In it, but not of it. TPM DC

The remaining vote-count in the NY-20 special election is starting to take shape, with the lawyers and local election officials set to gather on Thursday to review...about 200 ballots.

Judge James V. Brands just handed down an order formalizing an agreement from both sides.

About 200 ballots that were opened up but objected to on the basis of voter intent -- that is, a campaign challenged it based on how the voter marked it, similar to the ballot-challenges we saw in Minnesota -- will be brought to the State Elections Board, as a centralized location, on Thursday.

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The DSCC and NRSC have just released their first-quarter fundraising numbers, showing a mixed bag of news for each side as the Dems race to get a 60-seat super-majority and the GOP works to stop them.

The Senate Dems brought in $10.4 million for the quarter and have $7.2 million on hand, compared to the Senate GOP's $9.6 million and $2.27 million on hand. However, the NRSC has only $1 million remaining debt, compared to the DSCC's $10.9 million in debt.

So while the DSCC is taking in money at a faster clip right now -- and having a near-super-majority certainly helps in doing that -- they're still not yet out of their hole from the 2008 elections, while the GOP has effectively climbed out.

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The moneyed interests that organized last week's Tea Party protests may insist that their efforts did not constitute astroturfing--that, much like the anti-Iraq war protesters who've taken to the streets between 2003 and today, the tea party attendees are articulating organic anger, and groups like FreedomWorks have only helped them co-ordinate.

That's probably not how students and officials at Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, SD feel about it. According to the Argus Leader, 19 school drummers and 15 choir members (though there appears to be some overlap between the two) showed up at the local tea party and were shocked to find themselves at a political event.

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Another local newspaper in Minnesota is calling upon Norm Coleman to concede, after having endorsed him in the 2008 election. This time, it's the Bemidji Pioneer:

Sen. Coleman's appeals were necessary and a legal part of the process. But at some point, incessant appeals serve no more than to obstruct the process than to guarantee justice. It's not unlike the Death Row inmate who exhausts all his appeals, taking years, and reaching the U.S. Supreme Court. And how many cases does the high court acquit?


The public perception at this point appears not to be one of letting Sen. Coleman fully seek redress of his legal grievances, but rather one of obstructing the Democrat-controlled Senate to prevent it from reaching that magic number of 60 votes. Adding Mr. Franken would mean 59 Democrat votes in the Senate. To continue to obstruct doesn't bode well for Minnesota, nor for Sen. Coleman's career, should he continue in politics.

Similar calls have come from at least two other papers that endorsed Coleman in 2008: The Albert Lea Tribune and the Worthington Daily Globe.

The new Siena poll in New York State shows that a majority of registered voters here favor legalizing gay marriage -- a push that currently has the support of Gov. David Paterson and others, but is not guaranteed passage in the state Senate.

The numbers: 53% favor, 39% oppose, with a ±3.8% margin of error. The internals show all regions of the state (New York City, the suburbs and Upstate) support it by various margins.

Among religious sub-groups, only 41% of Protestants favor it to 53% against, Jews favor it 64%-32% -- and Catholics favor it by a 49%-41% plurality. In the racial cross-tabs, Whites are in favor 56%-36%, Latinos are for it 57%-31%, and African-Americans oppose it with 44% in favor to 49% against.

The interplay of racial and religious politics could very well determine whether this proposal sinks in the Senate, or ends up signed into law.

The League of Conservation Voters is going on the air very early in the 2010 Missouri Senate race, where GOP Senator Kit Bond is retiring and the election is expected to be very close.

The LCV has this new statewide ad hitting Rep. Roy Blunt, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, for saying no to clean energy projects -- and holding America back:

"Call Roy Blunt," the announcer says, "and tell him it's time to start believing in America again." Now that the Democrats are the ones in power, it's the liberals who are playing the flag-waving card against the GOP, a reversal from the past eight years.

The ad is running statewide, with a heavy focus in Blunt's home town of Springfield.

Late Update: Blunt spokesman Nick Simpson gives us this statement:

"Congressman Blunt led the fight last year for an all-of-the-above energy strategy that included more job-creating American production, more conservation and more alternative fuels. The Democrat majority, however, tried to block every Republican attempt to even debate the need for a new national energy policy. It seems this ad supports Mr. Blunt's position."

Al Franken has made a bold move to seize the mantle of victory in his disputed Senate race, with his campaign announcing a staff hire for his eventual Senate office.

Franken has hired Alana Petersen, who has worked for the past five years for Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), to be his state director. Franken said in a statement:

"I want Minnesotans to be able to rely on me for assistance with the federal government. Whether it's a Social Security check, a small business loan, or help for a returning veteran, my office will be there for the people of our state, following the examples set by Sen. Klobuchar, our fine Congressional delegation, and those who came before us. That's the Minnesota way, and nobody is better at it than Alana. Drawing on her wealth of experience and her ability to reach out to every constituency in Minnesota, when I have the privilege of being certified, she'll work with me to ensure that we hit the ground running on Day One."

Franken told Minnesota Public Radio: "It's a little difficult because we're still in a little bit of a legal limbo but we, again, I don't want to be presumptuous but I feel like it's irresponsible not to get a jump on this."

House Minority Leader John Boehner appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos and entirely rewrote the scientific community's understanding of carbon dioxide. Boehner said, "the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical."

Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you've got more carbon dioxide. And so I think it's clear.

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Obama To Order Cabinet To Cut $100 Million President Obama will reportedly use his Cabinet meeting today to order the Cabinet to cut a combined $100 million in costs from their departments. The move is intended so that Obama will be able to quickly point to savings that the administration is implementing, from cuts in government waste.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will hold his first Cabinet meeting today at 11:30 a.m. ET in the Cabinet Room. At 2:35 p.m. ET, he will meet at CIA headquarters with Director Leon Panetta, the deputy director and other CIA officials, and will deliver remarks to CIA employees at 3:30 p.m. ET. At 4:30 p.m. ET, he and Vice President Biden will meet with Robert Gates.

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Summers: "It's A Long Road" For The Economy Appearing on NBC's Meet The Press, Larry Summers said of the economic situation: "But it's a, it's a long, it's a long road and it's going to take time. It's going to take creating jobs again. That's why the recovery bill was so important. It's going to take supporting the financial system, because without a flow of credit you really can't even begin to get the economy going again. That's where our main focus is."

Obama's Day President Obama spent the morning in Trinidad and Tobago, at the fifth Summit of the Americas. He attended an 8 a.m. ET multilateral meeting with SICA (Central American Integration System), a 9:10 a.m. ET Leaders Retreat, and held a news conference at 11:45 a.m. ET. He left Trinidad at 1 p.m. ET, and is scheduled to arrive back at the White House at 6:15 p.m. ET.

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