Ken Rudin

Ken Rudin is NPR's Political Junkie. For most of the past 20 years, Rudin has been the eyes and ears of political coverage as political editor. Rudin focuses on all aspects of politics, from presidential elections with the primaries, national conventions, debates and general election, to the races for the House, Senate and state governors. He has analyzed every congressional race in the nation since 1984.

In 2011, Rudin added to his duties by becoming part of the network's StateImpact project. This local-national journalism initiative will add editorial resources and reporters to NPR member stations in all 50 states, to better inform the public about the impact that the actions of state governments has on citizens and communities. Rudin mentors and advises these reporters on covering the effects politics and politicians have on people.

In addition to his role with StateImpact, Rudin continues to contribute NPR's political coverage. Every Wednesday, he can be heard on Talk of the Nation in the "Political Junkie" segment. In his "Political Junkie" weekly column on NPR.org, Rudin previews the politics of the week, and delves into campaign history, strategy and trivia, including the popular ScuttleButton contest.

Rudin was a key player on the NPR team that won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton award for excellence in broadcast journalism in 2002 for coverage of campaign finance.

From 1983 through 1991, Rudin worked at ABC News, serving first as deputy political director and later as the off-air Capitol Hill reporter covering the House. He first joined NPR in 1991, as its first political editor. Rudin returned to NPR in 1998, after a three-year absence during which he was the managing editor of the Hotline, a daily political newsletter. He also wrote the "Political Graffiti" column for The Hill, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill.

A political junkie for many decades, Rudin has one of the most extensive collections of campaign buttons in the country, a collection that now surpasses 70,000 items. Rudin is a graduate of Pace University in New York.

Some words I never thought I would utter: This is the last ScuttleButton puzzle that will ever appear on the NPR Web site.

With the cancellation of Talk of the Nation, and of course the weekly Political Junkie segment that goes with it, the long relationship between Political Junkie and NPR is coming to an end.

Thus, this is the last button puzzle, with the final winner (and t-shirt and button prizes) announced on Wednesday, June 26th — the final Junkie segment on TOTN.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Jun 11, 2013

The sad thing about this week's ScuttleButton puzzle is that Edward Snowden has already revealed the answer.

One of the last things Alaska Gov. Walter Hickel did before he resigned to join the Nixon Cabinet was to fill a Senate vacancy caused by the December 1968 death of E.L. Bartlett, a Democrat. Hickel picked a GOP state representative by the name of Ted Stevens. Stevens, who only months before lost a Republican primary bid for a different seat, went on to serve more than 40 years in the Senate, longer than any Republican in history. Appointing Stevens was by any definition a good move.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Jun 4, 2013

It's time to solve this week's ScuttleButton puzzle.

ScuttleButton, of course, is that once-a-week waste of time exercise in which each Tuesday or Wednesday I put up a vertical display of buttons on this site. Your job is to simply take one word (or concept) per button, add 'em up, and, hopefully, you will arrive at a famous name or a familiar expression. (And seriously, by familiar, I mean it's something that more than one person on Earth would recognize.)

It's taken awhile, but Tea Party activists and social conservatives are finally beginning to get smiles on their faces. Whether that will last through the November election is another story.

After watching their insufficiently conservative (in their view) presidential nominee lose last November, their opposition to taxing-the-rich fall by the wayside thanks to congressional Republican acquiescence, and changes in same-sex marriage and immigration coming faster than they might have wished, some on the right were becoming inconsolable.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

May 29, 2013

Just a reminder that there is a possibility ScuttleButton may disappear from the NPR Web site in the next month or so. So if I were you, I'd sign up for the Political Junkie mailing list (info below) to make sure you'll be in the know as to where these irreplaceable and delightful features wind up.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

May 22, 2013

They can wiretap my phone and snoop through my e-mail all they want, but I will never reveal the answer to this week's ScuttleButton puzzle. At least until next week.

Horace Greeley may have suggested at one point that going west might be a good idea, but he probably wouldn't be happy to see what's going on with Los Angeles as of late. The Dodgers are in last place in the National League West, the Angels are hovering near the bottom of the American League West, and the Lakers' appearance in the playoffs was brutally short. Even Jimmy Fallon and NBC are bringing The Tonight Show back to Manhattan, deserting some place called Burbank after 40 years.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

May 15, 2013

We know how the president feels about it. "We don't have time to be playing these kinds of political games in Washington," Barack Obama said on Monday, in what many took to be a full attack on ScuttleButton, America's favorite political game.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

May 8, 2013

Disgraced but asking for redemption.

I'm describing me, of course, after a spate of uneven ScuttleButton puzzles. Though, I must admit, I liked last week's offering.

It's pretty much a truism in American political history: If the president is not running again and the vice president wants his party's nomination, it's his for the asking.

That was the case in 1960, with President Eisenhower term-limited and Vice President Richard Nixon's path to the GOP nomination unimpeded.

The headlines have not been especially kind to Senate Democrats lately as they, for the second consecutive cycle, head into an election with a numerical disadvantage and more open seats to defend.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Apr 30, 2013

An openly gay basketball player? Next thing you know, there will be openly clever ScuttleButton puzzles.

Only not this week.

