TPM News

The new Quinnipiac University poll of the Ohio gubernatorial race shows incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland (D) closing the gap with his opponent, Republican nominee John Kasich, but still trailing badly among the all-important independent vote.

The Q poll of likely voters shows Kasich ahead 50-41. The last poll of the race taken by the firm, released in mid-September, showed Kasich ahead 54-37. Strickland's momentum here echoes other recent polls of the contest that have shown Strickland picking up steam. The TPM Poll Average shows Kasich leading 49.6-41.5.

Despite the apparent good news here for Dems, the new Q poll suggests that Strickland still has quite an uphill climb in the final four weeks of campaigning.

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The events over the last month in Harris County, Texas offer a crystal-clear example of how voter fraud allegations work, with a Tea Party group alleging fraud, a minority registration group alleging suppression and defamation, the county registrar declaring war and the state Dems jumping into the fray with a lawsuit of their own.

The Tea Party group even went so far as to claim that the headquarters of the voter registration group is the "New Black Panthers' office."

What happens in Harris County is important for the rest of the country: Harris is the largest county in Texas. Experts say that if enough of the eligible voters there register to vote, and then vote in 2012, it could change the way Texas votes in 2012. With 34 electoral votes, that could change the outcome of the election itself.

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The candidates in the open-seat Connecticut Senate race, Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Republican former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, met tonight for a very lively debate, with each of them maintaining a constant theme throughout: The other candidate absolutely cannot be trusted to look out for the state and the nation's economy.

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

Overall, the debate was probably a win for Blumenthal -- he entered the debate ahead in the polls, with a lead of 50.2%-44.2% in the TPM Poll Average -- and no knockout blows against him or gaffes on his part occurred that would seemed likely to topple him from that perch.

Each of the candidates at the debate -- which was hosted by the local Fox station and the Hartford Courant -- steadily attacked each other on similar themes. Blumenthal blasted McMahon as a greedy corporate executive who always put profits ahead of people, and touting his own long experience as a public servant. "I have stood up for the people of Connecticut over 20 years, fighting for them tenaciously, and fighting for their interest, putting them first."

McMahon, meanwhile, made the case was that Blumenthal had spent his whole adult life in government work, and that he did not have any knowledge of the private sector that would contribute to repairing the country. "This election is about very clear choices and very different policies. On the one hand you have my opponent who has been in government his whole life. And his position is about growing government, I'm about growing the economy."

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Christine O'Donnell's campaign is facing yet another set of questions about her background, and this time it's on a really weird line of discussion -- whether her father was Philadelphia's local Bozo the Clown. Seriously.

As Mark Leibovich at the New York Times reports, the O'Donnell family's past claims that her father Daniel O'Donnell had worked as Bozo sparked an uprising of online commenters who insisted that no, Daniel O'Donnell was not listed on Wikipedia as having been one of the many regionally licensed Bozo the Clown TV hosts.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Christine O'Donnell: Anti-Masturbation Crusader. Witchcraft Dabbler. Republican Senate Nominee.]

But now Leibovich has sorted things out -- Daniel O'Donnell was an occasional understudy Bozo, not a full-time holder of the Bozo mantle. From their phone conversation:

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A conservative group is now attacking Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV), with a new ad singling him out for having headed up a group for Arab-American supporters of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign.

As Amanda Terkel reports, the West Virginia Conservative Foundation's new ad shows video of Rahall, with scary-sounding music in the background. "Now I happen to have been an early supporter of Barack Obama...I campaigned with him in the hills of West Virginia. And I proudly chaired the Arab-Americans for Obama campaign nationwide group, dedicated to mobilizing Arab-Americans and bringing light to those issues we care about."

An announcer then cuts in: "Call Nick Rahall and tell him what you care about."

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Wisconsin District Attorney Kenneth Kratz resigned today, effective immediately, after several women alleged he sent sexually inappropriate text messages during his time as DA in Calumet County.

"I have lost the confidence of the people I represent due primarily to personal issues which have now affected my professional career," Kratz said in a statement today.

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