Frank James

Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.

"The Two-Way" is the place where NPR.org gives readers breaking news and analysis — and engages users in conversations ("two-ways") about the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

James came to NPR from the Chicago Tribune, where he worked for 20 years. In 2006, James created "The Swamp," the paper's successful politics and policy news blog whose readership climbed to a peak of 3 million page-views a month.

Before that, James covered homeland security, technology and privacy and economics in the Tribune's Washington Bureau. He also reported for the Tribune from South Africa and covered politics and higher education.

James also reported for The Wall Street Journal for nearly 10 years.

James received a bachelor of arts degree in English from Dickinson College and now serves on its board of trustees.

Pages

It's All Politics
6:54 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Temporary Fix For Highway Money Is Well-Traveled Road

The I-75 highway modernization project in Dayton, Ohio, in April 2014.
Skip Peterson AP

If kicking the can down the road were a competitive sport, the championship trophy would never leave Washington.

When the need to make a difficult choice collides with an unyielding deadline, the tendency in a city where partisan gridlock is the norm is to put the tough decisions off for another day.

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It's All Politics
6:25 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Florida Ruling Is A Primer On Redistricting Chicanery

Florida Republican state Sen. Rene Garcia examines a map of proposed changes in congressional districts in January 2012.
Chris O'Meara AP

If you have some time over the weekend or need a break from the endless LeBron James coverage, you could peruse the highly readable opinion by a Florida judge who invalidated some of the redistricting efforts by the state's Republican Legislature.

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It's All Politics
9:17 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

In Texas, Obama Sets Stage To Answer 'Do-Nothing' Congress

Speaking about the need for congressional action on immigration, President Obama told a crowd at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, on Thursday that he would "love it if the Republicans did stuff too."
Jack Plunkett AP

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 11:06 am

Six years into his administration, President Obama has apparently not given up on the "hope" that was a major theme of his first run for president.

What else but undying optimism could explain the president's hope for the Texas congressional delegation expressed in his visit to their state this week?

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It's All Politics
5:49 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Should President Obama Visit The Texas Border?

Immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally stand in line for bus tickets after their release in June from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in McAllen, Texas.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 6:07 pm

Much of President Obama's presidency currently falls into the category of damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

That certainly is true on the question of whether he should visit the U.S.-Mexico border during his two-day visit to Texas.

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It's All Politics
6:28 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

A Senator Turns His Bible Into A Political Tool

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., walks with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Capitol Hill on June 4.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 7:10 pm

Here are two rules of American politics: Never let an opponent's attacks go unanswered, and if you're running in the South and have a good reason to be pictured holding a Bible, go for it.

The first is a long-standing rule. The second is hard to argue with.

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It's All Politics
8:23 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

In Mississippi, The GOP's Not-So-Civil War Continues

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran (center) may have scored the equivalent of a winning political touchdown in the Republican primary last month, but Chris McDaniel, who lost, still wants to see the replay.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

It's been 13 days since Sen. Thad Cochran, by most accounts, won Mississippi's Republican primary over Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel, with African-American Democrats largely providing the 6,800-vote margin of victory out of some 375,000 votes cast.

But as of Monday, McDaniel still hadn't conceded, and your guess is as good as anyone's as to when — or even if — he ever will.

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It's All Politics
7:07 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

Obama's No-Win Immigration Predicament

President Obama, accompanied by Vice President Biden in the White House Rose Garden, lashed out at House Republicans for stalling immigration legislation.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:41 pm

President Obama's tough predicament on immigration is only getting worse.

He certainly didn't want to be dealing with an influx of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the U.S. across the Southern border, overwhelming the Homeland Security Department's ability to deal with them during a critical midterm election year.

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It's All Politics
4:26 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Texas Tea Party Gives GOP Establishment The Blues

Republican Dan Patrick at his victory party on Tuesday. Patrick defeated incumbent David Dewhurst to capture the Texas GOP lieutenant governor's nomination.
Patric Schneider AP

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 5:41 pm

This was starting to look like a bad year for the Tea Party, with primary election losses to Republican establishment candidates beginning to pile up. Then came Texas.

