TPM News

Despite a rocky start since winning the Democratic Senate nomination last month, a new poll from the DSCC shows Rep. Joe Sestak (D) comfortably ahead in the matchup with former Rep. Pat Toomey (R).

The DSCC poll, conducted by well-regarded Democratic polling firm Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group last week, shows Sestak leading Toomey by a margin of 47-40 after two weeks in which Sestak has been pounded by Republicans over his statement that the White House offered him a job to stay out of a primary fight with the man he eventually defeated, Sen. Arlen Specter.

That story has dominated national reporting of the Senate race in Pennsylvania, with the White House scrambling to answer questions about the deal, which the Obama administration has said included former President Clinton asking if Sestak would be interested in an unpaid position on a presidential board in exchange for not running. The story has caused an ongoing kerfluffle in D.C., but the new DSCC poll suggests it hasn't had the same effect on Pennsylvania voters.

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Former Florida GOP chair Jim Greer is charged with six felony counts of fraud, theft, and money laundering in connection with a company he allegedly created to take a cut of the state party's fundraising revenues, Florida authorities announced this morning.

At a news conference moments ago, Statewide Prosecutor William Shepherd charged that the money gained by the company was "used by Mr. Greer to support his own personal lifestyle."

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Illinois Senate hopeful Mark Kirk (R) has acknowledged, though not fully explained or apologized for, a years-old error on his official congressional bio page, which suggested that he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, when in fact he had not.

"Kirk's 2005 campaign Web site noted this correctly," Kirk's team emailed the Washington Post. "Unfortunately, the official Web site listed the word "in" instead of "during" but was corrected in 2005."

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A few months ago it seemed the towns around Lynchburg, Virginia would be ground zero for a political shift -- Republican voters scoffed at an establishment favorite candidate as they set their sights on the fifth district. Now, the conservative favorite Laurence Verga has deflated, losing campaign staffers who say the more moderate Republican state Sen. Robert Hurt is all-but-certain to handily capture the party nomination for the central Virginia district on June 8. That would pit Hurt -- who drew ire for backing a 2004 state tax increase but is otherwise a pretty standard Republican -- against freshman Rep. Tom Perriello, a Democrat who won a GOP seat during the 2008 Obama tidal wave. He's vulnerable but has amassed a campaign war chest of more than $1.5 million.

But the GOP isn't free and clear yet of an intraparty battle, with yet another "true" conservative threatening to run as an independent in the general election if Hurt clears the seven-candidate field. Jeffrey Clark says he'll make a third party run if Hurt wins the GOP nomination, according to the Washington Post. Clark told the Lynchburg News and Advance that he views Hurt as a "situational conservative."

There are few polls and Republican sources on the ground say it's possible something would surprise them next Tuesday, but even former Verga loyalists told me privately that he's toast and Hurt will win.

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The very politician who inspired country songs about drilling for oil is now boasting that her "drill here, drill now" plan for U.S. energy policy would have mitigated or forestalled the oil disaster in the Gulf...if only you redefine what she meant when she said that.

Last night, former half-term Alaska governor Sarah Palin believed she'd found a way to both absolve her oil-happy politics and blame environmentalists for the spill at the same time, and took to Twitter to rub it in.

"Extreme Greenies:see now why we push"drill,baby,drill"of known reserves&promising finds in safe onshore places like ANWR? Now do you get it?"

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Former Florida Republican Party Chair Jim Greer was arrested this morning and charged with grand theft, attempt to defraud, and money laundering the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Greer -- a close ally of Gov. Charlie Crist -- was reported to be under criminal investigation for a contract worth around $200,000 that he awarded to himself and the state party's executive director. The Florida Republican Party revealed the news in March, saying it had uncovered the contract in the course of its annual financial audit, and referred the matter to authorities.

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The new Rasmussen poll of Kentucky finds Republican nominee Rand Paul continuing to lead Democrat Jack Conway in the state's big Senate race -- but also suggests that the controversy surrounding Paul's statements against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could potentially hurt him.

The numbers: Paul 49%, Conway 41%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5%. In a poll taken the day after the May 18 primary, which Paul won in a landslide, He had a much bigger lead over Conway of 59%-34%. The poll also says that 73% of voters have followed the news about Paul's comments somewhat closely or very closely. Forty-five percent say Paul's comments will be somewhat or very important to how they vote, with 47% saying it will be not very important or not all important to how they vote.

The TPM Poll Average gives Paul a lead of 48.4%-39.9%.