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Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) was just interviewed by Neil Cavuto on Fox News, and he predicted that Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) will easily have full Democratic support in his 2010 primary.

"Well, I think that Arlen will probably wind up running unopposed, or without a serious challenger," said Rendell. "Look, the President of the United States has already endorsed Arlen, the Vice President of the United States has. Everyone knows Arlen and I are personal friends, go back to when he hired me as an assistant district attorney without asking me what party I belonged to. I think every major Democrat is gonna be for Arlen. And I think he's got a lot of inherent support with Democrats and independents all across the state."

So despite any rumblings about Joe Sestak or some other Dem possibly running, Rendell is predicting a clear field.

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The Obamas at the Inaugural ball, January 20.

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Chief Justice John Roberts administers the oath of office for the second time, January 21.

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January 27.

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The Obamas wear 3-D glasses while watching Superbowl 43, February 1.

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Key economic staff members confer during a budget session in the White House Roosevelt Room, Feb. 6.

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February 18.

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President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Green Room prior to a meeting with U.S. Mayors, February 20.

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama dance while the band Earth, Wind and Fire performs at the Governors Ball in the State Dining Room of the White House, February 22.

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February 26.

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First Lady Michelle Obama with daughters Malia and Sasha sled in the snow on the South Lawn of the White House, March 2.

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March 5.

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An economic meeting with the President's advisors in the Roosevelt Room, March 15.

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Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner talks alone with NEC Director Larry Summers in the West Wing Hall following the Economic Daily briefing, March 16.

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President Barack Obama laughs while walking with Senior Advisor David Axelrod following an event at the Costa Mesa Town Hall OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California, March 18.

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March 20.

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March 25.

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II welcomes Barack and Michelle Obama to Buckingham Palace in London, April 1.

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First Lady Michelle Obama meets with Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife of French President Sarkozy, at the Palais Rohan in Strasbourg, France, April 3.

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President Barack Obama's personal aide Reggie Love, left, and White House physician Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman check their notes as they travel in the Presidential motorcade in Strasbourg, France, April 4.

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First Lady Michelle Obama waits as President Barack Obama, background, signs the guestbook upon their arrival to Prague Castle in the Czech Republic, April 5.

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President Barack Obama speaks with National Security Advisor Gen. James "Jim" Jones following a reception with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and heads of state attending the Alliance of Civilizations Dinner, April 6.

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President Barack Obama and members of his staff arrive for a reception April 6, 2009, at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul, April 6.

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President Barack Obama receives a fist-bump from a U.S. soldier as he greets hundreds of U.S. troops during his visit Tuesday, April 7.

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President Barack Obama offers a fist-bump to senior staff member Pete Rouse during a meeting with senior advisors in the Oval Office, April 8.

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April 9.

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The Obamas host a Passover Seder Dinner with friends and staff in the Old Family Dining Room at the White House, April 9.

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President Obama shakes hands with Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, April 17.

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President Obama picks up a few tricks from cricket legend Brian Lara, April 19.

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White House Deputy Director of Oval Office Operations Brian Mosteller attempts to protect his shoes as he plays with the Obama family dog "Bo" in the Cabinet Room at the White House, April 21.

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April 23.

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When Pat Toomey announced that he'd be challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary, we were prepared for Specter to tack to his right. And he did just that. After ushering forward and voting for the stimulus spending package, Specter voted for a Republican alternative budget that would have frozen spending. He announced his intent to oppose EFCA. And he withheld support from President Obama's OLC-chief designate Dawn Johnsen.

But then he ditched the Republican party and, with it, much of the incentive to do the bidding of conservatives. At about noon, he became a Democrat. At about 2:15, in a move that vexed liberals, he announced that he doesn't support Dawn Johnsen. A few hours later he voted to confirm the supposedly controversial Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. This morning he appeared with Obama and other Democrats in a celebratory photo-op at the White House.

And tonight, he'll have another test.

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The national Democrats are now going on the air for the first time in a key 2010 Senate race -- against a potential candidate who isn't even officially in the race yet!

The new TV ad from the DSCC takes on Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), who is widely viewed as being likely to run for the open GOP-held Senate seat in this perennial swing state:



"Crist enjoys being governor when he attends basketball games and Super Bowl activities and when he takes over sixty days off with no schedule," the announcer says. "But now, the job's getting tough and Crist wants out -- leaving Floridians with the mess."