In yet another example of the distinctiveness of Lone Star State politics, Tea Party candidates had a field day Tuesday in primary runoff elections, knocking off several Republican incumbents.

In the highest-profile race, state senator and conservative radio host Dan Patrick, with energetic Tea Party backing, defeated Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, ending his 16 years in statewide office.

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It's All Politics
6:59 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Court Orders Conyers Back On Ballot

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., in November 2012. He's held his Detroit-area congressional seat for close to 50 years.
Carlos Osorio AP

A federal court threw Rep. John Conyers a lifeline Friday with a decision that stops Michigan election officials from throwing the veteran lawmaker off the primary ballot.

The possibility of the 25-term Democratic congressman — who would become the longest-serving member in the House if he wins another term — fell into doubt when election officials said Conyers failed to secure enough legitimately collected signatures on his petitions for a spot on the ballot.

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It's All Politics
6:30 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Senate To NFL: Change The Redskins' Name

Both senators in Maryland — where the Washington Redskins play — signed on to a letter urging NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to get the team to change its name.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

Originally published on Thu May 22, 2014 7:01 pm

The United States Senate ratcheted up the pressure on owner Daniel Snyder on Thursday after a letter — signed by half the Senate — was sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, asking him to use his authority to get the Washington Redskins to change a team name that many consider racist.

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It's All Politics
3:39 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

A Role Reversal In Pennsylvania's Race For Governor

Tom Wolf, who leads in polls for Pennsylvania's Democratic gubernatorial nomination, shakes hands with a customer at a Mount Lebanon, Pa., hardware store on Thursday.
Keith Srakocic AP

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 4:56 pm

If the polls are correct, the Pennsylvania governor's race is poised to see the usual political script flipped.

The Republican incumbent, Gov. Tom Corbett, is using a populist attack against the challenger who is leading the Democratic primary field — accusing Tom Wolf of being an opportunistic businessman who profited at the expense of taxpayers and workers.

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It's All Politics
5:35 am
Sat May 3, 2014

John Boehner Faces A Primary Challenge, But Only Barely

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, listens to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., before talking to reporters at the Republican National Committee headquarters on April 29.
AP

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 8:21 pm

Let's stipulate that Speaker John Boehner doesn't really have to worry about his Republican primary challengers Tuesday.

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It's All Politics
4:57 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Poll: Young Voters Uninterested In November 2014 Elections

A young Miami voter wears her "I voted today" sticker in October 2012.
J Pat Carter AP

Youth is a time of idealism and energy, except, perhaps, when it comes to voting in the midterm elections.

A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll finds that interest in voting in the November 2014 elections among 18- to 29-year-old voters is lower now than just several months ago — and even lower than it was at a similar point in 2010.

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It's All Politics
2:37 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Maryland's Obamacare Stumble Fails To Sway Governor's Race

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown at a January 2014 minimum-wage rally outside the Maryland State House.
Jose Luis Magana AP

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 11:04 am

Here's a measure of Maryland's Democratic tilt: Even an epic failure in launching the state's health care website isn't enough to derail the political fortunes of the official responsible for it. The Affordable Care Act is that popular.

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It's All Politics
6:18 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Green GOP Group Caught Between 'Rock And A Hard Place'

Volunteer Tom Strain carries debris from an empty lot as part of an Earth Day cleanup effort in Camden, N.J. The Earth Day events celebrated on April 22 promote a sustainable and clean environment.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 7:11 pm

On Earth Day 2014, it wasn't easy being green in the Republican Party. Just ask Rob Sisson, president of ConservAmerica.

ConservAmerica is a membership organization created in 1995 to keep the environmental spirit of GOP President Theodore Roosevelt alive in his party. Back then, the group was known as Republicans for Environmental Protection.

