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Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the apparent frontrunner for the Senate seat of the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd is pushing back his decision on whether he will run, as the state sorts out the confusing legal situation on the seat.

Manchin told Politico over the weekend that he would delay his decision on whether to run -- though he again said it is "highly likely" he will run -- until a special session of the state legislature corrects the state's ambiguous law on whether to hold a special election, and he appoints someone as an interim Senator. "My intentions [on a Senate bid] would be third, that's the last thing I would do," Manchin said.

Manchin said that the state legislative process could be taken care of later this week, on Thursday. "We all agreed to have a special session on Thursday at noon," Manchin said. "At that point, we should have legislation presented, they should look at it, approve it, adjust it, whatever -- but come out with a clear understanding of how we proceed to have the election this November with a primary, if they desire, this September or whenever."

Former top officials in the Republican Party of Florida, including chair Jim Greer and executive director Delmar Johnson, spent thousands of party dollars to buy themselves fine cigars, lobster dinners, souvenirs and, in one case, a Winnie the Pooh-themed birthday party.

The former office manager for the party, who says she was fired after she voiced concerns about top officials' spending, gave details on their spending in a story published Sunday in the St. Petersburg Times.

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Democratic Governors Voice Grave Concerns on Immigration The New York Times reports: "In a private meeting with White House officials this weekend, Democratic governors voiced deep anxiety about the Obama administration's suit against Arizona's new immigration law, worrying that it could cost a vulnerable Democratic Party in the fall elections. While the weak economy dominated the official agenda at the summer meeting here of the National Governors Association, concern over immigration policy pervaded the closed-door session between Democratic governors and White House officials and simmered throughout the three-day event."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 11 a.m. ET, and the economic daily briefing at 11:30 a.m. ET, and Obama will meet at 12 p.m. ET with senior advisers. Obama will hold a bilateral meeting at 2:10 p.m. ET with President Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, and the two will hold a joint press availability at 2:40 p.m. ET.

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Gov. Charlie Crist (I-FL) is seeing to it that no matter how much the Gulf spill impacts Florida beaches, BP oil will coat the politics of the three-way Florida Senate race this summer.

Last week, Crist called a rare special session of the state legislature to consider a complete ban on offshore oil exploration in Florida waters, a move that would require a constitutional amendment Crist wants to put on the November ballot for voters to consider.

Crist says he's in favor of the ban, a reversal from his past support of offshore drilling in Florida. He says that the shift is due to the scope of the BP spill, which Crist has been talking about for weeks now as tar balls have made their way to the Florida coast. But Crist's political opponents -- the most vocal of them Republicans -- say that concern about winning the Senate race in November is more responsible for Crist's change of heart than the spill is.

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West Virginia seems to be on track to hold a special election this November to replace the late Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, who passed away two weeks ago after 51 years in office. Without the unstoppable Byrd incumbency to keep the seat safely in Democratic hands -- in a state that has voted Republican in the last three presidential races -- what might this race look like? We're about to find out.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Sen. Robert Byrd: 1917-2010]

The race really starts this week. The Democrats' candidate in waiting, Gov. Joe Manchin, says it is "highly likely" that he will run. Though he'd said last week that he'd announce his intentions today, Manchin has since pushed back his official decision to Thursday at the earliest, in order for the state legislature's special session to address the law on a special election. He still says that it is is "highly likely" he will run.

In both the 2004 and 2008 elections, Manchin won his gubernatorial races with 64% of the vote, while George W. Bush and John McCain carried the state by 56%-43% margins. So Manchin performed 21 points ahead of the Democratic presidential candidates. But although Manchin would begin as a definite frontrunner, this nevertheless will present a key race for a Democratic seat in a state that has been trending to the GOP in national races.

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Democrats appear to have found their plan to defeat Rand Paul -- wind him up and watch him go off the deep end.

Ever since Paul won the right to carry his party's flag on May 18, political types on both sides of the aisle have watched with amusement -- or chagrin -- as Kentucky's Republican nominee for Senate has stuck his foot in his mouth again and again. But less attention has been focused on how the Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Jack Conway, intends to use Paul's, er, unique rhetorical talents to pull off what most still say would be an upset win in the home of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. The TPM Poll Average shows Paul leading Conway 48.8-41.8.

After the Kentucky primaries, Conway hinted at his campaign strategy when he told me that Paul was too extreme for his state, and that his views "are not the views of mainstream Kentuckians." But we hadn't really seen the Rand-is-crazy strategy in action until last week.

Last Thursday's candidate forum in Louisville offered the first look at both men performing on the same stage, at the same time. What emerged from the session was a glimpse at Conway's strategy: attacking Paul's views as extreme, painting Paul as irresponsible and even dangerous -- and then sitting back and waiting for Paul to embarrass himself.

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The Democratic National Committee is trying to tie the Republican party to Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R-NV) and her unfortunate comments suggesting the escrow account for victims of the Gulf Coast oil spill is a "slush fund." Just like they did with Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) saying the fund was a shakedown and apologizing to BP, the Democrats and even President Obama jumped all over Angle to say that's how the GOP would govern if they win back control of Congress.

The DNC claimed the party received such an "overwhelming response" to the new Web site called BP Republicans they launched last week that they are adding in others who put their foot in their mouth over the oil spill. A party source says they are trying to tell voters that Republicans have done little but show "empathy" toward BP and "big oil" in the months since the oil began gushing into the gulf.

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Gibbs: GOP Could Win House Appearing on Meet The Press, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged that the Republicans could potentially win the House of Representatives: " I think there's no doubt that there are a lot of seats that will be up, a lot of contested seats. I think people are going to have a choice to make in the fall. But I think there's no doubt there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control. There's no doubt about that. This will depend on strong campaigns by Democrats. And again, I think we've got to take the issues to them. You know, are--do you want to put in, in to the speakership of the House a guy who thinks that the, the financial calamity is, is tantamount to an ant? The guy who's the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Joe Barton, started his congressional testimony of the CEO of BP by apologizing, not to the people in the gulf, but to the CEO. I think that's a perfect window, not into what people are thinking, but the way they would govern. Joe Barton, John Boehner, those are the type of things you'll hear a lot, I think, from both the president and local candidates about what you'd get if the Republicans were to gain control."

Holder: DOJ Not Ruling Out Racial Profiling Suit Against Arizona Law Also during his appearance on Face The Nation, Attorney General Eric Holder explained that the federal government was not ruling out opposing the Arizona illegal immigration law on the grounds of racial profiling, in addition to the federal preemption argument that is currently the basis for their lawsuit against the statute. "It doesn't mean that if the law, for whatever reason, happened to go into effect that six months from now, a year from now, we might not look at the impact the law has had and... see whether or not there has been that racial profiling impact," he said. "And if that was the case, we would have the tools, and we would bring suit on that basis."

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