TPM News

Litigants in one of the most high-profile health care reform lawsuits in the country today presented their arguments to Virginia district court judge Henry Hudson, who later this year will rule on the constitutionality of the law's individual insurance mandate.

That puts the case a few months ahead of a separate, but similar, lawsuit in Florida, which has been joined by 20 U.S. states.

In December, Hudson, a George W. Bush appointee, will award what's known as a summary judgment in the case, applying the law as he sees it to the facts at hand. (The facts in this instance are undisputed, and so the case will not go to trial.)

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A newly released PPP poll suggests things may be tightening up in the Missouri Senate race between Republican Rep. Roy Blunt and Democratic Secretary of State Robin Carnahan. Blunt, who has maintained a lead throughout recent months' polling, is found to be leading by only five points, 46%-41%, with Constitution Party candidate Jerry Beck and Libertarian Jonathan Dine both polling at 3%.

This PPP poll was conducted for the Carnahan campaign.

When PPP looked at this race back in mid-August, Blunt led Carnahan 45%-38%, with Beck earning 5% and Dine polling at 3%. Two polls from October 5 saw Blunt leading more comfortably in the race: a CNN/Time poll gave him a 53%-40% lead, while a Rasmussen survey had him on top 51%-43%.

The margin of error for the latest survey is ±3.9 percentage points.

A new ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee, attacking Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), shows the challenge that the GOP faces in trying to dislodge some of the big senior House Democrats that they've targeted in this seemingly Republican year. Even in an ad calling for Skelton's defeat, they still praise his service in office.

"Ike Skelton -- over three decades in office, he's made us proud," the announcer says. At this point, you might think it's an ad for Skelton. But then the knife gets twisted.

"But now our country faces new and urgent problems. Massive spending, Pelosi's stimulus, mounting debt, job-killing energy taxes -- and Ike Skelton voted for them all. Ike voted with Pelosi 94% of the time. After 33 years in office, maybe it's time for Ike Skelton to come back home."

Will this ad be effective? Or will too many viewers just hear the "he's made us proud" at the beginning, and tune out the rest?

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A new Rasmussen survey of the Washington Senate race finds Democratic incumbent Sen. Patty Murray leading Republican nominee Dino Rossi 49%-46%.

When Rasmussen last took a look at the race on October 6, Rossi was on top 49%-46%. Since the Republican enjoyed a lead in four straight polls from September 27-October 9 (conducted by right-leaning pollster Fabrizio, Rasmussen twice, and Fox News), the incumbent Democrat has found herself atop five straight polls.

The TPM Poll Average finds Murray with a 49.5%-45.9% advantage in the race. The latest poll's margin of error is ±4.0 percentage points.

For more on the race, check out TPMDC's full coverage here.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has a new attack ad against Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), the fiery liberal who is being challenged by top-tier GOP recruit Dan Webster. And while this ad seeks to obviously turn voters against Grayson, it might especially alarm a particular sub-group of the electorate: People with clown-phobias.

The ad goes after Grayson's rabble-rousing image by having a person dressed up in clown makeup and a business suit, possibly meant to be a stand-in for Grayson. (From a distance, you can't tell if the clown actor is a man or a woman -- but the whole scene sure is creepy.) The ad also goes after the recent news over Grayson's "Taliban Dan" ad, which led to attacks that Grayson was selectively quoting Webster out of context.

"You've seen the headlines. Freshman Congressman Alan Grayson is a national embarrassment," the announcer says, as the clown comes into view. "But it's not just Grayson's behavior that's out of line -- it's his votes. Grayson backed a government takeover of health care. Grayson wanted a more radical takeover than the plan Congress passed. Grayson pushed a national energy tax that would cripple Florida's economy. We can't let Alan Grayson embarrass Florida anymore."

An interesting part of the ad, of course, is that the news quote about Grayson's anti-Webster spot being "one of the worst ads I've ever seen, one of the most dishonest," was cited to Sean Hannity -- who as we all know, is a paragon of honesty and virtue when it comes to using quotes from those he opposes.

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While New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino remains in the national spotlight for his controversial comments, polls suggest his chances of actually being elected are slim to none.

A newly released New York Times poll of the contest finds Democratic state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo leading the Republican by 35 points, 59%-24%. This is the first poll conducted by The Times on the race, so there are no numbers for direct comparison. The contest's last survey prior to today's was an October 13 SurveyUSA poll that had Paladino trailing 59%-33%.

The TPM Poll Average shows Cuomo on top, 54.8%-36.8%. The margin of error for the latest survey is ±3.0 percentage points.

For more on the race, check out TPMDC's full coverage here.

The Republican National Lawyers Association hosted a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year which featured John Fund, a conservative Wall Street Journal columnist who focuses on voter fraud allegations, and Anita MonCrief, the ACORN "whistleblower," who was actually reportedly fired by the organization over the misuse of a company credit card.

Cleta Mitchell, the co-chair of the RNLA, introduced the February panel, titled "Saving Freedom From Vote Fraud," but, she said, "We might have entitled it saving freedom from those who would steal it whose name is ACORN."

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This poll is either a total outlier -- or a sure sign that voters of all stripes aren't big on dynastic candidates this year. The new survey from Daily Kos/Public Policy Polling (D) shows Ben Quayle, the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, trailing Democrat Jon Hulburd in the race to succeed GOP Rep. John Shadegg in a deep-red Arizona House seat.

The numbers: Hulburd 46%, Quayle 44%. The survey of likely voters has a ±3.8% margin of error. There is no prior PPP survey of this race for direct comparison.

Kos writes: "Yeah, that was a real WTF moment for us in this open seat being vacated by conservative icon John Shadegg. Completely unexpected. Sure, the idiot son of the idiot former vice president is a bit of a joke, but this is a solidly conservative district, one in which McCain won 57-42."

Quayle the Younger is of course known for two things: His early contributions to a raunchy Web site about the nightlife in Scottsdale, and his memorable ad during the GOP primary declaring, "Barack Obama is the worst president in history," "I was raised right," and also: "Somebody has to go to Washington and knock the hell out of the place."

An unusual back and forth between a photographer and a House candidate Thursday culminated in the following exchange.

"It's a free country isn't it?" the cameraman asked.

"It sure is," replied Sean Bielat, who's running against Rep. Barney Frank (D) in Massachusetts' 4th Congressional district. "At least if we can get the Congress back."

"Quit the jokes, dude, you're no[t] funny at all," the photographer responded.

The cameraman in question? James Ready, perhaps better known as Frank's partner. And the whole exchange was caught on camera.

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