Secretaries are dropping faster than new boy bands hit the charts -- and sometimes those storylines are intertwined. Hillary Clinton's book is coming soon, so we're pretty sure she won't have time for needlepoint. And voters are voting -- eight states, one party civil war, and one candidate who rides a Harley, shoots a gun, and castrates hogs.
Here's a glimpse at some of the stories your ABC News political team will be covering in the week ahead:
A secretary is out, but the big questions are just beginning. The resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki capped a hectic week of revelations in a scandal that continues to grow. Now come questions about who will lead the Cabinet agency on a permanent basis. And we're no closer to learning everything about the widespread mismanagement and outright corruption that makes this one of the biggest scandals Washington has seen in years. The next piece will include a debate over whether the VA needs more resources (the Democrats' case) or partial dismantling via privatization and vouchers (the favored Republican course). But even accepting the resignation marked a shift in President Obama's leadership style, just as the issue is gaining political traction for Republicans.
Monday will be a big day in the world of climate change, plus the politics thereof. The Obama administration's long-expected rules on cutting carbon emissions at existing power plants is perhaps the most anticipated political announcement of the season. Red-state Democrats -- the ones whose continued service is the only way Democrats keep the Senate -- are prepared for vast fallout, as are outside groups on both sides, in an issue that has an impact on everything from the air we breathe to the price we pay for electricity. And we could get a Supreme Court decision on a different part of the Clean Air Act, as the administration looks for ways to work without Congress in addressing climate change.
President Obama will play high-level games of international stagecraft in a European trip that will consume much of his week. Instead of a G8 summit in Sochi -- what would have been another showcase for Russian President Vladimir Putin -- it will be a G7 meeting in Brussels for the United States and a group of allies that pointedly doesn't include Russia. Obama's first stop on the trip is for a major speech in Poland, Ukraine's western neighbor, and the president plans to visit with Ukraine's new president-elect, plus meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron. The trip will be capped by the 70th anniversary D-Day commemoration Friday in Normandy -- where Putin is still invited, and where he and Obama could cross paths.
The nastiest primary of 2014 is expected to come to a conclusion on Tuesday. Incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is locked in a tight race against Chris McDaniel, a state senator, in what appears to be the tea party's best chance at knocking off an incumbent this year. The race took a turn for the gutter when someone broke into a nursing home to secretly film Cochran's bedridden wife. The individuals charged in connection with that alleged crime are McDaniel supporters, leaving that issue to dominate the closing weeks of a high-stakes campaign. Fighting for his job is "Gentleman Thad," the 76-year-old sixth-term senator whose detractors see him as embodying the GOP establishment in Washington
If you haven't heard of Joni Ernst yet, you will soon -- and watch out. Ernst has risen to the top of a crowded Republican Senate field in Iowa with a couple of eye-popping ads feature her on a Harley, firing a gun, and talking about her experience castrating hogs. ("Washington's full of big spenders. Let's make 'em squeal," Ernst says.) Her description of herself -- mom, farm girl, and lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard -- has drawn more than a few comparisons to Sarah Palin, whose "Mamma Grizzly" endorsement she boasts. Iowa will be a tough pick-up opportunity for Republicans, but Ernst's backstory would give the GOP a compelling candidate to widen the Senate playing field, should she win the nomination Tuesday.