TPM News

On the heels of the NY-23 special House election, in which Conservative Party insurgent Doug Hoffman overtook moderate GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava, only to lose to Democrat Bill Owens, NRSC chairman John Cornyn (R-TX) has announced that the GOP's national Senate committee will not be spending money in contested primaries.

"There's no incentive for us to weigh in," Cornyn told ABC News. "We have to look at our resources."

This could have huge ramifications in the Florida Senate race, where moderate Gov. Charlie Crist has been endorsed by the NRSC, and faces the more conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio. Crist has already emerged as a new top target for the same right-wing activists who went after Scozzafava.

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tells TPMDC that President Obama has phoned the winners from last night's competitive East Coast races.

Gibbs said Obama has called Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell (R-VA), Gov.-elect Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Rep.-elect Bill Owens (D-NY).

Obama also phoned New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, an independent who won reelection, and he left a message for Rep.-elect John Garamendi (D-CA).

As we reported earlier, Obama phoned the losing candidates last night.

The Washington Post has some more detail on the McDonnell call.

Today is a day for thumbsucking. After Republicans won gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and Democrats picked up two House seats, everyone in Washington is spinning away, hoping to change the conventional wisdom, and, perhaps politics on Capitol Hill. But will it work? Today, two of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate said yesterday's election results won't have any effect on their votes on health care.

"There are no lessons in there for me, other than a lesson that I already had and that is we need to be very cautious and careful on spending," said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) . "[W]e need to redirect a lot of our attention right back to the basic economy and trying to figure out ways to help with the economic woes that we have, and that may mean that we have to readjust some of the other priorities around here."

So this doesn't have an effect on the limits you'd like to impose on reform, I asked.

"No," he said.

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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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TPMLivewire