In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Norm Coleman strongly denies the allegation that his lawsuit in the Minnesota Senate race is being pursued for the purposes of delaying the Democrats from getting a 59th Senate seat.

"In spite of what some say, that somehow this is an effort to delay something -- no," Coleman told the Star Tribune. "There are very legitimate, important constitutional questions regarding whether or not people's vote should count."

Norm also said he wasn't concerned that keeping this fight going is damaging his future political prospects: "I say this humbly, I don't spend 30 seconds worrying about my political future."

In other news, Coleman's home in St. Paul was egged on Tuesday night.

Via Matt Yglesias, we find that yesterday didn't bring out the best in Texas Governor Rick Perry alone. Here we see Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) telling tea party attendees to bring armed revolution:

It's about our founding fathers who in 1773 threw a little party called the Boston tea party. And fought against tyranny and oppressive taxes, does that sound familiar? We're continuing that revolution right here in Austin, TX today. Thomas Jefferson once said that the tree of liberty will be fed with the blood of tyrants and patriots. You are the patriots.

And then there's Rep. Roscoe Bartlett in Frederick, MD, wishing (about 4:45 into the video) that President Obama was on hand to "see that you're all out here in revolt," adding that "he needs to see your signs"--signs which, of course, ran the gamut between anti-tax slogans through confederate flags in to outright racism.

Earlier today, I noted that, at the Austin tea party yesterday, Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested that his state might secede from the union under circumstances unclear.

I've put in a call to his office to see if we can't get a better explanation of the scenario he's contemplating. But in the meantime, Texas State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) is saying, in no uncertain terms, that the governor crossed the line.

"There are some issues that simply should not be legitimated in any way, shape or form, and secession is one of them," said Ellis. "By not rejecting out of hand the possibility of secession, Governor Perry is taking a step down a very dangerous and divisive path encouraged by the fringe of Texas politics."

I'll post the full statement below the fold. We're trying also to get responses from Texas Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, but, perhaps not coincidentally, the phone lines for both offices are completely tied up.

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Michele Bachmann just can't turn down an opportunity to attack a Democratic politician -- even if the "opportunity" is a lie. During an interview with right-wing talk radio host Lee Rodgers, Bachmann declared that the "Flying Imams" -- six Muslim men who were removed from an airplane at the Minneapolis airport in 2006 -- had been in Minnesota for the victory party of Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress.

Bachmann's line about the imams can be found at the 4:30 mark in this YouTube, which also contains a wider-ranging discussion of such issues as President Obama apologizing for America, and the fierce threat of the loss of American sovereignty:

"The imams were actually attending Congressman Keith Ellison's victory celebration, when he won as a member of Congress," said Bachmann.

For the record, the imams were in fact attending a conference that was held on November 17-19, 2006. Keith Ellison's victory party was presumably held on November 7, 2006, the night of the 2006 mid-term elections that brought both himself and Bachmann to Congress.

(Via Minnesota Independent and Dump Bachmann.)

Earlier today, Brent Bozell, founder of the conservative Media Research Center, appeared on Fox to lambaste liberal and mainstream media journalists (particularly on MSNBC) for telling "oral sex jokes" about the Tea Bag Protest movements. Unfortunately for anchor Megyn Kelly, though, once he was done lashing his tongue, hers slipped. Watch:

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As they struggle to find political footing, rump Republicans, (even the formerly mainstream among them) are beginning to dabble in right wing extremism. That's not hyperbole. Indeed, you need look no further than Texas Gov Rick Perry, who seems to have gotten a bit carried away yesterday at a Tea Party Protest in Austin. "We've got a great union," Perry said, "There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it."

But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

This comes less than a week after Perry appeared with sponsors and supporters of a Texas House resolution affirming the state's claim of sovereignty under the 10th Amendment. "I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state," Gov. Perry said.

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The DNC is now reaching out to supporters in Minnesota to engage in some local activism, to get the message out that Norm Coleman should give up in this disputed Senate race.

The Dems have sent an e-mail to their Minnesota list, asking people to print out this flier and post it anywhere they can:

(Click image to enlarge.)

Obviously, Norm Coleman would have little concern for what Democratic activists posting fliers have to say. But the idea here could be that if these things were to become ubiquitous, public opinion could shift even further against Coleman and the GOP than it already has.

When Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) said his fundraising was "lousy," he wasn't kidding. It turns out that during the first quarter of 2009, Bunning only took in $262,843, and has just $375,747 cash on hand.

By comparison, one of Bunning's Democratic opponents, Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo, raised $429,552 and has $388,500 on hand. Mongiardo will need the money, though, as he's now in what looks like a competitive Democratic primary with state Attorney General Jack Conway, who for his part only just officially kicked off his campaign last week and therefore didn't raise anything in the previous quarter.

Bunning has openly accused the GOP leadership of sabotaging his fundraising and trying to force him into retirement, rather than supporting him as an incumbent.

The latest state score in NY-20 shows Democratic candidate Scott Murphy ahead of Republican Jim Tedisco by 167 votes, a margin of 50.05%-49.95%, up from an 86-vote lead at the close of business yesterday -- making it appear more likely than not that Murphy will be the winner when all is said and done.

The big question now is how the roughly 1,200 challenged absentee ballot envelopes will play out, as they are currently being kept out of the count -- including the vote of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. The ruling yesterday by Judge James V. Brands means that the vast majority of these challenges will be rejected out of hand, and the envelopes will be opened and the votes counted.

The numbers from Columbia County, for example, show that there have been 249 ballots challenged by the Tedisco campaign, compared to only 22 from Murphy. There are 740 challenges in the Tedisco stronghold of Saratoga County, but it's not been publicly disclosed what the breakdown is of who challenged how many ballots.

Overall, it seems like more ballots were challenged by the Tedisco camp across the district than were challenged by Murphy. And since a basic assumption is that a ballot that gets challenged is believed to be a vote for the other guy, this would mean that Murphy could gain a little bit when the votes are counted, assuming that more ballots were indeed challenged by Tedisco.

For the past couple weeks, events have drawn our attention to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who's serving his second term in Pennsylvania's seventh congressional district. Specifically, he's been taking the lead in support of Defense Secretary Robert Gates' budget proposal, which I discussed with him at length earlier this week.

Neither he nor his staff are shy about the fact that he's trying to position himself out in front of this issue, and it's a big one--sure to result in a bruising political fight in the weeks ahead. In a way, he's the natural surrogate for it--a former Navy rear admiral, who's been arguing for similar reforms, both within and outside of the military for years.

But there's also the question of Pennsylvania politics. As my colleague Eric Kleefeld reported yesterday, former congressman and conservative's conservative Pat Toomey has announced that he'll be challenging Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in the 2010 primary. Specter is very popular in Pennsylvania, but not particularly popular among its conservative residents. If he wins that primary challenge, he'll be a formidable challenger for any Pennsylvania Democrat. But if Toomey wins, it's a whole new ball game.

And that's where Sestak (may) come in.

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