It's not immediately clear just how extensive the ad buy might actually be.

Late Update: The DSCC tells me it should start airing in Tallahassee tomorrow, and may expand later.

Late Late Update: NRSC press secretary Amber Wilkerson gives us this comment: "The DSCC obviously knows they're in trouble in Florida because this reeks of desperation. Too bad they haven't learned that voters in the Sunshine State are looking for real solutions, accountability, and checks and balances in Washington - not another round of pithy negative attacks."

LATE UPDATE: An earlier version of this post misidentified New Mexico State Investment Council portfolio manager Kay Chippeaux as being Frank Foy's replacement; Foy had held various titles including chief investment officer at the state's Education Retirement Board.

In June 1997 Tom Flanigan, the chief investment officer of the California State Teachers Retirement System, wrote a letter to his old mentor, then-SEC chief Arthur Levitt. He was under political pressure, he said, to gamble with teachers' savings. The state comptroller was demanding he allocate a bigger portion of the fund to venture capital firms and hedge funds in what he thought to be an overheated market.

Meanwhile, hedge funds and private equity firms were hiring politically connected "placement agents" to descend upon his board of directors, who had final approval over his investment decisions. He had just watched the Texas investment firm Hicks, Muse, Tate and Furst secure a $100 million investment from the state employees' general retirement fund CalPERS after paying a $750,000 "finders fee" to a former board member and longtime Los Angeles politico named Alfred Villalobos. Villalobos had a questionable history with Hicks -- as a board member he'd already approved another $100 million investment in the firm on the advice of the fund's paid adviser Chris Bower. Nine months later, Bower sold his two-year-old yacht to Hicks founder Tom Hicks for a $45,000 profit. And there was other smoke around the deal, if no clear fire: Villalobo, for one had just filed for personal bankruptcy over gambling debts. And the board had initially rejected the deal -- when another LA politico on the board, a labor leader named Jerry Cremins, changed their minds. There was something "unseemly if not unethical" going on, Flanigan wrote. The SEC proposed rules regulating the placement agencies.

A few months later, Flanigan was sacked.

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Kathleen Sebelius listens as President Obama speaks about her confirmation as Health and Human Services Secretary, April 28.

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Kathleen Sebelius is sworn in as Health and Human Services Secretary at the Oval Office, April 28.

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Sebelius is briefed on the H1N1 flu by John Brennan, assistant to the President for Homeland Security, in the Situation Room of the White House, April 28.

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Now here's an interesting spin on the Arlen Specter switch. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) appeared on Fox News today, where he presented the case that Specter's switch is the first evidence that people are rebelling against Obama, and that the Republican Party is coming back!

Inhofe explained that this was a sign that Obama and the Democrats were overreaching, just as Bill Clinton did in 1993, and the people are rebelling against it just as they did in 1994:



"Now the evidence of this was found out when Arlen Specter made his decision," Inhofe explained. "And that is all of a sudden, we find out that Arlen Specter is down in the Republican Party, down in terms of his popularity. The guy that ran against him and was defeated by Arlen Specter in, six years ago, now is so far ahead of him that Arlen Specter's own advisers said there's no way that you can win this thing unless you change to the Democratic Party. Now to me, that's the evidence it's coming."

Inhofe appears to be thinking here that the state of opinion in the Republican Party is tantamount to the nation's opinion overall. This might be true enough if it's just applied to his home state of Oklahoma. But as we've learned in 2006, 2008 and recent months, this doesn't exactly apply to the whole country.

Rep. Scott Murphy (D-NY) was just sworn in to the House of Representatives, capping off a four-week process that has lasted since the photo-finish on the night of his special election way back on March 31.

Murphy has taken the upstate New York seat formerly held by U.S. Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), whose appointment to the Senate caused the special election in this marginal district. It took over three weeks for the winner to be known as absentee ballots were counted, with Murphy up by 399 votes at the end of last week when his Republican opponent Jim Tedisco conceded the race.

Murphy's certificate of election has not actually been issued yet, as the state continues to go through the bureaucratic niceties of finalizing the vote count. But because the outcome is no longer in any doubt, Murphy was permitted to take the oath of office.

Late Update: A funny moment occurred during the swearing-in. Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the whole New York delegation to step forward. "Aren't there any Republicans from New York?" Pelosi asked rhetorically, and then chuckled. There are three GOP members out of 29, down from nine GOPers just four years ago.

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