In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Scott Murphy, the Democratic candidate for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat in this Tuesday's special election, is continuing to tie himself to President Obama in the home stretch. Murphy has this new mailer reminding voters of Obama's endorsement:



(Click images to enlarge.)

"On Tuesday, you can help President Obama bring change to Washington, while helping him create jobs, too," the lit says. "Vote Scott Murphy for Congress."

Running on the Obama brand is probably a good idea. The new Siena poll, which showed Murphy taking a four-point lead after having trailed in previous surveys, put Obama's favorables at 65%.

(Via the Albany Times Union.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been pretty clear that he plans to handle the conservatives in his caucus very gently. He's gone out of his way to praise the creation of the so-called Moderate Dems Working Groups, even going so far as to place a quote in the press release announcing the group's formation.

Not all Democrats or liberals are that enthused, though, and as I've been documenting, several groups--including Campaign for America's Future (CAF), USAction, Americans United for Change, and MoveON--have set themselves at odds one way or another with the 15-member caucus. Some have even gone so far as to launch ad campaigns targeting senators before they have a chance to meddle.

Well, Reid's taken stock, and he's not happy...with the grassroots.

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Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) delivered a setback to the labor movement earlier this week when he vowed to support a GOP filibuster of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) -- but supporters of the union-organizing bill are proceeding undaunted with their grassroots lobbying efforts.

Meanwhile, back in the Senate, EFCA champion Tom Harkin (D-IA) has begun courting Republican supporters for a compromise deal, according to Roll Call. One suspects that a new organizing bill coming from Harkin, a stalwart progressive, would be more balanced between business and labor interests than the "compromise" being pushed by three corporate CEOs ... but that plan may be defining the right-ward end of what's doable.

Here's how Roll Call saw the lay of the land:

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A short while ago I asked Larry Sabato if Michele Bachmann's comments about an "orderly revolution" against Barack Obama's Marxist tyranny would qualify as sedition. Here's his response:

I suppose the moderating element "orderly" saves her from the charge of sedition! Concern about the national debt is perfectly legitimate, but her comments are fringe--and not for the first time. Her phrase, "reporting from enemy lines," is inflammatory. We're all Americans, not enemies simply because we disagree about a president's budget. Bachmann doesn't have a clue what "economic Marxism" is; the Obama administration is not seizing the means of production. The Founders rebelled against "no taxation without representation". That's very different than having an argument about the proper levels of taxation in a representative democracy. Congresswoman Bachmann needs to take a deep breath, and maybe a tranquilizer, too.


Meanwhile, Bachmann went on Glenn Beck's radio show, to continue talking about the imminent danger of a one-world currency, and had this to say: "Well, Glenn, I have experienced that throughout my political career, being labeled a kook."

Scott Murphy, the Democratic candidate in this Tuesday's special election for Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat, has now picked up the endorsement of Eric Sundwall, the Libertarian nominee who got kicked off the ballot on Wednesday due to signature problems with his petitions -- and who is hopping mad with Republican candidate Jim Tedisco.

"Mr. Tedisco denies any involvement with the concerted effort by his supporters to knock me off the ballot," Sundwall wrote in a statement. "I don't believe him. The ruthless effort by his supporters to knock me off the ballot without a word of protest by him proves his unfitness for any office let alone Congress in these critical times."

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If you're a regular reader, you know that Eric Kleefeld's done a remarkable job tracking the ins and outs and absurdities and melodramatics of the court fight that may or may not settle the disputed election between Norm Coleman and Al Franken.

While that case is being decided, though, it's worth reflecting on the significance of Minnesota's junior senate seat--about how important that seat might have been if Franken had won a more decisive victory (or if the recount hadn't taken so long), and how things will change when that victory is finally affirmed. Indeed, Franken himself may prove more important to advancing President Obama's agenda than will just about any other single issue.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Sec. of the Treasury Tim Geithner.

• CBS, Face The Nation: President Obama.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Gen. Davis Petraeus; Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative to the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.

• Fox News Sunday: Sec. of Defense Robert Gates; Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

• NBC, Meet The Press: Sec. of the Treasury Tim Geithner; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

The race is coming down to the wire in Tuesday's special election to pick a replacement in Kirsten Gillibrand's old House seat. It's too early to know for sure -- special elections are naturally hard to poll or predict, because of the low and uneven turnout patterns -- but it now appears that Democratic candidate Scott Murphy may be the slight favorite in a race that many observers (and participants) expected would be tough to hold.

As noted before, Democratic candidate Scott Murphy now holds a 47%-43% lead in the latest Siena poll, after having started the race 12 points down with no name recognition. But now, he may well be the slight favorite in the race.

Essentially, the race has turned into a referendum on a cluster of issues: President Obama's popularity in a swing district, the stimulus plan, and the Republican position that the AIG bonuses were all the Dems' fault.

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We've written a lot about the controversy over whether the Democrats will try to pass big Obama agenda items (most notably health reform) via the budget reconciliation process. But one dynamic that's presented itself in the last week is the schism, of sorts, between Democratic legislators who strongly oppose the maneuver and those who oppose it in general but want to keep the option on the table. How many in that latter category would agree to support it (however reluctantly) if, months down the line, after a long debate, Republicans refuse to sign on to a bipartisan and comprehensive health reform bill?

At a news conference yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered a fairly full-throated endorsement of the idea: "I believe that it is absolutely essential that we come out of this year with a substantial health-care reform," Pelosi said. "I believe that is best served by having reconciliation in the package."

Earlier this week her deputy, Steny Hoyer, released a flyer attacking powerful Republicans who've flip flopped since the days when they supported Bush efforts to ram his agenda through using the same process. And on the senate side, Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that he's not prepared to "take anything off the table."

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Would you be surprised to hear that Republicans are joining Democrats to praise President Obama's new plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Maybe not -- after all, Obama does want to send 4,000 new troops to Afghanistan, bringing the estimated U.S. military presence there to 60,000. But Republicans' ardor for the Obama plan centers on their assumption that it's inspired by George W. Bush's "surge" plan for Iraq. (The GOP, if you remember, continues to credit Bush's 2007 escalation of the Iraq war as the key to "victory" there ... meanwhile, a car bomb explosion in Baghdad yesterday killed 26.)

After the jump, you can see which Republicans are happily crediting Bush's "surge" for inspiring Obama.

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