TPM News

Maine moderate Olympia Snowe, whose Senate seat has long been considered vulnerable in a Republican primary, has a new Tea Party challenger: Andrew Ian Dodge.

The state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots in Maine, Dodge told TPM he will announce his entrance into the race Friday at a press conference at CPAC. He'll be the second to jump into the GOP primary against Snowe after businessman Scott D'amboise declared his run last year.

You may not recognize Dodge's name, but if you've read news coverage of the Tea Party over the last year you've almost certainly seen him quoted. Dodge's friendly relationship with reporters and off-beat analysis has made him one of the most frequently cited activists in the movement by mainstream reporters.

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Mitt Romney just spoke at CPAC, and between all the quips about President Obama's promise for change, he managed to get in a line about the "moral tragedy" of unemployment. "Make no mistake about this. This is a moral tragedy. A moral tragedy of epic proportion. Unemployment is not just a statistic."

Yesterday, Michele Bachmann used that same phrasing when discussing health care reform, describing the "moral tragedy" that is the Obama agenda that is "consuming the future" of generations of Americans.

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The U.S. Air Force's Space Fence program moved into its second phase last week when Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Company received contracts to develop a radar system to track orbital debris circling the earth. Orbital debris threatens the thousands of expensive and delicate satellites that enable communication, perform scientific research, and engage in military operations.

As TPM reported, the Space Fence project will be comprised of two to three radar stations placed throughout the world. Using the powerful radar arrays, the installations will help to automatically monitor the thousands of pieces of space debris that can travel as fast as 17,000 mph.

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After 30-years of rule and 18 days of popular protest, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak turned power over to the country's military, bowing to the unrest that has gripped his nation and captivated the world. Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak had stepped down in a televised statement, and said that the higher council of the armed forces will lead the nation.

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Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R) is one of the many coy presidential contenders speaking at CPAC this year. He hasn't said officially if he's running for president, but he showed up here with staff who are on the ground for him in Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as a slew of Gary Johnson for President signs. CPAC is generally very welcoming of Republican presidential contenders, giving them space on the dais to speak and time to make their case to the thousands gathered here.

Unless they're pot-legalization supporting libertarians like Johnson. Those, they throw off the stage.

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The FBI just posted the massive FBI file of the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK).

From the FBI:

This release contains approximately 3,600 pages of responsive material; the majority of it--approximately 2,700 pages--consists of public source material from the media file associated with the pending "POLAR PEN" public corruption investigation of the FBI Anchorage Field Office.

The remainder of the release consists of 11 main files from the Anchorage and Washington Field Offices and from FBI Headquarters. The files include material on extortion threats to the senator, press reports and newspaper articles about public corruption, and correspondence between Stevens and the FBI.

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Rahm Emanuel's toughest vote in the Chicago mayoral race may be behind him. Since the Illinois Supreme Court overruled an appellate court and placed Emanuel back on the ballot, new polls show him dominating the field and hovering around the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff election.

In a Tribune/WGN poll released today, 49% of Chicagoans said they intended to vote for Emanuel, giving him an enormous 30 point lead on his closest challenger, Gery Chico, the former Chicago Board of Education president. A survey conducted by Chicago's ABC affiliate pegged Emanuel's support even higher, as it found him leading Chico by 40 points, 54% to 14%.

A candidate must receive at least half of the vote to win the February 22 election outright. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the top two vote-getters will face off in a special election in April.

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Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who will be speaking at CPAC later today, laughed off the Ron Paul supporters who heckled Dick Cheney yesterday and told TPM: "That's part of CPAC, isn't it?"

"This is a wonderful, wonderful organization," Price said, "a great group that gets together every year and provides that enthusiasm and that energy, that's necessary so that we continue to take our country back."

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A U.S. district court judge is poised to order Michael Scanlon, Jack Abramoff's partner in a wide-ranging lobbying sandal, to cough up more than $20 million to compensate several Indian tribes, as well as Abramoff's former lobbying firm, for his role in defrauding them.

Scanlon faces sentencing Friday morning, and in the weeks leading up to it, former congressional aides and lobbyists stung by the scandal have griped about the tens of millions of dollars Scanlon has amassed and sunk into extensive real estate holdings in Dewey Beach, Del. and D.C. His attorneys have argued that Scanlon should not have to pay the full $19 million he had agreed to when he pled guilty five years ago because of the extensive damage the scandal has done to his earning potential and his role as a father of two boys.

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