TPM News

Write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski has won the Alaska Senate race, according to the Associated Press.

That call comes more than two weeks after the polls closed in Alaksa. State elections officials announced that there were only 700 votes left to count, with Murkowski holding a 10,000-vote lead over her opponent, Republican nominee Joe Miller.

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House Democrats elected current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi their next Minority Leader, part of Democrats' preparations to return to being the minority party in the House in 2011.

Pelosi survived a movement by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) earlier in the day to delay the leadership votes until December to give the caucus time to think their losses over more thoroughly. That vote, conducted by a secret ballot, failed 129-68, a smaller-than-expected margin. But both votes indicated a not-insignificant degree of contention within the Democratic caucus.

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Vincent Forras, a Sept. 11 first responder who ran for Senator in Connecticut and opposes the building of a mosque near ground zero, told TPM that those against the Islamic Center have been unfairly characterized as bigots.

"My filing of a lawsuit or my trying to prevent this has absolutely nothing to do with me being against Islam or Muslims or anything other than that mosque near Ground Zero," Forras said. "So for me to be referred to as a blind bigot or a racist because I'm doing that, that just shows how weak their case is that they're resorted to calling me something that I haven't been called in my entire life."

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The race is officially on to determine who will take on Darrell Issa next year as top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. But this contest is in a lot of ways more complicated than the other post-election power struggles we've seen in the last couple weeks. And unlike, say, the House Democratic Whip struggle, which centered on an inside-baseball leadership position, the stakes here are very public and very high.

The two principle combatants are the current Oversight Committee chair, Edolphus Towns, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) -- one of the committee's senior members.

According to Democratic aides who agreed to speak off the record to discuss the contest candidly, there's no easy answer here.

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A new Public Policy Polling (D) survey shows Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) with an early lead in his possible 2012 re-election bid. This comes on the heels of numbers showing President Obama leading the top 2012 Republican presidential contenders in Virginia.

And if former Gov. Tim Kaine was the Democrats' Senate nominee in Virginia? He's ahead of prominent Virginia Republicans, too.

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President Barack Obama is on a "political jihad promoting Islam around the world," said Larry Klayman, the founder of the conservative group Freedom Watch USA, at a panel on Wednesday.

Klayman, who also founded the Judicial Watch group, organized today's forum at the National Press Club under the auspices of his organization, which says its goal is "preserving freedom" and claims to be "the only political advocacy group that speaks through actions."

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One of the stranger sub-memes to fly around Washington in awhile is the new conservative rewrite of the story surrounding President Obama's televised appearance before House Republicans at their annual policy retreat back in January. Colloquially dubbed "question time," the event has taken on a cult status among progressives, who see the session as basically a long sequence of Obama kicking Republican rhetorical butt.

Conservatives, apparently, are still smarting from the episode and have begun to misremember it. At the time, Republicans were practically goading Obama into coming to Baltimore to address their retreat, and were extremely excited when he agreed to appear. Republican Representatives in the audience tweeted their followers, urging them to tune into C-SPAN and watch what was to become a defining moment of Obama's presidency when, seemingly from off the cuff, he aced Republican question after Republican question (at least in the eyes of his supporters).

But as Republicans gear up for another high-profile meeting with Obama -- this time, the so-called Slurpee Summit post-election dinner scheduled for Nov. 30 at the White House -- conservatives have begun to pretend that the drubbing observers said Republicans took the last time around wasn't their fault.

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Bryan Fischer, the "Director of Issues Analysis" for the conservative Christian group the American Family Association, was unhappy yesterday that President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to a soldier for saving lives. This, Fischer wrote on his blog, shows that the Medal of Honor has been "feminized" because "we now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them."

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