TPM News

The general election field is now set in the Washington Senate race, with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and Republican rival Dino Rossi advancing to the general election November.

With 52% of precincts reporting, Murray has 47% and Rossi 34%, ahead of former pro football player Clint Didier (who was endorsed by Sarah Palin) at only 11%. The Associated Press has projected Murray and Rossi as the winners of the primary, proceeding to a final match-up in November.

Washington state does not use conventional primaries like the rest of the country, but uses a different system known as "Top Two." All candidates appear on the same primary ballot, regardless of party, with the top two vote-getters going on to the general election (regardless of whether somebody were to get over 50% of the vote). This system allows for the possibility of two Democrats or two Republicans facing off in the final round, though in most instances such as this one it ends up as one Dem and one GOPer. And this system is spreading, too -- it was recently passed by referendum in California, to take effect next cycle.

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1||August 17, 2010: The Perseid Meteor Shower peaked over the weekend, when as many as 100 meteors an hour streaked across the sky as the Earth passed through the path of debris thrown off by Comet Swift-Tuttle.

Pictured: The view from Flagstaff, Arizona. ||Flickr: L.Brumm Photography&&

2||Glastonbury, England.||Newscom/Zuma&&

3||Sebastopol, California.||Newscom/Zuma&&



6||Eureka, Michigan.||Flickr: Paladin27&&

7||Somerset, England.||Newscom/Zuma&&

8||A 53-minute time lapse of the sky during the shower, taken from Flagstaff, Arizona.||Flickr: L.Brumm Photography&&

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank is calling for the abolition of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises with a public mandate to boost home ownership, and which were taken into conservatorship during the 2008 financial crisis.

In an appearance on Fox Business Network tonight, Frank said they should be replaced with new programs to support affordable rental housing.

"I think they should be abolished," Frank said. "The only question is what do you put in their place. This is a situation where given the importance they had come to play in housing, you can't tear down the old jail until you build a new one. And that's a process that we've started."

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Rand Paul -- whose belief in the absolute preeminence of private property rights has put him in hot water before -- appears to be attempting to thread the needle when it comes to the Cordoba House project in lower Manhattan. He says the project is a local issue that should be left to local authorities to handle -- but he also says that the Islamic community center shouldn't be built in the controversial lower Manhattan site.

What's more, he says, if Muslims really want to do right by the 9/11 families who Republicans say are offended by the Cordoba House project, they should do something else with their money besides building a cultural center.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Welcome To The Neighborhood: A Look At The Area Around The 'Ground Zero Mosque']

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The race for Senate in Kentucky is extremely close, according to a new poll out from Reuters this afternoon. Republican nominee Rand Paul leads Democrat Jack Conway 45-40 among likely voters in the survey, which has a 4.7% margin of error.

Among registered voters, the race is an absolute dead heat, with Conway and Paul tied 40-40.

This is the first Reuters/Ipsos poll of the race.

Despite the Paul lead, the poll likely comes as good news to Team Conway, which hopes that their strategy of making the race about Paul and focusing on law and order can get Conway a win in a race that by all rights should be the Republicans' to lose.

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Republicans for weeks have been surfacing left and right to condemn the proposed Islamic center two blocks from the site of Ground Zero in New York City, but one GOPer stayed quiet. As the "mosque" debate boiled over this weekend the big question was whether George W. Bush was going to weigh in.

TPM asked, and the response from his spokesman today was simple:

"President Bush has no comment."

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Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been found guilty of only one of the 24 counts in his corruption trial. After deliberating for 14 days, the jury found him guilty only of making false statements to the FBI. The jury is deadlocked on the other 23 counts.

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Marco Rubio says that Muslims in other nations should look fondly on the United States as a bastion of religious tolerance following the Cordoba House flap. Rubio, the Florida Republican running against Independent Gov. Charlie Crist in a tight Senate race, has joined the chorus of politicians publicly opposing the proposed lower Manhattan Islamic cultural center on the grounds that building it would be "opening wounds" from 9/11.

On a conference call with reporters this afternoon, I asked Rubio how he thought views like his would play among moderate Muslims across the globe. (At an event I attended earlier today, some religious leaders suggested that the tough rhetoric opposing the project could have a negative effect on the way Muslims view the United States.)

"I would point out to Muslims all over the world that America is one of the few countries on earth where every faith is represented," Rubio said. "We have a long and cherished tradition of religious liberties and freedom, and none of that is being questioned in my mind."

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