TPM News

Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has just officially announced that he is running for the Senate seat formerly held by the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd.

Manchin is seemingly the strongest possible Democratic candidate, in a state that has been trending Republican at the federal level for some time. In both the 2004 and 2008 elections, Manchin won his gubernatorial races with 64% of the vote, while George W. Bush and John McCain carried the state by 56%-43% margins. A Rasmussen poll from a week and a half ago gave Manchin an initial lead of 53%-39% over a potential Republican candidate, Rep. Shelly Moore Capito.

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A contractor working on the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded testified yesterday that the day before the explosion, BP had pumped an unusual chemical mixture into the well -- a mixture that later rained down on the rig like "snot."

Leo Lindner, a drilling fluid specialist for M-I Swaco, told the panel investigating the causes of the explosion that BP decided to mix two chemicals the company had a surplus of -- two chemicals that aren't usually mixed -- and pump them into the well to flush out the drilling mud.

"It's not something we've ever done before," he said.

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West Virginia has passed legislation to hold a special election this November to replace the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, with Dems and Republicans compromising on key provisions. Dem Gov. Joe Manchin, a potential candidate in that same election, signed it into law Monday night.

The special election law, designed to fix the state's highly ambiguous pre-existing statute, provides for a primary this August 28, with the general election being held at the regular time this coming November. A two-thirds majority was needed in order to have the law take effect immediately, a requirement that briefly delayed the bill. As the Charleston Daily Mail reports, a key compromise for Republican support involved allowing candidates who have already filed for election this year to simultaneously run for the Senate seat -- clearing the way for GOP Rep. Shelly Moore Capito to run for both the Senate seat and her House seat if she so chooses.

A Rasmussen poll from a week and a half ago gave Manchin an initial lead over Capito of 53%-39%. Manchin has a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. ET today, at which he will announce whether or not he will run.

Long story short: It's starting to become clear that some conservative groups think that if Muslims are able to worship on American soil, the terrorists have won.

In big cities and small rural communities, from New York to Tennessee to California, the right-wing fear machine is spinning up to take on the construction of mosques and Muslim community centers. In each case, the argument is essentially the same, when the hedging is peeled away: you don't necessarily have to exercise your freedom of religion in the privacy of your own home, but hey, you can't do it in public here either.

July is proving to be the month where the tea party movement is finally coming to grips with -- and rebuking -- some of its more racist elements, a move that many observers would say is a long time coming. But at the same time, plans to build an Islamic community center near the Ground Zero site in New York City has brought to the surface a different kind of bigotry among some conservatives -- namely, the idea that if Muslims are allowed to worship where they want, terrorist violence will spread across the country.

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Dems To Vote On Jobless Benefits With WV's Goodwin Sworn In Senate Democrats are set to vote on an extension of unemployment benefits today, following the swearing-in of Sen.-designate Carte Goodwin (D-WV). The Associated Press reports: "Democrats have stripped the unemployment insurance measure down to the bare essentials for Tuesday's vote, which is a do-over of a tally taken late last month. With West Virginia Democrat Carte Goodwin poised to claim the seat of the late Robert Byrd, two Republicans will be needed to vault the measure over the filibuster hurdle. Maine GOP moderates Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are expected to provide the key votes to create a filibuster-breaking tally on a key procedural test."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:45 a.m. ET, and meet at 10:15 a.m. ET with senior advisers. At 11 a.m. ET, he will hold a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron. He will host a working lunch at 12:20 p.m. ET with Prime Minister Cameron and Vice President Biden. Obama and Cameron will hold a joint press conference at 2 p.m. ET.

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Voters are headed to the polls today in Georgia, for the first round of the Republican primary for governor, to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue. No candidate is expected to reach the 50% needed to avoid a runoff -- but there has been some last-minute momentum for former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who is endorsed by none other than Sarah Palin, and who could end up coming in a strong first place.

The most recent polls from Magellan Strategies, Mason-Dixon, Insider Advantage and Rasmussen all have Handel on top, with her support ranging from the mid-20s to the high 30s (though the latter could possibly be an outlier).

