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If Rand Paul hoped that shaking up his campaign staff might smooth things over with Kentucky Republicans who are still wary of him, local Republicans aren't quite sure what to make of it yet. A pair of local party leaders I spoke to said that they still don't know much about the inner-workings of Paul's campaign, and suggested they're still not sure what to expect from the eccentric candidate who has a talent for getting himself into trouble on the national stage.

Rather than embrace an establishment vet to run things after his libertarian-style views caused so much trouble, Paul has doubled-down on his father's political legacy by choosing longtime Paul family operative Jesse Benton to take over.

The campaign has said that the change in leadership has nothing to do with the spectacular belly flop Paul took in his first week as the GOP Senate nominee, but it's clear the wounds from the primary -- which saw Paul and his supporters beat up the establishment in appearances across the state -- are still fresh in Kentucky and Paul needs to do what he can to recalibrate.

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Republicans have developed their refrain for opposing the repeal plan for the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on gays serving openly in the military: the Pentagon opposes it too! The Democrats are counting on picking up a handful of moderate votes -- including Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) to get the measure through committee on the Senate side and they don't need Republican votes on the House side. (Good thing, too, since a Republican aide told me they won't be getting any.) But the rest of the Republicans are sounding eerily similar warnings about the plan being too fast, too soon.

The compromise was delayed implementation, allowing the law to be changed will allowing the Defense Department press forward with a study of its effects. Republicans say nothing should change until the study is done -- likely in December.

A Senate leadership aide said Republicans want to hear the results of the Pentagon's review of the changes to current policy "before voting on them." And a top national Republican consultant told me the party's talking point will be to wait. "Why conduct a study if we're not going to analyze it before making a decision?" the consultant said.

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House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank punctured a growing call for greater transparency in the final Wall Street reform negotiations today, saying there will be no time to air any proposed changes to the legislation in public before they're adopted.

"No, you won't have time to do that, because...we have a fairly short time period," Frank told me this morning.

Whether time was the issue or not, other leading congressional negotiators didn't appear to have much of an appetite for operating in as open an environment as possible.

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Another day, another intriguing post from Will Folks that does not offer real evidence he had an affair with Nikki Haley.

In his latest on FITSNews, Folks claims that he was presented in early 2009 -- two years after the alleged affair -- with a photo of him and Haley, a state representative and gubernatorial candidate:

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A hard-line gun rights group in Virginia isn't pleased with how the state's super-conservative attorney general is defending a state university's right to ban guns in school buildings -- especially since he once called the ban indefensible.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League wrote an open letter yesterday to the AG, Ken Cuccinelli, accusing him of throwing his principles "in the trash" for his brief defending George Mason University for prohibiting firearms in university buildings, including the library and dorms.

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The campaign of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who is in a June 8 Democratic primary runoff against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, has announced that it had $2 million cash on hand going into the runoff sprint.

The latest Federal Election Commission pre-runoff filing, which is due today, reveals that Lincoln had $2 million cash on hand. The filing covers activity from April 29 to May 19, the day after the first-round primary. During that period, Lincoln raised $552,189 and spent $1.6 million in the run-up to the May 18 primary.

We asked the Halter campaign if the update on their numbers was available yet. They said they will have it later today. The TPM Poll Average gives Lincoln a bare edge over Halter of 45.2%-45.1%.

Rand Paul's reputation for marching to his own drummer may extend to his medical career. The GOP Senate candidate is the founder and president of a certifying board for eye doctors, which he appears to have set up as a rival to the existing certification board. But his organization has left little public record, and the legitimacy with which it's viewed remains unclear at best.

In 1999, Paul created a new non-profit organization, the National Board of Ophthalmology (NBO), headquartered at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in order to "provide information to the public concerning physicians with exemplary qualifications in the medical specialty of ophthalmology," according to the organization's founding document, filed online with the Kentucky Secretary of State's office. Page One, a Kentucky politics blog, first noted the group's existence last month.

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The new Rasmussen poll of Wisconsin says that Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold is in a close race with businessman Ron Johnson, who is enjoying a boost of good publicity after his endorsement by the state GOP convention this past weekend.

The numbers: Feingold 46%, Johnson 44%. Feingold also leads the two other businessmen in the GOP race, leading Dave Westlake by 47%-38% and Terrence Wall -- who is reportedly set to exit the race soon -- by 47%-41%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error.

The TPM Poll Average has Feingold leading Westlake by 47.0%-38.6%, and leading Wall by 47.3%-42.3%. This is the first publicly released poll to feature Johnson. The GOP previously lost out on its top recruiting opportunity when former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who led Feingold by 45.3%-41.9%, announced in April that he would not run.

The PMA investigation may have some life left in it yet.

Even after a House ethics committee investigation of allegations of an earmarks-for-campaign contributions scheme by the now-defunct lobby shop PMA Group found no wrongdoing back in February, the independent Office of Congressional Ethics this morning announced it is referring evidence gathered in its probe of PMA to the Justice Department.

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New York's extremely popular Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) just announced his official candidacy for Governor this past Saturday -- but things had already been looking grim for the New York GOP's prospects in the general election.

The Republican party is set to select its nominee next week, but between the fringe candidates and the mediocre frontrunners that are each trailing Cuomo by at least 30 points in the polls, there doesn't appear to be a Republican poised to take him on in any meaningful way.

So who are these guys?

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