In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has just put out this statement on The Hill's report that the Senate GOP leadership has privately encouraged conservative activists to attack Sonia Sotomayor, at the same time as they've publicly distanced themselves from the attacks:

"This is the exact type of a Washington political game that offends Americans. When you try to appear thoughtful and open-minded in front of the cameras, but behind closed doors wink to your right-wing friends to keep up the vicious attacks, it is a strategy that is not only disingenuous, but it also does a disservice to the confirmation process. Sonia Sotomayor deserves a fair and thorough assessment by the Senate, not name-calling, and not political posturing. The American people expect nothing less."

The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the Virginia Democratic primary for Governor, which is behind held this coming Tuesday, confirms other surveys that have shown state Sen. Creigh Deeds rising to the top -- and that Terry McAuliffe has lost his position as the frontrunner.

The numbers: Deeds 30%, former state Del. Brian Moran 27%, and former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe 26%, within the ±5% margin of error. Two weeks ago, the Kos/R2K poll had it as McAuliffe 36%, Moran 22%, and Deeds 13%.

So what happened? McAuliffe had a big lead for quite a while, thanks in part to a big money advantage -- and on top of that, nobody who had watched him on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton in 2008 would ever deny that he's an energetic campaigner. But in recent weeks, Moran began attacking McAuliffe's record in both politics and business, with the ultimate effect of making Deeds the biggest beneficiary in a three-way race.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) has announced that she is not running for Senate, which would have involved a Democratic primary challenge against the appointed incumbent Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

It was reported earlier today that Vice President Biden called up Rep. Carolyn Maloney and asked her not to run. President Obama previously made a phone call three weeks ago to Rep. Steve Israel, who had also been gearing up to challenge Gillibrand, and talked him out of the race.

Maloney denied that Biden has pushed her out. "You don't make a decision of that magnitude," she said, "in a telephone conversation."

Late Update: An earlier version of this post confused Carolyn Maloney and Carolyn McCarthy.

This is an interesting moment from a forum last night for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Virginia. Former state Del. Brian Moran said that he would not take Guantanamo detainees even if President Obama called him up -- and then he gave his own cell phone number out on TV. Check out the 42:00 mark:

Moran communications director Jesse Ferguson has confirmed to TPM that the candidate has gotten phone calls from people he does not know. "He got calls from folks who liked his performance during the forum -- it was broadcast around the state," said Ferguson. "And he actually got a lot of text messages from people, as well, saying he had their support. And those have come over the last 24 hours to that phone number."

So how many strangers have called Moran up? "When you're running for Governor of Virginia, the voters of Virginia aren't strangers," Ferguson said cheerfully. "Folks who may not have had his cell phone number prior to seeing it on network television, it's been in the dozens."

I have just called Moran on his cell phone, too, and left him a voicemail asking for further comment. And for the record, I gave him my own cell phone number, in case he wants to get back to me.

(Via Not Larry Sabato)

A new Suffolk poll shows state Sen. Creigh Deeds with a narrow lead in this Tuesday's Democratic primary for Governor of Virginia, edging out former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe -- the former Hillary Clinton backer whose TV appearances during the 2008 primaries certainly added some flair to the campaign, and who led in all the polls until recently -- former state Del. Brian Moran.

The numbers: Deeds 29%, McAuliffe 26%, and Moran 23%, with a ±4.4% margin of error. There is no prior Suffolk poll for direct comparison.

Deeds has spent much of the primary race playing the role of the under-funded third man in the race, behind McAuliffe and Moran. But then something happened recently: Moran began aggressively attacking McAuliffe, causing Deeds to rise up in the polls.

However, the race remains fluid. From the pollster's analysis: "What makes this race even tougher to call is that when undecided voters statewide were prodded to choose one of the three candidates, many were breaking to McAuliffe and, to a lesser extent, Moran."

Accompanying the release of Sonia Sotomayor's response (read it here) to the Senate Judiciary Committee's questionnaire, White House Counsel Greg Craig argues on the White House website that she should be confirmed quickly:

In an effort to advance her nomination through the Senate as swiftly as possible, Judge Sotomayor has completed her questionnaire faster than any Supreme Court nominee in recent history - in just 9 days. For historical context, it took Chief Justice Roberts 13 days, Justice Ginsburg 15 days and Justice Alito 30 days from the time they were designated to the time they completed their questionnaires. With her record of 17 years on the bench, this historically fast completion of the exhaustive questions is no small feat that will hopefully lead to her swift consideration by the Senate and enable her to be a member of the Supreme Court by the time they begin selecting cases in September.

Without eliding statements which have made conservatives froth at the mouth, Craig also plays up those aspects of her career on the bench which highlight her impartiality--a response of sorts to critics who accuse her of meting out race-based justice.
Impartiality in Judging: Judge Sotomayor said "It is very important when you judge to recognize that you have to stay impartial. That's what the nature of my job is. I have to unhook myself from my emotional responses and try to stay within my unemotional, objective persona." [Latinos in Law: Wonderful Life, 2000]

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The Hill reports that Vice President Biden spoke this week to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), urging her to not run in the Democratic primary for Senate against appointed incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand.

Maloney has been widely reported to be preparing to enter the race soon.

President Obama previously made a phone call three weeks ago to Rep. Steve Israel, who had also been gearing up to run, and told him not to do it. Afterwards, Israel pulled his hat out of the ring. With Obama overseas this week, Biden appears to have picked up the slack.

The White House has just sent the Senate Judiciary Committee a passel of documents which constitute her answers to the questionnaire the committee sent her just over a week ago.

The committee will post the documents here, but we're talking hundreds of pages, so the roll out won't be immediate. We'll look them over, when they're up--and so should you!

With the new report that Norm Coleman might actually be preparing to throw in the towel on his lawsuit against the Minnesota Senate election results, should the state Supreme Court hand down its widely-expected ruling in favor of Al Franken, let's look at the reasons why this might be. It might be coming down to one thing: The basic health and viability of any future political career that he might hope to have.

Keep in mind that Minnesota public opinion is that the race should be over -- the latest Rasmussen poll put it at 54%-41%. However, Prof. Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota explained to me that the opinion may have majority support right now, but it isn't felt intensely. It's not at the top of people's minds or in everyday news reports. However, that would all shift very quickly once there is a state Supreme Court ruling.

"Coleman is facing the prospect of widespread and harsh condemnation if the Supreme Court comes back decisively in Franken's favor," said Jacobs. At that point, three different bodies -- the state canvassing board, the trial court, and the state Supreme Court -- will have all ruled after lengthy proceedings that Franken is the legitimate winner.

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With all the news about President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, it's easy to forget that Obama nominated a different judge to a different court before well before Sonia Sotomayor became a household name.

Obama nominated David Hamilton to serve on the Seventh Circuit court of appeals back in March, and, thanks to a number of Republican delays, he has only today been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line 12-7 vote.

Now Hamilton will be exposed to a bright new world of procedural measures meant to obstruct his confirmation. Back in April, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said he would filibuster Hamilton once the committee advanced the nomination. "I had to come to the floor to speak so that the American people, who are very concerned about this nomination, will know that I and my Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee are taking interest and are not just going to let this nomination sail through," Inhofe said on the Senate floor. "In fact I will filibuster David Hamilton."

That's the same James Inhofe who once called judicial filibusters 'unconstitutional.'

(Incidentally, Hamilton is the brother-in-law of Dawn Johnsen--another Obama nominee who's struggling to get confirmed by the Senate.)