Liz Halloran

Liz Halloran joined NPR in December 2008 as Washington correspondent for Digital News, taking her print journalism career into the online news world.

Halloran came to NPR from US News & World Report, where she followed politics and the 2008 presidential election. Before the political follies, Halloran covered the Supreme Court during its historic transition — from Chief Justice William Rehnquist's death, to the John Roberts and Samuel Alito confirmation battles. She also tracked the media and wrote special reports on topics ranging from the death penalty and illegal immigration, to abortion rights and the aftermath of the Amish schoolgirl murders.

Before joining the magazine, Halloran was a senior reporter in the Hartford Courant's Washington bureau. She followed Sen. Joe Lieberman on his ground-breaking vice presidential run in 2000, as the first Jewish American on a national ticket, wrote about the media and the environment and covered post-9/11 Washington. Previously, Halloran, a Minnesota native, worked for The Courant in Hartford. There, she was a member of Pulitzer Prize-winning team for spot news in 1999, and was honored by the New England Associated Press for her stories on the Kosovo refugee crisis.

She also worked for the Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury, Conn., and as a cub reporter and paper delivery girl for her hometown weekly, the Jackson County Pilot.

Mike Simpson has been atop the Tea Party hit list for much of this election year.

And Tuesday's primary contest between the Idaho Republican congressman and Tea Party challenger Bryan Smith had been billed as a big one in a string of GOP primary mashups that would signal the sway of the Tea Party faction — or the ability of traditional conservatives like Simpson to fight back in a deep red state.

"It's been a real-deal campaign here in Idaho," says Skip Smyser, the conservative founder of Boise-based government relations firm Lobby Idaho.

Wednesday's GOP gubernatorial primary debate in Idaho should carry a disclaimer: NOT a Saturday Night Live skit.

It was that amazing.

And it had nothing to do with the ongoing conflict between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment.

Conservative money has poured into Nebraska's Republican Senate primary race.

Big GOP names like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are on opposite sides.

And the attack ads have been brutal — including one that took a page directly from the Swift-boating of John Kerry's military record during his 2004 presidential run.

Fifty-six years ago this weekend, newspapers across the nation told a sad tale of a family seemingly imploding.

At the center of the story was Coya Knutson, the opera-singing daughter of a Norwegian farmer, and the first woman from Minnesota elected to Congress.

Voted in on her own merits, not appointed to keep a late husband's seat warm for a successor, the trailblazing mother could only watch as vengeful party rivals, a manufactured scandal, and a feckless, alcoholic husband combined to sabotage her career.

It all came to a head on the eve of Mother's Day 1958.

Monica Wehby is the Senate candidate Republicans have been waiting for: a camera-ready pediatric neurosurgeon, mother of four, in a party that desperately needs to elect more women.

Make that a candidate some Republicans have been waiting for.

In its 168 years, Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress or picked one as its governor.

For many residents who pride themselves on a progressive civil rights history that predates statehood, that political reality has become an exasperating distinction shared with only one other state — Mississippi.

A former FBI agent turned congressman from New York gets indicted on charges ranging from evading taxes and employing undocumented workers to lying under oath while a member of the U.S. House.

A married congressman from Louisiana announces he won't run again, just weeks after being caught on video in a passionate clutch with a married staffer.

And this in the wake of the recent resignation of former GOP Rep. Trey Radel of Florida, busted for attempting to buy cocaine in the nation's capital.

Thousands of nonviolent drug offenders serving time in federal prison could be eligible to apply for early release under new clemency guidelines announced Wednesday by the Justice Department.

Details of the initiative, which would give President Obama more options under which he could grant clemency to drug offenders serving long prison sentences, were announced by Deputy Attorney General James Cole.

For more than a year, GOP Sen. Rand Paul has been staking out positions on issues that resonate in the black community, including school choice and prison sentencing reform. And he's been showing up in some unexpected — for a Republican — venues, including historically black colleges.

It's stirred an unusual degree of curiosity about the freshman Kentucky senator — and 2016 GOP presidential prospect — among the Democratic Party's most reliable voting bloc.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the Obama administration is formulating new rules that would give it, and the president, far more latitude to pardon or reduce the sentences of thousands of drug offenders serving long federal prison sentences.

The move comes amid a broad national reconsideration of mandatory minimum sentences approved by Congress in 1986, when America's big cities were in the grip of a crack cocaine-fueled crime wave.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg's plan to invest $50 million in what he describes as a mom-driven grass-roots effort to support pro-gun-safety candidates grabbed headlines Wednesday, and energized gun control activists.

The commitment, the former New York City mayor says, aims to beat back the profound political influence of the National Rifle Association in 15 targeted states — to "make them afraid of us," he told NBC's Today show.

"This is what the American public wants," Bloomberg said, referring to his group's intended focus on gun-purchase background checks.

Colorado Democrat Mark Udall's bid for a second term has become the most unexpectedly competitive U.S. Senate race in the nation this year — and for unexpected reasons.

Yes, Udall, 63, like other vulnerable Democrats, is already being pummeled by big-money conservative groups for his support of President Obama's health care legislation.

Embattled GOP Rep. Vance McAllister has made at least one smart move: He concluded that finding out who may have leaked a security video that captures him in a torrid embrace and lip lock with a woman (not his wife) won't actually erase said video.

One day after the freshman congressman — who ran last year as Christian conservative — indicated he planned to ask GOP House Speaker John Boehner to request an FBI investigation into the leak, he reversed course.

