In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has now published an op-ed piece lambasting the campaign of GOP candidate Jim Tedisco, for challenging her absentee ballot and keeping it out of the count for now in the special election for her old House seat:

Today the Republicans stooped to a new low by challenging my ballot. The Republican's challenge is frivolous and without merit.


Their latest move to challenge my ballot is part of a much larger attempt to disenfranchise legal Democratic voters and delay Scott Murphy's inevitable victory in the 20th.

National Republicans are trying to turn the 20th District of New York into the next Minnesota. It is wrong.

The reason Gillibrand's ballot is being challenged is that the Republicans allege she was in her home county on Election Day, and thus wasn't legally qualified to vote absentee and should have gone to the polls. Gillibrand spokesman Matt Canter told TPM that Gillibrand was in Albany that day, and was never in the district at all.

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I see via Politico that House GOP Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) has put together an online "Solutions Center," which purports to answer the four big questions Americans are asking. Patrick O'Connor and Mike Allen see this as the GOP scrambling "to show it has ideas," which suggests, perhaps, that they didn't spend too much time on the site. Because in all their scrambling, House Republicans didn't come up with much that hasn't already cost them the last two elections.

Here's an abbreviated version of the problems Americans face, and the solutions the GOP is positing.

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The RNC has (finally) released a statement in support of Norm Coleman's (predictable) decision to appeal last night's court ruling in Minnesota. We were wondering whether behind the scenes the RNC might be on the verge of throwing in the towel...but no. It's the Michael Steele Show now. It's just very, very slow.

Full statement below the jump.

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Bloggers of the world: It's quite possible that you can blame me for the fact that the Virginia GOP took down that lesbian soft-core pornography that was linked from their YouTube page. (And how exactly did it get there, anyway?)

Earlier today, it was discovered that the Virginia Republican Party's YouTube account had selected as a favorite video to link to a soft-core porno video of what appeared to be two women speaking to each other in Russian, having a conversation over some marital aids and then making out. (Obviously, this is not safe for the workplace.)

After I contacted Virginia GOP chairman Gerry Scimeca and asked him who put this there, he looked into it for a bit and then got back to me a little while later. "The video has been taken down," said Scimeca. "Apparently it was some kind of internet prank. So it's down now."

When I asked him how exactly this happened, or whether he knew who did it, he said that "from what I understand you would need a password. So whoever posted it somehow got ahold of a password."

"This happens on occasions," he added. "You see candidates' Web sites or party Web sites will get pranked. I've seen it before. It's unfortunate but there are enough depraved people out there who will do this."

We've saved a screenshot of the old page.

On a conference call with reporters just now, lead Franken attorney Marc Elias went over the election court's ruling last night that Al Franken was the winner of this race.

"We are thrilled by the results," said Elias. "The court showed the great care that it has shown throughout the trial in considering all of the evidence, in weighing all of the arguments made by both sides, considering the testimony of all the witnesses it had, and rendering what can only be described as a through and thoughtful final order and judgement."

For obvious reasons, Elias has a different opinion of this ruling than Coleman legal spokesman Ben Ginsberg, who has panned the ruling and announced that Coleman will appeal it.

So what happens next?

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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 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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