TPM News

It's down to the final stretch for Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who each are predicting a victory in Tuesday's Democratic primary runoff election. But of course, only one Arkansas candidate can prevail, and incumbents aren't doing so well this season.

Lincoln and Halter are criss-crossing the state in hopes of enticing voters who were almost evenly divided between the two during the May 18 primary that they should head to the polls a second time in the election that really counts. Team Halter spun his 43 percent second place finish to her 45 percent as a victory since the incumbent senator wasn't able to hold more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.

It's tough to know if the three polls taken since the election -- all conducted by the same pollster -- showing Halter in the lead are accurate, but progressives and union activists who support Halter say the momentum is on his side. Political consultants not willing to speak on the record think Halter has a shot, but hedge their bets since Lincoln has a strong early voting program that could put her over the top.

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The BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast has had a huge impact on local wildlife.

Above, a pelican struggles near Louisiana's East Grand Terre Island.

Newscom/KRT





A dead dolphin.

Newscom/KRT




Newscom/UPI





The International Bird Research Rescue Center treats a brown pelican.

Newscom/Sipa





A pelican.

Newscom/UPI





A clean-up crew washes a pelican.

Newscom/PTS

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has proven to be quite a formidable force in the 2010 race to keep her New York Senate seat, chasing off potential Democratic and Republican opponents before they even enter the race.

But at their convention this week, the New York GOP had to pick someone to face Gillibrand in November, and ended up with two potential candidates who the Democrat is demolishing in the polls.

So who could be the GOP's Daniel to the Democrats' lion?

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Republicans said it would be bad news for the otherwise-safe Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) if former gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi decided to run against her. So far, they seem to be right, and more so than observers expected.

Yesterday, his campaign announced Rossi raised over $600,000 in his first week as a candidate -- a third of it from grassroots supporters online. He's signed 2,500 people to his campaign list in the first week, and attracted 20,000 followers to his Facebook page (which his campaign says is the "third most of any US Senate candidate and nearly twice that of Senator Murray.")

Republicans in Washington, it seems, are happy to see Rossi after all.

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Monday's raid by Israeli naval commandos on a ship bearing medical, construction, and other supplies for the Gaza Strip resulted in the deaths of at least nine civilians. Many aspects of the episode -- the blockade, the run-up to the confrontation, the law governing international waters, etc. -- are being fiercely contested. But what about what actually happened when Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara?

The Gaza-bound boat was 80 miles from the Israeli coast with nearly 600 passengers on board when Israel soldiers from the naval special forces unit [Shayetet 13](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shayetet_13) boarded the vessel in the dark early Monday morning.

The basic competing narratives are: the passengers mobbed the soldiers with crude but effective weapons, prompting the soldiers to fire bullets in self defense vs. the soldiers fired live weapons indiscriminately, starting from the helicopter above before they even boarded the ship.

But let's take a closer look at the various written and video accounts.

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Gov. Charlie Crist (I-FL), who left the Republican Party to run for Senate as an independent, announced today that he has a new media consultant -- one with a long history of working for Democrats, and for Joe Lieberman and Mike Bloomberg, too.

Crist's campaign has signed up the firm of SKD Knickerbocker, with co-founder Josh Isay becoming Crist's lead media consultant. From the Crist campaign's press release: "SKD Knickerbocker is one of the nation's leading political consulting firms. Clients have included Democratic Senators, Governors and Mayors from across the country. The firm is also a leader in electing Independent candidates including Senator Joe Lieberman and NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg. SKD Knickerbocker has worked on the campaigns of the last 4 Democratic Presidential nominees."

Roll Call points out that Isay is also a former chief of staff to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and the St. Petersburg Times lists other clients including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).

Last night, South Carolina State Sen. Jake Knotts (R) called Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley a "f------ raghead," and bizarrely suggested that she's some kind of Sikh Manchurian candidate.

Corey Hutchins, a reporter for Free Times, the alt weekly in Columbia, South Carolina, has a great piece today about his interview with Knotts, which came after the state senator said during an internet radio show last night that Haley is a "raghead."

I spoke to Hutchins this afternoon, and he shared some more details on last night's event.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Adm. Thad Allen, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Adm. Thad Allen, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).

• Fox News Sunday: Adm. Thad Allen, Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.

• NBC, Meet The Press: Will not air, due to coverage of the French Open.

LiveWire