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A new survey of New Jersey from Public Policy Polling (D) finds incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine trailing his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, by a margin of 51%-41%.

To a great extent, this is a vote against the incumbent. Among the quarter of the electorate that doesn't know enough about Christie to have formed an opinion, Christie is leading by an even bigger margin of 48%-30%.

From the pollster's analysis: "There's not much doubt Jon Corzine's in a pretty big hole," said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. "If there's good news for the incumbent it's that about a third of voters say they could change their minds between now and November. He'll need a lot of folks to move over to his column if he's going to get reelected."

New Jersey is a deep-blue state, albeit with a large number of very reluctant Democratic voters, and has often shown a tendency of Dem candidates surging in the home stretch after attacking the conservatism of the Republicans. Corzine has a big job ahead of him if he wants to repeat that pattern.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has brought out a big name for the final rush of fundraising before the end of the second quarter tonight: Former Vice President Al Gore, who has written a new e-mail sent out to the DSCC's support list.

The e-mail reminds Dem supporters of the memory of 1994, when one-party Democratic rule of the White House and Capitol Hill was so abruptly overturned with a Republican mid-term landslide. After noting that the historic trend is for a president's party to lose seats in the mid-terms, Gore then asks recipients to imagine what it would mean if they can buck the trend and expand the already big margins.

"We could stop having absurd debates about whether or not global warming is real. We could get moving to ensure every man, woman, and child gets the health care they need," Gore writes. "We could put Americans back to work with investments in jobs and infrastructure and stop pretending that all economic problems can be solved with tax cuts for the super-rich."

Check out the full e-mail, after the jump.

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A source has leaked details to Politico of what reporters there describe as a "draft of HELP's likely public option proposal." Here are the key details:

The option would be one of the Gateway choices. It would follow the same rules as private plans for defining benefits, protecting consumers, and setting premiums that are fair and based on local costs....

The payment rates paid by the option would be no more than the local average private rates - but could be less. The Secretary would negotiate these rates.


Initial reports of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions process suggested that the committee's draft would call for a public option that paid providers Medicare rates plus about 10 percent--a robust plan which would have left a wide middle ground on the issue between that committee and the Senate Finance Committee. This leak doesn't rule that configuration out explicitly--but if it's accurate, then the committee's kicking the issue back over to the executive branch, and insisting only that the public plan operate on at least a level playing field with private insurers.

It's unclear whether this language will please freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)--the HELP Democrat whose reservations about the public option have forced the committee to modify their plan and delay it's roll out.

Still, the developments on that committee seem to have pleased SEIU president Andy Stern who last night wrote, "HELP Committee working hard on solid public option," on his Twitter feed.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking GOP member on the Judiciary Committee, said yesterday that the New Haven firefighters case will come up at Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing.

This case sharpens our focus on Judge Sotomayor's troubling speeches and writings, which indicate...that personal experiences and political views should influence a judge's decision. That theory is a breathtaking departure from the proper role of the American judge and will clearly be the subject of questioning at the upcoming hearing.

This case will only raise more questions in the minds of the American people concerning Judge Sotomayor's commitment to treat each individual fairly and not as a member of a group.





This idea sort of came and went a few weeks ago, but some legislators just can't let it go. According to the Associated Press, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)--a potentially key moderate on the Senate Finance Committee--hasn't forsworn signing on to a health reform bill that includes a public option. But she's holding out to see it affixed to a "trigger mechanism," which would, in theory, give insurance companies a years-long window to lower costs on their own and only "trigger" the public option if they failed to do so.

"If you establish a public option at the forefront that goes head-to-head and competes with the private health insurance market ... the public option will have significant price advantages," Snowe said. But this was her argument against making the public option available as soon as the bill becomes law.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the committee's Democratic point man on the public plan, has basically ruled this option out, as has the health reform campaign Health Care for America Now. Their principles call for a public plan available "on day one."



Shari Barman, the homeowner who was arrested at this past weekend's fundraiser for Democratic Congressional candidate Francine Busby (CA-50), put out a statement yesterday evening. She condemns the sheriff's department's raid as having been based on a non-legitimate noise complaint by a politically-motivated neighbor, who had allegedly yelled anti-gay slurs towards the event, and she accuses the arresting deputy of having committed unprovoked brutality.

