TPM News

In an appearance on MSNBC earlier today, Senior White House Adviser David Axelrod called the NY-23 special election -- in which a Democrat beat a Conservative Party candidate after the moderate Republican nominee dropped out and supported the Democrat in the wake of prominent Republicans defecting to the Conservative -- "a great referendum on national issues." Axelrod also downplayed the importance of big GOP wins in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections yesterday.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared on the Glenn Beck radio show today to promote her big protest event tomorrow -- in which she will bring "freedom fighters" directly into the halls of Congress to pressure members to vote against the Democrats' health care bill.

"This is really the 11th hour, when we're calling people to come to D.C. It's not inevitable that Speaker Pelosi's health care government takeover is going to pass," said Bachmann. "And that's why the number one thing people can do is actually come, see their member of Congress, look at them in the eyes -- especially with other freedom fighters in tow -- and let them know that the lessons of August they should not forget, at their peril."

She also said: "Don't bring your pitchforks -- bring your video cameras."

After weeks of waiting and wondering, leaders in both chambers of Congress have announced their intentions with respect to the public option. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rounding up the votes for a bill with a government insurance plan that will negotiate rates with providers. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is standing behind something similar--with the addition of a clause allowing states to opt out--and is trying to keep his caucus together in the face of unanimous Republican opposition. But what about the rest of reform?

Right now, it's impossible to compare what the Senate is trying to do with what the House is trying to do because Reid hasn't unveiled his bill yet. But though there will surely be some major differences, both proposals will contain some of the same underlying architecture.

The basic theme of health care reform is that insurance would be mandatory, subsidized and regulated. As is the case today, for the first many years after enactment, most people in the country would be insured by their employers--in fact, large and medium-sized businesses would be required to provide insurance for their employees. Uninsured people would either be roped into existing entitlement programs like Medicaid, or required to buy regulated insurance--typically through an "exchange," which, comprised of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of customers, would theoretically have the bargaining power needed to keep premiums down.

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Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK), whose endorsement of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 special election helped to give him a huge boost against moderate Republican nominee Dede Scozzafava, posted this note last night on her Facebook account, commenting on Hoffman's defeat by Democrat Bill Owens:

The race for New York's 23rd District is not over, just postponed until 2010. The issues of this election have always centered on the economy - on the need for fiscal restraint, smaller government, and policies that encourage jobs. In 2010, these issues will be even more crucial to the electorate. I commend Doug Hoffman and all the other under-dog candidates who have the courage to put themselves out there and run against the odds.

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With one year to go, the field of challengers to Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is becoming a crowded place. Seven Republicans have filed paperwork with the FEC, and a handful more have reportedly been meeting with the NRCC as national Republicans try to vet a competitive candidate.

Grayson, of "die quickly" and "K Street whore" fame, is a juicy target for Republicans, especially the relatively unknown who can make his comments an issue. Cue real estate developer Armando Gutierrez Jr., who has based his entire early campaign around defeating Grayson.

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A California Republican aiming to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) next year has gotten a boost from conservative Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).

DeMint announced last night his Senate Conservatives Fund was endorsing state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore over former Hewlett Packard chief Carly Fiorina. The group supports only "rock solid" conservatives, organizers told supporters on a conference call last night as election results came in.

DeVore "will work with me to shake things up," DeMint said, and "vote the right way ... stand up in our conference meetings and say, 'Folks this is wrong let's turn this thing around.'"

DeMint's fund already has endorsed Republican senate candidates Marco Rubio in Florida and Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania.

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Back in south Florida after a trip to Morocco, the high-profile attorney who has been sued for allegedly operating a fraud scheme out of his law office met with federal prosecutors last night and criminal charges are likely to come soon, the Broward-Palm Beach New Times reports.

In a suit filed Monday, the law firm of politically-connected Fort Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein [alleged]( that he set up a side business that sold phony legal settlements to outside investors with promises of guaranteed high returns.

There have been a flurry of developments in the Rothstein case in the last 24 hours, so we rounded up a few articles worth taking a look at:

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Ned Lamont, the Connecticut businessman who defeated Sen. Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Democratic primary only to lose the general election, has now announced the formation of a statewide exploratory committee.

Lamont's press release doesn't say exactly which statewide office he'll be seeking, but the language points towards a gubernatorial campaign, with its criticism of the current Republican Gov. Jodi Rell: "Like businesses, states thrive with strong executive leadership, and they fall behind with weak leadership. As measured by the loss of jobs, young people leaving our state, and the never-ending budget crisis, Connecticut's Chief Executive is simply not getting the job done."

The full press release is available after the jump.

Late Update: Lamont has now made it official, that he is exploring a run for the governorship.

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