TPM News

Minnesota Democrats have officially endorsed a candidate to run against Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the darling of the Tea Party right. But the process isn't over, and there will still be a primary in August.

The district-level convention of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party endorsed state Sen. Tarryl Clark, who has long been supported by other Democratic elected officials and key unions. The other candidate is Maureen Reed, former state University regent and 2006 Independence Party nominee for lieutenant governor -- and she will still be contesting the nomination in the primary.

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The ink on the health care law President Obama signed last week hadn't even dried when Republicans and business reporters picked up on a striking claim from some of the nation's biggest corporations. The legislation, they say, will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars this year, thanks to the elimination of a major tax deduction -- but that's a claim the Democrats aren't taking at face value.

Republicans instantly glommed on, using figures released by the companies as part of their ongoing efforts to portray the bill as a jobs killer. "[W]e heard from Caterpillar this week; $100 million it's going to cost them just this year," warned Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on the House floor Sunday--one of several House Republicans to attack the bill for hurting employers.

There are a couple of problems, though.

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I just spent about half an hour on the phone with Bernie Zadrowski, a district attorney who heads the Bad Check Unit in Clark County, Nevada that is likely to file an arrest warrant today against Jon Scott Ashjian, the official Tea Party of Nevada candidate on this fall's Senate ballot.

Ashjian has been charged with writing a $5,000 bad check to a consultant who did work for his asphalt business -- his second offense and another legal problem he's facing as conservatives affiliated with the state's tea party movement target him as a fraud. Eyebrows were raised when the felony bad check charge surfaced because Zadrowski is the former chairman of the Clark County Republican Party and also is on the ballot in a judicial race this fall.

But Zadrowski told me that the victim of Ashjian's bounced check (written in December) came forward last month before Ashjian filed to run for Senate in early March. He also said his own political affiliations have nothing to do with it, especially since he is running to be a justice. That race is nonpartisan and candidates are barred from making endorsements or getting involved in political races. "This isn't political in nature at all, this is simply my job," Zadrowski told me.

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The Tea Party Express, a division of Our Country Deserves Better PAC, has a new Web ad excoriating "Tea Party" candidate Scott Ashjian in the Nevada Senate race, accusing him of being a Democratic mole trying to help re-elect Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The ad has not been put on television just yet -- but it could be soon.

Ashjian has registered as a candidate with an actual "Tea Party" label for the general election, rather than running in the Republican primary. Right-wing talk radio host and Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams tells Ashjian to "get lost." "Dozens of Tea Party groups across Nevada have spoken out against your candidacy," Williams says. "None of us has ever heard of you, or even seen you at a Tea Party rally. Nothing. We think you're a fraud who's trying to split the vote and help re-elect Harry Reid."

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A 38-year-old Philadelphia man was charged today with threatening to kill Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a profanity-strewn Youtube video that has since been pulled down.

In the video, Norman Leboon says Cantor will "receive my bullets in your office, remember they will be placed in your heads. You and your children are Lucifer's abominations."

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Searchlight, Nevada, is a remote town with only about 700 people -- only really known for being the home town of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). But over the weekend it became the destination of choice for thousands of Tea Party activists, who descended on the town to protest Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, health care reform and the rest of the Democrats' agenda.

The event was a kickoff for a national tour of the "Tea Party Express" bus, a project of the Our Country Deserves Better PAC. The organizers selected the hometown of the Senate Majority Leader to show off their opposition to the Dem agenda. Speakers included Andrew Breitbart, Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher, talk radio host Mark Williams, and Saturday Night Live alumnus Victoria Jackson.

The star attraction, however, was Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican nominee for vice president and a huge favorite of conservative activists. Palin slammed Reid for "gambling away our future" -- a topical reference in a gambling-heavy state. "Someone needs to tell him, this is not a crapshoot," Palin added.

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A spokesman for the Republican National Committee says the committee is investigating a nearly $2,000 expenditure at an L.A. nightclub that regularly features topless dancers, and asking the staffer who spent it to return the money.

"We are investigating the expenditure in question," said the spokesman in a statement. He also pushed back against the original Daily Caller story, which in detailing the spending, said, RNC Chairman Michael "Steele travels in style."

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