TPM News

A new Rasmussen poll of Arizona finds that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is known nationally for his hard-line stance against illegal immigration, would be the strongest possible Republican candidate for governor in next year's election.

Democratic state Attorney General Terry Goddard, the likely Dem nominee for governor, was tested against three Republicans. Goddard leads incumbent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, who succeeded to the office after Dem Gov. Janet Napolitano was appointed Secretary of Homeland Security, by 44%-35%. Goddard edges state Treasurer Dean Martin by 40%-38%, within the ±3% margin of error.

Arpaio, however, leads Goddard by a convincing margin of 51%-39%. He is not currently a candidate, but that could change with numbers like these.

Late Update: The new Rasmussen primary poll has Arpaio as the heavy favorite for to the Republican nomination: Arpaio 47%, Martin 22%, Brewer 10%, and others in the single digits.

A shadowy conservative group with ties to the operatives behind a host of GOP dirty tricks is working to undermine state restrictions on political robo-calls, as it gears up to unleash a barrage of such calls in 2010 races.

Last month, American Future Fund Political Action (AFFPA) informed the FEC that it's planning robo-calls in congressional races. Jason Torchinsky, a lawyer for AFFPA, wrote that the group "wishes to distribute pre-recorded telephone calls ... as part of a nationwide program of political outreach." The calls, wrote Torchinsky, "will expressly advocate the election or defeat of one or more clearly identified candidates for Federal office."

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today unveiled state-by-state analyses of the beneficial impacts of health care reform. Using the Senate bill, the report underlines, among other things, the number of working and middle class people who would receive federal assistance, and the extent to which the legislation would reduce the number of uninsured in that state.

So, to pick three states totally at random, if you wanted to know what the goodies for Nebraska, Arkansas, and Louisiana, would be, you can just click.

And, in case you're wondering, the reports do not address the state-by-state impact of the public option.

In a speech today, President Obama announced several new programs, including an annual White House science fair, to boost interest in science and math education, especially among minorities and girls.

"If you win the NAACP championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you're a young person, and you produced the best experiment or design, or the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement too," Obama said to an audience that included students, the first American female astronaut Sally Ride and those guys from Mythbusters.

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A new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) finds that health care has put the Democrats in a tricky situation -- passing a bill with a public option doesn't offer a clear political benefit, but not passing anything would cause an even greater problem.

The Democrats lead on an initial generic Congressional ballot by 46%-38%. If they pass a health care with a public option, the gap becomes 46%-41%. If they don't pass a health care bill at all, though, it becomes a 40%-40% tie -- reminiscent of the loss in Democratic support in 1994, after they failed to pass a health care bill.

"Clearly Democrats need to pass a health care bill if they want to do well at the polls next year," said PPP president Dean Debnam, in the polling memo. "But they don't need to take an all or nothing approach. Allowing the status quo to remain rather than accepting a bill without a public option would be a poor decision politically."

The poll was conducted from November 13th to November 15th, before this past weekend's vote in the Senate to proceed with debate on the health care bill. The margin of error is ±3%.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson did not give back donations to his presidential campaign from accused fraudster Hassan Nemazee, and Richardson may have also kept $5,000 given by Nemazee to his 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

The donations to Richardson have come under increased scrutiny since Forbes reported last week that Nemazee's investment firm was gunning for a state contract at the same time Nemazee gave the money to the '06 gubernatorial campaign. Carret Asset Management, partially owned by Nemazee, won the contract in 2007 and has made nearly $2 million in fees.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid got his 60 on Saturday, and when the Senate returns from Thanksgiving recess next week, they'll be debating and amending a major piece of health care legislation. However, the vote, and its aftermath exposed or clarified the cleavages within the Democratic party that will have to be bridged if Reid hopes to keep his caucus in line on the next cloture motion--to end a Republican filibuster and hold a simple majority vote on reform.

If you thought the opt-out compromise was a silver bullet for the public option, you may have gotten a bit ahead of yourself. It held up for a while, and could still survive, but that's going to require some interesting gymnastics from Democratic leaders. Leading up to Saturday's vote, and in its immediate aftermath, conservative Democrats entrenched their opposition to the public option in the Senate bill. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) repeated his threat to support a health care filibuster if it includes a public option of any kind, and, despite her earlier support for the provision, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) took to the Senate floor Saturday and announced, "I'm promising my colleagues that I'm prepared to vote against moving to the next stage of consideration as long as a government-run public option is included." That gives her a bit more wiggle room than Lieberman's left himself, and Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) have a bit more still, but that makes 60 for the opt out a tough climb. On the other side of the caucus, though, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Roland Burris (D-IL) have inched closer to threatening to block a health care bill from the left if the public option is weakened further. If reform is to pass, one side of the caucus will have to hold its collective nose and vote for something they don't like.

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Could Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-SC) leadership PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund, be on the verge of getting involved in the Illinois Senate race, and opposing establishment favorite Rep. Mark Kirk?

DeMint's group held an online poll this past week, asking supporters to choose between Kirk, attorney and conservative activist Patrick Hughes, and "Other." As it turns out, Kirk came in third, even trailing "Other": Hughes 644 votes (73.9%), "Other" 132 votes (15.1%), Kirk 71 votes (8.1%), with "Undecided" and "No Response" totaling 24 votes (2.7%).

Hughes has met with DeMint twice, and is working to mobilize conservatives against the frontrunner. DeMint has taken the sides of more conservative candidates over the establishment in recent months, including Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 special election, Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate race, and Chuck DeVore in the California Senate race.

Kirk has worked hard to move to the right -- such as when he changed his position on the climate change bill, right in the middle of a speech to a local Republican crowd.