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It's no secret that Janet Napolitano is one of President Obama's favorite Cabinet members. But as her name continues to linger at the bottom of his Supreme Court shortlist, the fact that she's among the busiest in the administration is a signal she's unlikely to be chosen for a new job on the high court any time soon.

As Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Napolitano has her hands full handling some of the administration's biggest priorities and crises. From immigration to oil spills to airline security and domestic terror threats, Napolitano's department is tasked with major initiatives that have her traveling the country and appearing frequently on television. Plus, DHS oversees FEMA, so she isn't a stranger to handling weather threats and working on the administration's Katrina rebuilding effort.

She was in Obama's final four last spring and remains on the list this year as he nears a decision to replacing retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Sources close to Obama have said she was chosen for her current spot -- after being considered for several others -- because of her long career in public service and her civil rights record. She's also a breast cancer survivor. These qualities all fit the bill for those empathetic characteristics Obama is seeking in a new justice, but selecting Napolitano is less certain because she's both needed and embroiled in many heated policy changes.

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The Minnesota Republican Party's official candidate to succeed Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is looking ahead to a 2012 run for President, is a staunch conservative well to Pawlenty's right who has a long history of "Tentherism," the attempts by the far right-wing to invoke the Tenth Amendment and nullify federal laws on various liberal initiatives. He has even proposed a state constitutional amendment that would allow federal laws to operate in Minnesota only if they were consented to by super-majorities of the state legislature.

State Rep. Tom Emmer picked up the official Republican endorsement at the party's convention this weekend, and he also walked away with the backing of Pawlenty himself. "We don't have any doubt about what Tom Emmer stands for or what his values are," Pawlenty said at the convention. "He is strong. He is steadfast. He is clear. ... He is going to be the next governor of the state of Minnesota." Emmer also has the support of Sarah Palin, who praised him just before the convention got underway as a "hockey dad" who once played for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks -- a move that may have been a tipping point, according to the Star-Tribune.

Emmer was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2004. Just this past March, he was a co-author of a proposed state constitutional amendment that would, to borrow the words of Nigel Tufnel, turn the Tenth Amendment all the way up to 11, with Minnesota preemptively nullifying all federal laws unless a state supermajority consents to them. Here is the key quote from the amendment's text: "A federal law does not apply in Minnesota unless that law is approved by a two-thirds vote of the members of each house of the legislature and is signed by the governor. Before voting to approve a federal law, each legislator must individually affirm that the legislator has read the federal law and understands it."

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Scott Lee Cohen, a pawnbroker who dropped out of the Illinois lieutenant governor race in February over allegations of domestic abuse and other scandals, announced today that he instead will run for governor as an independent.

The mostly unknown Cohen had won the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor earlier this year, but his campaign was quickly thwarted by reports that he had been charged with domestic abuse in 2005 for allegedly holding a knife to his girlfriend's throat and slamming her head into a wall. He has also admitted to steroid abuse and his ex-wife, in divorce proceedings, claimed he had tried to sexually assault her.

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The new Muhlenberg poll of Pennsylvania gives Sen. Arlen Specter only a narrow lead in his Democratic primary against Rep. Joe Sestak, which is coming up on May 18.

The numbers: Specter 48%, Sestak 42%. The sample of likely Dem primary voters has a ±5% margin of error. The TPM Poll Average gives Specter a lead of 45.2%-34.0%, with some recent gains for Sestak due to his ad campaign in the home stretch of the primary.

Specter was first elected to the Senate as a Republican in 1980, and served as a moderate, socially liberal GOPer. 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 was a crucial vote to pass President Obama's stimulus package, and he then subsequently switched parties when polls showed he would lose a GOP primary rematch with Toomey. The White House and Democratic leadership promptly endorsed Specter for re-election, but Sestak soon got into the race pitching himself as the true Democrat.

Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's ambitious and deeply conservative attorney general, has launched two new fronts in his right-wing crusade: one absurd, the other deeply troubling.

Absurdity first: Cuccinelli recently handed out to his staff lapel pins with a redesigned version of the state seal, which shows the Roman goddess Virtus, or virtue, the Virginian-Pilot reported over the weekend. In the usual version of the seal, Virtus's left breast is exposed. In Cuccinelli's version, it's covered up.

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Nine members of the Hutaree militia group accused of plotting against the government can be released until their trial.

The nine members of the Christian militia group were indicted in March on multiple charges involving an alleged plot to attack police, including seditious conspiracy and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction.

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The latest entrant in the Florida Senate race is an eccentric billionaire who counts Mike Tyson and madam Heidi Fleiss as close friends and made his fortune betting against the real estate market before the crash.

The business and personal life of Jeff Greene is providing an embarrassment of riches for oppo researchers working for Greene's competition in the Democratic primary, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL).

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Jim Traficant, a former Democratic Congressman who was released from prison last year, filed the paperwork this morning to run from Ohio's 17th district as an independent.

Traficant held the seat for nine terms before his expulsion from the House. But after filing, he told the Youngstown Vindicator that he may also file in the 6th district. The Ohio secretary of state's office is now reviewing elections law to see if that's legal.

"You never know with me. I might run in West Virginia," Traficant said.

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The American people have found the floor in the recession, and are starting to feel things are looking up in the economy. That's the message from several recent polls of the economy taken in the past several weeks.

The public is still pretty down on things overall, but the important thing -- for Democrats facing reelection especially -- is that they've stopped feeling that things are getting worse. A growing number are even saying things are getting better.

The big question now is whether this boost will sustained over time, and whether the Democrats will be able to make it their own.

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