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The Senate just voted 56-38 to table Sen. Byron Dorgan's amendment to the Wall Street reform bill that would have banned trading in naked credit default swaps, essentially eliminating a huge gambling market, wherein speculators bet on the success or failure of entities in which they have no financial interest.

That may complicate matters for Democratic leaders, who quite possibly just lost Dorgan's vote.

"I'm not very interested in moving a bill that doesn't address the central issue that I want to address," Dorgan told me a few minutes before his amendment was tabled. "But we'll see. We'll work tonight and see what happens."

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Updated at 11:07 ET

The tea party movement got its best chance at winning a seat in the U.S. Senate tonight when Kentucky voters chose Rand Paul as the the GOP nominee. As expected, Paul has won decisively, dealing a blow to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP establishment, which spent much time and effort trying defeat Paul's insurgent campaign and secure the nomination for Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

Rand currently leads Grayson by 59% to 35% with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.

Paul faces a general election campaign that will put the purest form of the tea party message on the Senate ballot so far this year. Democrats are enjoying the opportunity to mock McConnell for losing a battle with the ultra-right in his home state, but they haven't said much about how they plan to beat Paul themselves. Republicans, meanwhile, have said they're ready to stand behind Paul and say signs are good he'll hold the seat for the GOP.

The polls give Republicans reason to be confident -- Paul has performed well against Democrats in hypothetical matchups all year, and definitely starts the general election race as the frontrunner. In a matchup with Democratic nominee Jack Conway, the TPM Poll Average shows Paul ahead by a margin of 44.7-38.4.

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Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) told me a few hours before the polls close in the Democratic primary election that the weather isn't helping Sen. Arlen Specter as he fights to keep his seat.

"The weather is a blow to him," Rendell told me in an interview. "Senator Specter does better the more Democrats come out and vote and the rain all over the state today is not good for him." Rendell is backing Specter, who became a Democrat last spring with a promise from the White House to help him win reelection. Earlier today, Rendell said Specter would be fine since the campaign was handing out personalized ponchos to voters.

Specter said on MSNBC tonight that he needs his voters to get to the polls before they close at 8 p.m., urging each of his constituencies to turn out. "If I get out my vote, Chris, I win," Specter told Chris Matthews.

Additional reporting by Lucy Madison

The two candidates vying for the late John Murtha's set have been battling in a race that's been neck and neck for the last two months. So it's no surprise this race is going to depend on voter turnout -- which is lower today because of the rain -- and where the parties can get their supporters out.

Terry Madonna, the well-known political analyst at Franklin & Marshall College told us that for Critz to win, he will need a big margin in the Democratic strongholds of Cambria County, particularly in the Johnstown area, and in Westmoreland county, particular in the New Kensington area.

At the center of the latest showdown over financial reform legislation is a proposal to strengthen the Volcker rule, which would limit on risky trading on Wall Street. The amendment, which was scheduled for a vote by bipartisan agreement, is now being objected to by GOP leadership. But Progressive Dems say without a vote on their amendment, they may not allow the bill to proceed.

For his part, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) supports the measure, but is not inclined to put it in his manager's amendment in order to make sure it gets a vote.

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In the following statement today, President Obama responded to stalled efforts in the Senate to lift liability caps on British Petroleum:

I am disappointed that an effort to ensure that oil companies pay fully for disasters they cause has stalled in the United States Senate on a partisan basis. This maneuver threatens to leave taxpayers, rather than the oil companies, on the hook for future disasters like the BP oil spill. I urge the Senate Republicans to stop playing special interest politics and join in a bipartisan effort to protect taxpayers and demand accountability from the oil companies.

A top Tea Party leader, enraged by a plan to build a mosque near Ground Zero, has referred to the Islamic deity as a "monkey-god" and to Muslims as "the animals of allah." His Tea Party group, meanwhile, tells TPMmuckraker it's not concerned about the rhetoric.

Mark Williams, the conservative talk radio host who is listed as chairman of the Tea Party Express and acts as a frequent spokesman for the group, wrote on his blog Friday:

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It looks like Republicans are still working hard to derail financial reform in the Senate.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) says Republicans are anonymously blocking a vote on his tough-on-Wall-Street amendment -- and the amendments of other progressive Democrats. So he's now objecting to proceed with any amendments until Republicans stop their obstructionism.

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With tonight's big Democratic Senate primary between Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Sestak coming down to the wire, what areas and key indicators should we look out for as the returns start to come in?

In advance of the election tonight, we spoke with Terry Madonna, the well-known political science professor and analyst at Franklin & Marshall College, who said laid out for us the key places each candidate will have to turn out the vote to win. "Well, everyone i've talked to is clearly on pins and needles about the outcome," said Madonna. "You really need to have a sense about turnout by region. And some regions are more important than others. I mean, 38% of the Democratic vote is within five counties in the southeastern part of the state."

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The Senate Judiciary Committee has gotten some answers from Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

The Senate panel has released Kagan's answers to its lengthy questionnaire, including simple biographical information, a long list of Kagan's published writing and public statements, a detailed history of her legal career, possible conflicts of interest, and a financial statement (Kagan pins her net worth on Jan. 1 at $1.76 million).

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