TPM News

Kendrick Meek, the Democratic nominee and third-place candidate in the Florida Senate race, is pushing back on a report by the Wall Street Journal that he may drop out of the three-way contest and endorse independent candidate Charlie Crist in his fight against Republican nominee Marco Rubio.

"Total nonsense!" a Meek spokesperson told me in an email today. The campaign released a statement saying Meek "laughed out loud" when he heard about the Journal story.

The paper reported that "Republican leaders" in Florida "are fretting that a deal may be in the works" between the Meek and Crist camps, which are currently battling each other for Democratic votes while Rubio surges to a huge lead in public polling. The Journal's Stephen Moore reported a growing "GOP paranoia that Democrats may be getting ready to throw the sure loser Mr. Meek over the side."

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An analysis of the shirt worn by Pinal County Arizona Sheriff Deputy Louie Puroll on the day he says he was shot by drug smugglers has come back negative for gunpowder, suggesting the shot was not fired from close range, as some experts who had examined photos of Puroll had suggested to a Phoenix New Times reporter. The test lends support to Puroll's account of the incident, which was questioned by the pathologists and other experts contacted by the New Times. Sheriff Paul Babeu told reporters yesterday that the matter is now closed.

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The new Rasmussen poll of the Florida Senate race gives Republican Marco Rubio a huge lead. And in this poll he doesn't even have to rely on a split Democratic vote between independent (and ex-Republican) Gov. Charlie Crist and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek -- he's actually posting a solid 50% support in his own right.

The numbers: Rubio 50%, Crist 25%, and Meek 19%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. In the previous Rasmussen poll from last week, Rubio had 41%, Crist 30%, and Meek 21%.

The TPM Poll Average gives Rubio 43.7%, Crist 28.5%, and Meek 21.6%.

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The commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles was arrested on Wednesday for public indecency after he solicited sex from an undercover police officer in a public restroom. On Thursday, he resigned.

Indianapolis Police say the commissioner, Andrew Miller, exposed himself to an officer during an undercover sting of the men's room in Claypool Court, a downtown hotel. The restroom, a popular spot among men soliciting sex, has been the site of 116 public indecency arrests in the last 10 years.

He was arrested, taken to jail and later released on a $150 bond. The Indianapolis Star reports that prosecutors are deciding whether to press charges.

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The conservative majority of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights today approved two letters addressed the Attorney General Eric Holder, alleging that the Justice Department is not enforcing civil rights laws in a race-neutral manner.

Expected to hit the press just weeks ahead of the midterm elections, a draft version of the commission's 2010 enforcement report -- focusing on DOJ's handling of the New Black Panther Party case and the alleged culture of hostility to pursuing cases against African-American defendants -- is circulating amongst the commissioners. They were asked at Friday's meeting to have their comments in by Oct. 11 to allow a revised report to be sent out Oct. 15. The commission will vote to approve the report on Oct. 22.

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In an interview with National Review, Alaska Republican Senate Candidate Joe Miller said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was receptive to the idea of a government shutdown next year, if the GOP retakes Congress and tries to undo Obama's agenda.

"There was a comment made at breakfast this morning about shutting down the government, and he reacted in a positive way," Miller said. "I'm not going to quote him, but I think that he recognizes that that's on the table."

McConnell's spokesman Don Stewart emails a statement partially at odds with Miller's claim.

"He has not called for shutting down the government," Stewart says. "What he has noted is that Republicans are united in their view that the government spends too much, taxes too much and has too much debt--and that Republicans are equally united in doing all we can to restore fiscal sanity to Washington."

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Republican leaders may be growing squeamish about a showdown with the White House over the health care law next Congress. But if you think the conservative base is just going to sit back and give them a pass, you're sorely mistaken.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal earlier this week, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor was more explicit than any Republican leader has been thus far that the GOP will not force a federal government shutdown, if push comes to shove in their fight to defund health care reform.

"No," Cantor said. "I don't think the country needs or wants a shutdown." Broadly speaking, Cantor cautioned, Republicans will have to take a humble approach. Republicans, he said, "have to be careful about how we do it. We don't want to be seen as a bunch of yahoos."

That's completely unacceptable according to one Tea Party leader.

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Holy Jeremiah Wright, Batman! In the Nevada Senate race, Republican nominee Sharron Angle is now having to put some distance between herself and her own former pastor, John Reed of Sonrise Church in Reno, after Reed attacked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Mormon religion.

In an interview with the Reno News & Review, Pastor Reed attacked Harry Reid, making some rather inflammatory comments regarding the Latter-Day Saints Church being a "cult" -- and alleging conspiracies involving big business and secret murders:

"The Christian community--all the Christians, theologians and scholars, all recognize that, that Mormonism is a cult. I have books in my library on cults, and it lists Mormonism right there with all these bizarre cults. Well, there must be a reason. I mean, here a member of a cult is one of the most powerful people in the United States. Doesn't that alarm you? And his allegiance is to Salt Lake City.

...

You know, there's some weirdness with that, but nobody questions it, nobody asks one question to Harry Reid and says, 'Tell us about your faith. What does a Mormon believe?' Ask him about the holy garments that he wears that protect him from evil. Isn't that kooky? Ask him about getting his body parts anointed by oil. Isn't that kooky? Ask him about when he goes to the temple and he gets baptized for dead people. Isn't that kooky? Ask him about the hit squad of the Mormon church and why they need people to kill Mormons that go against them."

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Rick Sanchez appeared on Good Morning America today to apologize for calling Jon Stewart a "bigot" and suggesting that Jews run the media. It was his first interview since CNN fired him for his comments.

Sanchez acknowledged that he had "screwed up," characterizing his words as "careless" and "inartful." Then he attempted to explain the mindset that had led to them. "I was exhausted...my daughter had a softball game I desperately wanted to go to, and I was a little impatient. And I said some things I shouldn't have said."

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The nominees for governor in Ohio met in their final debate of the race last night, and according to reports from the ground, the narrow gap in the polls made for some fireworks. Republican nominee John Kasich leads incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland (D) by a margin of 48.9-42.2 in the TPM Poll Average, but Democrats say the momentum is with them and predict they'll win in the end. Polls suggest that's something of a Pollyannaesque view of the situation, perhaps, but it seems the numbers were good enough to provoke some jabs from Strickland last night.

The chief issue is the economy, and that was the focus of much of the back-and-forth at the debate, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

"The free-fall has been stopped and all you and your friends want to do is just criticize and say no, no, no," Strickland said, addressing Kasich and attempting to tie him to national GOP rhetoric. "While we have been working here in Ohio to create jobs, you were working on Wall Street to outsource our jobs. I think the people of Ohio can tell the difference between the two of us."

Kasich's jabs came on the issue of tax increases, the subject all GOP pols likely fantasize about debating when they dream at night.

"You actually have been asleep at the wheel," Kasich said to Strickland, according to the Plain Dealer. "If you had come out of the box when you were elected governor and did what you promised, which was turn Ohio around, you would have created a government that is more effective and efficient and dealt with the tax situation."

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