TPM News

G-20 Leaders Kick off Stormy Summit The AFP reports: "The United States, striving to recover from its worst economic crisis in decades, locked horns anew with exporting giants China and Germany over a plan to rebalance skewed commerce between deficit and surplus countries. President Barack Obama, grafting to salvage a deal at the G20 after suffering an economy-linked drubbing in US elections last week, said his administration wanted to boost growth via 'prudent' economic policies. 'I don't think this is a controversial proposition.'"

South Korea And U.S. Fail To Resolve Trade Deal Row Reuters reports: "The United States and South Korea failed on Thursday to revive a stalled free trade agreement, dealing a blow to both countries' leaders and putting a brake on bilateral trade. President Barack Obama and South Korea's Lee Myung-bak said negotiators would continue talks to address U.S. concerns that the deal does not do enough to open South Korean markets to U.S. beef and autos."

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The likely recount in the Minnesota gubernatorial race, where Democratic former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton currently leads Republican state Rep. Tom Emmer by slightly under 9,000 votes, has presented an interesting possible scenario: Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a potential presidential candidate, could end up staying in office a little while longer if the election gets tied up in the courts -- and with a newly-elected Republican majority legislature, to boot.

Is it possible that the GOP might try to drag out the recount process to pass Republican-friendly legislation without the threat of a Democratic governor's veto pen? So far, one top Republican, the incoming state House Speaker, has said they wouldn't try to do that -- but they would have to get things done eventually. And the possibility does seem to be hanging over the whole proceeding.

Many observers -- including Fritz Knaak, a former lawyer for Norm Coleman -- have said that it would be very difficult for Emmer to win with the vote numbers like this. But if the process were to drag out, it could result in a Republican governor staying in office longer than expected.

As you might recall from the previous statewide recount in Minnesota, the recent legally contested Senate election from 2008 that resulted in a final 312-vote win by Democrat Al Franken, Minnesota will not certify an election winner in a disputed election until a state legal contest (a kind of civil trial) is concluded. And with the result in that election so close, the recount and subsequent legal processes ended up taking eight months, with Franken not being sworn in until July 2009.

And as we also learned the day after the election, Minnesota's state constitution provides for the current governor, Pawlenty, to stay in office until a successor is determined.

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The Republican establishment in the House is offering up a big old bear hug to the incoming class of tea party freshmen.

No matter where you go these days, you'll find establishment types on the Hill praising their tea party brethren. There's a good reason for that: if you believe the tea party rhetoric, Republicans have more to fear from the tea party than the Democrats ever did.

Though it was Democrats who the tea party successfully helped remove from power in the House, the GOP may have reason to worry, too. As longtime Republican insider Mike Castle -- among others -- learned over the summer, tea party-style change can be painful for establishment types.

So the House has set off to open the door to the tea party through praise and even a seat at the leadership table.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who had attempted to leverage her superstar status among Tea Party activists into a role in the House Republican leadership as GOP Conference Chair, instead ended her bid tonight and endorsed the leadership's favored candidate, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.

Bachmann had argued that her role in mobilizing Tea Party activists for the Republican Party: "I have been able to bring a voice and motivate people to, in effect, put that gavel in John Boehner's hands, so that Republicans can lead going forward."

However, she only picked up the public support of five other House members: Her close ally Steve King of Iowa, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and her fellow Minnesotans John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Chip Cravaack.

As such, this was one insurgent bid that didn't quite take off.

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A federal judge has denied Joe Miller's request for an injunction to stop the counting of Alaska Senate write-in ballots, ruling that Miller will not face irreparable injury if the count continues.

Miller filed a suit yesterday arguing that counting write-in ballots that misspell the candidate's name is unconstitutional. He requested the injunction because he claimed that any count will cause him "irreparable injury, as both a candidate for U.S. Senate and a registered voter who cast a vote in the U.S. Senate race in this election, if Defendants are permitted to proceed with counting write-in ballots under an illegal standard."

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The current House Budget Committee Chairman -- Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), who lost his re-election bid last week -- has endorsed Chris Van Hollen to take over as the top Democrat on the panel next year.

"I am writing to state my enthusiastic support for Chris Van Hollen as Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee in the 112th Congress," Spratt wrote in a letter to colleagues today. "Through his work in the Democratic leadership and on the Ways and Means Committee, Chris has demonstrated his dedication to our values as well as his knowledge of the issues.

Van Hollen appears to have a clear path to becoming the ranking member on the committee. Yesterday, the committee's second highest-ranking Democrat, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) backed his candidacy, and a source close to him tells me he has thusfar rounded up the support of 17 of the 19, returning Democrats on the panel, and counting.

You can read the entire letter below the fold.

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Counting write-in ballots in the Alaska Senate race is taking longer than expected, and could end up taking an extra two days to finish, according to Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that officials had hoped to finish counting 129 precincts by the end of the day today, but by 1:00 p.m. Alaska time they had only finished 31. "I don't think we're going to get through them," Fenumiai said.

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Alaska Lt. Governor Craig Campbell contended today that Republican Joe Miller's campaign has changed its tune when it comes to pushing a "literal interpretation" of the write-in ballot count laws in the contentious Alaska Senate race.

Miller's campaign filed a lawsuit yesterday, arguing that the state should not count misspelled write-in ballots as votes for write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, since the law stipulates that write-in votes may only be counted "if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided."

In a press conference this afternoon, Campbell argued that the Miller campaign had previously objected to such a "literal interpretation" of the law, back when Campbell initially announced that write-in votes cast for Miller would be tossed since he is not a declared write-in candidate. At the time, Miller accused Campbell of "bias" when he refused to count those votes, and Campbell quickly decided to count them.

Campbell said today that he decided to count those votes because he wanted as many votes as possible to be included if "voter intent" could be determined. The Miller campaign argued at the time that the law required those votes to be counted.

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Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is ready for war. He told an audience today that he doesn't shy away from a fight, even a tough one like repealing the health care reform law passed in March.

"One of my heroes is a guy named Davy Crockett," Barton said this morning. Crockett and the rest of the doomed defenders of the Alamo "fought a fight that most people thought was hopeless," Barton added, saying that because they did, Texas eventually became the state it is today.

"One of Crockett's sayings is 'be sure you're right, then go ahead," Barton said, turning to the health care law. "The right thing to do is repeal this bill...and we're gonna do it."

War on Obamacare wasn't the only one Barton declared before an audience at the Heritage Foundation today.

The ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and one of the men vying to be the next chair of the powerful panel when Republicans take over the House next year, Barton laid out his plan for, essentially, undoing most of what President Obama and Democrats accomplished in the past two years. He laid out the central fronts: the battle to repeal what he calls Obamacare, the fight against the EPA, backing the growing insurgency opposed to net neutrality regulations, taking on "environmental radicalism" and -- of course -- defending the "traditional, incandescent light bulb" against government regulators who want to replace it with what Barton called "the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones."

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Joyce Kaufman, the south Florida talk-radio host and new incoming chief of staff for Rep.-elect Allen West (R-FL) has made an auspicious debut in her staff work: Calling outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "garbage."

As The Hill reports:

Joyce Kaufman, the incoming chief of staff to Rep.-elect Allen West (R-Fla.), said: "Over these months I have been blessed to form very wonderful relationships with the West family. I looked at this family and [told] myself, 'How do you not fight and put them up on the pedestal when we've got this garbage up on the pedestal now, people like Nancy Pelosi?'"

Kaufman, a conservative South Florida radio personality, made the comments on her show Tuesday.

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