TPM News

The Illinois primary is now over. And with 99 percent of the precincts reporting, we have a variety of results to share with you. The primary has seen not one but two super-close statewide races -- in the party primaries for the exact same office, no less -- with both the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries still not settled. So what comes next?

The primaries for President Obama's former Senate seat saw clear, unambiguous wins by the two nominees. For the Democrats, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias beat former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman by 39%-34%. On the Republican side, Rep. Mark Kirk beat attorney Patrick Hughes by 57%-19%. This will be a top-tier Senate contest this fall.

In House-race primaries, the most notable result was in the 14th Congressional District. The seat was held from 1987 until 2007 by Republican Dennis Hastert, who served for eight years as Speaker of the House. After Republicans lost the majority in 2006, Hastert resigned during his next term, and the seat was picked up by Democrat Bill Foster in a March 2008 special election. One of Hastert's sons, Ethan Hastert, was running for the GOP nomination this year -- and lost by 55%-45% against state Sen. Randy Hultgren.

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As hard as you might try, you'll probably never forget the words "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." That awkward phrase was supposed to explain why he'd voted against funding the Iraq war (Kerry wanted to pay for the effort by raising taxes on the wealthy--but Republicans didn't want to pay for it at all). But instead it haunted Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) for months until the day he lost the 2004 election.

Fast forward to 2009, when Republicans did much the same--voting against war funding under Obama after years of supporting it under Bush -- and yet they're poised for a landslide victory in the 2010 midterms. Why can't Democrats make stuff like this stick? That's a question with many answers. And with the economy in the pits, Democrats have done themselves few favors by not learning them.

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Ret. Gen. Colin Powell, who helped instituted the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in the 1990s, now supports the efforts to repeal it.

Powell, who was chairman of the joint chiefs when the military's policy toward gay servicemembers was instituted, said "I fully support the new approach" in a statement today.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military, but also prohibits recruiters from asking about sexuality. Those who admit to being gay or are outed by a third party may be discharged after an investigation.

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Bloggers, new media gurus, policy wonks and the like have signed a new petition pushing for regular televised question-and-answer sessions between President Obama and the House Republicans.

The push for a regular "question time," as it's called in Britain, began last week after Obama's surprisingly successful Q&A with House Republicans during their annual retreat.

The petition, at, has 111 signatures so far and reads, in part:

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The tea partiers are coming to Nashville tomorrow for their first official convention, and the state Democratic Party is holding a counter happy hour where they'll serve "anything but tea."

As we've been reporting, former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) is the keynote speaker at tomorrow's Tea Party Nation convention at Opryland. The Tennessee Democratic Party is trying to get Democrats to show up at the Cabana Restaurant in Nashville. (See the actual invite here.)

"This event is about bringing people together to celebrate our hope for the future," the Dems wrote in an email. The "Anything but tea!" happy hour is free (compared with a $549 banquet ticket for the convention).

Harold Ford Jr. -- the former Democratic Congressman from Tennessee who may challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) -- is now blogging.

Ford, already famous for some unfortunate interviews (including one where he said he had visited New York City's boroughs by helicopter), is writing posts for an "unofficial" blog called the Ford Report.

In a post Sunday, he wrote about a recent visit to Syracuse, attacking Gillibrand for not visiting more often.

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President Obama had some advice for Democratic senators at a conference in D.C. today: stop watching TV and reading blogs.

"If everybody here turned off your CNN, your Fox -- just turn off the TV," he said. "MSNBC, blogs. And just go talk to folks out there instead of being in this echo chamber where the topic is constantly politics."

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President Obama urged Democratic senators to stand up to Republican obstructionism during remarks this morning at the Newseum in Washington D.C., urging them that "we still have to lead" -- even after losing a filibuster-proof supermajority.

"All that's changed in the last two weeks is that our party's gone from having the largest Senate majority in a generation to the second largest Senate majority in a generation," the president said. "And we've gotta remember that."

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Former Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) will reportedly announce that he is running for the Republican nomination for his old Senate seat, which is currently held by Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, Indiana journalist Brian Howey reports.

Coats was first elected to the House in 1980, and appointed to the Senate in 1989 after Dan Quayle's election to the vice presidency. Coats was then elected in his own right in 1990 and 1992, and then retired in 1998, with Bayh picking up the seat.

Coats is a late entrant to the primary race, with former Rep. John Hostettler, state Sen. Marlin Stutzman, and Tea Party activist Richard Behney already in the race. The election is also approaching its filing deadline -- Coats will have to gather at least 4,500 ballot petition signatures, 500 within each of the state's nine House districts, in the next two weeks.

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