ScuttleButton, of course, is that once-a-week waste of time exercise in which each Monday or Tuesday I put up a vertical display of buttons on this site. Your job is to simply take one word (or concept) per button, add 'em up, and, hopefully, you will arrive at a famous name or a familiar expression. (And seriously, by familiar, I mean it's something that more than one person on Earth would recognize.)

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Apr 23, 2013

Lots of people have been inquiring about the future of ScuttleButton. While I wish I had an answer — I don't, not yet — I'd like to suggest that you sign up for the Political Junkie/ScuttleButton mailing list. That way, I will be able to share the information once I have it (see info below).

And what exactly IS ScuttleButton, you may ask?

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Apr 19, 2013

Hopefully, the disappointment/frustration of that April Fool's ScuttleButton has subsided and now you're ready for the real stuff.

ScuttleButton, of course, is that once-a-week waste of time exercise in which each Monday or Tuesday I put up a vertical display of buttons on this site. Your job is to simply take one word (or concept) per button, add 'em up, and, hopefully, you will arrive at a famous name or a familiar expression. (And seriously, by familiar, I mean it's something that more than one person on Earth would recognize.)

In the past three decades or so, when writing about political sex scandals became an art form, the tendency has always been to lump everyone together. There are many differences between, say, what Anthony Weiner did and what Mark Sanford did.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Apr 1, 2013

I'm on vacation this week, and thus no Political Junkie column, Talk of the Nation appearance or podcast for me. But giving up ScuttleButton? No way.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Mar 26, 2013

In the thousand-plus or so emails I get each time a ScuttleButton puzzle is posted, I invariably will get dozens and dozens of complaints that it was just too easy, that it insulted their intelligence, that I need to make them more challenging. That was clearly the case last week, as there were nearly 100 such emails.

Well, be careful what you wish for. This week's puzzle is one of the most difficult.

If you have any interest in politics at all, you pretty much know two things. One, that the next presidential election, on Nov. 8, 2016, is only 1,324 days away. And two, you won't be surprised if people are focusing on it in March of 2013.

Sometimes the speculation is silly, but sometimes it's not. Judging from what we've seen and heard from Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul, the speculation may be on target.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Mar 18, 2013

An absolute pleasure running into so many old friends on Saturday at the meeting of the American Political Items Collectors in Tyson's Corner, Va.

Yes, such an organization exists. No, I was not the craziest person there. But the best part was learning that so many people there are diehard ScuttleButton fans!

It is remarkable how fast the issue of same-sex marriage has moved the American public. Of course, some long-time proponents will argue the opposite, that it has taken far too long for it to gain acceptance. And they say that there is no shortage of efforts around the country to block or overturn the practice.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Mar 13, 2013

If any of you happen to see the "white smoke" in the next day or so, you should immediately know what that means: I've been once again using hallucinogens to come up with the new ScuttleButton puzzle.

Contrary to what you read, everything politicians say and do don't necessarily always have to be only about 2016. Sometimes, really and truly, presidential calculations are not part of the conversation.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Mar 5, 2013

Apologies for those on my Political Junkie/ScuttleButton mailing list who didn't get a notification last week about the new column and new puzzle. NPR has adjusted its e-mail server and my mass mailing from last week didn't see the light of day. I'm hoping the problem will be addressed this week.

For a city that thrives on huge controversies and breathtaking tremors, perhaps last week's mini-squabble over whether or not to invite Chris Christie to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) later this month is not what you would call a big deal. But the decision — not to invite him — says something about the conservative movement ... and what defines a conservative.

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Feb 27, 2013

Has anyone figured out how the sequester would affect ScuttleButton?

I didn't think so.

ScuttleButton, of course, is that once-a-week waste of time exercise in which each Monday or Tuesday (or, as they call today, "Wednesday") I put up a vertical display of buttons on this site. Your job is to simply take one word (or concept) per button, add 'em up, and, hopefully, you will arrive at a famous name or a familiar expression. (And seriously, by familiar, I mean it's something that more than one person on Earth would recognize.)

Once, the special election to succeed the disgraced Jesse Jackson Jr. in Illinois' 2nd District seemed impossible to handicap, especially with some two dozen or so candidates on the ballot. Thus, it became not so much a horse race discussion as a conversation dominated by concerns about race and guns. Now, according to many observers, many of the questions have given way to the sense that Tuesday's winner will be Robin Kelly, a former state representative. (We officially must wait for the general election, on April 9.)

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Feb 19, 2013

One category that, regrettably, won't be discussed during next Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony: best on-line button puzzle.

I don't know about you, but in my book that would be ScuttleButton.

Nobody saw this one coming.

Sen. Mike Johanns, a reliably conservative Republican from Nebraska, announced yesterday (Feb. 18) he would retire rather than seek a second term in 2014 ... one where he was considered the overwhelming favorite. A former two-term governor and agriculture secretary under President George W. Bush, Johanns wrote his constituents an open letter that was also signed by his wife Stephanie:

It's ScuttleButton Time!

Feb 12, 2013

Knowing you the way I do, I figured it would make no sense putting up ScuttleButton later in the day today. Not while you're getting ready for President Obama's State of the Union address to Congress.

So I decided to have it ready early this morning, giving you more time to solve this week's puzzle. And, I daresay, it's a bit harder than usual.

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