Key quote:

Contrary to what has been reported, I did not in any manner strike Deputy Abbott. He and I had only been conversing for a minute or two when he grabbed my arm, twisted it behind me and threw me on the floor. His actions were completely unexpected, excessive and I believe, unwarranted. The remaining guests who witnessed what occurred and who were pepper sprayed were stunned and outraged.

Also contrary to what has been reported, this was the first time any deputy had been to my home that evening. I believe the noise complaint to the police may have been politically motivated based on the shouting we heard during Ms. Busby's speech.

In my opinion the charges brought against me are unfounded and were brought only in order to cover up Deputy Abbott's unprofessional behavior. What happened in our home was shocking and I don't believe would have happened had the situation been handled properly.


Full statement after the jump.

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Last fall, James Ross, a New York City resident and a donor to several Democratic organizations, received an unusual letter. "Your name has been put in our database," Ross was told. "We are monitoring all reports of a wide variety of leftist organizations. As your name appears in subsequent reports, it is our intent to publicize your involvement in your local community. Should any of these organizations be found to be engaged in illegal or questionable activity, it is our intent to publicize your involvement with those activities."

The letter was signed by Howard Rich, a publicity-shy New York real-estate investor and the founder of the conservative activist group Americans for Limited Government. Rich and his group were accused by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee of illegally using Federal Election Commission disclosure reports to obtain the names and addresses of political donors in order to discourage them from making contributions -- a violation of election law. In April, three of the FEC's six commissioners voted to open an investigation into the matter. But the commission's three Republicans opposed a probe. The FEC deadlocked 3-3, and no action was taken against Rich.

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Iraqis Gain Control Of Cities As U.S. Troops Pull Back U.S. combat troops have officially pulled out of Iraqi cities and towns, handing control over to the Iraqis. "This day, which we consider a national celebration, is an achievement made by all Iraqis," said Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. At the same time, there was a significant increase in violence over the last few weeks, in the run-up to the pullback, leaving questions as to what the future will hold.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will speak at 2 p.m. ET from the East Room, highlighting innovative nonprofit programs from across the country. At 3:15 p.m. ET, he will meet with Sec. of Energy Steven Chu.

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President Manuel Zelaya attends a press conference June 27, the day before he was seized in his home by the military and flown out of the country. Upon arriving in Costa Rica, wearing his pajamas, Zelaya maintained that he is still president of Honduras.

David /Xinhua / Sipa Press




Roberto Micheletti, who had been the president of Congress, is sworn in by Congress as Zelaya's successor after the June 28 coup.

David De La Paz




Soldiers guard the presidential office in Tegucigalpa after the military ousted President Zelaya.

David De La Paz /Xinhua /Sipa Press




Zelaya supporters block the way for soldiers trying to enter the presidential home June 28.

David /Xinhua/Sipa Press




Protesters rally at the presidential home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, June 28.

David /Xinhua/Sipa Press




A demonstrator passes by graffiti that reads, "Micheletti garbage. Get out of Honduras."

EFE/Roberto Escobar




Supporters of Zelaya hold a rally June 28 to protest the coup and call for the president's release.

David /Xinhua/Sipa Press




Zelaya hugs Venezuela President Hugo Chavez at an emergency meeting of Alternativa Bolivariana para las Américas, or ALBA, June 28.

NOTIMEX/FOTO/CC-PRESIDENCIA/COR/POL

TPMDC's update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:

  • Climate Change: The House did its part on Friday, passing the landmark American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. And they did it in a way that could, in theory, hold a great amount of sway with fence-sitting Democrats in the Senate. (Republicans are a different story--eight GOPers voted for the bill, but the rest sided with House Minority Leader John Boehner who called it a "pile of shit.") But success (and a successful bill) will depend in large part on factors like the Senate schedule, and White House involvement, which remain big unknowns.


  • Health Care: The House of Representatives will begin the mark-up process on a health reform bill, drafted by three different committees of jurisdiction: Energy and Commerce, Education and Labor, and Ways and Means. Thus far, the roll out in that chamber has been pretty seamless, especially by comparison to the action in the Senate. But figuring out how to keep things moving smoothly while three committees make changes to it independently turns out to be a bit tricky. We should know more about that process soon.


  • Congress is not in session this week.

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