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In what should have been a sleepy recess week for the House of Representatives, Rep. Parker Griffith dropped a bombshell - he was leaving the Democratic party to join the Republicans.

The GOP was thrilled to add to their ranks and ready to use it as proof, they say, that Democrats could lose control of the House in 2010.

The Democrats were sad to lose a member but not really missing his vote since Griffith (AL) wasn't with them on health care or other broad party agenda items and was a frequent Obama critic.

The facts on the ground suggest it's certainly not going to be smooth sailing to reelection from a new party.

National Republicans were elated but the conservative, anti-establishment movement within the party cast a skeptical eye toward Griffith.

The two Republican candidates who were vying to challenge him as an incumbent now plan to primary him faster than you can say Dede Scozzafava.

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The Florida Republican Party organization is now in the midst of a civil war, with the latest shoe to drop being that embattled party chairman Jim Greer has called for a special executive committee meeting, in response to a request that he be ousted as chairman -- but at the same time, he's telling his enemies that the motion itself isn't allowed under the party rules.

Greer, an ally of moderate Gov. Charlie Crist, has come under fire by intra-party critics who accuse him of mismanaging the state GOP's finances. For his part, Greer is putting the blame for this controversy on allies of former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, the more conservative challenger against Crist in the Senate primary. And Greer has accused these critics of "slander," "libel," and even "treason" against the Republican Party!

Now Greer has sent out his new letter (available after the jump) calling the meeting, but declaring its raison d'etre of ousting him to be against the party's rules. "Chairman Greer is agreeing to call the special meeting in conjunction with the already-scheduled annual meeting to discuss a variety of issues the board has expressed interest in discussing -- one of which is to rescind his election as Chairman," Florida GOP press secretary Katie Gordon Betta explained to us. "By this letter, the Chairman is pro-actively informing the members that one of their intended motions is not permitted under party rules, in order to avoid confusion at the meeting in January."

Yes, this letter should probably help to avoid confusion, and will clear a lot of things up. But that's not all. Crist has also lost the support of some key GOP Congressmen in his Senate bid -- but nobody is exactly sure why.

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Earlier today I asked the office of Rep. Bobby Bright (D-AL), now the only remaining conservative Democrat from a McCain district in Alabama, whether he could end up following in the footsteps of Rep. Parker Griffith and leaving the Democratic Party -- and I received a very inconclusive answer.

Bright has a lot in common with Griffith, who announced his party switch earlier today: Both are freshmen from districts that voted heavily for John McCain in 2008; they each won their races very narrowly; and both have voted against the big-ticket items of the Democratic agenda this year. So I asked what Bright's thoughts were on Griffith, whether he was committed to staying with the Democrats, and what his overall concerns might be about the political situation in Congress.

His spokesman just sent me back this statement from the Congressman: "In this season of great promise, we should focus on that which draws us together: faith, family, and service. These are not partisan values and as I have said many times, we are stronger as people, communities, and as a nation when we seek common ground rather than focusing on what divides us. I hope, for a few days at least, we can put politics aside and focus on the true joys of the Christmas season."

Think Progress makes a great catch on C-SPAN this morning: Someone calls in while Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) is answering the lines, practically in tears because Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) missed this morning's procedural vote on health care.

He was apparently concerned that -- after following Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) instructions to pray that someone couldn't make a manager's amendment vote Sunday night -- his prayers for Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) to die struck the wrong senator.

"Our small tea bag group here in Waycross, we got our vigil together and took Dr. Coburn's instructions and prayed real hard that Sen. Byrd would either die or couldn't show up at the vote the other night," the caller said.

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ACORN has been investigated 46 times by federal, state, and local agencies as of October 2009, and 11 of those probes are still pending, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service released today. But the report finds no cases in which ACORN violated the terms of federal funding in the last five years.

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Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-CT) campaign has released an internal poll, saying that the endangered incumbent's chances for re-election in 2010 aren't so bad as people think.

The poll, conducted by the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, has Dodd trailing Republican former Rep. Rob Simmons by 51%-46%, and in a 46%-46% tie with former Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon. That might sound unimpressive for an incumbent, but consider that other recent polls have Dodd behind Simmons by around ten points. Then again, this is an internal poll that the campaign chose to release, so the obvious caveats apply.

"Once voters hear both positive and negative information about all three candidates, Dodd gains ground and leads McMahon by 5 points, 50 to 45 percent, and is in a statistical dead heat with Simmons, 49 to 48 percent," the polling memo says, though it's not immediately clear just what all of these pieces of information were. "Furthermore, voters respond positively to Dodd's work in the Senate, particularly on health care reform, the passage of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, and Dodd's economic plan to help small businesses and create jobs."

With the public option dead, progressives are looking for something else to get out of negotiations and moving up the list is the possibility of speeding up implementation.

When the two chambers meet in conference, House leaders will have a prioritized package of goodies in mind, and they'll be pushing hard for them. On the list will likely be familiar issues like financing--should wealthy Americans pay for reform, or should a tax on high-end health insurance policies cover the cost, or should it be a mix of the two?

But a separate issue is beginning to come into focus.

"I think one other one, is starting date," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) told reporters today.

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