TPM News

Democratic Congressman Bobby Rush (IL) is looking to land the top Dem spot on the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. But he is facing opposition from an unexpected source on the left. James Rucker is the executive director of Color of Change, a left-leaning group dedicated to "strengthening Black America's political voice," and told TPM yesterday that Congressman Rush is the "leading black voice that has argued against Net Neutrality provisions." If Rush were to become ranking member of the committee, Rucker said, he'd be "in a position where he could to do big harm" as someone who's "consistently been on the side of industry and not protecting the public interest."

Rush's biggest funders are from the telecommunications sector -- an interest group firmly opposed to Net Neutrality. As Wired.com reports:

During his congressional career, Rush has received $78,964 from AT&T -- his second largest career contributor. He's also gotten $43,499 from the National Cable and Telecommunications Association and $42,000 from Verizon, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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The 2010 midterm elections were kind of a bummer, if you're a Democrat. Among Democrats who survived the bloodbath, it's a really big bummer for Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL) -- an appropriator and prolific fundraiser whose role in the 2012 cycle is now unclear.

With over 60 seats lost and the party relegated to minority status, the party has fewer perks -- leadership positions, plum committee assignments, etc. -- to offer its most influential members. As you might expect, it's created visible tension within the party. It's also added some bumps to Wasserman Schultz's once-clear path to party leadership.

When the Republicans take over next year, the ratios on House committees will practically flip. For a lot of Democrats -- particularly senior members -- this won't matter much. There's frequently some correspondence between the number of spots the losing party loses on a committee, and the number of members of that committee who are defeated or retire.

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Americans can't agree on who they want to "have the most influence on government policy next year," according to a newly released USA Today/Gallup poll. No surprise there. What may come as a surprise, however, is that at the top of the poll, the split is between respondents who want President Obama to set policy, and those who want Tea Partiers to take the lead in Washington.

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In 2008, President Obama became the first Democratic presidential nominee to win North Carolina since the mid-1970s. And according to a newly released PPP survey, he's well-positioned once again in this historically red state.

The early survey shows Obama faring well against Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, while hanging close with Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. The survey finds:

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A judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit against the Republican Party of Florida filed by its former chairman, Jim Greer, who is awaiting trial on charges that he defrauded the party out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Greer was suing the party for reneging on his $123,000 severance package, which they negotiated after the party got into hot water for loose spending but before Greer's alleged theft was discovered. The party contends that the severance package was never finalized.

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The Obama administration has appealed a court decision ordering it to reinstate a gay former Air Force major discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

A federal judge ruled in September that former Maj. Margaret Witt should be reinstated to the Air Force. Witt, a decorated reservist flight nurse, had been suspended from the Air Force in 2004, after 17 years of service, and eventually discharged in October 2007. She sued to be reinstated during her discharge proceedings in 2006.

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Robert Decheine, chief of staff to Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), was arrested in Gaithersburg, Md. last Friday on charges of soliciting sex from a minor. Decheine, who had been with the Democrat's office since 2003, was fired immediately after the congressman consulted the House Counsel about his arrest, Rothman spokesman Aaron Keyak told The Hill in a statement.

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Two Democratic Congressman -- one old, and one new -- have conceded defeat to their challengers in this year's Republican wave.

In Texas's 27th District, Rep. Solomon Ortiz conceded last night to Republican challenger Blake Farenthold. Ortiz had previously demanded a recount, but only picked up about 150 votes -- still losing to Farenthold by about 650 votes. Ortiz was first elected all the way back in 1982. The district was carried by Barack Obama in 2008, by a margin of 53%-46%, but previously voted for George W. Bush by 55%-45% in 2004.

In New York's 25th District, Democratic freshman Rep. Dan Maffei has conceded to Republican Ann Marie Buerkle, by a margin of less than 600 votes. Maffei was first elected in 2008, picking up an open Republican-held seat after he'd narrowly lost a bid in 2006. The district voted 56%-43% for Barack Obama in 2008, and 50%-48% for John Kerry in 2004.

This brings the latest tally of Republican gains in the election to 63 seats.

Gentry Collins, the former Republican National Committe political director who ripped RNC chair Michael Steele in his resignation letter Nov. 16, is jumping into the race to replace Steele.

ABC News reports that Collins "has taken the first step toward running for RNC Chairman, filing papers with the IRS to create a 527 fund-raising committee called 'Collins for Chairman.'"

Collins' entry to the race brings the grand total of potential RNC chair candidates to, well, a whole heck of a lot. Just yesterday, two prominent insider GOP women got in the race and former Michigan GOP chair Saul Anuzis is already out there running hard. Add to that list the half a dozen or so other names being floated as possible RNC candidates and you've got a race that could be extremely unpredictable.

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