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Opponents of Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and a candidate for governor in his home state, have snatched up PeteHoekstra.com -- which Hoekstra apparently never bothered to register -- and filled it with posts attacking the congressman.

The registrants have registered the site through Domains By Proxy, a service that keeps registrants' names out of whois searches.

TPM was not able to learn the identity of the registrant, but did have an email exchange with three people who purported to be the registrants, via the email address listed on the site: info@petehoekstra.com. (The emails in response came from the email address notpetehoekstra@gmail.)

The purported registrants told TPM three people teamed up to register the site. They said they knew the domain name was open, but didn't move to buy it until Dec. 30. That was the day after Hoekstra sent out a letter using the foiled Christmas Day terrorist attack to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign.

They told TPM the letter was the "final nail in the coffin for us," adding, "Anyone whose judgment is so poor and distasteful as to attempt to generate personal gain when hundreds of people could have died, should not be in elected office."

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A leading pro-choice progressive in the House is taking a fairly optimistic view of the looming tug of war over health care, brushing off concerns that liberal members are getting short shrift, and suggesting that, despite restrictive abortion language in both the House and Senate bills, reform will be a major step forward for women.

"An informal conference process will still achieve the same goal as a formal conference committee: passing health reform," Rep. Rosa DeLauro tells TPMDC.

Yesterday, Democrats confirmed that they would circumvent the formal channel by which many House and Senate bills are combined--a move many progressives have opposed, suspecting a streamlined process would cut them out of negotiations. DeLauro says there's nothing to fear.

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The candidates in the Massachusetts Senate special election debated this morning on a local radio station, with Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown setting up some stark partisan contrasts. But perhaps the most important message of the debate was Brown's promise to stop the health care bill in its tracks if he is able to pull off an upset two weeks from today and become the 41st GOPer in the Senate.

It was striking that Brown didn't try to soft-peddle the Republican message in this Democratic state. A big part of his campaign is that if he is elected, he would have the power to stop Democratic bills. Of the current health care bill he declared: "I would be the 41st senator and would stop that particular bill, because as a Massachusetts Senator I need to look out for our jobs and our hospitals." He later added: "I can stop it so they can go back to the drawing board and do something better for Massachusetts."

Coakley, the front runner, stressed the importance of passing some kind of bill in the Senate: "The people who don't want this desperately don't want health care reform. They don't want any kind of health care reform, and they use this [abortion] as a trigger."

During the Democratic primary, Coakley was heavily critical of the House health care bill and the Stupak Amendment. In the debate this morning, she indicated an openness to the Senate's version of abortion language, compared to the Stupak measure because it prevented people receiving federal subsidies from purchasing coverage for abortion with their own money. "The Senate version, though I don't love it, doesn't have that provision in it," Coakley said, also adding: "I don't love that amendment, but I do believe the Senate bill brings us closer towards the two goals of health care, promoting competition and bringing costs down."

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In an interview last night with Sean Hannity, RNC Chairman Michael Steele expressed doubts that Republicans can take back a majority in the House of Representatives this year -- and if they do, that they're ready to lead.

Asked by Hannity for predictions in the 2010 elections, Steele said the GOP will have "nice pickups in the House."

Enough to take the majority? "Not this year," Steele said.

"The question we need to ask ourselves is, if we do that, are we ready?" he went on. "I don't know."

Steele has been giving interviews to promote his new book, "Right Now: A 12-Step Program For Defeating The Obama Agenda."

He also said the party has to be wary of candidates who go to Washington and "start drinking that Potomac River water, and they'll get drunk with power."

Watch:

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With House and Senate leaders working with the White House to put the finishing touches on a far-reaching health care bill, the reform campaign Health Care for America Now chimes in with a new ad urging Democrats to use the House's more progressive legislation as a lodestar.



A number of senators have made it clear that they will kill any final bill that doesn't include a public option, and with that provision dead for now, HCAN has tweaked its focus.

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(Late Update: Independents can vote in an Arizona Republican Senate primary. We had been told that Arizona uses a closed primary. In fact, some primaries in Arizona are relatively open while others are closed -- and the Senate primary is open, according to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office. We apologize for the error.)

Fourteen months ago, John McCain was his party's nominee for president. But, now, as the 2010 midterms loom, the senior Senator from Arizona may find himself locked in a primary battle to hold on to his seat -- and he could be vulnerable.

Last week, former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) signaled on his radio show that he's getting closer and closer to a run at McCain's seat. "We may have moved past due diligence into something that is more than a legal term of art ... something called 'testing the waters.' So stay tuned on that," Hayworth said.

Hayworth is popular with the conservative base because he was a leading right-wing voice in Congress on immigration, until he lost his seat in 2006. (Since then, Hayworth has hosted a talk radio show in Arizona.) McCain has traditionally struggled with this voting bloc, largely because of his past moderate positions on illegal immigration.

If McCain faces a primary challenge from Hayworth, McCain could be at a distinct disadvantage because of his state's election laws -- namely the closed primary, which allows only registered Republicans to choose the GOP's nominee.

"If he [Hayworth] were to throw his hat in the ring, McCain would still be, in my opinion, advantaged just by name recognition and sheer campaign war chest," said Rodolfo Espino, an assistant political science professor at Arizona State University, in an interview with TPMDC. "But the one thing that would be going against him is we do have a closed primary system."

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The Daily Show's Jon Stewart pointed out last night that the Christmas bomber -- who allegedly had an incendiary device in his underwear -- may have disappointed those virgins martyrs meet in heaven.

Stewart also takes a shot at terrorism prevention attempts, saying we're still relying on passengers to stop attempted terrorists, like what happened with the shoe bomber years ago.

He also says "taint full of gunpowder."

Watch:

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Yesterday -- ten days after the failed Christmas bombing attempt -- there were anthrax scares in both Alabama and California.

Envelopes containing white powder were sent to the district offices of senators and congressmen, as well as to a federal courthouse, in five different Alabama cities, and were believed to come from the same source. None of the letters tested positive for anthrax or any other harmful substance.

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