TPM News

A new PPP (D) survey (PDF) of the New Hampshire Senate race shows Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes trailing both of his most likely Republican opponents -- but just barely. The survey found Republican Kelly Ayotte leading Hodes 45%-42% and Republican Bill Binnie ahead of Hodes 46%-41%.

The last PPP poll of the race -- from April -- showed Ayotte with a seven-point lead over Hodes, and Binnie with a five-point lead.

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Democrats are increasingly nervous that Rep. Charlie Rangel's ethics investigation will bleed over into the November elections as Rangel negotiates behind the scenes for a last-minute settlement.

The Associated Press is reporting that Rangel (D-NY) former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, is trying to settle his case in advance of Thursday's open hearing. That would mean he would have to agree he committed some ethical misconduct, the AP reported with citations to "people familiar with the situation."

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The Tea Party Express promised to soldier on in the wake of the Mark Williams saga, and today it made good on the pledge. For the first time since Williams -- a former chairman and spokesperson for the group -- resigned from the Tea Party Express, the TPE has endorsed a candidate in a Republican primary. The beneficiary of the TPE's return to the campaign trail? Christine O'Donnell, the tea party-style conservative challenging Rep. Mike Castle for the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware.

As has so often been the case with TPE-endorsed candidates this year, the group says Castle must be defeated because he's not conservative enough.

"We long ago announced our intention to hold Mike Castle accountable for his failed record in Congress, and now we have an excellent shot to make sure he is defeated by a solid conservative candidate," TPE coordinator Joe Wierzbicki said in a statement.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Christine O'Donnell: Anti-Masturbation Crusader. Witchcraft Dabbler. Republican Senate Nominee.]

For her part, O'Donnell seemed to welcome the endorsement from the group other tea partiers love to hate.

"This endorsement may prove to be a pivot point in the campaign," O'Donnell's campaign says on its website. A game changer perhaps."

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Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appeared last night on Greta Van Susteren's show, elaborating on his opposition to the building of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero in New York City. During his appearance, Gingrich ended up making it clear that he doesn't oppose mosques in all of New York -- just in this particular spot.

"You know, there are over a hundred mosques in New York City. I favor religious freedom," said Gingrich. "I'm quite happy if they'd come in and said, 'We want to build a community center near Central Park, we'd like to build a community center near Columbia University.' But they didn't. They said right at the edge of a place where, let's be clear, thousands of Americans were killed in an attack by radical Islamists."

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The former head of a military contractor is on trial in Long Island for fraud, having allegedly used company funds to buy porn for his son, a burial plot for his mother, prostitutes for his employees and a ruby-encrusted American flag belt buckle worth $100,000.

David H. Brooks, the founder and former chief of body armor manufacturer DHB, is facing charges of fraud, insider trading and using millions of dollars in corporate cash to fund, as the New York Times puts it, "personal extravagance."

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House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today that he is "very disappointed" that senators struck settlement funds for African-American farmers who faced discrimination from a supplemental spending bill his chamber passed earlier this year.

The funds, known at the Pigford II settlement, are intended to compensate farmers for long-standing racial discrimination they faced from USDA that, in many cases, resulted in the loss of their farms. The settlement achieved a level of publicity last week after some conservatives attempted to use the firing of Shirley Sherrod to claim that the settlement procedures had led to fraud.

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The National Republican Senatorial Committee is bringing in extra help for Republican nominee Sharron Angle in the Nevada Senate race, with press operative Brian Jones set to advise Angle in her race, as well as Carly Fiorina in California and the to-be-determined GOP nominee in Washington state.

As Jonathan Martin writes: "Jones is a seasoned press hand. In the 2008 cycle, he was initially the communications director for John McCain's presidential campaign, where he worked closely with fellow top aides Terry Nelson and Rob Jesmer - both now top NRSC officials. Jones also worked on President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign."

The TPM Poll Average has Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid leading Angle by 44.0%-43.1%, despite Reid's own unpopularity and the bad economy. This comes largely as a result of Angle's own missteps, her pattern of avoiding the press, and Reid's attacks on her right-wing positions.

House Minority Leader John Boehner has offered specifics about his recent call for a moratorium on new federal regulations, and TPM's gotten a look at just what kinds of regulations -- other than the obvious ones implementing health care and Wall Street reforms -- Boehner's plan would block.

Boehner last week endorsed the REINS Act, sponsored by Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), saying at his weekly press conference that "any rulemaking where the estimated cost to Americans would exceed $100 million," should not go into effect "without Congress voting on it first." That's short of the full moratorium Boehner initially called for, but could nonetheless be a recipe for gridlock and ugly politics. That standard in the act would ensnare scores of new regulations every year, including both broadly popular, time-sensitive ones, and others over which remain substantial partisan disagreement.

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Stephen Colbert said last night that Shirley Sherrod saying she debated whether to help a white farmer save his farm "is offensive. People who support racial discrimination have no place in government -- until Rand Paul is elected."

When he realized that the video of Sherrod's comments were taken out of context, Colbert was unfazed: "You say potato, I say black racists are going to take away our potah-tos."

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