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It's All Politics
7:38 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Obama And Al Sharpton: An Odd Couple Who Make Political Sense

President Obama and the Rev. Al Sharpton together at the 2011 National Action Network conference.
Frank Franklin II AP

President Obama and Rev. Al Sharpton might at first seem like one of the odder couples in U.S. politics.

The president is by nature a super-cautious politician, measured in his rhetoric. He has generally stayed away from overt discussions of race for much of his presidency, though he has spoken more openly and emotionally about issues of race during his second term.

Sharpton, on the other hand, built a career as an incendiary racial avenger who for decades was drawn to interracial controversies as if they had some irresistible gravitational force.

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It's All Politics
3:26 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

The Politics Of Equal Pay: It's More Than A Women's Issue

A crowd lines up in Atlanta for a recent women's forum on pay equity and other issues featuring Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
David Tulis AP

Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 4:18 pm

The pay equity issue, which President Obama and Democrats are making a central theme of the 2014 midterm election campaign, is often framed as a women's issue. But Democrats are expecting it will also have crossover appeal to men.

For many men, it's a matter of self-interest: Two-income families are part of a long-term trend, as many families find two paychecks essential to cover the bills in an era of rising prices and stagnant, if not falling, wages.

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It's All Politics
4:17 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Chicago Mayor Could Face Tough Re-Election Challenge

Frustration with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has fueled speculation about a challenge from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Tue April 1, 2014 5:00 pm

Will Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served at President Obama's side during his first White House term, find himself facing a challenge from another politician who was once close to Obama?

Maybe, if the woman who is president of the Cook County Board, Toni Preckwinkle, decides to run to against the mayor next year.

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It's All Politics
8:17 pm
Fri March 28, 2014

In Politics, Hog Castration Cuts Through The Ad Clutter

A lot more people now know who Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst is, which was the point of the hog-castration line in her campaign ad.
YouTube screen shot Joni Ernst for Senate YouTube channel

Originally published on Fri March 28, 2014 11:14 pm

One candidate talks fondly about castrating hogs in her youth and suggests that could be a useful skill in Washington.

Another fires semi-automatic weapons at a 2-foot-high stack of paper representing the Affordable Care Act before feeding it through a wood chipper.

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It's All Politics
7:32 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Why The Democrats' Koch Brothers Fixation?

Democrats say they're focused on the Koch brothers because, they allege, Republican candidates are doing the billionaires' bidding. Republicans say Democrats are desperate. David Koch (above) is chairman of Americans for Prosperity.
Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

Another day, another wave of Democratic attacks on the Koch brothers and their Republican allies.

Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, took to the Senate floor Monday to bash the Koch brothers and the GOP, as has become his habit in recent weeks.

In his latest criticism, he accused Republicans of stalling aid to beleaguered Ukraine until Democrats agreed to delay new Internal Revenue Service rules that would affect the political activities of nonprofit groups.

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It's All Politics
7:24 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

3 Lessons From Obama's Failed Justice Department Nomination

The specter of failure is often enough to get the White House and Senate leaders to punt on a nomination. But not in the case of Debo Adegbile.
Evan Vucci AP

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 8:13 am

Now that the smoke has cleared from Debo Adegbile's failed nomination Wednesday to head the Justice Department's civil rights division, there are some lessons to draw from that Democratic debacle.

Why was it a disaster? Seven Democrats defected from their party to vote against Obama's nominee. The nomination had been opposed by police groups because of Adegbile's indirect role in the appeals process for Mumia Abu Jamal, a death-row inmate convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

Here are three things we learned from the vote.

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It's All Politics
11:30 am
Thu March 6, 2014

CPAC 2014: Reading The Tea (Party) Leaves

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is likely to be popular at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, but the Tea Party might not be getting all of the attention.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 2:00 pm

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual gathering of conservatives which is part pep rally, part trade show, part revival meeting and part political cattle call, rolls into Washington this week.

As the 2014 version gets underway, one of the major questions hanging over the event is this: how much juice does the Tea Party still have?

