TPM News

Senate Starts Kagan Debate With Confirmation On Track The Senate will begin debate today on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. A successful confirmation is expected later this week, as nearly all Democrats plus some Republicans have indicated that they will vote for her.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET, and the economic daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET. He will sign the Fair Sentencing Act at 11 a.m. ET. He will host a town hall with Young African Leaders at 2 p.m. ET. He will meet at 4:30 p.m. ET with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

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A pseudonymous liberal blogger in Washington state hopes that progressives across the country will show up to tea party rallies on September 12 and -- if it's legal -- light up a confederate flag so tea partiers can watch it burn.

"I think that it would start a great conversation about race and about how it's being used for political gain right now," the blogger, who preferred to be identified by his online handle, "General J.C. Christian," told me Monday. "I can imagine people showing up at the tea parties, which I'll do at my local one, and the tea party backers will start explaining why [the flag] is about state's rights, not slavery, and all that and basically hang themselves."

"I think that will be one of the messages that come out of the tea party events if my idea works out and people actually embrace it," he added.

General JC Christian, who writes the satirical anti-conservative blog Jesus' General, says he's serious about Burn The Confederate Flag Day, which he announced Sunday night on Facebook and the web. And while there's no sign so far that Burn The Confederate Flag Day will spread across the nation, the idea seems sure to at least ruffle some tea party feathers.

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In a three-way Tennessee Republican gubernatorial primary to be held this Thursday, two right-wing candidates have been splitting what Monty Python would call the "silly vote," leaving Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam as the de facto "sensible candidate," and thus making him the frontrunner.

A recent Mason-Dixon poll gave Haslam the lead with 36%, followed by Rep. Zach Wamp at 25% and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey with 20%. To be sure, Haslam has tacked right somewhat. For example, he used to be a member of New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's (I) Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition. But in early 2009 he left the group and joined the National Rifle Association.

But with that said, there's nothing that Haslam has done or said that compares to the other two. Let's take a look.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the darling of right-wing activists who recently founded the House Tea Party Caucus, is now further seeking to advance her national profile -- she's starting her own leadership PAC.

In the finest traditions of political action committees, the committee's title is built as a complex acronym around her name: MICHELEPAC, the "Many Individual Conservatives Helping Elect Leaders Everywhere" PAC.

Bachmann filed the paperwork just this past Friday, so the committee has not yet reported raising any money.

On Saturday, TPM attended the Uni-Tea rally in Philadelphia, with the hopes of witnessing the most diverse Tea Party rally ever.

Unfortunately, the mostly white gathering left us with crushed hopes and broken dreams, though we did manage to capture some good video of Tea Partiers trying their darndest to rally the multi-racial crowd that never was...

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Uni-Tease: Scenes From The Tea Party's Failed Diversity Day]

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A new Rasmussen poll of Arizona has yet more bad news for former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who is challenging Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary. On the slim chance that Hayworth were to win the August 24 primary, he would in fact be the weaker GOP nominee -- and even trail the Democrat, former Tucson Councilman Rodney Glassman.

McCain leads Glassman in the general election by 53%-34%, while Glassman actually edges out Hayworth by 43%-38%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. The TPM Poll Averages for the general election matches have McCain leading Glassman by 52.3%-29.3%, and Glassman leading Hayworth by 42.2%-37.4%.

In the previous poll from mid-May, McCain led Glassman by 57%-28%, and Hayworth led Glassman by 49%-33%. Since then, of course, Hayworth has been dragged through the mud by such stories as his involvement in a 2007 infomercial promoting company's shady (and expensive) seminars on receiving "free money" from the federal government. It's not the kind of thing that would endear a candidate to swing voters.

Of course, it should be noted that the TPM Poll Average for the Republican primary puts McCain ahead of Hayworth by 53.6% 32.1%.

Rick Scott and Bill McCollum -- the two men vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Florida -- met for their first debate today, appearing together at a local Univision affiliate. According to local reports of the faceoff (which won't be broadcast in Florida until later tonight), the debate exposed more of the nastiness between the two men that has characterized the campaign in the run up to the August 24 primary. Neither man seemed to emerge as a winner, which is probably good news for Scott.

The lowdown, as reported by the Palm Beach Post: McCollum "hammered" Scott "for Medicare fraud at Scott's former hospital chain" and Scott "labeled McCollum a 'career politician'" during the 45 minutes of debate.

That's in keeping with recent weeks on the campaign trail, where McCollum has tried (in vain, if the polls are to believed) to stop Scott from running away with the nomination by repeatedly smacking the billionaire over the huge fines his company paid to the federal government amid allegations of Medicare fraud in 1997. Scott has brushed off the attacks, suggesting they're the desperate cries of a losing man.

Meanwhile, the debate appeared to show Republican voters will get basically the same set of issue positions regardless of who they vote for.

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Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) is matching Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff's recent loan to his own campaign almost dollar for dollar. Bennet has loaned $300,000 to his campaign to provide a boost in the last days of his primary battle, according to the Associated Press. Last week, Romanoff sold his house and loaned his campaign $325,000.

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Last week, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) was making the rounds, seeking the support of Louisiana's Sheriffs ahead of the November election. One potential problem: one of his rivals, State Rep. Ernest Wooton, is a former two-term sheriff himself.

Today, in an interview with TPMDC, Wooton suggested there may not be a Sheriff's endorsement at all this election.

"That's a win for me, if they're not going to endorse the incumbent," Wooton said. "Coming away with an endorsement would be wonderful for me...but coming away with no endorsement," would be a victory as well.

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A new survey of the Florida Senate race shows Gov. Charlie Crist (I) ahead of Marco Rubio (R) by some of the largest margins reported by any poll so far. With Democrat Jeff Greene in the race, Saturday's Florida Poll finds, Crist leads Rubio 37%-29%, while Greene takes third with 16%. When the Democrat is Kendrick Meek, Crist tops Rubio 41%-30%, while Meek trails with 12%.

With the exception of Rasmussen, which has shown a close contest between Crist and Rubio, recent polling has consistently found Crist leading Rubio. Before the latest Florida Poll, though, only one other poll -- a June 13 Cherry Communications survey -- had shown Crist leading by double digits.

With Greene in the race, the TPM Poll Average has Crist at 37.1%, Rubio at 30.7%, and Greene at 17.0%. When the Democrat is Meek, the TPM Poll Average of the race shows Crist with 37.6%, Rubio with 32.5%, and Meek with 14.5%. The margin of error of the latest Florida Poll, which was conducted along with the University of South Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland, is ±4.0 percentage points.

The primary is August 24.