TPM News

The campaign of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who is in a June 8 Democratic primary runoff against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, has announced that it had $2 million cash on hand going into the runoff sprint.

The latest Federal Election Commission pre-runoff filing, which is due today, reveals that Lincoln had $2 million cash on hand. The filing covers activity from April 29 to May 19, the day after the first-round primary. During that period, Lincoln raised $552,189 and spent $1.6 million in the run-up to the May 18 primary.

We asked the Halter campaign if the update on their numbers was available yet. They said they will have it later today. The TPM Poll Average gives Lincoln a bare edge over Halter of 45.2%-45.1%.

Rand Paul's reputation for marching to his own drummer may extend to his medical career. The GOP Senate candidate is the founder and president of a certifying board for eye doctors, which he appears to have set up as a rival to the existing certification board. But his organization has left little public record, and the legitimacy with which it's viewed remains unclear at best.

In 1999, Paul created a new non-profit organization, the National Board of Ophthalmology (NBO), headquartered at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in order to "provide information to the public concerning physicians with exemplary qualifications in the medical specialty of ophthalmology," according to the organization's founding document, filed online with the Kentucky Secretary of State's office. Page One, a Kentucky politics blog, first noted the group's existence last month.

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The new Rasmussen poll of Wisconsin says that Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold is in a close race with businessman Ron Johnson, who is enjoying a boost of good publicity after his endorsement by the state GOP convention this past weekend.

The numbers: Feingold 46%, Johnson 44%. Feingold also leads the two other businessmen in the GOP race, leading Dave Westlake by 47%-38% and Terrence Wall -- who is reportedly set to exit the race soon -- by 47%-41%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error.

The TPM Poll Average has Feingold leading Westlake by 47.0%-38.6%, and leading Wall by 47.3%-42.3%. This is the first publicly released poll to feature Johnson. The GOP previously lost out on its top recruiting opportunity when former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who led Feingold by 45.3%-41.9%, announced in April that he would not run.

The PMA investigation may have some life left in it yet.

Even after a House ethics committee investigation of allegations of an earmarks-for-campaign contributions scheme by the now-defunct lobby shop PMA Group found no wrongdoing back in February, the independent Office of Congressional Ethics this morning announced it is referring evidence gathered in its probe of PMA to the Justice Department.

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New York's extremely popular Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) just announced his official candidacy for Governor this past Saturday -- but things had already been looking grim for the New York GOP's prospects in the general election.

The Republican party is set to select its nominee next week, but between the fringe candidates and the mediocre frontrunners that are each trailing Cuomo by at least 30 points in the polls, there doesn't appear to be a Republican poised to take him on in any meaningful way.

So who are these guys?

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Former Nevada state Rep. Sharron Angle, who has become the Tea Party favorite in the Republican primary for Senate, is now working to distance herself from a possible weakness in the race -- accusations that she has ties to the Church of Scientology.

As the Las Vegas Sun reports, the Angle campaign has scrubbed its website of a claim that she approached Sen. John Ensign, along with actresses Kelly Preston and Jenna Elfman, to sponsor legislation that would prohibit schools from requiring students to take psychotropic drugs. Preston and Elfman are prominent Scientologists, and the church opposes the use of psychiatric drugs. Now, Angle's website only says that Ensign sponsored a bill "at Angle's request."

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Erstwhile Senate candidate Rob Simmons has apologized for telling a reporter that the presumptive Republican candidate, Linda McMahon, can't win against Richard Blumenthal.

Yesterday, Simmons told National Review Online that he didn't think McMahon would win. The NRO also reported that Simmons said he would tell McMahon he was "preoccupied" if she asked him to campaign for her.

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South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley has been dodging reporters for the last couple of days, but her campaign manager promised Wednesday that Haley will address a blogger's claim of an "inappropriate physical relationship" with her at the next debate, scheduled for Tuesday.

The primary election is one week later, on June 8.

Meanwhile, blogger Will Folks has reportedly hired a former Clinton-era U.S. attorney, Pete Strom, to represent him. Strom, now in private practice in Columbia, did not immediately return a call.

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