In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Here's some of the latest news from the still up in the air NY-20 special election:

• The latest numbers from the state show Democratic candidate Scott Murphy leading Republican Jim Tedisco by 56 votes, up from yesterday's margin of 25 votes, as more absentees start coming in from the pro-Murphy areas of Columbia County and Warren County.

• And speaking of those counties, they have been some of the prime areas where the Tedisco campaign has been keeping absentees ballots out of the count, by challenging the eligibility of voters who maintain multiple homes. A Murphy representative has also alleged that the Tedisco campaign is targeting voters for not just being registered Democrats, but on ethnicity: "Cohen, Pollack, Rosegarten, Winakor -- there's a pattern: they're Democrats and they're Jewish."

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We haven't written much about the Tea Party Movement, because it's always seemed fairly blown out of proportion. Conservatives compare it to an anti-tax version of the Iraq war protests, but those protests drew scores of thousands of people into the streets and the "tea parties" that have occurred thus far haven't been nearly that large.

But in recent days, a new angle on this story has emerged--one which casts some doubt on the degree to which these protests are in any way organic. Lee Fang of ThinkProgress and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman have led the charge, calling the tea parties astroturf events--paid for and, perhaps, populated by, well-funded top-down organizations like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity.

Jon Henke of the website The Next Right defended the tea parties from the charge, writing that "[w]hat FreedomWorks and various other organizations are doing is not "astroturf" any more than the anti-war protests of some years back were astroturf because ANSWER and Moveon.org helped organize people around those events."

There are, of course, differences between MoveON and FreedomWorks. But his post nonetheless raises a couple interesting questions, such as: Who first proposed holding tea party events? When did major conservative organizations get involved? And how much support have they gained along the way?

The answer to the first question is "FreedomWorks." The answer to the second question is "right from the start." And the answer to the last question is "less than you'd expect, given the months of hype."

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After an initial silence, the national GOP is now commenting on Norm Coleman's loss yesterday in the Minnesota election trial, and Coleman's determination to appeal.

NRSC chairman John Cornyn just sent out an e-mail giving Norm his support, and declaring that the protections of the constitution, and of the enfranchisement of every voter, are at stake.

"Unfortunately, those fundamental principles are under attack in Minnesota," Cornyn writes. "Since Senator Norm Coleman was first ahead by hundreds of votes at the end of election night, the Democrats have aggressively worked to change the rules of the game after it's been played."

Full e-mail, after the jump.

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On a conference call with reporters just now, Norm Coleman's legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg reaffirmed that the Coleman campaign is appealing yesterday's defeat in the election court, which declared that Al Franken won the election.

"We have been reviewing the court's order and we feel that they have misunderstood a number of the issues as well as what's at stake in this case," said Ginsberg. "And so let me reiterate what we have said so that there is absolutely no mistake about this: Senator Coleman and Cullen Sheehan [Coleman's campaign manager and co-plaintiff] will be appealing this decision from the three-judge court."

Ginsberg laid out the various issues that are ripe for appeal -- which were pretty much all the issues. The most in-depth treatment was given to the question of rejected absentee ballots, with Ginsberg insisting that it was a constitutional violation to not include the roughly 4,400 envelopes from the Coleman camp's list. Ginsberg also pointed out that these ballots came mostly from precincts that Coleman won, and at the precinct level this becomes a decent predictor of what the votes will be.

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NBC News points out an interesting thing about the aftermath of Al Franken's win yesterday in the Minnesota election court: Other than the Coleman campaign itself, the Republicans don't seem to be saying anything about it.

The national Dems have been quick to call for Coleman to concede the race, rather than appeal and keep Franken's win bottled up in court. But there hasn't been anything from the RNC or the NRSC. And the Minnesota GOP, which has staunchly advocated for Coleman throughout this whole ordeal, hasn't updated their Web site with any new statement.

Indeed, I've personally asked the NRSC for comment, and haven't gotten anything.

The only Republican statement that has come out was from the Coleman campaign itself, vowing to appeal the decision -- and even here, it was a press release from Coleman's legal adviser Ben Ginsberg, not Norm himself.

DNC chairman Tim Kaine put out a statement last night calling on Norm Coleman to concede the Minnesota Senate race -- and openly accused Coleman and the Senate GOP of keeping up this fight for the purposes of denying the Democrats a 59th Senate seat:

Leading Republicans in Washington, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republican Campaign Chairman John Cornyn, are supporting Coleman's appeals as a way to obstruct Franken from being seated to a Senate seat he has rightfully won to prevent Democrats from claiming their 59th seat in the 100 member body.


Now them's fightin' words. Then again, it was the head of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who said that resolving this election could take years.

Full statement after the jump.

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Michael Steele seems to be reaching into the mothballs for an attack line against Barack Obama -- he's dredging up Obama's gaffe from the Spring of 2008 about people in small towns being "bitter" at their economic fortunes.

The Washington Times reports that Steele has sent an RNC mailer attacking Obama for saying in Europe that U.S. foreign policy had shown "an absence of wisdom," then linking this back to how Obama "indicated disdain for small town and working Americans who 'cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them.'"

The problem here, as Greg Sargent points out, is that the "bitter" comments were almost exactly a year ago. Furthermore, I should also add that although Obama lost the Pennsylvania primary -- which probably would have happened even without the gaffe -- six months later he not only won the presidential election, but took Pennsylvania by a 55%-44% landslide against John McCain.

To put it simply: This dog don't hunt.

Okay, I realize President Obama isn't out front every day reminding Americans that he's pro-choice. And it's perfectly plausible that anti-abortion activists have ratcheted up their efforts now that Obama has overturned the Mexico City Policy and the ban on federal funding for stem cell research. And in a way, increased activism is the only way forward for a movement whose political allies control neither Congress nor the White House. But c'mon. Is this really fair?

Obama Giving Economic Speech Today, While Administration Warns Of More Immediate Bad Times President Obama will be giving a speech on at the economy at Georgetown University, at 11:35 a.m. ET. Obama will discuss the steps his administration has taken to fix the economic crisis. At the same time, the administration are hedging their rhetorical bets and bracing the country for less than stellar news. Appearing on NBC's The Today Show, economic adviser Christina Romer said that there are "small little signs that maybe some parts of the economy are stabilizing," but also that there will likely be "several more months of job losses."

Report: Obama To Tap Fannie Mae's Herbert Allison To Administer TARP The Washington Post reports that the Treasury Department plans to tap Fannie Mae CEO Herbert Allison to run the financial recovery program. Note that Allison became head of Fannie Mae after the government took it over this past September, and would be replacing the current Bush-appointed TARP head Neel Kashkari.

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