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It's All Politics
7:28 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

How A Remote Alaska Road Became A Political Wedge Issue

The Alaska village of King Cove wants an all-weather road to the outside world. Election-year politics is complicating that wish.
AP

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 9:02 pm

Judging from an attack by one of his Republican opponents, you could easily draw the conclusion that Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska opposes a road that would serve as a lifeline to the remote Aleutian village of King Cove. But you would be wrong.

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It's All Politics
4:13 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Obama's Marijuana Remarks Light Up Legalization Debate

President Obama graces the cover of Cannabis Now magazine at the HempCon medical marijuana show, May 24, 2013, in Los Angeles.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 5:50 pm

That President Obama could openly speculate about marijuana being less dangerous than alcohol — and embrace the state-level legalization of the drug — is a measure of just how far the nation has moved since the 1980s.

Back then, the Reagan administration's approach was absolute: "Just Say No." It's more complicated today.

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It's All Politics
6:48 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

5 Takeaways From The Omnibus Spending Bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where a massive spending bill, aimed at funding the government through October and putting to rest the bitter budget battles of last year, is getting generally positive bipartisan reviews.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 7:13 pm

Regular order. That phrase refers to Congress conducting business in a methodical way, like it used to back before "dysfunctional" came to seem an official and permanent part of Congress' name.

When the House and Senate appropriations committee chairs announced late Monday evening that they had agreed on how to allocate the $1.012 trillion in federal spending, it was yet another step on the path to regular order that Congress forced itself to return to after years of regular disorder, best symbolized by last year's partial government shutdown.

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It's All Politics
11:16 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Bridge Scandal Creates Unique Hurdles For Christie

Democratic New Jersey Assemblymen (from left) Lou Greenwald, John S. Wisniewski and Vincent Prieto take questions at a news conference announcing a renewed investigation into the George Washington Bridge scandal.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 12:23 pm

By most accounts, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie passed the leadership challenge posed by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

But the political storm created by the George Washington Bridge scandal is testing him in different ways, fueled by a combination of factors that make it difficult even for a politician as manifestly self-assured as Christie.

Christie will have a promising opportunity Tuesday to move beyond the mess caused by the politically inspired closing of toll lanes on the nation's busiest bridge in his State of the State speech.

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It's All Politics
5:38 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

4 Lessons From Liz Cheney's Ill-Fated Senate Run

Liz Cheney campaigns in Casper, Wyo., on July 17, one day after announcing her GOP primary challenge to Sen. Mike Enzi.
Matt Young AP

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 7:26 am

Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, ended her Wyoming Senate primary challenge Monday, saying in a statement that a family health situation is responsible for her decision. (ABC News reports that sources close to Cheney said one of her daughters has diabetes.)

Even before family health issues arose, Cheney's apparently dimming prospects against GOP Sen. Mike Enzi would have been enough to give pause to many candidates.

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It's All Politics
7:25 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Mary Landrieu Wrestles An (Obamacare) Alligator

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., is facing a tough re-election bid.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 8:37 am

In any conversation about vulnerable Senate Democrats, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana rises straight to the top of the list.

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It's All Politics
2:31 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

A Poorly Worded RNC Tweet On Rosa Parks Backfires

Schoolchildren tour the bus that civil rights icon Rosa Parks made famous when she refused to give up her seat.
Bill Pugliano Getty Images

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 6:06 pm

If nothing else, the Republican National Committee has gotten people thinking about Rosa Parks.

Of course, the RNC also gave its political opponents a chance to mock the GOP with its poorly worded tweet Saturday marking the 58th anniversary of the African-American civil rights activist's refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person, an event that sparked the Montgomery bus boycott.

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It's All Politics
8:49 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Thursday Political Mix: Obamacare's Data Dump Fallout

Insurance agents in Miami, Fla. help people with information about policies that are available to them under the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 5, 2013.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 10:25 am

Good morning, fellow political junkies.

Well, the Obama administration warned us that the enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act would be low and (surprise!) they were.

Still, it's one thing to get an abstract, data-free warning, another to see actual numbers, 27,000 people enrolling for private insurance through the federal portal, 106,185 overall if you throw in the states.

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