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Republican candidate David VanderLeest, who lost Tuesday's recall election for the Wisconsin state Senate against Democratic incumbent Dave Hansen, doesn't think his nearly two-to-one result was all that bad -- considering how he had almost no money against the well-financed Hansen. And he also wishes the state GOP, who effectively dropped him due to his financial and legal problems, could have helped him out a bit.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Hansen has won by 66%-34%, a raw-vote margin of 20,653-10,604. But Tuesday night, VanderLeest was looking on the bright side.

"We were outspent 1,500 to 1 and lost 2 to 1," VanderLeest told WisPolitics, also adding that he wished the state GOP would have helped his campaign: "I think the support could have been much greater, given that we were the first one out of the chute."

"I'm actually feeling pretty good considering how much I was outspent," VanderLeest also told the Associated Press. "It shows how well my message was received."

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National Democratic money is flowing into the Wisconsin state Senate recalls, with a new $100,000 ad buy from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America, in just a single targeted race.

Republicans currently control the chamber by a majority of 19-14. Democrats hope to gain a net three seats and win a majority in a backlash against GOP Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation. In other words, control of the chamber is up for grabs.

The ad features a local family in the central Wisconsin district of GOP Sen. Luther Olsen, who is facing Democratic state Rep. Fred Clark in an August 9 recall election, complaining of budget cuts that will result in the closure of the elementary school where their children have gone -- and where Olsen's children previously went to school.

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Gaining ground in Iowa and nationally in the polls, Michele Bachmann has clearly decided she'll be outflanked by no one in the debt ceiling fight. Staking out the farthest right position possible (well, maybe just short of Paul Broun), Bachmann is up with an ad in Iowa in which she promises never to vote for a debt ceiling increase. Period.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet The 2012 GOPers: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)]

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It was inevitable, given the strong feelings of support Elizabeth Warren inspires in the left: A matter of hours after President Obama appointed someone else to lead the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the left is already hauling in thousands of dollars in campaign cash and begging Warren to run for Senate in Massachusetts.

The process is about to take the next leap, as supporters of a Warren campaign against Sen. Scott Brown launch an online ad campaign. For her part, Warren has not yet said if she'll run, though she's left the door open.

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Climbing out of "The Great Recession", many state governments found themselves faced with gaping budget shortfalls. A popular solution has been downsizing government work forces and reducing the power of public sector unions.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker became a mascot for the cause earlier this year when he began a push to take away collective bargaining rights from public workers in his state, a step so drastic that the state senate Democrats found it necessary to flee to Illinois to prevent a vote on the matter (which eventually became law anyway). Republican governors John Kasich (OH), Chris Christie (NJ), and Rick Scott (FL) all stirred up controversy for looking for similar places to scale back.

But while the most publicized and most agressive anti-union fights have been in states with newly elected Republican governors, unions are being pinched in more traditionally friendly democratic territory as well.

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Stop me if you've heard this one. A man goes into a public assistance office in Charleston, South Carolina in a kilt, tells them he's a member of the Irish Republican Army and asks for help for 25 fellow Irishmen in a hospital who need Medicaid.

A government employee follows the rules and explains the process for filling out a Medicaid paperwork and the qualifications they'd need to meet. She informs them that a federal law intended to protect patient privacy requires her not to divulge any information he's told her.

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Wisconsin Democrats have now won a round in the state Senate recalls, with Dem incumbent state Sen. Dave Hansen easily winning against a politically weak and seemingly troubled challenger, GOP activist and recall organizer David VanderLeest.

With 65% percent of precincts reporting, Hansen is winning by 69%-31%, and has been projected as the winner by the Associated Press.

In two other races, where Republican primaries were being held, the votes are still being counted to determine who will face Democratic state Sens. Robert Wirch and Jim Holperin.

This leaves eight races to go. On August 9, general elections will be held in six races targeting incumbent Republicans. Then on August 16, two more races will be held targeting incumbent Democrats. Republicans currently control the chamber by a majority of 19-14. Democrats hope to gain a net three seats and win a majority in a backlash against GOP Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation. In other words, control of the chamber is up for grabs.

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In a heavily partisan vote Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act -- a palatable-sounding piece of legislation that, if enacted, would slash federal programs deeply, and restrict dramatically the government's ability to do anything constructive for the country.

It also would graft those requirements into the Constitution, on the threat of a catastrophic debt default. Now leaders of both parties will have to scramble to make sure that doesn't happen.

The legislation, described in depth here, would make raising the debt limit contingent on both deep immediate spending cuts, and the passage, by supermajorities in Congress, of a Constitutional amendment that would kick federal spending down to historic lows. The so-called Balanced Budget Amendment would force the government to achieve fiscal balance by making deeper and deeper cuts -- because raising taxes would, by Constitutional fiat, require two-thirds of the members of both the House and Senate to agree to do so.

The final vote was 234-190 with nine Republicans voting no, and five Democrats voting yes. The Republicans voting with the Dems were Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Paul Broun (R-GA), Francisco Canseco (R-TX), Scott Desjarles (R-TN), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Connie Mack (R-FL), Ron Paul (R-TX), and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). The Dems voting with the GOP were Blue Dogs Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), and Heath Shuler (R-NC). Two Republicans and seven Democrats did not vote.

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A total of 16 people with ties to the "hacktivist" group "Anonymous" were arrested by the FBI on Monday. Fourteen of them were charged in connection with an attack on PayPal, which was targeted by "Anonymous" because the website suspended the account of WikiLeaks after it released classified State Department cables.

The arrests, the Justice Department said, took place in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. The indictment against them was unsealed in federal court in the Northern District of California.

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