TPM News

How is it that former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, the GOP's establishment-backed candidate for Senate in California, has quickly shot into the lead in the Republican primary? After having been down by double-digits against former Rep. Tom Campbell, she's now ahead by an even bigger double-digit margin, according to a pair of recent polls. The answer appears to be mainly money and a well-timed television ad campaign going into the home stretch of the June 8 primary -- along with a big push by conservatives against Campbell.

As recently as last week, a Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll gave Campbell a lead of 37%-22% over Fiorina in the GOP primary. But now, SurveyUSA gives Fiorina an even bigger lead of 46%-23%, and Public Policy Polling (D) similarly has her ahead of Campbell by 41%-21%. (The other candidate, Tea Party-backed state Rep. Chuck DeVore, has consistently polled in third.) The TPM Poll Average gives Fiorina a sudden lead with 29.1%, Campbell 27.0%, and DeVore 15.9%, after Campbell had led in polling for this primary all year.

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Republicans have been launching a full-court press to trumpet the claim by Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) that the White House offered him a job in exchange for dropping out of the Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate, in an effort to clear the field for its favored candidate, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). One GOP lawmaker has called for a criminal probe, alleging possible illegal conduct. But several experts tell TPMmuckraker this is much ado about nothing.

Last month, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) urged the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to look into Sestak's claim, which Issa says amounts to an accusation of a bribe. The White House has said that nothing inappropriate happened. And on Friday, reports Politico, DOJ responded by denying the request.

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Meet Vaughn Ward. He's running in today's Republican primary in Idaho's 1st Congressional District. He's an Iraq War veteran. A former CIA operations officer. A fourth-generation Idaho native. Heck, Sarah Palin supports him.

And after this spring's disastrous, gaffe-filled primary campaign -- during which Ward declared that Puerto Rico was a country, apparently plagiarized fellow candidates and Barack Obama, campaigned on cutting federal spending while his wife's gig at Fannie Mae allowed Ward to go without an income, and re-released a six-month-old endorsement -- Ward may be able to add another title to his resume: Worst candidate ever.

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South Carolina blogger and political consultant Will Folks is feeling embattled one day after going public with the claim of an "inappropriate physical relationship" with gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley -- to the point where he is now consulting a lawyer for advice on how to "take some steps to protect the credibility of my website and my reputation," he told TPMmuckraker in a phone interview.

"I anticipated a denial from her, but I never anticipated a full fledged character assassination," said Folks.

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Senate hopeful Joe Sestak joined Senate Democrats at their weekly caucus lunch today, where he was grilled by CNN producer Ted Barrett about his claim that the White House once offered him a job to get him out of the Pennsylvania primary. Sestak bobbed and weaved, and ultimately got away without answering, but if there's any indication that the story isn't going away--or that the dam is about to break--this was it.

"The question is what job was offered to you and by whom? Because David Axelrod said last night that it would be illegal if you were offered a job. So who offered you the job?" asked Barrett, who towers over Sestak by a foot or more.

"I have nothing to say on the matter. I've answered," Sestak offered.

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Another new survey of California, this time from Public Policy Polling (D), shows former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina suddenly shooting to the top of the Republican primary for Senate.

The numbers: Fiorina 41%, former Rep. Tom Campbell 21%, and state Rep. Chuck DeVore 16%. The survey of likely GOP primary voters has a ±4.8% margin of error. The TPM Poll Average gives Fiorina a sudden lead with 29.1%, Campbell 27.0%, and DeVore 15.9%, after Campbell had led in polling for this primary all year.

PPP also has former eBay CEO Meg Whitman posting a very strong lead in the GOP gubernatorial primary over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner: Whitman 51%, Poizner 26%. The TPM Poll Average gives Whitman a lead of 42.8%-31.0%.

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Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) gave us a hint earlier today on why the Democrats are trying to move quickly to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.

The Senator said that it would be "a lot harder" to repeal the Clinton-era law down the line if Democrats suffer losses during the election. Republicans have already begun lining up to stop the repeal, and the math for passing the measure gets more tricky with each Senate Democrat that is unseated in November.

Reporting by Brian Beutler

An inspector general report on the Lake Charles, LA, office of the Minerals Management Service found that inspectors accepted a free trip to the 2005 Peach Bowl paid for by an oil company.

The report (.pdf), released today in response to the Gulf Coast oil spill but not directly connected to it, also found "numerous instances of pornography and other inappropriate material on the e-mail accounts of 13 employees, six of whom have resigned. We specifically discovered 314 instances where the seven remaining employees received or forwarded pornographic images and links to Internet websites containing pornographic videos to other federal employees and individuals outside of the office using their government e-mail accounts."

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