TPM News

Paul LePage, the conservative Republican candidate for governor in Maine, stormed out of a press conference today after a reporter peppered him with questions about his property taxes and residency.

The Portland Press-Herald reported on Friday that LePage's wife, listed as the sole owner of the couple's homes, improperly claimed an exemption on the property taxes on both their Maine home and Florida home. The exemption, called the homestead exemption, may only be used on one's single, primary residence.

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Rep. Paul Ryan, who would be the key Republican on budget issues if the GOP wins back control of the House, said today there should be no confusion about extending the Bush-era tax cuts. Republicans want to keep all of them, said Ryan (R-WI), in an interview with Sean Hannity.

The Democrats today were trying to suggest the Republicans are split on the issue of extending the tax cuts for the middle class only, as President Obama wants, or also for the rich.

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The Tea Party Express is calling for the "immediate resignation or termination" of Delaware Republican Party Chairman Tom Ross, over Ross' support of GOP establishment pick Rep. Mike Castle in the Senate Republican primary. But it just so happens that the group's call for "termination" comes just a few days after Ross received a death threat, one serious enough for him to temporarily leave his home.

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Democrats who hoped to exploit GOP divisions over tax cuts are now facing their own split, and have made no firm decisions on on how to proceed for maximum political gain. House leaders are still casting about for consensus as members return from a long summer recess. This afternoon, top leadership aides are disagreeing on whether there will even be a vote and conservative Democrats are attempting to pressure Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to put them in a tough spot before the midterms.

After we quoted two House Democratic leadership aides telling us there would not be a vote, another senior leadership aide called TPM to say that leadership is still considering all of its options, including a vote after all.

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The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal is out this weekend with a glowing profile of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, just about two months after the Justice Department dropped its investigation into whether Gonzales politicized the DOJ during his tenure.

As you might expect, Gonzales denied that his 2006 firing of U.S. attorneys was politically motivated.

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More bad news for Kelly Ayotte: A Magellan poll released today shows the Republican establishment's preferred New Hampshire Senate candidate only leading her primary opponent Ovide Lamontagne 35%-31% ahead of tomorrow's primary.

LaMontagne, the Tea Party favorite, has been gaining some ground on the establishment-backed Ayotte over the past few weeks. The previous Magellan poll, from September 1, showed Ayotte leading Lamontagne 34-21. A PPP poll released today shows LaMontagne trailing Ayotte by seven points.

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If you wanted any further evidence that Senate Republicans will make or break the White House's push to let Bush tax cuts for the rich expire, check out what Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl told reporters this afternoon.

When I asked Kyl whether Senate Republicans would follow John Boehner's lead and, if left with no alternative, support a middle-class-only tax cut bill he was quick to point out that Republicans have much more power in the Senate than they do in the House.

"In the House, as you know, the Speaker can set the rules pretty much however she wants to," Kyl said. "She can schedule a vote on whether to jump over the moon if she wants to. So theoretically she can force people into voting on an issue just exactly as she frames it, and I think that's what representative Boehner was fearing, although he explained very clearly that that would not be the best result."

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A second member of the Congressional Black Caucus has acknowledged awarding scholarships to his family members.

Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) awarded Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to his stepdaughter, his niece and the future wife of a longtime aide. Although he claims the scholarships were awarded before anti-nepotism rules were in place, he says he will pay back the (so far unspecified) amount to the foundation.

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House Democrats won't be forcing a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts for middle class taxpayers, a senior House leadership aide tells TPM.

As we've been writing about today, Democrats are gleeful over a window of opportunity they see just in time for the midterm elections over Minority Leader John Boehner's positions on whether to make the George W. Bush tax cuts permanent for everyone but the wealthy.

[FULL COVERAGE]

That's what President Obama is pushing, and Boehner suggested Sunday he would support such a vote if that were his only option. He walked it back, but it begged the question about whether the Democrats would present such an option with a House floor vote. Will the Democrats force Boehner's hand?

A senior House leadership aide says no.

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