TPM News

The new Rasmussen poll of the California gubernatorial race -- the first survey since Republican former eBay CEO Meg Whitman became implicated in a scandal over having hired an illegal immigrant housekeeper -- shows Democratic state Attorney General Jerry Brown, who previously served as governor from 1975-1983, building up his newfound lead against her.

The numbers: Brown 49%, Whitman 44%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. In the previous Rasmussen poll from two weeks ago, Brown led Whitman by 47%-46%.

Also of note, the TPM Poll Average now gives Brown a bare lead of 45.2%-45.1% -- the first time in many weeks that he has been ahead in this measurement.

Whitman's past strong performance in the polls came from her heavy self-financing -- at over $119 million, she is the biggest self-financing candidate ever in this country. However, other recent polls, such as a recent survey from Public Policy Polling (D), have suggested that Whitman reached the point of over-saturating the market. And the maid story probably isn't helping her, either.

She led the charge against ACORN and blasted the NRA for backing a Democratic campaign finance bill. She's helped presidential contenders and entrenched Republicans in Washington. Now GOP super-lawyer Cleta Mitchell is repping the two of the tea party's biggest rising stars -- Sharron Angle and Christine O'Donnell.

It might surprise tea partiers to know their favorite candidates have retained the same power-broker lawyer who did work for the same establishment National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee that opposed their candidacies in the primary.

Mitchell told TPM in an interview this morning how she got hooked up with Angle and O'Donnell. She's friends with Angle's campaign manager, Terry Campbell, since they served together in the Oklahoma State House of Representatives. Mitchell was a member from 1976 through 1984. She's now a partner at Foley and Lardner in Washington.

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A probe by the New York Daily News has found that New York Republican gubernatorial nominee Carl Paladino has received $3 million in tax breaks as part of a program to help boost the economy in Buffalo, but has only created a total of 25 jobs. Paladino, a New York tea party favorite, often touts anti-government themes in his campaign.

The government program he benefits from, called Empire Zones, is a statewide effort "to stimulate economic growth through a variety of tax incentives designed to attract new businesses to New York and to enable existing businesses to expand and create more jobs," according to the site.

Paladino, a Buffalo-based real estate developer, notably made his investments for his own existing properties without creating any new projects -- in one case putting $19 million into renovations for his buildings.

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It was only a matter of time before this happened, but the final product is brutal: Linda McMahon is out with a new ad attacking Democratic Senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal for falsely claiming to have served "in" (as opposed to "during") the Vietnam war.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Bringing The Smackdown: Linda McMahon's Campaign For Senate, And Her Colorful Pro-Wrestling Past]

The ad splices audio and video footage of Blumenthal misrepresenting his military service with a dark-toned narrator asking: "Would you lie about serving in a war? Dick Blumenthal did again and again. He covered one lie with another. He lied about Vietnam. What else is he lying about?"

Blumenthal weathered his Vietnam scandal in Connecticut when it first broke this past spring, but that was before voters really began paying attention to the election. And in the month since then, McMahon has closed what was once an enormous gap in the polls.

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Democrats are crossing their fingers and hoping to narrow both the enthusiasm gap and the spread in the generic ballot in the weeks before the midterm elections. But they're about to contend, once again, with a sobering reality.

On Friday, the Department of Labor will release its monthly unemployment statistics, and according to an independent analysis, the unemployment rate is likely to rise ever so slightly.

A Bloomberg News survey of 62 economists found that, "Unemployment climbed to 9.7 percent from 9.6 percent in August."

"The data may also show companies added 77,000 workers to payrolls, and total hiring stagnated amid cuts in government staffing as the decennial census wound down," according to Bloomberg's analysis.

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Democrats have unloaded some new attack ads against Linda McMahon in the Connecticut Senate race, which has been getting close in recent weeks.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Bringing The Smackdown: Linda McMahon's Campaign For Senate, And Her Colorful Pro-Wrestling Past]

A spot from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

"The kind of CEO Linda McMahon was, is the kind of Senator she'd be. As CEO, McMahon laid off workers, yet took millions in bonuses. No wonder she opposes Wall Street reform. McMahon spent thousands on lobbyists to get millions in tax breaks for herself. Of course she's supporting more corporate tax breaks as Senator. Linda McMahon -- a bad CEO -- a worse Senator."

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The Dallas Morning News came out with a story this weekend that Texas Gov. Rick Perry used the state's Emerging Technology Fund to funnel some $16 million to firms that were backed by major donors to his campaign.

Created in 2005, Perry pushed for the fund, which is meant to encourage the development of new technology and attract researchers to the state. The grants -- which have totaled $173 million since the fund's creation -- are overseen by the governor's office and must be approved by the governor himself.

The lieutenant governor and speaker of the state house must also sign off, the News reports, but they wait for governor's go-ahead before doing so.

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The American Principles Project, founded by conservative Princeton professor Robert P. George as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, has partnered with its sister organization, the 501(c)(4) American Principles In Action, to promote a bus trip aimed at engaging Latino voters for Carly Fiorina's campaign for U.S. Senate called "Vote Your Values (Vota Tus Valores)." Both organizations originally made headlines by accusing President Barack Obama's Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Department of Education's Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools, Kevin Jennings, of promoting a "radical gay agenda" in schools.

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