In it, but not of it. TPM DC

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.)

The first post-primary poll is now out in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, giving Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie a healthy lead over Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. The numbers from Rasmussen: Christie 51%, Corzine 38%, outside of the ±4.5% margin of error.

Christie won the Republican primary on Tuesday night, and this poll was then immediately conducted yesterday. Three weeks ago, Christie led Corzine by a 47%-38% margin. Corzine's approval rating in the latest poll is only 42%, against 57% disapproval, while Christie's favorables and unfavorables stand at 60%-40%.

However, there is a frequent pattern in New Jersey elections that must be noted -- a sizable number of voters don't affirmatively like the Democrats, but in the final weeks of a campaign will break heavily in that direction as a vote against the conservatism of the Republican candidate.

The pollster's analysis -- and I should note that Scott Rasmussen is a New Jerseyan, like myself -- acknowledges this important caveat: "New Jersey polls often show Republican candidates doing well in the spring with Democrats gaining ground in the fall. Corzine is expected to heavily outspend Christie which could add to that trend."

Marco Rubio, the former Florida state House Speaker who is waging an up-hill conservative challenge in the Republican primary for Senate against Gov. Charlie Crist, is now lining up some right-wing support to oppose Crist.

Rubio announced yesterday that Dennis Baxley, the former state Speaker Pro Tempore and outgoing head of the state Christian Coalition, will be backing his candidacy -- a decent pickup in Rubio's mission to solidify support on the religious right. The big question here is whether Rubio will be able to mobilize conservative activists against Crist -- who starts out with an enormous lead in the polls -- in light of the moderate governor's support for the stimulus and his other breaks from Republican orthodoxy.

Also, the Jacksonville Observer points out, Baxley previously supported Crist's opponent in the 2006 open-seat gubernatorial primary, and Crist won that nomination in a landslide. But Baxley is undeterred. "Gov. Crist is very popular," he said. "But that's what you get when you're on both sides of every issue. But as a party, we need to show that we can advance people with real leadership skills."

A new coalition of business leaders--Business Leaders for a Fair Economy--will press Congress in the coming weeks to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

As part of their launch, the group has placed an ad in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Politico, and it's chairman Roger Smith (who's also the President and CEO of American Income Life Insurance Company and National Income Life Insurance Company) has sent a letter to members of the Senate asking them to support EFCA.

It's important to counter the myths and misunderstandings that unions are bad for business. Quite the contrary - allowing workers to freely join unions can improve morale, productivity, and retention rates, and our bottom line. Further, enabling workers to make their own choice on how to form a union helps remove unnecessary conflict from the workplace so labor and management can focus on advancing the business....

In this tough economy, Business Leaders for a Fair Economy believes that passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is more pressing than ever. We urge you and your colleagues to put our country on a path toward lasting economic and financial recovery by enacting this vital measure.

Roll Call reports that we may now be entering a truly crucial phase in the seemingly never-ending saga of the 2008 Minnesota Senate election -- indeed, it might actually be ending fairly soon, if Norm Coleman doesn't have the heart to keep going.

On the one hand, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the NRSC chairman who has said the race could take "years" to resolve, says the party would continue to keep on supporting Norm -- and would fight any effort to seat Franken even if the Minnesota Supreme Court orders his certification. "I personally think it'd be a mistake to seat anybody while the appeals are pending," said Cornyn.

However, Roll Call says: "Sources close to Coleman say the former Senator would likely give up his legal battle and accept defeat if the Minnesota Supreme Court decides in Franken's favor. That's because Coleman anticipates that Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) would ultimately sign Franken's certification papers." The issue here is that Coleman might not have the energy to keep fighting this in federal court -- as it is, he's already put his political reputation on the line with the state court battle.

A ruling from the state Supremes is expected to happen some time in the next few weeks, and is universally expected to be a strong decision in favor of Al Franken.