TPM News

Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT), who is running in today's Connecticut Republican Senate primary, appeared yesterday on Laura Ingraham's radio show -- where the two sharply criticized the national Republican Party for favoring self-funding candidates like former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon.

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

Simmons, who dramatically re-entered the primary in the home stretch, talked about how he polls just as well as McMahon against the presumptive Democratic nominee, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, despite all the money that McMahon has put into the race. Ingraham then asked whether national party committees are favoring self-funders who would make their own jobs easier.

Simmons agreed. "And that has been the topic of some national news stories within the last few weeks, that they have focused very much on self-funders because their own fundraising has not been as aggressive or as successful as it should be," said Simmons. "I think that's a damn shame. If you look at the polls, I am very competitive against Richard Blumenthal, and I"m the kind of guy that can take him on at every level. I can take him on in debates on the issues, on serving in Vietnam. She can't. The only thing she's got is a checkbook."

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Nathan Deal has pulled out in front of Karen Handel in today's GOP gubernatorial runoff in Georgia, a last-minute Landmark survey (PDF) finds. The poll shows Deal edging Handel 43.7%-41.9%, a lead that fall's within the poll's 3.9-point margin of error.

Landmark's last poll of the race, from August 1, showed Handel in the lead, 45.8%-37.1%.

Handel seems to have the wind at her back going into today's runoff election -- she won more votes in July's primary and boasts an endorsement from Sarah Palin. Landmark's new numbers, though, may give Deal supporters a reason to be hopeful as they await tonight's results.

The TPM Poll Average gives Handel a slim 43.7%-41.6% lead. Check out TPMDC's full coverage of the race here.

Sharron Angle is now getting on board with those Republicans who are calling for an end to birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. But instead of amending the Constitution, Angle is apparently in the camp that believes it can be done through legislation.

Jon Ralston reports that Angle said during a media availability yesterday that "certainly someone who has not come here under the rule of law is not under our jurisdiction." She also added: "I think Congress needs to become involved."

Birthright citizenship comes from the very first sentence of the 14th Amendment: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." This was enacted in order to guarantee racial equality, especially for the freed slaves after the Civil War, and has been extended to cover all racial groups.

But when it comes to the children of illegal immigrants, some conservatives think they've found their loophole. However, experts have told TPM that any such plans to change the law are "clearly unconstitutional."

The TPM Poll Average for the Nevada Senate race gives Harry Reid a lead of 45.1%-42.7%.

It's no secret that since Rand Paul became the Republican nominee for Senate in Kentucky, media access has been tough. And so even during my weekend trip to Kentucky's Fancy Farm political picnic, I was forced to observe Paul from the outside rather than chat one-on-one with the Republican candidate.

Still -- I learned a lot just by watching. Paul very obviously remains an outsider who does his own thing, and comes across like a regular guy who simply doesn't look or talk like a politician. He still seems to be at odds with the local party after a brutal GOP primary. And he just doesn't seem to be interested in running a traditional campaign -- or abiding by local customs.

Let's break it down.

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[This post continues to update as new information becomes available. Please scroll down or refresh for the latest information.]

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the family of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) is concerned that he may have been on-board a GCI-owned plane that reportedly crashed near Dillingham, Alaska. Stevens was on his way to the GCI-owned Agulowak Lodge near Lake Aleknagik.

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Today, for the first time in Colorado history, a mail-in voting system will be used for Congressional midterm primaries. Voters in most of the state's counties received ballots weeks ago, and hundreds of thousands have already mailed them back.

Mailed ballots must be received by 7 p.m. tonight, otherwise they don't count. But that doesn't quite mean the voting's all over. Those who have not yet done so can still vote up until 7 p.m. tonight at designated "drop-off" locations. And as candidates get in their final few hours of campaigning, the question is: with so many people having already mailed their ballots, have the contests already been decided? Turns out it's hard to say for sure.

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Gibbs: Liberal Detractors 'Ought To Be Drug Tested' The Hill reports: "The White House is simmering with anger at criticism from liberals who say President Obama is more concerned with deal-making than ideological purity. During an interview with The Hill in his West Wing office, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs blasted liberal naysayers, whom he said would never regard anything the president did as good enough. 'I hear these people saying he's like George Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested,' Gibbs said. 'I mean, it's crazy.'"

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET, and the economic daily briefing at 10:30 a.m. ET. He will deliver remarks on teacher jobs at 11:40 a.m. ET. He will meet at 1:50 p.m. ET with senior advisers. At 2:45 p.m. ET, he will participate in an Ambassador Credentialing Ceremony. He will meet at 4:30 p.m. ET with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

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Voters are headed to the polls today in Minnesota's Democratic gubernatorial primary. The party's chosen candidate, state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, is facing off against former state House Dem leader Matt Entenza and former Sen. Mark Dayton -- and is going to need some help to pull out a victory.

The TPM Poll Average for the primary gives Dayton the lead with 41.0%, followed by Kelliher at 26.5%, and Entenza with 22.0%. The question, then, is whether the organized ground game of the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party -- as the Dems are called in Minnesota -- will be able to pull off a surprise for Kelliher despite the polls.

Minnesota political parties traditionally don't hold real primaries, but instead go through a system of precinct caucuses, county conventions and a state convention. If a candidate can get a 60% super-majority of delegates at the state convention, the party then officially endorses that candidate and the opponents are expected by custom to drop out. This is how presumptive Republican Tom Emmer won his nomination, for example, with tomorrow's primary a mere formality on the Republican side.

But it didn't work out quite so cleanly on the Democratic side.

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Chet Traylor, the Republican primary challenger to Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), appeared on the Washington Post/ABC News program "Top Line" yesterday in his first-ever television interview in support of his nascent campaign. And although the hosts tried hard to get him to tell them what the rumored newest scandal Vitter might face, Traylor was having none of it.

"Rick, the only thing I can tell is what the people have been telling me: that they want a viable alternative to vote for in this upcoming primary," he said. He added, "You guys are the ones who have been reporting the problems, and I'm sure that you all are keeping up with that a whole lot closer than I am."

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Today's thought experiment: who wins in a race between a Republican with Sarah Palin's endorsement and one who's birther-friendly and dared the federal government to stop him from deporting illegal immigrants?

Today, Republicans in the Peach State go to the polls to make their choice in the GOP runoff. The race pits former Secretary of State Karen Handel (the aforementioned Mama Grizzly) against former Rep. Nathan Deal (the one who just wanted to get to the bottom of the whole Obama birth certificate thing.) Who will win is anybody's guess -- the latest polls show the race as an absolute dead heat. Yesterday's Mason-Dixon poll showed Handel leading by five.

Indeed, the advantage likely goes to Handel, the woman who won the most votes in Georgia's July primary and stumped with Palin just yesterday.

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