TPM News

One month after capturing the Republican nod to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina (R) is closing in on her rival. A new Field Poll of 1,390 registered California voters conducted from June 22 through July 5 shows Boxer at 47 and Fiorina at 44.

The news comes as Vice President Joe Biden prepares to headline a fundraiser for Boxer tonight in swanky Atherton near Palo Alto.

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In case you're worried about politics influencing President Obama's Justice Deparment, the federal lawsuit against Arizona's controversial immigration law should set your mind at rest. In the days since the lawsuit was announced, it's become clear that this makes things a whole lot tougher for Arizona Democrats running for office this year. If the White House political operation was hoping to help its political allies out west, this most definitely would not be the way to do it.

"[The lawsuit] puts Democrats between a rock and hard spot," Earl de Berge of the Rocky Mountain Poll, which does extensive research on Arizona politics, told me. De Berge said that the lawsuit gives Republicans more cause to call them "weak on immigration," a brush they've been painted with for months during the debate over Arizona's infamous 1070 immigration law.

"One of the things that's interesting about this move from the Justice Department is that some of the steam was removed from the debate when [1070] was passed," de Berge said. He said that the lawsuit has reignited the immigration issue among conservatives after Democrats had begun to put it behind them in the wake of the law's passage. "From that standpoint, [the lawsuit] really gives a longer life for this issue to the Republicans," which is an advantage to them, de Berge said.

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The Florida Republican Party chair is out in public this week accusing the man who's currently the frontrunner for his party's gubernatorial nomination of lying.

How on earth did we get here? You can thank Jim Greer.

Greer is facing six felony counts of grand theft, fraud and money laundering stemming from allegations that, as state party chair, he secretly awarded a party contract to his own shell company and funneled 10 percent of the party's donations to the firm.

And now Greer's scandalous past tenure as state GOP chair -- leading up to his recent arrest -- is having a big effect on the state's highest-profile primary, the gubernatorial fight between former Columbia Health CEO Rick Scott and state Attorney General Bill McCollum. And its pitting party leaders against each other in some uncomfortable infighting.

In a tough web video posted to his campaign website Wednesday, Scott tied McCollum to Greer and suggested McCollum dragged his feet on a state investigation in an attempt to bail out his friend Greer (who was forced to resign from the chairmanship of the state GOP amidst a spending scandal in January. Later came the arrest and fraud charges.)

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Pencil? Check. Horn-rimmed glasses? Check. History textbook generously amended to give due credit to religious figures in American history?

Knew we forgot something...

As we'd reported, Glenn Beck kicked off his "Beck University" online lecture series last night, and the first topic was "Faith 101." We signed up for the $9.95/month "university." Last night's class was subtitled "Black-Robed Regiment," and "Professor" and right-wing historian David Barton talked for half an hour about happier times in American history, when clergy were a welcome and influential part of American politics.

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It was only a matter of time before Republican candidates took a hard look at Barack Obama's 2008 campaign strategy and decided to make it their own. A few have dabbled in Obama-like Web sites, campaign texting and classifying t-shirts as contributions, but it's billionaire Meg Whitman who is trying to copy piece after piece of the 2008 campaign and make the Obama Playbook her own.

Whitman, a former eBay executive, is pulling out all the fancy "change" messages -- and campaign tactics -- as she battles Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) for the governor's mansion. Whether this strategy can work in a state that's stayed solid blue for presidential elections -- but which has twice elected Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- is a very open question. But the race is all tied up, according to a new poll out yesterday.

The Democratic take on Whitman being a 2010 version of Barack Obama? "In her dreams," they say. And of course, much of Obama's success had to do with the candidate's own popularity and appeal. Obama was a young, African-American senator who represented generational change and used technology to mass finance much of his campaign. Whitman is a middle-aged former tech CEO who's already self-financed her campaign to the tune of almost $100 million. But plenty of the building blocks and strategies of the Obama '08 effort can be copied. And Whitman seems to be trying to duplicate pretty much all of them.

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Facing reporters for the first time in weeks on Wednesday, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) denied a key element in the controversy surrounding a former legislative aide who remained on Vitter's staff after pleading guilty to attacking his girlfriend with a knife in 2008. But records reviewed by TPM show clearly that Vitter's claim is false.

Brent Furer pled guilty in 2008 to attacking his girlfriend with a knife, but was nonetheless retained in Vitter's DC legislative office in the role of legislative assistant for women's issues until the details of Furer's crime were publicized in late June. He subsequently resigned. In Louisiana today, Vitter categorically denied that Furer worked on women's issues in any way. But numerous records and published accounts prove otherwise.

Several DC-based information services publish detailed listings of staff assignments and contact information for Capitol Hill offices. And multiple directories, both online and in hard copy, name Furer as Vitter's legislative assistant on women's issues.

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The Nevada GOP still seems to be getting its act together in the Senate race -- even misspelling the name of their own candidate, Sharron Angle, on their website.

On the state party's candidates page, Angle is listed as "Sharon Angle."

The state GOP is not alone among Angle supporters in getting this wrong. Earlier today, we posted on how a conservative group ran an ad defending Angle against the accusation that she wanted to phase out Social Security. The ad had two problems. First, Angle did want to phase out Social Security. And second, the ad misspelled her first name as "Sharon" -- despite the use of photos of Angle's own campaign signs that use the correct spelling "Sharron."

To solve its wrenching budget issues, some in California have pushed for the idea of total legalization of pot, with the idea being that the state would make money twice: taxation and reduced enforcement costs.

California voters will go to the polls this November to vote on some form of legalization, making the economics particularly important.

A new study by the RAND foundation (via Bill Bishop) looks at exactly this issue. What's their verdict?

Here's their summary findings:

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The last three months were a busy fundraising quarter in MN-06, the GOP-leaning district that is home to none other than the infamous Rep. Michele Bachmann. A whole lot of money went towards the effort to defeat her -- and a whole lot more money went to re-elect her, too.

State Sen. Tarryl Clark, Bachmann's Democratic opponent, raised $910,000 for the quarter, with a total of $2.1 million raised for the race so far. On the other hand, Bachmann raised $1.7 million for the quarter, with a total haul of $4.1 million for the cycle. Cash on hand figures were not immediately available.

Bachmann held a high-profile rally and fundraiser back in April, starring none other than Sarah Palin. The district voted 53%-45% for John McCain in 2008, but Bachmann won by only 46%-43% due to her habit of making controversial remarks. Since then, she's emerged as one of the biggest political stars of the Tea Party Movement -- and it's certainly not hurting her cash flow.