In what world does an annual salary of $174,000 meet the definition of underpaid?

That would be in the nation's capital, where soon-to-be-retired Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said Americans should know that their members of Congress — as the board of directors for the "largest economic entity in the world" — are underpaid.

The world could soon get its first official look at the CIA's post-Sept. 11 interrogation and detention activities now that the Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to make public a blockbuster report about the agency's secret program.

The Senate panel's move to declassify key parts of the 6,300-page document comes just weeks after a rancorous battle erupted between the committee's Democratic chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, and the CIA over allegations the agency spied on members through their computers.

The nation's increasingly powerful Spanish-language television networks show a distinct liberal bias in covering domestic news, a conservative media watchdog group asserted Tuesday.

The Media Research Center says that its four-month analysis of weekday evening newscasts aired on Univision and Telemundo showed that the networks' domestic coverage was "dominated by partisans" from the left.

The sign-up period for 2014 individual insurance coverage required under President Obama's Affordable Care Act expires Monday, much as it began.

There were HealthCare.gov website snafus, White House pleas for enrollees, and the need for "navigators" to help those enrollees work their way through the often-balky federal insurance exchange site. (Which was temporarily out of service twice by midafternoon Monday.)

It says something about the changing politics of Hawaii that Democratic powerhouse Daniel Inouye's deathbed pick of a successor was ignored by his own party.

The question is what.

The December 2012 death of the long-serving senator — and one of the state's founding fathers — has exposed cracks in Hawaii's solidly Democratic façade, leading to a contentious Senate primary that has placed age, gender and ethnicity at center stage.

As increasingly confident Republican leaders predict big midterm election gains, the head of Democratic National Committee put on her game face Tuesday and insisted the party will hold control of the Senate.

The Democrats' grass-roots organization, said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and what she characterized as the GOP's continuing alienation of women, minority, LGBT and middle-class voters, bodes well for her party this fall.

One year ago, a frank Republican Party assessment of why it came up short in the 2012 presidential election included a stark recommendation.

Embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform, the post-mortem authors urged, or get used to a party whose appeal "will continue to shrink to its core constituents only."

Five months before his 2012 re-election, President Obama announced that his administration would stop deportations of more than a half-million young adults, often referred to as "Dreamers," brought illegally to the U.S. as children.

Latinos subsequently turned out to vote in record numbers that fall. More than 70 percent marked their ballots for Obama — helping him win the popular vote and triumph in key battleground states.

The nation's highest law enforcement official Thursday endorsed the "All Drugs Minus Two" proposal — as it's known by prison sentencing reformers — to change the way drug crime sentences are handed down.

President Obama's planned move to expand the pool of the nation's employees covered by overtime pay laws was hailed Wednesday by Democrats as key to their midterm election strategy.

And it was just as predictably criticized by conservatives as an overreach by a president who recently characterized income inequality as the "defining challenge of our time."

There's a congressional election in Florida on Tuesday that's worth watching — even if you don't live in the Tampa Bay-area district where it's taking place.

It's not because the winner of the neck-and-neck special election between Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly will affect the GOP's stranglehold on the U.S. House this cycle. It won't.

It's called "revenge porn" — the posting of nude or sexually explicit photos or videos online to degrade or harass someone, usually a former spouse or lover.

And states from Arizona to New York are racing to make it a crime.

It's a development that has heartened privacy advocates but alarmed free speech watchdogs who see constitutional peril in many bills being considered.

The process of electing a new governor in Texas begins in earnest Tuesday, when Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Wendy Davis are expected to easily dispatch their primary opponents and move on to the Nov. 4 battle.

As if they hadn't already.

Both Abbott, 56, the state's attorney general and a former state Supreme Court judge, and Davis, 50, a state senator and former Fort Worth City Council member, have been amassing money and press since at least last fall.

George Prescott Bush.

Ring a bell?

It should, and if it doesn't, it soon will. George P. Bush, 37, is a great-grandson of a late U.S. senator from Connecticut; a grandson and nephew of former U.S. presidents; and the eldest son of ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who just may run for president himself in 2016.

On Tuesday, George P., referred to by some as the "Hispanic George Bush" because of his mother's Mexican heritage, will take his generation's first crack at the family business when he runs in a statewide Republican primary for Texas land commissioner.

In a scene from the new season of the popular Netflix political drama House of Cards, the elegant Claire Underwood catches her soon-to-be vice president husband puffing an e-cigarette.

"You're cheating," she says, referring to their efforts to quit smoking.

"No, I'm not," Congressman Francis Underwood replies. "It's vapor ... addiction without the consequences."

A Washington-based drama with an implicit endorsement of "vaping" — the practice of partaking in nicotine without burning tobacco?

With 435 seats up for grabs every two years, House candidates typically raise more money overall than those running for the Senate, where only about one-third of the chamber's 100 seats are contested every two years.

It's been nearly four years since activists engaged in a battle over a Supreme Court nomination, and a tepid one it was.

Republicans barely pushed back on President Obama's 2010 nomination of Elena Kagan, his second appointment in as many years. She was confirmed by the Senate, 63-37.

At the time, influential Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona acknowledged the problem inherent in pursuing a high court battle: The GOP had only 41 Senate votes, making it "pretty difficult" to sustain a filibuster against Kagan, or any Obama appointee.

That could change by year's end.

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