In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL)--the chair and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee respectively--may disagree about the overall timeline for the Sotomayor confirmation process. But now Leahy says if the Republicans want Democrats to speed the process along, all they have to do is keep smearing Sotomayor.



Tom Tancredo and Newt Gingrich aren't really the kind of people who acquiesce to this type of threat, but let's see what happens.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) just officially announced that he is not running for a third term in 2010.

A reporter asked him whether he is running for President. "I don't have any plans beyond serving out my term," he said. "So I'm not ruling anything in or out."

He did, however, offer some wisdom for the Republican Party on a nationwide level. "We're the party of the marketplace. The marketplace has been signaling movement to our competitors, so we need to do better." He later added: "My party needs new ideas, new policies, and I think I can contribute to that."

A reporter asked how this decision will affect the controversy surrounding an election certificate to the U.S. Senate for Al Franken, and Pawlenty's response was in line with previous public comments. "I think you guys have really over-baked that issue, you're spinning out of control. I'm gonna do whatever the court says," Pawlenty responded. And if a courts tells him to sign the certificate, "I'm not gonna hold it up or delay it in any fashion."

Late Update: It's worth noting that Pawlenty will be speaking to the College Republicans national convention this week in Washington.

Manuel Miranda is, perhaps, the most vocal conservative calling on the GOP to filibuster Sonia Sotomayor--an ironic fact given Miranda's long history of opposing judicial filibusters. But he's also been the subject of a thorough investigation by former Senate Sergeant at Arms William Pickle.

Miranda became mired in controversy several years ago, after he and a fellow Senate Judiciary Committee aide distributed thousands of pages of Democratic memos--supposedly documenting the minority members' ties to liberal interest groups--to friendly reporters and conservative activists from late 2001 until early 2003.

The two aides--Miranda and Jason Lundell--worked in concert. Lundell had learned how to access private Democratic documents by observing the keystrokes of a young system administrator, who didn't realize that many files on the committee server were unprotected. Armed with an ill-begotten password, Lundell accessed reams of forbidden memos, which he brought to his superiors who initially scolded him and advised him to burn the evidence.

Enter Manny Miranda.

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A new Gallup poll finds that 54% of Americans favor the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, compared to only 28% against.

This level of support is just slightly higher than the initial support for Samuel Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas -- all of whom were confirmed -- and lagging just slightly behind the initial approval of John Roberts. It is significantly ahead of the initial support for Harriet Miers and Robert Bork, whose nominations were respectively withdrawn or defeated.

Not surprisingly, Democrats favor confirmation by a 76%-6% margin, Republicans oppose it 57%-24%, and independents correspond almost exactly to the top-line numbers at 54%-27%.

Donald McFarland, the Minnesota state director for Americans United for Change, released this statement in response to Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's reported decision to not seek re-election in 2010. McFarland calls on Pawlenty to not play politics with the ongoing dispute over the 2008 Senate race:

"Tim Pawlenty's national political ambitions have become clear with his reported decision not to seek reelection -- but he is still the governor of Minnesota. Gov. Pawlenty, the Iowa caucuses can wait - the people of Minnesota need you now. During these extraordinarily difficult economic times, we cannot afford to be without full representation in the Senate a day longer. We implore the Governor to sign the election certificate should the Minnesota Supreme Court rule in Al Franken's favor. Refusing to do so would be an act of political cowardice that will unfairly punish the people of Minnesota."

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the head Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, just spoke to reporters and said that Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings should be held in September -- that is, three months or more from now.

Sessions said that Sotomayor has had 4,000 cases as part of her 17-year record, that this whole record must be held up to review, and the process should not be rushed.



Said Sessions: "We've got until October 7, I believe, or the fifth, for the nominee to take office."

As I've previously pointed out, Republican calls for September hearings would take this process well beyond the timeframe that John Roberts and Samuel Alito both had for their confirmations -- which by themselves took place under complicated and convoluted circumstances.

Dozens of conservatives today sent Senate Republicans a letter, urging them to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

"We call on you...to display leadership, if the nominee merits it, in preparing for the use of the traditional filibuster...so that the debate on the Senate floor is appropriately long and, therefore, suitably catalyzed to the American people."

The signatories are of a coalition of conservative activists called Third Branch, led by a storied character named Manuel Miranda.

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The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is trying a new angle to attack Florida's Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who is currently the big frontrunner for the open Senate seat in this big swing state -- an attack that relies upon a political technology of yesteryear.

The DSCC has launched a joke 800 phone number, the "Charlie Crist's Scheduling Office" Hotline, in which a satirical recording of a secretary tries to find him for you -- only tell you he's taken 62 weekdays off from work, meets with big donors, etc.

Check it out at 1-800-403-2195. It's unclear whether something like this will actually be politically effective -- but they do deserve some credit for at least being mildly entertaining.

In our Friday interview, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) called into question the idea that Pennsylvania Democrats will be automatically loyal to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) just because he's the de facto incumbent. "Does that automatically buy loyalty--because you changed an R to a D--from those within the party?" Sestak asked, rhetorically.

"Well actually it appeared to do so within the wash political establishment, which was quite disturbing, but I think that's a long haul from where Pennsylvanians will be."

And, as it turns out, a new poll (PDF) suggests there's some evidence for this claim.

As you may know, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter recently switched from Republican to Democrat. Should Arlen Specter be the Democratic nominee for the 2010 election for US Senate or should he face a challenge from one or more other Democrats in the primary?
  1. Specter should be nominee 28%


  2. Specter should face challenge 63%


  3. Undecided 32 09%


This comes via Greg Sargent--and, presumably, as good news for the nascent Sestak campaign. Other recent polls show Specter with a sizable lead over the relatively unknown Sestak, but this new poll shows a hunger for a primary challenge on general principle.

The local CBS channel in Minneapolis reports that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate, will announce today that he is not running for a third term as governor in 2010.

Pawlenty was narrowly re-elected in the big Democratic year of 2006 -- and in what is usually a Democratic state, though it has a habit of electing GOP governors -- and had reportedly made the list of finalists to be John McCain's running mate.

Keep a close lookout for Pawlenty's actions in a few key areas: His continuing budget battle with the heavily-Democratic legislature, where he's taken a strong anti-tax line; potential travel around the country for GOP candidates; and of course, how he handles the upcoming battles over whether or not Al Franken gets an election certificate to the U.S. Senate.

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