TPM News

The Alabama Democratic Party is drafting a letter to Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL) threatening legal action if he does not delete voter data the Dems say was improperly accessed by Griffith operatives on the eve of his party switch.

Jim Spearman, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, tells TPMmuckraker he plans to send the letter to Griffith and Main Street Strategies, the consulting firm accused of downloading the confidential information, today.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will schedule a formal Senate roll call vote on the nomination of Erroll Southers to be administrator of the Transportation Security Administration as soon as Congress returns from break.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley told TPMDC that Reid will file a cloture motion as soon as the Senate reconvenes the week of Jan. 19. He said it's a necessary step to overcome Sen. Jim DeMint's hold on the nomination.

"In light of recent incidents TSA deserves to have its leadership in place," Manley said. "It is long past time for Senator DeMint to stop trying to score cheap political points."

Confirmations rarely are subject to roll call votes - several passed the Senate by unanimous consent the day they adjourned.

Democrats are furious that DeMint (R-SC) blocked the confirmation over a question of whether Southers would allow collective bargaining for TSA screeners. They believe that if Democrats had delayed a national security nominee under a Republican president, their party would be excoriated.

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Political strategist Karl Rove, a veteran of President George W. Bush's White House, has split from his wife of 24 years.

Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino sent a statement on behalf of the Rove family.

Karl Rove and his wife, Darby, were granted a divorce last week.

The couple came to the decision mutually and amicably, and they maintain a close relationship and a strong friendship. There will be no further comment and the family requests that its privacy be respected.

Politico has more details here.

A new Rasmussen poll of Nebraska finds that Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson's vote on the health care bill has put him in a tough spot in his deep-red state. In a test poll for his re-election campaign -- which won't happen until 2012 -- Nelson trails Republican Gov. Dave Heineman by a two-to-one margin.

The numbers: Heineman 61%, Nelson 30%, and 4% "other." From the pollster's analysis: "Nelson's health care vote is clearly dragging his numbers down. Just 17% of Nebraska voters approve of the deal their senator made on Medicaid in exchange for his vote in support of the plan. Overall, 64% oppose the health care legislation, including 53% who are strongly opposed. In Nebraska, opposition is even stronger than it is nationally."

If Nelson were to now block the health care deal, though, he would still trail: Heineman 47%, Nelson 37%, plus 10% "other." In this case, Heineman would lose about a quarter of his voters to the Nelson or undecided column. But on the other hand, Nelson would also lose votes from the left, with some Democratic voters now wanting a third-party option.

The silver lining for Nelson, in the middle of all this controversy, is that he won't be on the ballot again until 2012. At that point, the politics of the health care debate will have changed in some fashion, and things could potentially improve for him -- they certainly can't get much worse.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is running a new health care ad in Wisconsin pressuring Sen. Russ Feingold to fight President Obama on the public option.

PCCC members identified Feingold (D-WI) as a senator they would target to oppose the final health care compromise unless it includes a public option.

The new ad, which you can watch after the jump, says Feingold has the power to "fulfill" Obama's public option promise. The release was timed to coincide with an email to members saying the progressive senator could be a "hero" on improving the health care bill.

The ad, running in Madison, Green Bay, and Milwaukee, says "any final health care bill without a public option is not change we can believe in."

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Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) responded to Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) comments earlier that the U.S. should profile Muslims to bolster national security, saying that "I live in a part of the country where white supremacists happen to be terrorists. If we're going to look at bad people, let's look at all bad people and not target a specific group of people."

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Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) celebrity status as a national conservative icon is just getting bigger, with the Congresswoman set to travel to Ohio in February, where she will speak to the Hamilton County (Cincinnati) Republican Party.

Hamilton County GOP chairman Alex Triantafilou told the Star Tribune that he personally invited Bachmann because of her new rising stature, and because the county has an active Tea Party movement.

"For me, it's about looking to the future," said Triantafilou. "And we could look back and have some ... of the grand poobahs of the party showing up or we can have somebody that is emerging onto the national scene. And that's why we thought she would be exciting."

Bachmann may only be a second-term Congresswoman in the minority party, but make no mistake -- she's a huge hit among the grassroots right nationwide.

This is not Bachmann's first venture outside of Minnesota or the D.C. area. As the Minnesota Independent points out, it was at an event in Colorado this past August that Bachmann called upon conservative activists to "slit our wrists" and become blood brothers, in a pact to stop the Democrats' health care proposals.

The Democrats just missed out on recruiting a top-tier candidate to run against party-switching Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL), with Alabama's Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks set to announce today that he won't be running.

Sparks is currently running for governor, but had been urged by national Dems to switch to the House race after Griffith switched from being a Democrat to the Republicans.

As of right now, Griffith's greatest danger is in the Republican primary, where he'll face plenty of criticism for his past Democratic allegiances, donations to Democrats like Howard Dean and Harry Reid, and the accusations of his detractors that his switch was motivated by political necessity instead of principle.

Blue Dog Rep. Bobby Bright (D-AL) is unlikely to vote for the final health care bill despite House leadership's confidence they will earn support from fiscal conservatives.

Bright, in one of the state's reddest districts, said in a Kiwanis speech reported by the local paper he thinks both the House and Senate bills don't do enough to curb rising costs.

"After it comes back from conference committee, unless it significantly reduces the expense that I know it's going to add to our budget, I will not be able to support it," Bright said.

He restated his opposition to a public option and told Kiwanis attendees he was "proud" the Senate's version did not include one but said the Senate bill is still "entirely too expensive."

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