sasse, the 41-year-old president of Midland University, has a constellation of tea-party groups surrounding him, along with boldfaced names such as Palin, Cruz, and Santorum. The race is a three-way scramble that also includes establishment favorite Shane Osborn and self-funding candidate Sid Dinsdale, and it has been particularly nasty for a primary. The GOP nominee will be a near shoo-in in the general election. But this may be the tea party’s best shot to prove it remains relevant in 2014, after an early string of disappointments.
Washington was beginning to feel like scandal town again even before Monica Lewinsky broke her decade-long silence. This past week brought a contempt-of-Congress vote in the IRS scandal and the creation of a new special committee to investigate the tragedy at Benghazi. Both developments broke so neatly along party lines – with only vulnerable Democrats joining GOPers) that it’s enough to suggest that Republicans see powerful base-motivation tool in surrounding the Obama White House in a swirl of scandals, real and/or perceived. Regardless, with Democrats eager to see both issues fade, it will be Republicans pushing ahead virtually on their own. Watch for the next moves to come in the Benghazi probe, with a newly installed panel eager to start making progress.
Tim Geithner becomes the latest former Cabinet secretary to publish a memoir, with “Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises” set to be published next week. The former Treasury secretary has promised to “help answer some of the questions that still linger” about the crisis that came to dominate 2008-2009, with a “broader scope” than some previous books. Few expect it to explode across the political landscape like the memoir published earlier this year by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, or to sell as many copies as Hillary Rodham Clinton’s forthcoming book. But the genre of out-of-the-Cabinet-now memoirs seldom disappoints when it comes to producing behind-the-scenes nuggets. In tidbits that have already emerged publicly, Geithner reveals that Obama aides discussed nationalizing banks during the financial crisis, and that he wanted Clinton to be considered as a successor at Treasury.
Another week, another Bridgegate headline for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak, who has already testified in front of a grand jury on the subject, is slated to appear in front of the legislative committee investigating the scandal Tuesday. Democrats on the committee are seeking to poke holes in Christie’s version of events surrounding the infamous lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. And now Christie has another distraction emerging: a gaping budget gap that led to a credit downgrade for his state, the fifth time that has happened during Christie’s time in office. That could mean painful spending cuts, and threatens to undermine Christie’s national reputation as a sound fiscal manager.