TPM News

The new SurveyUSA poll of the California gubernatorial race gives Republican former eBay CEO Meg Whitman the lead over Democratic state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who previously served as governor from 1975-1983 and also ran for Senate and the presidency.

The numbers: Whitman 46%, Brown 39%. The poll of likely voters has a margin of error of ±4%. There is no prior SurveyUSA poll for direct comparison.

The TPM Poll Average gives Brown a lead of 44.2%-41.8%.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will turn back to the Wall Street reform bill later today, after finally clinching 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. The question now is when it will finally pass, and be shipped over to the White House for a signing ceremony.

The legislation itself is at this point unamendable -- it's an up or down proposition. Still unknown at at this point is whether Republicans will use the Senate rules to eat up hours floor time, and delay a vote, or whether they'll allow a vote right away. Aides at this point expect Reid to file for cloture this afternoon, which would delay passage until at least Thursday. But as always during pivotal stages of the legislative process, things move, and change, quickly.

Stay tuned.

According to Ryan Grim, and aide to Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, who had been holding out on the Wall Street reform bill, confirmed this morning that he would indeed vote for the legislation when it is brought to the floor, possibly on Thursday. Just before that, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he planned to file for cloture as early as this afternoon.

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Fred Davis, the GOP ad guru who brought you that John McCain "Celebrity" ad in 2008 and Carly Fiorina's internet sensation, the Demon-Sheep, is aiming his talents at new target: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

Politico's Jonathan Martin reports that Phelps has created a new TV ad for the conservative American Action Network that will run statewide in Washington soon. As Martin writes, the ad -- which shows a woman walking over the backs of three people, one of them a child -- plays on Murray's political past:

The commercial, like many spots against Democratic incumbents, aims to make the case that Murray has forgotten her roots. But it's notably personalized through the use of tennis shoes, a play on Murray's 1992 mantra that she was a common-sense "mom in tennis shoes."

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Minnesota state Rep. Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor, made an interesting campaign stop over the weekend as part of his damage control efforts for having supported policies that would effectively lower the minimum wage for waiters: He became a "waiter for a day," serving tables at a Mexican restaurant.

In the Emmer campaign's Web video of the event, the Republican declared his solidarity with waiters against people who criticize them: "Some guy on the radio today was saying how it's unskilled labor. I'll tell you what. I dare him to try and carry a tray with 25 pounds of hot, steaming dishes on top of it, be able to know which ones they're going to, be able to run back and pick up the next table and be smiling and happy for the third. You know, this is not an easy job, this is hard work, and the servers get exactly what they put into it. The good ones get rewarded very well. It's just a good reminder, it's not as if we didn't know that. It's just a good reminder -- it's good to walk a mile in someone else's shoes."

Last week, Emmer indicated his support for a policy known as a "tip credit." Minnesota is one of seven states that do not permit employers to pay less than the standard minimum wage to tipped workers. Federal law permits tipped workers' wages to be as low as $2.13 per hour, absent state regulation to the contrary, with tips given to workers credited against the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour employers are required to pay. Depending on implementation, a tip credit could lower the basic wage to anywhere between $2.13 and $7.25, plus tips.

What especially got Emmer in trouble was this claim: "With the tips that they get to take home, there are some that are earning over $100,000 a year -- more than the very people that are providing the jobs and investing not only their life savings but their family's future. Something has to be done about that."

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Voters still have more confidence in President Obama than they do in either party in Congress, but that's not saying much. According to a new Washington Post/ABC poll, confidence in Obama's decision-making has fallen to the lowest point of his presidency, with 58% of respondents saying they have "just some" or no confidence that the president will "make the right decisions for the country's future."

Voters' view of Congressional Democrats? 68% say they have "just some" or no confidence in them. They have the least confidence in Congressional Republicans with 72% saying they have no or "just some" confidence in the party to make the decisions that will improve things in this country.

Despite the low confidence in the existing Congressional GOP, voters in the poll seem more eager than ever to hand control of Capitol Hill back to the Republicans, according to the Post's story on the poll.

"Those most likely to vote in the midterms prefer the GOP over continued Democratic rule by a sizable margin" of 56-41, the paper reports.

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How do we get on this list?

Sarah Palin's political action committee spent some $3,800 in the past quarter on "gift bag items" from an Alaskan company called Indian Valley Meats, according to SarahPAC's latest FEC reports.

Indian Valley, according to its (drool-worthy) web site, sells gift boxes full of Alaskan meats: smoked salmon, caribou sausage, musk ox jerky, reindeer hot dogs, trail sticks, honey mustard sauce and more.

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Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is hammering his main Republican opponent in a new ad, saying that businessman Ron Johnson would "hand over the Great Lakes to the oil companies" -- with the BP oil spill shown as being moved right up to Wisconsin.

"I said no to drilling in our Great Lakes," says Feingold. "But one opponent, Ron Johnson, disagrees. He's willing to hand over the Great Lakes to the oil companies -- threatening Wisconsin's economy, and a way of life for generations of Wisconsin families. We won't let that happen." The ad shows a graphic of the oil spill along the Gulf Coast, with the blotted area then being superimposed over Lake Michigan and spreading all the way across Wisconsin.

The TPM Poll Average gives Feingold a narrow edge of 45.7%-44.0% against Johnson.

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NRSC Chairman John Cornyn disagrees with his colleague, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) that the rise of the Tea Party is bad news for Republicans this election cycle. Late last week, Bennett made waves by declaring, among other things, that the Tea Party will allow Harry Reid to save his Nevada Senate seat. Cornyn responded yesterday by speculating that Bennett's recent defeat at the Utah Republican convention.

"I disagree with that," Cornyn told TPMDC. "I respect Sen. Bennett a lot. He's been through a tough experience because of the unusual selection process in his state and that may have had some impact on his views."

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Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin told reporters this morning at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that he supports surveying troops about the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell ban on LGBT people in the military. Levin said it can't hurt to take the temperature of military rank-and-file, but cautioned that troops should not feel like they can influence the policy's outcome.

"The military is not a democracy," Levin said. He also said he "can understand the resentment in the gay community" about the phrasing of the survey.

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