TPM News

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, took to the Senate floor today to tie Republicans to "big banks" and to accuse them of preparing to filibuster a bill that would put an end to bailouts.

Dodd attacked Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his claims that the financial reform bill Dodd is working on would lead to even more bailouts.

"You see, these Wall Street firms believe that no matter how much we hate bailouts, if they're important enough at the end of the day, taxpayers will come riding in on a white horse to save them, just like they did under the Bush administration," he said. "This bill kills the white horse."

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is the prime electoral target for the tea party movement. At a press conference in Washington this morning, one group of tea partiers said they found the woman to defeat the head of the Senate Democrats this November in Nevada -- ultra-conservative former state legislator Sharron Angle.

Angle was on hand this morning as the Tea Party Express announced its list of electoral targets. She took the mic near the end of the press conference to tout her campaign to a standing ovation from the tea partiers gathered in a ballroom at the National Press Club downtown.

Angle is just one of a slew of Republicans vying for the GOP Senate nomination, and polls show she's not the frontrunner. So why did the tea partiers choose her to carry their flag in what they call the most important race in the country? Angle says she's the most pure conservative in the bunch, and in our conversation after the speech she made it clear the tea party force is strong with her.

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Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) raised $1.16 million in the first quarter of 2010 -- less than half the amount brought in by his Republican arch-rival, former Rep. Pat Toomey, though Specter maintains a strong cash-on-hand advantage.

Toomey's campaign announced last week that he brought in $2.3 million for the quarter, and has $4 million on hand. Specter has a much stronger $9 million on hand, though he will have to spend some of it in his Democratic primary against Rep. Joe Sestak, who has been challenging Specter ever since the incumbent switched parties last year.

Specter was first elected to the Senate as a Republican in 1980. As a moderate Republican, he was challenged from the right for the GOP nomination in 2004 by then-Rep. Pat Toomey, and won by only a 51%-49% margin. Specter's support among Republicans plummeted in 2009, after he provided a crucial vote to pass President Obama's stimulus package, and he subsequently switched parties when polls showed he would lose a primary rematch against Toomey.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) reports he's raised $613,627 in the first quarter, which is slightly less than the $629,615 in outside contributions raised by Democratic candidate Roxanne Conlin.

But Grassley reports he has more than $5.3 million in cash on hand -- compared to Conlin's $1 million.

The TPM Poll Average shows Grassley leading Conlin 54.8% to 35.4% in a potential general election matchup.

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In what's almost guaranteed to be a controversial case, a former high-level National Security Agency official was charged today with crimes related to allegedly leaking classified information to an unnamed newspaper reporter, who "published a series of articles about the NSA" between February 2006 and November 2007.

So who is the reporter? Circumstantial evidence suggests that it may be Siobhan Gorman, who at the time was with the Baltimore Sun and now works for the Wall Street Journal.

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Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin governor and ex-Bush administration Secretary of Health and Human Services, has just announced that he will not challenge Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold -- a rare instance this cycle of Senate Republicans failing to get their strongest possible candidate.

"My family did not want me to run," Thompson told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, just before he took the stage to speak at a Tea Party event in Madison.

Thompson was probably the GOP's best shot at beating Feingold, with the TPM Poll Average showing him ahead of the incumbent by 45.3%-41.9%. By contrast, Feingold is ahead of the two Republicans who are already in the race, leading businessman Terrence Wall by 50.7%-37.0%, and leading businessman Dave Westlake by 49.4%-34.2%.

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Could Democrats have a liability in the performance of their candidate in the Connecticut Senate race, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal -- even though he is currently way ahead in the polls?

The New York Times reports that some Dems are worried about Blumenthal's rusty campaign showing so far, as exhibited by long-winded answers and a few gaffes -- with some even calling him "Martha Coakley in pants." For example, his performance in a recent debate with his obscure Dem primary opponent was widely panned, and he has ruled out having another debate. He has not had a tough race since his first election as attorney general in 1990, and this year he could have to work for it.

For now, it doesn't seem like Blumenthal is in any real danger. The TPM Poll Average has him leading the frontrunner for the GOP nomination, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, by 57.0%-32.5%. Then again, Martha Coakley initially led Scott Brown in the Massachusetts special Senate election. And this is expected to be a tough year for Democrats.

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Thomas A. Drake, a former senior executive with the National Security Agency, has been charged by a federal grand jury in Maryland with obstructing justice, making false statements and retaining classified information.

According to the DOJ release:

The indictment alleges that between approximately February 2006 and November 2007, a newspaper reporter published a series of articles about the NSA. The indictment alleges that Drake served as a source for many of those articles, including articles that contained classified information. The indictment also alleges that Drake took a series of steps to facilitate the provision of this information to the reporter.

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