In it, but not of it. TPM DC

A new survey of Colorado from Public Policy Polling (D) shows appointed Sen. Michael Bennet in a potentially tough situation going into his 2010 campaign, though he could still have some room to grow.

Bennet's approval is at only 34%, with 41% disapproval and a high undecided number. When matched against former GOP Rep. Bob Beauprez, who was also the 2006 nominee for governor, Beauprez gets 43% to Bennet's 42%. Bennet leads 39%-35% to Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier 39%-35%; he leads Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck 40%-34%; and he leads state Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry 41%-34%.

"These numbers for Michael Bennet are not very good," said PPP president Dean Debnam, in the polling memo. "The good news for him is that he still hasn't had the opportunity to define himself the way he wants to the voters in a campaign, and when he has the opportunity to do that next year he may fare better than he is now."

Jim Tedisco, the GOP nominee in the disputed NY-20 special election, has just won a legal victory for now, with Judge James V. Brands reversing himself on a major ruling from last week, which had appeared to stop Tedisco in his tracks in his efforts to challenge absentee votes for Democrat Scott Murphy. But he still has a lot of work to do in overcoming Murphy's current 273-vote lead.

Brands had ruled last week that Tedisco and the GOP were not entitled to copies of the original absentee-ballot applications. Brands has now agreed with the Tedisco camp's arguments that the legal precedents he cited didn't truly apply here, and that the law does entitle Tedisco to those absentee applications.

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The Coleman campaign has now filed its reply to the Franken camp's motion yesterday for an expedited appeal in the Minnesota election litigation -- arguing that while this case does necessitate a sped-up schedule, they need more time than Franken has asked for.

"Appellants agree this is a time-sensitive case that should be resolved as expeditiously as possible," the filing says. "Appellants respectfully submit, however, that the parties, and the Court, must be given enough time to fully develop and consider the issues on appeal."

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Two new polls in New Jersey show Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine trailing GOP frontrunner Chris Christie, a former U.S. Attorney under George W. Bush, in this year's gubernatorial election.

From Strategic Vision (R): Christie 47%, Corzine 36%, with a ±3% margin of error. Corzine's approval is at only 36%, to 54% disapproval.

And from Quinnipiac: Christie 45%, Corzine 38%, with a ±4.6% margin of error. Corzine's approval rating here is 37%-54%. From the pollster's analysis: "By any measure, Corzine is losing the support of key independent voters. More importantly, he is not generating the level of love from fellow Democrats he needs to offset his big negatives among Republicans and independents."

Corzine could very well lose this election. On the other hand, we have not yet made it to the crucial home-stretch period in a New Jersey election -- in which the Dems attack the GOP nominee as right-wing and Bush-friendly, which in prior elections has spurred reluctant Dem-leaners to shift back into the blue column. A big question is whether that can work again this time, with Bush now out of office.

Senate Confirms Christopher Hill As Ambassador To Iraq The Senate last night confirmed Christopher Hill to be President Obama's Ambassador to Iraq. The nomination had previously been delayed by some Republican Senators, including John McCain and Sam Brownback, but Hill was finally able to win confirmation on a 73-23 vote.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama is traveling to Iowa for Earth Day today, accompanied by former governor and current Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack. He will depart the White House at 9:45 a.m. ET, and take off from Andrews Air Force Base at 10 a.m. ET. He will arrive in Des Moines at 12:15 p.m. ET, and will tour the Trinity Structural Towers Manufacturing Plant, which makes wind-energy towers, at 1:20 p.m. ET. At 2 p.m. ET, Obama will deliver remarks on his energy plan, laying out a strategy focused on clean energy. He will leave Des Moines at 3:15 p.m. ET, and is scheduled to arrive back at the White House at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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It's worth thinking about the story from CQ, that the DCCC has received $250,000 in leftover money from El Tinklenberg, the Democrat who lost to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) last year by a 46%-44% margin. How did he come so close, and have that much money left over?

You might recall that after Bachmann's now-infamous Hardball appearance on October 17, in which she said she was deeply concerned that Barack Obama might be anti-American and called for the media to investigate members of Congress for anti-Americanism, liberals around the country immediately clamored to send some money to her opponent. As a result, Tinklenberg took in $1.9 million in the home stretch.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will meet with Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid tonight--a weekly meeting--and will discuss the creation of a congressional panel to investigate the causes of the financial crisis and worsening recession, Hill sources say.

In 1933, a Sicilian-born American lawyer named Ferdinand Pecora became the chief counsel to the Senate Banking Committee, and conducted a wide-ranging investigation on the causes of the financial crisis that prefigured the Great Depression. Today, Pelosi says she wants Congress to take a similar look into the collapse on Wall Street.

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Regular readers know we've been following the nomination of Dawn Johnsen pretty closely. Johnsen is President Obama's choice to head the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel and her appointment has sent the right into conniptions for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, her writings on abortion and her criticisms of the Bush administration's Justice Department. Senate Republicans have even hinted at the possibility of filibustering her confirmation vote.

Two of the leading indicators on this front are the fact that a date has not been set for the nomination to be debated and voted on, and that Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has not yet determined whether he'll support a filibuster (Johnsen's nomination cleared the committee on a party line vote from which Specter abstained).

Congressional Quarterly has an update from Specter, though, and the update is that...there is no update.

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Appearing on C-Span today, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) gave a very interesting spin on the right-wing attacks against President Obama for shaking Hugo Chávez's hand -- saying that Chávez and Obama are so very much alike:

"But something that comes to mind when I see this image, too, is here are two world leaders that have both, within the last month, nationalized huge private-sector companies," said King. "In the case of President Obama, General Motors and Chrysler, at least in effect if not in actuality, and moved it down that path, when he fired the CEO of General Motors, and when he ordered that Chrysler merge with Fiat."

"Those two have done the same thing to private business," King added, "and I think that image also will soak into the minds of investors around the world, and where they want to put their money."

The Franken campaign has filed its motion for an expedited appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court, arguing for a quick response to Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat in the election trial.

The court is widely expected to grant a fast-tracked appeal, whether it's by the Franken camp's exact requested timeline or in some other way. The proposed schedule from Team Franken calls for Coleman to submit his legal brief by next Monday, April 27, for Franken to submit his brief by Saturday, May 2, and for Coleman to file any new reply by that Monday, May 4, with oral arguments scheduled as soon as possible after those preparations.

The filing cites the election-contest statute itself, and its requirement that the appeal "takes precedence over all other matters before the Supreme Court." Beyond the strict legalese, they also get into the political significance of this whole matter: "Under the United States Constitution, Minnesota is entitled to be represented by two United States Senators. Minnesota has been without its second Senator for more than 100 days."