Handel has tacked noticeably right in this race, going from supporting domestic partnerships and even once joining the pro-gay rights Log Cabin Republicans to now favoring a ban on gay adoption. Handel could potentially also have been boosted a bit when she received Palin's endorsement.

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1||July 12, 2010: First Lady Michelle Obama walks along the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida, with, from left, Dan Rowe, of the Bay County Tourist Development Council, Panama City Beach Mayor Gayle Oberstand, and Carol Browner, assistant to the President for energy and climate change.

Here's more from summer with the Obamas...||Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton&&

2||July 4: President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama pretend to march to music in the Blue Room of the White House before delivering remarks to military families during a Fourth of July celebration.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

3||July 13: Obama talks with Jack Lew on the Colonnade of the White House, after he announced Lew's nomination to replace Peter Orszag as director of the Office of Management and Budget. At left, Bo Obama waits for the President inside the doorway of the Outer Oval Office.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

4||July 2: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) buckles up aboard Air Force One, as he chats with the President en route to West Virginia for Sen. Robert Byrd's memorial service.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

5||July 1: Vice President Joe Biden, Obama, Reid, and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel walk along the South Lawn drive of the White House, following a meeting in the Oval Office.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

6||July 2: Obama greets members of the Byrd family at the West Virginia State Capitol in Charleston, West Virginia. The President and Vice President attended the memorial service for Sen. Byrd, who died on June 28.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

7||July 4: The President delivers remarks to military service personnel and their families during the Fourth of July celebration at the White House.||Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson&&

8||July 12: Cub Scout Raphael Cash from Bowie, Maryland, shakes hand with the President prior to a meeting with a group of Boy Scouts of America youth members and executive leaders in the Oval Office.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

9||July 7: Michelle Obama leaves the Treasury Department following her 20th agency visit to thank employees for their public service. ||Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy&&

10||July 6: Obama shoots baskets on the White House basketball court with Justin Friedlander and his family. Justin, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in March 2009, has launched an initiative called "Justin's Quest," in which he will shoot a basketball 40,000 times, once for each person diagnosed with a primary brain tumor each year in the United States.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

11||July 2: The President arrives at Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia, along with Vice President Biden, left, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Reid, for Sen. Byrd's memorial service.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

12||July 3: Residents greet the President and First Lady upon their arrival at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. ||Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy&&

13||July 2: Obama talks with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner aboard Air Force One en route to Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

14||July 4: The Obamas watch the fireworks over the National Mall from the roof of the White House.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

15||July 7: The President greets departing Associate Counsel to the President Alison J. "Ali" Nathan, left, Meg Satterthwaite, and their twin sons Oliver and Nathan, in the Outer Oval Office.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

16||July 8: Obama walks with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon from Air Force One to the nearby Smith Electric Vehicles at the Kansas City International Airport in Kansas City, Missouri.||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

17||July 9: The President talks on the phone with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas aboard Air Force One. ||Official White House Photo by Pete Souza&&

Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court is pretty close to a done deal. Tuesday morning the Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to send her to the full Senate for an up-or-down vote that is unlikely to have much in the way of political intrigue. But the political industrial complex that is conservative opposition to any Democrat's nominee still believes there's a job to be done, and the Judicial Crisis Network has released a survey showing voters in Arkansas, Wisconsin and Nebraksa oppose Kagan's nomination.

JCN operatives say this survey suggests voters will "bring their opposition to Kagan into the voting booth" this fall.

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Last week's NAACP-fueled debate about racism in the tea party movement appears to have led to some fresh introspection among tea partiers. On July 31, several tea party groups will come together in Philadelphia for a "Uni-Tea Rally" featuring a host of African-American conservative voices. Though it wasn't planned as a response to the NAACP flap, those behind it are happy to take on repairing the damage done to tea party outreach by Mark Williams recently.

Teri Adams, an organizer of the event, told me this afternoon that tea partiers have been planning the Philly rally for months, hoping to broaden the reach of the tea party movement. Though that's already a potentially tough job, Adams told me it's tougher now after Tea Party Express' Mark Williams posted an anti-NAACP diatribe to his blog that many have labeled racist.

"He made it tougher," Adams told me today. "[The blog post] was a satire and he probably doesn't mean what he said, but if we're trying to reach out to a particular group of people we probably don't want to be mocking them."

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