TPM News

With just six days to go before the Republican gubernatorial primary in South Carolina, front-runner Nikki Haley has released an ad that can only be interpreted as a direct response to the still unsubstantiated claim of an affair by blogger Will Folks.

"I've seen the dark side of our state's politics," the ad begins, with Haley's voice heard over ominous storm footage. It then flashes to Haley and her husband, along with their two young children, posing on the beach.

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Rep. Parker Griffith (R-AL), who switched from the Democratic Party in December 2009, has been defeated in his Republican primary by Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks. Griffith is now the second party-switcher to lose his new party's primary this year, following Pennsylvania's Republican-turned-Democratic Senator Arlen Specter.

Griffith has conceded the race. With 99% of precincts reporting, Brooks has 51% of the vote -- just above the 50% needed to win without a runoff -- with Griffith at 33% and businessman Les Phillip with 16%. Griffith was elected to a Democratic-held open seat in 2008, winning a 51%-49% race in a district that John McCain carried 61%-38%. He switched parties in 2009, citing the health care bill and Democratic spending as major reasons for his decision, after having already voted against such big-ticket Democratic items as the stimulus, cap-and-trade and health care.

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Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's separation from the Republican Party to run for Senate as an independent is turning more and more into a messy divorce, with the newest item being the feuding over Crist's line-item vetoes of the state budget.

On Friday, Crist vetoed $371 million in spending from the state budget, with the biggest item being $160 million from the state transportation fund. He also vetoed $39.5 million in construction projects for Florida International University -- which is the alma mater of state House budget head David Rivera, the House budget chief and a close ally of Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio. He also cut $45 million for the University of South Florida polytechnic campus in Polk County, which is located in the district of state Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander. In response to the sum total of cuts, the Republican state House Speaker threatened to sue.

Yesterday, Crist said he could also potentially call the legislature back for a special session -- in which he would propose that a state constitutional amendment be put on the November ballot, to ban offshore drilling in Florida waters: "I think that it probably wouldn't be until a little later in the summer, that would be my best guess."

In Alabama tonight, it's George Wallace versus -- Young Boozer. In addition to heated primaries for governor and the House of Representatives, the Heart of Dixie will also feature a Republican primary for state Treasurer with some very interesting names on the ballot.

In this case, the two candidates are George C. Wallace, Jr., son of the late Alabama governor and presidential candidate. The younger Wallace was previously elected Treasurer in 1986 and 1990, and was later elected as a Public Service Commissioner before losing the 2006 GOP primary for lieutenant governor.

As for Young Boozer, he is a former financial executive and former state Deputy Finance Director for two-term Republican Gov. Bob Riley. And as he explains on his website: "Yes, Young Boozer is my real name. I was named after my father who first made his name as a football star for the University of Alabama. My father was named after his father who served as Mayor of Samson, Alabama." He has also passed the family name on to his son Young Boozer.

The Justice Department's internal watchdog has cleared a Bush-era U.S. Attorney of wrongdoing in a years-old episode that sparked suspicions of politicized prosecution during the U.S. Attorneys firing scandal in 2007.

TPMmuckraker covered the story involving Steve Biskupic, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, back in 2007. To summarize, the case involved Biskupic's decision to prosecute a state government bureaucrat in a case that implicated Wisconsin's Democratic governor. When an appeals court slammed the prosecution's theory of the case as "preposterous," suspicions were raised, including by congressional Democrats, that Biskupic was attempting to curry favor with the Bush Administration and avoid being purged in the firings.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) -- who often suggests that the government should keep its hands off, well, just about everything -- took to the House floor last week to criticize the Obama administration for being too hands off on the Gulf Coast oil spill.

"We haven't seen competence in the government's hands-off policy with this disaster," Bachmann said, criticizing the government for being "nowhere to be found."

The administration, they were hands off. They didn't do anything. Where were the boats that could have been commandeered by the government to be sent into this region to deal with that oil plume as it was coming up to the water and destroying marine life? Nowhere to be found. Why? The administration was hands off on this policy.

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The campaign of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) is actively getting out the early vote, which opened today, in the home stretch of the June 8 Democratic Senate primary runoff against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

A cell phone text message sent by Lincoln's campaign to her supporter list said: "Early voting has begun! Find your early voting location, take a friend and go vote for Blanche Lincoln! Forward this message to 5 friends!"

This represents a key lesson from the 2008 election, when the Obama campaign vigorously began getting out the vote right from when the early-vote periods opened in different states, banking leads over John McCain in key states that he was unable to overcome when November 4 came around. In a state with liberalized absentee and early-voting laws, "Election Day" truly begins with early voting, and with the polls closing on a particular Tuesday evening down the road.

The TPM Poll Average currently gives Halter a lead of 47.3%-44.7%

Mark Sanford, who has survived a historically brazen sex scandal to remain in office as governor of South Carolina, today came out in defense of gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley -- a longtime political ally -- over the claim of an inappropriate physical relationship made by blogger and former Sanford spokesman Will Folks.

"I think that people see that stuff for what it is, which is politics as usual and in this case a particularly evil brand of politics as usual," Sanford said at a public event today, the AP reports.

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