TPM News

The Hill reports that Vice President Biden spoke this week to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), urging her to not run in the Democratic primary for Senate against appointed incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand.

Maloney has been widely reported to be preparing to enter the race soon.

President Obama previously made a phone call three weeks ago to Rep. Steve Israel, who had also been gearing up to run, and told him not to do it. Afterwards, Israel pulled his hat out of the ring. With Obama overseas this week, Biden appears to have picked up the slack.

The White House has just sent the Senate Judiciary Committee a passel of documents which constitute her answers to the questionnaire the committee sent her just over a week ago.

The committee will post the documents here, but we're talking hundreds of pages, so the roll out won't be immediate. We'll look them over, when they're up--and so should you!

Rep. Steny Hoyer wants an ethics probe of lawmakers' ties to PMA.

Yesterday, the House number two pushed through a resolution requiring the Ethics committee to disclose whether it's investigating members who took money from the now-defunct lobbying firm. And speaking at a breakfast event today, reports The Hill, Hoyer made clear that the true intent of the measure was a declaration that "this is a serious matter and ought to be looked at." He also said Speaker Nancy Pelosi supported the move.

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With the new report that Norm Coleman might actually be preparing to throw in the towel on his lawsuit against the Minnesota Senate election results, should the state Supreme Court hand down its widely-expected ruling in favor of Al Franken, let's look at the reasons why this might be. It might be coming down to one thing: The basic health and viability of any future political career that he might hope to have.

Keep in mind that Minnesota public opinion is that the race should be over -- the latest Rasmussen poll put it at 54%-41%. However, Prof. Larry Jacobs of the University of Minnesota explained to me that the opinion may have majority support right now, but it isn't felt intensely. It's not at the top of people's minds or in everyday news reports. However, that would all shift very quickly once there is a state Supreme Court ruling.

"Coleman is facing the prospect of widespread and harsh condemnation if the Supreme Court comes back decisively in Franken's favor," said Jacobs. At that point, three different bodies -- the state canvassing board, the trial court, and the state Supreme Court -- will have all ruled after lengthy proceedings that Franken is the legitimate winner.

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With all the news about President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, it's easy to forget that Obama nominated a different judge to a different court before well before Sonia Sotomayor became a household name.

Obama nominated David Hamilton to serve on the Seventh Circuit court of appeals back in March, and, thanks to a number of Republican delays, he has only today been reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line 12-7 vote.

Now Hamilton will be exposed to a bright new world of procedural measures meant to obstruct his confirmation. Back in April, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) said he would filibuster Hamilton once the committee advanced the nomination. "I had to come to the floor to speak so that the American people, who are very concerned about this nomination, will know that I and my Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee are taking interest and are not just going to let this nomination sail through," Inhofe said on the Senate floor. "In fact I will filibuster David Hamilton."

That's the same James Inhofe who once called judicial filibusters 'unconstitutional.'

(Incidentally, Hamilton is the brother-in-law of Dawn Johnsen--another Obama nominee who's struggling to get confirmed by the Senate.)

Earlier this week, we raised questions about whether the FBI acted aggressively enough after getting a tip about Scott Roeder, who's been charged with murdering Kansas doctor George Tiller.

And those questions are only getting louder. Last night, the abortion clinic worker who had provided that tip went on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, where he laid out Roeder's various efforts to vandalize the clinic -- starting in 2000 and culminating the day before Tiller's murder -- as well as the detailed information that the FBI received about the incidents.

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It looks like laundering bribes on behalf of Duke Cunningham may not have been the only shady activity that Thomas Kontogiannis had going on.

The politically connected Greek real-estate developer -- who's already serving jail time for his role in the Cunningham scheme -- has been indicted, along with eight others, for an alleged mortgage fraud scheme, which swindled Washington Mutual and a unit of Credit Suisse out of $92 million.

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The first post-primary poll is now out in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, giving Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie a healthy lead over Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. The numbers from Rasmussen: Christie 51%, Corzine 38%, outside of the ±4.5% margin of error.

Christie won the Republican primary on Tuesday night, and this poll was then immediately conducted yesterday. Three weeks ago, Christie led Corzine by a 47%-38% margin. Corzine's approval rating in the latest poll is only 42%, against 57% disapproval, while Christie's favorables and unfavorables stand at 60%-40%.

However, there is a frequent pattern in New Jersey elections that must be noted -- a sizable number of voters don't affirmatively like the Democrats, but in the final weeks of a campaign will break heavily in that direction as a vote against the conservatism of the Republican candidate.

The pollster's analysis -- and I should note that Scott Rasmussen is a New Jerseyan, like myself -- acknowledges this important caveat: "New Jersey polls often show Republican candidates doing well in the spring with Democrats gaining ground in the fall. Corzine is expected to heavily outspend Christie which could add to that trend."

Marco Rubio, the former Florida state House Speaker who is waging an up-hill conservative challenge in the Republican primary for Senate against Gov. Charlie Crist, is now lining up some right-wing support to oppose Crist.

Rubio announced yesterday that Dennis Baxley, the former state Speaker Pro Tempore and outgoing head of the state Christian Coalition, will be backing his candidacy -- a decent pickup in Rubio's mission to solidify support on the religious right. The big question here is whether Rubio will be able to mobilize conservative activists against Crist -- who starts out with an enormous lead in the polls -- in light of the moderate governor's support for the stimulus and his other breaks from Republican orthodoxy.

Also, the Jacksonville Observer points out, Baxley previously supported Crist's opponent in the 2006 open-seat gubernatorial primary, and Crist won that nomination in a landslide. But Baxley is undeterred. "Gov. Crist is very popular," he said. "But that's what you get when you're on both sides of every issue. But as a party, we need to show that we can advance people with real leadership skills."

A new coalition of business leaders--Business Leaders for a Fair Economy--will press Congress in the coming weeks to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

As part of their launch, the group has placed an ad in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, and Politico, and it's chairman Roger Smith (who's also the President and CEO of American Income Life Insurance Company and National Income Life Insurance Company) has sent a letter to members of the Senate asking them to support EFCA.

It's important to counter the myths and misunderstandings that unions are bad for business. Quite the contrary - allowing workers to freely join unions can improve morale, productivity, and retention rates, and our bottom line. Further, enabling workers to make their own choice on how to form a union helps remove unnecessary conflict from the workplace so labor and management can focus on advancing the business....

In this tough economy, Business Leaders for a Fair Economy believes that passage of the Employee Free Choice Act is more pressing than ever. We urge you and your colleagues to put our country on a path toward lasting economic and financial recovery by enacting this vital measure.

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