TPM News

A spokesman for Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias told TPM Monday he's not worried about third-party candidates affecting the Illinois Senate race -- despite a Public Policy Polling survey released last week that found Democratic State Treasurer Giannoulias neck-and-neck with GOP Rep. Mark Kirk, 31%-30%. Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones polled at a surprising 14%.

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That "free money" government grants informercial that former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) appeared in in 2007? It was all former Rep. J.C. Watts' idea! At least that's what the Hayworth campaign said Monday.

While it remains unclear exactly what role Watts may have played in recruiting Hayworth to the infomercial cause, Watts has had quite a post-Congressional career as both a pitchman and a lobbyist.

Watts' lobbying clients have included AT&T, the National Installment Lenders Association -- a payday loan trade organization -- the United Keetoowah Band/Cherokee Indians, and others.

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The South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary might just be the sleaziest race of the whole cycle -- with one personal attack after another being flung right at state Rep. Nikki Haley.

Haley is favored to win today's primary runoff against Congressman Gresham Barrett, but it's sure been a rough ride along the way. The first notable wave of attacks came when two separate men accused Haley of having extramarital affairs with them: First it was Republican blogger Will Folks, and then it was lobbyist Larry Marchant. It is interesting to note that Marchant had been a paid consultant for one of Haley's rivals, Lt. Gov. André Bauer, until a day before he publicly spoke about the alleged affair. Haley publicly vowed that if she were elected governor and the affair accusations were proven true, she would resign.

Marchant took a lie detector test on the allegations, which came back "inconclusive." Bauer also took a lie detector test, in order to prove that he was not behind the allegations. Bauer ultimately came in fourth place in the first round of the primary.

Interestingly, Folks has made it clear that he supports Haley, even as he says she's lying when she denies the alleged affair. With supporters like these...

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The Democratic National Committee is putting a second television ad on national cable today as the party keeps Rep. Joe Barton's apology to BP alive and tries to capitalize on it in time for the midterm Congressional elections. The first effort led to donations in the "significant six figures," the DNC said.

The ad, obtained by TPMDC, links Barton to Senate candidate Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

The DNC was attempting to "amplify" White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's message over the weekend that Barton's comments about the spill and the escrow account for claims being a "shakedown" are part of a governing philosophy.

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A Democratic source sent along audio clips of the awkward moments on former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich's radio show this weekend that TPMDC detailed earlier today.

In one, Ehrlich (R-MD) argued with a caller who said that, as a political candidate, the former governor should be kissing his "butt." Ehrlich, embroiled in an electoral rematch with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) told the caller that he doesn't "kiss anybody's butt." When the person protested, Ehrlich noted the guy's language and said, "Get him out of here ... we don't want to put up with that."

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Tomorrow's Republican gubernatorial runoff in South Carolina will easily be the most-watched result of the night -- not necessarily because there is tremendous suspense about the outcome, but because it ends one of the most dramatic and dirty races of the cycle.

In the June 8 first-round primary, state Rep. Nikki Haley came in first with 49%, just short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. She was followed by Congressman Gresham Barrett in a distant second with 22%, state Attorney General Henry McMaster with 17%, and Lt. Gov. André Bauer with 12%.

The race was interesting from the get-go, with four Republicans competing to succeed scandal-plagued Gov. Mark "Appalachian Trail" Sanford, whose administration and potential presidential campaign were both destroyed a year ago after it was revealed that he'd had an extra-marital affair with a woman in Argentina. Then things got even more interesting, with personal accusations lobbed against Haley.

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Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth's (R-AZ) campaign for Senate is walking back his experience with a 2007 infomercial, which promoted seminars on how to get "free money" from the government, after having previously stood by Hayworth's involvement as an act of letting people know about government's role in their lives.

"Here's what happened," spokesman Mark Sanders explained to TPMDC. "J.C. Watts is a former Congressman. He and Hayworth knew each other when they were in Congress. Watts had done an infomercial for this company, and he recommended to Hayworth that he do with them, as well. So Hayworth just took it on his friend's advice that it would be a good thing to do, and he did it. And that was the extent of the knowledge that he had regarding the company."

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Rand Paul's unique mix of libertarianism and conservatism has been around for years, just waiting for an intrepid reporter like the Louisville Courier-Journal's Andrew Wolfson to pore through it. After watching hours of old Paul footage -- much of it from the archives of Kentucky's public TV network -- the Courier-Journal published the best nuggets in a massive piece.

What emerges from the story, which covers interviews beginning in 1998, is a picture of a candidate very different from either political party. In one interview he's claiming he understands the reasoning behind suicide bomb attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. In another he's repeating his problems with civil rights law, claiming that "decisions concerning private property and associations should in a free society be unhindered." In a third he's calling for social security to be privatized.

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