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CNN and other news outlets are reporting that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), who lead a group of pro-life Democrats in demanding certain abortion restrictions surrounding the health care reform bill, will announce today that he is retiring from the House.

Stupak secured a deal from the White House for President Obama to sign an executive order reaffirming that the health care reform law would not include federal funding for abortion. Stupak had threatened to veto the bill, along with what he said were a dozen of his colleagues.

He has drawn the ire of pro-choice Democrats and anti-health care conservatives for his role in the debate. One Tea Party group lead by Republican operatives, the Tea Party Express, had planned a rally against him this weekend and has been running ads in his district.

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It seems organized labor is no longer content to leave its political fortunes in the hands of its traditional ally, the Democratic Party. The SEIU announced today that the it's launching its own political party in North Carolina, and it plans to to field candidates on the ballot this fall.

Union officials have threatened to take on Democrats who voted against health care reform in the past, but the usual tactic has been to endorse a Democratic primary challenger. But in North Carolina -- home to several Democratic Representatives who voted against the bill -- the SEIU says it will field candidates in the general election as part of what the what the group is calling the North Carolina First party.

"Families need a better choice, a better party - not just for health care, but for job creation and keeping bankers and corporations in check," party spokesperson Chuck Stone said in a statement.

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The Crist and Rubio campaigns continued to trade barbs in the Republican Senate primary in Florida today -- specifically, over the continued gossip that Crist might bail on the primary and run as an independent.

"To put these rumors to rest once and for all, as we have said countless times before, Governor Crist is running for the United States Senate as a Republican," said Crist campaign manager Eric Eikenberg, in a statement put out by the Crist campaign. "He will not run as an Independent or as a No Party Affiliation."

Eikenberg also added that this statement should "completely and utterly put to rest any of the unfounded rumors coming from the Rubio campaign that Governor Crist would run as anything other than the Republican that he is."

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Gregory Giusti of San Francisco allegedly called Speaker Nancy Pelosi at least 48 times over a seven week period and in one voicemail left at her Washington home warned,"If you like your home in [Northern California], don't vote for the healthcare bill," according to an affidavit supporting the criminal complaint unsealed today.

Giusti, 48, is charged with making harassing and threatening telephone calls to a government official. During an initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco today Giusti wept but did not make any remarks.

Pelosi told agents that in one case she picked up the phone in her Washington home and Giusti "used extremely vulgar and crude language and threatened her, stating 'when you go back to California you won't have a home to go back to,'" the complaint alleges.

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North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer has called upon Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to resign -- an event that is believed to be the first time a state GOP chair (and first RNC member) has openly called for Steele to quit.

"Recent events, regardless of who is to blame, have made it difficult if not impossible for you to lead the party in the direction that it needs to go," Fetzer wrote in a letter to Steele. "I believe that the best service you can render to your party at this critical juncture is to graciously step aside and allow the party to move on from this current quagmire."

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April 8, 2010: Obama visits Prague to sign the New START treaty with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a pact hailed as the biggest nuclear arms reduction treaty in a generation.

Obama shares his dream of a nuke free world before a spirited crowd in Prague.

Newscom/Dpa Photo




Obama, with Medvedev (left) and Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus at the Prague Castle.

Newscom/Sipa Press




Obama and Medvedev sign the treaty.

Newscom/Sipa Press




Newscom/Zumawire




Obama and Medvedev at a post-signing news conference at Prague Castle.

Newscom/Zumawire




Reporters watch Obama on Television.

Newscom/Sipa Press

First things first: Indiana Democrats are not thinking about 2012, according to state party chair Dan Parker -- they've got enough on their plate with the 2010 elections just few months away. But when I asked him about D.C. rumors that retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (D) is gearing up for a gubernatorial bid in two years, Parker wasn't afraid to let his mind drift a bit past November.

"A lot of folks in the party would love to see Evan back," Parker told me.

Parker said that Bayh would be welcome back to the campaign trail in Indiana, despite his sudden decision to drop his reelection bid this year, which left state Democrats high and dry in a tough year.

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TPMmuckraker's favorite voter-suppression guru, Hans Von Spakovsky, is back in the saddle.

As you might remember, Spakovsky, a northern Virginia resident, was appointed earlier this year to a seat on the three-member Fairfax County Board of Elections, after a stint as a consultant to the US Commission on Civil Rights. And this week, Spakovsky and the board's other Republican member sparked outrage by voting to direct the BoE registrar to not distribute voter registration forms in languages other than English.*

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Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA) is looking to get still more mileage out of the party-switch of his long-time nemesis, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) -- with a new money-bomb fundraiser to commemorate the anniversary of Specter's switch from the Republicans to the Democrats.

Toomey's campaign has announced the online fundraising event for April 28, a year to the day since Specter crossed the aisle. The campaign has set a goal of reaching $280,000, in honor of the April 28 date.The TPM Poll Average currently gives Toomey a lead over Specter of 43.1%-39.6%.

Specter was first elected to the Senate as a Republican in 1980. As a moderate Republican, he was challenged from the right for the GOP nomination in 2004 by then-Rep. Pat Toomey, and won by only a 51%-49% margin. Specter's support among Republicans plummeted in 2009, after he provided a crucial vote to pass President Obama's stimulus package, and he subsequently switched parties when polls showed he would lose a primary rematch against Toomey.

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