TPM News

Former Nevada GOP Chair Sue Lowden -- now among the slew of Republicans running for the right to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November -- might want to consult her high school American Government textbook before she tries to say anything else about the retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

In a press release posted to her campaign website this afternoon, Lowden calls on Reid and President Obama to "cross-party lines" in the wake of the Stevens retirement "and nominate as well as confirm a candidate that will serve with judicial restraint, ruling by the virtue of our Constitution as intended by our Founding Fathers." That's all well and good. But then Lowden calls on a third Democrat to reach across the aisle in the Supreme Court selection process: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A quick reminder for Lowden and anyone else who might be just a little confused: only the President can nominate Supreme Court justices, and only the Senate can confirm them.

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Here's a fun event to look for this weekend: A Pennsylvania Senate debate between former Rep. Pat Toomey, the likely Republican nominee -- and Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in the Dem primary.

The event, which was first announced three weeks ago, will be held this Sunday at La Salle University in Philadelphia. Notably absent will be Specter himself. Instead, the event should be full of attacks on Specter as both Toomey and Sestak attempt to raise their own profiles.

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Democrats in Washington are starting to move on from Rep. Bart Stupak's retirement today, and setting their sights on keeping the Michigan first district seat Stupak held for the Democrats for 18 years. The party has offered up a number of names as potential replacements for Stupak today -- but none of them is ex-Charlevoix County commissioner Connie Saltonstall.

Party officials say they expect more Democrats to enter the race, and they're making no mention of the progressive, pro-choice Saltonstall who was running against Stupak in the primary from the left with the support of several national progressive organizations. Saltonstall is unfazed by the lack of attention from the party and told TPMDC this evening she's as committed as ever to winning the nomination.

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One of the nine members of the Hutaree Christian militia prepared for a violent showdown with police -- to the point that he "secreted weapons" around the rural Michigan home where he was holed up late last month -- before finally surrendering after a daylong standoff, prosecutors allege in a new court filing.

The new allegations regarding Joshua Stone -- the 21-year-old son of alleged Hutaree leader David Stone -- come in a filing by the government arguing against bail for Stone. The government's account reveals that heavily armed police surrounded a property in rural Hillsdale County for an entire day before Stone and other unidentified associates -- all allegedly armed -- finally surrendered.

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Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) paid a visit to an audience that wouldn't be a natural venue for a fiery liberal such as himself: A meeting of the local Orange County Republican Executive Committee.

Grayson told the Orlando Sentinel that he was attending a local home-owners association meeting in the same restaurant, and then went over to the Republicans to express his displeasure about a flier promoting a recent infiltration by Republicans of a local pro-Obama group.

"That's political dirty tricks," Grayson said. "I went over to find out what their side of the story was, and whether they approved of that."

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Right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart spoke at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans today, using his time at the podium to attack Democrats and the mainstream media. For starters, he accused both of fabricating racist slurs aimed at Democratic congressmen during the health care debate.

"We are watching the emerging strategy of the post-health care bill of the Democratic Party, and it started the day before the bill was signed, when the most controversial members of the Democratic caucus walked among the Tea Party participants with cameras in the air, with glares in their eyes," Breitbart said, naming Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Barney Frank (D-MA).

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It's been quite a couple days at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

The New Orleans conference -- the party's first major gathering of 2012 hopefuls since President Obama's health care victory -- drew just about all the big names. Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich and Liz Cheney have all made speeches. And Michael Steele, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour, Mike Pence, Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty (via video) will all address the conference Saturday.

There's been a lot of railing against President Obama and Democrats, some joking about the RNC's problems and at least one major slip of the tongue.

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Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has received more support from RNC members -- so much so that he would be guaranteed to hold on to his job at least until his term expires next year, barring any new shocking events.

An additional 27 RNC members have signed on to a letter of support for Steele that was released earlier today, CNN reports, bringing the total number of signatories to 58. Because RNC rules require a two-thirds vote (112 out of 168 RNC members) to remove a chairman in the middle of his two-year term, Steele could not be removed against his will unless he were to lose some of the support he now has, and also see everyone else support an ouster.

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Dawn Johnsen today has withdrawn her nomination to lead the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, following a more than year-long confirmation fight with Senate Republicans.

The White House said President Obama accepted Johnsen's withdrawal request today, adding a statement lauding her accomplishments as a "highly-respected constitutional scholar."

Johnsen, who was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month (for a second time), made the announcement amid a news cycle when Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced he will retire. Senate Republicans challenged her because she took a strong position opposing torture practices during the Bush administration.

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Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) suggested in a statement today that he might filibuster President Obama's next Supreme Court nominee.

"In truly extraordinary cases, I reserve the prerogative to vote no on confirmation or even to vote to deny an up-or-down vote," he said.

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