TPM News

With all the current controversies about the Republican primary calendar -- with Florida moving its contest to late January, and triggering a move up by the officially sanctioned early states -- many people are waiting for New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner to announce when his state will vote. TPM spoke with Gardner, seeking a further piece of information: How did New Hampshire come to enjoy the its place in the primary calendar that so many have taken for granted, and what does the state have to offer for the country?

Gardner has been Secretary of State since 1976, and was a Democratic state representative when he ran for the position (but since then, he has stayed out of partisan politics, and does not endorse candidates, or do any campaigning or fundraising). The New Hampshire Secretary of State is elected every two years by a secret ballot of the state legislature -- and even though there was a Republican majority when Gardner first ran, and also for nearly all of the period since then, he has continually been re-elected.

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Democrats have held on in the Republican-trending rural state of West Virginia, with Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin winning Tuesday's special election.

With 81% of precincts reporting, Tomblin leads Republican businessman Bill Maloney at 49%-47%, and Tomblin has been projected as the winner by the Associated Press.

A survey in the home stretch from Public Policy Polling (D) gave Tomblin a statistically insignificant lead of just one point. The poll showed two competing trends in the state: President Obama is very, very unpopular in the state, while at the same time the more conservative West Virginia Democrats, such as Sen. Joe Manchin, are very popular. In this election, at least, the local Democrats were able to lead their brand over the finish line.

Tomblin succeeded to the office late last year, when Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin was elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election to succeed the late Dem Sen. Robert Byrd. (Under the state constitution, the office of governor is taken up by the state Senate President, who continues to hold his or her legislative office. However, Tomblin has acted exclusively as governor, without taking up legislative powers or collecting his pay for that office -- and with the victory in the gubernatorial election, he will presumably resign from the legislature.)

Both the U.S. government and the country's internet service providers (ISP) agree that botnets are among the greatest threats facing Web users.

But they can't yet agree on what to do about it, because the ISPs aren't exactly the biggest fans of a government document calling for them to establish voluntarily, industry-wide standards for detecting and fighting threats.

That was the major, unfortunate conclusion that came out of a contentious panel discussion on Tuesday featuring the White House cyber security coordinator, cyber experts at the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Commerce and an ISP industry trade representative.

The U.S. government defines botnets as collections of compromised computers that are remotely controlled by a malevolent party. The networks are often used to launch crippling attacks against third parties online.

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Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) unleashed a verbal fusillade on Anti-Tax Guru Grover Norquist Tuesday, calling him out as the main political force behind Washington gridlock.

Wolf took the House floor to lambaste Norquist's pledge, a promise not to raise taxes that all but six Republicans in Congress have signed, accusing him of using it to advance other pet issues that most Republicans -- if not most voters -- do not support.

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Seeking to consolidate party support for President Obama's jobs bill, Senate Democrats are considering a proposal to impose a five percent surtax on millionaires to pay for the legislation, according to two party aides.

As currently written, Obama wants the joint Super Committee to increase its deficit reduction target by enough to pay for the whole jobs bill. That way its cost could be offset by spending cuts and revenue measures and other reforms that have bipartisan support. But failing that, Obama's bill would trigger a series of new taxes on wealthy Americans, including oil and gas companies, hedge fund managers and others.

This enforcement mechanism caused some strife in the Democratic caucus. Now, driven by party leadership and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), whose powerful Finance Committee has jurisdiction over the jobs bill, they're considering a simpler, less parochial, and thus less divisive measure.

A Senate Dem aide cautioned that nothing's final yet, and the party could ultimately settle on different measures. And there's a history of broad Democratic support for raising taxes on millionaires.

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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is trying to take the revelation that the Bush administration had a "gun walking" problem of its very own in stride.

"The committee has received some documents from the Justice Department about Operation Wide Receiver but Justice officials still have not made clear to committee investigators what did and did not take place in this operation," spokeswoman Becca Glover Watkins said in a statement to TPM.

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