TPM News

Health care reform may have moved off the House and Senate floors and into the shadowy world of the Democratic conference process, but House Minority Whip Eric Cantor says Republicans can still stop reform before it becomes law. In a new memo to his House colleagues, Cantor lays out his plan to target 37 House Democrats and convince them to join the GOP and vote no.

"By convincing just three House Members to switch their position and oppose this bill, we can halt this government take-over of our health care system," Cantor writes.

Cantor's target list includes Democrats he says will be vulnerable next year on issues like spending and the shifts in Medicare funding found in the health care bill. But a key component of Cantor's plan targets 11 Democrats he says could switch if the Stupak abortion language is changed in the final bill.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released a statement today in reaction to Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-CT) announcement that he will not seek re-election in 2010. Here's the full text:

"Chris Dodd has dedicated his life to public service and has always been on the front lines to make a difference where it counts. I know how much of an honor it has been for Chris to serve the people of Connecticut and how truly difficult this decision was for him to step away. His warm personality, sense of humor and optimistic spirit has won him great respect and many friends on both sides of the aisle. I salute Chris on his years of service and wish only the best for him and Jackie and their entire family as they look forward to the new challenges ahead of them."

There is already a poll out of the Connecticut Senate race, demonstrating that Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-CT) retirement has drastically improved Democratic chances of holding the seat, with state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal holding landslide leads over the Republican candidates.

By a very fortunate coincidence, Public Policy Polling (D) was already in the field with a poll testing both Dodd and Blumenthal as Democratic nominees, in order to determine whether Democrats would do better by dumping the incumbent. The answer is an emphatic yes.

Dodd and Blumenthal were each tested against the three Republican candidates: Former Rep. Rob Simmons, former Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, and financial analyst and Ron Paul activist Peter Schiff. Dodd trailed Simmons by 44%-40%, was tied 43%-43% with McMahon, and led Schiff by 44%-37%. By contrast, Blumenthal leads Simmons by 59%-28%, is ahead of McMahon by 60%-28%, and leads Schiff by 63%-23%.

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A progressive group has collected more than 1,000 personal notes from North Dakotans begging Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) not to retire.

Greg Sargent reports that the Progressive Change Campaign Committee emailed its members in the state and asked them to send Dorgan a personal note. More than 1,000 have responded, with pleas ranging from requests to reconsider to outright begging Dorgan to stay.

The PCCC is still requesting signatures for the petition it plans to the deliver to Dorgan this week. "Senator Dorgan -- don't retire!" the petition reads. "We need people like you in the Senate, fighting for the little guy against corporate power. Please keep fighting for us, and we'll fight for you.""

Republicans have put Democrats on the defensive in the Congressional midterm elections, but are facing their own challenges from conservatives across the country more frequently identifying with the tea party movement.

The trend started last fall when national momentum built behind conservative candidate Doug Hoffman in New York's 23rd Congressional district, pushing the party-chosen Republican Dede Scozzafava out of the race.

Now, Democratic sources tell us, tea party challengers have sprung up across the country. In many cases they are specifically saying they want to fight against the "establishment" of the National Republican Congressional Committee-backed candidates and incumbents who are too comfortable with the Washington way.

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Ned Lamont released the following statement today regarding the retirement of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT). Lamont, who won the Democratic Party's nomination for Senate in 2006, said he will continue to explore a run for Governor in 2010. Here's the full text:

"For three decades, Chris has been Connecticut's best friend, a powerful defender of the constitution and a tireless advocate for families and children. Chris, Jackie and their family deserve a short break, but I'm sure that there are many more chapters in Chris' life of public service.

"This announcement does not change my own plans. I will continue to explore a run for Governor because I believe the stakes for Connecticut are too high and that we need innovative, entrepreneurial leadership to kickstart our economy, create new jobs, and honestly balance our budget."

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