TPM News

The University of Virginia will fight a demand from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that it hand over documents relating to the work of a former UVA climate scientist.

In a court filing, the university argued that Cuccinelli's subpoena for the records of government-funded work conducted by climate scientist Michael Mann goes beyond the AG's legal authority, and threatens academic freedom.

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President Obama's White House has released its report into accusations that the administration offered Rep. Joe Sestak a job if he would drop out of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary against Sen. Arlen Specter.

"We have concluded that allegations of improper conduct rest on factual errors and lack a basis in the law," White House counsel Bob Bauer wrote in a 2-page memo released to reporters this morning. Read the memo in full here.

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The big breakthrough on Don't Ask, Don't Tell came about a month ago, when Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) sat down with his Senate counterparts to tell them he had the votes to repeal DADT, Murphy told TPMDC in an interview today. That, he said, kick-started the Senate into action.

"I told the leadership I have the votes, let's bring this up," Murphy said. He and House leaders then met with Sens. Joe Lieberman and Carl Levin, he said, "and then they started working once they realized we had the votes in the House."

"We did this together," he said.

Murphy got a big victory last night when, after a year of whipping votes one by one, his amendment passed the House in a vote of 234 to 194.

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The new University of Cincinnati poll of the Ohio Senate race gives Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher a one-point lead over Republican ex-Congressman and former Bush administration official Rob Portman.

The numbers: Fisher 47%, Portman 46%. The survey of likely voters has a ±3.8%. The TPM Poll Average gives Fisher a lead over Portman of 43.6%-41.5%.

This race, to succeed retiring two-term GOP Sen. George Voinovich, is in a big perennial swing state that will likely see a lot of money and manpower put into it. Barack Obama carried ohio by 52%-47% in 2008, after it voted twice for George W. Bush by narrow margins. This current poll also gives Obama a 46% approval rating in the state, with a slightly higher 49% disapproval.

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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the Pennsylvania Senate race has Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, who defeated incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in the Dem primary last week, jumping to a narrow lead over Republican former Rep. Pat Toomey.

The numbers: Sestak 43%, Toomey 40%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. The previous R2K poll from two weeks ago, shortly before the primary, gave Toomey a lead over Sestak of 45%-40%. The only other post-primary poll, released last week by Rasmussen, had Sestak taking a lead of 46%-42%. The TPM Poll Average has Toomey ahead by the narrowest of margins at 39.7%-39.2%.

Looking at the polling graph, it is interesting to note that Toomey's support has stayed within a particular range, while Sestak's support has been picking up since March. In some ways, this is similar to the way that Specter's support stayed about the same in the Democratic primary, and how Sestak gained on him and ultimately overtook him by picking up undecided voters.

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A new Insider Advantage/Statehouse Report poll shows that South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley still has a big lead in the June 8 primary -- even after allegations surfaced of a possible extra-marital affair.

The poll shows Haley leading with 31.3%, followed by Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer with 20.7%, Rep. Graham Barrett with 14.1%, and Attorney General Henry McMaster with 13.8%.

The newest poll was conducted Tuesday night -- well after blogger Will Folks went public with his claims of having an affair with Haley. Haley has denied Folks' allegations.

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We told you earlier this month about Mark Williams, the top Tea Party leader who was so enraged by plans to build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero that he referred to the Islamic deity as a "monkey-god" and to Muslims as "the animals of Allah."

But it turns out that Williams isn't the only conservative driven to apoplexy by this local development project. Lately, we've seen a massive right-wing freakout over the plan for the community center. That freakout has been couched as concern about dishonoring the memory of 9/11 victims. But it's been so widespread and so vitriolic as to suggest it might just have some uglier roots.

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Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's supporters have a message for Arkansas Democrats Sen. Blanche Lincoln is attempting to woo with a visit from Bubba this afternoon: Halter is a lot like Bill Clinton! Progressive Change Campaign Committee is paying for online ads today linked to the Lincoln-Clinton rally in Little Rock.

You can see the ad, obtained by TPMDC, to the left. A PCCC official said the goal is to highlight Arkansas voters "who once found Bill Clinton an inspiring rising star and now feel that way about Bill Halter." The online ad campaign links to a page featuring quotes from Arkansans, like Greg Starting who said Clinton "gave us hope for change then" and Halter "gives us hope for much needed change now." Or a Fayetteville resident who says Halter is "this generation's Bill Clinton."

The TPM Poll Average of this race has Halter leading 47.3 to 44.7 percent, with him jumping into the lead for the first time yesterday. The PCCC ad campaign is another example of how both sides are playing for keeps as the June 8 Democratic primary runoff approaches. The positive spin is a different strategy from the AFL-CIO, also backing Halter, which is attempting to target Clinton for NAFTA in advance of the visit. The union accuses Lincoln and Clinton of sending Arkansas jobs to Mexico and Canada, calling them the "Dynamic NAFTA Duo." We asked Clinton aides for a comment and will update if we hear back.

The Staten Island GOP last night nominated Michael Allegretti to run against Rep. Mike McMahon (D-NY) for Vito Fossella's old House seat.

They had originally nominated former congressman Fossella, who in 2008 dropped out of his re-election race after a DUI arrest led to the admission that he had fathered a child during an extramarital affair.

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The new Mason-Dixon poll of Nevada shows a tight race for the Republican Senate primary, between establishment-backed former state GOP chair Sue Lowden and Tea Party-supported former state Rep. Sharron Angle.

The numbers: Lowden 30%, Angle 29%, and ex-UNLV basketball player Danny Tarkanian 23%, followed by state Rep. Chad Christensen at 3% and businessman John Chachas with 2%. The poll of likely primary voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. In the previous Mason-Dixon poll from two weeks ago, Lowden led Angle by 30%-25%, with Tarkanian at 22% and the Christensen and Chachas in the low single-digits.

Lowden and Angle have been in a tough fight for the June 8 primary. Lowden has attacked Angle for alleged ties to Scientology, while the Club For Growth is running ads defending Angle and attacking Lowden for having donated to Harry Reid many years ago.

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