TPM News

The new survey of Colorado from Public Policy Polling (D) shows Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet increasing his support against his primary challenger, former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. Meanwhile, the race for the GOP nomination is turning into a dogfight.

The numbers for the Dems: Bennet 46%, Romanoff 31%. The survey of likely Dem primary voters has a ±4.7% margin of error. Back in March, Bennet had a much smaller lead of 40%-34%. The primary will be held on August 10.

Bennet was first appointed to the Senate in January 2009, to take the seat formerly held by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He was previously the superintendent of the Denver public schools, but had never held a prior elected public office. Romanoff got into the race later in the year.

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Eight hundred scientists and professors have signed a letter to Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, urging him to call off his investigation of a former University of Virginia climate scientist.

"The request is unfounded and could undermine the effectiveness of not only climate scientists but also thousands of other Virginia researchers," says the letter, which was organized by the environmental group the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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Admitting an affair with a staffer, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) announced his resignation at a Fort Wayne press conference today -- and, in a comment not in his prepared statement, managed to briefly play the role of moralist by condemning philandering politicians who ask their wives to appear with them.

"My family were more than willing to stand here with me -- we are a committed family. But the error is mine and I should bear the responsibility," Souder said. "And, quite frankly, I'm sick of politicians who drag their spouses up in front of the cameras, rather than confronting the problem that they have caused."

And in another departure from his prepared remarks, Souder seemed to hint at some possible allegation of legal impropriety:

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Sen. Blanche Lincoln suffered what might be one of the all-time greatest campaign staff fails this morning. According to her campaign staff, Lincoln was initially turned away when she tried to vote at her home her polling place this morning after elections officials discovered she had already requested an absentee ballot be sent to her Virginia home. Poll workers told Lincoln their records showed she had already voted.

"She just wanted to be prepared," campaign spokesperson Katie Laning Niebaum told me a few minutes ago. "She has requested absentee ballots on many past occasions."

Lincoln didn't fill out the absentee ballot this time, her staff no doubt eager for the classic casting-the-ballot photo op this morning. But, thanks to this mix-up, she's stuck with the less appealing "filling out the provisional ballot so elections officials can determine if her vote is legal or not" shot instead.

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Senate candidate Sue Lowden (R-NV) is now under fire for a possible campaign finance violation, with one of her Republican primary opponents calling foul over her use of a luxury R.V. given to the campaign by a supporter.

A week and a half ago, Lowden claimed that the RV had been donated: "Why would anyone want to demean the fact that someone donated an RV to me? It's unfortunate that no one donated an RV to them."

The Lowden campaign now says, however, that the the R.V. was officially leased to Lowden by casino owner Carl Giuduci and his wife Elsie Giuduci, who have each made in-kind contributions to Lowden for the vehicle's use that are listed as being under the legal limit of $2,400 per-person. As the Las Vegas Review Journal notes: "According to a redacted lease agreement released by the campaign that did not provide any dollar figures, Lowden must return the vehicle after she is done using it during her bid for public office."

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters earlier today that allegations that Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) misrepresented his Vietnam record is "quite a blow" to his Senate candidacy and may help Republicans pick up the seat.

Blumenthal is running to replace retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT).

"It sounds like quite a blow to his candidacy," Cornyn said. "Obviously he enjoys--has enjoyed--high approval ratings. He's relatively unknown in the political process. I would say, having been an attorney general myself, it is a transition to go from AG to a run for the United States Senate. But I'm anxious to hear what his explanation is because I heard him on YouTube and of course broadcast on television, claiming to have served in Vietnam, and if that proves not to he true, then I think he's got quite an apology to make."

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Linda McMahon, one of the Republican opponents of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, spent the morning taking credit for the New York Times piece that showed Blumenthal had misrepresented his military service.

The McMahon campaign didn't come right out and say they had tipped the Times to a 2008 video of Blumenthal saying he had served in Vietnam (he didn't). But, when a Connecticut blogger claimed the campaign fed the video to the Times, McMahon blasted the blog post out in an email to reporters. The campaign also posted it on Mcmahon's web site under the headline "In Case You Missed It: McMahon Strikes Blumenthal In NYT Article" and tweeted a link.

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This is not the political theme you're looking for. Pay no attention to those three tough primaries on the Democratic side, or Richard Blumenthal's problems in Connecticut. The Democratic National Committee is spinning away from some of the big stories of the day, telling reporters the real national trend is what's happening among Kentucky Republicans.

The DNC this afternoon will send out a memo titled "It's On: Who Will Win the McConnell vs. DeMint Leadership Proxy Battle In Kentucky?" The Dems think that Rand Paul's likely win in Kentucky will diminish Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) but also push the Republican party to the furthest-right fringes.

Kentucky Democrats, meanwhile, are slugging it out as well.

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