TPM News

The last three months were a busy fundraising quarter in MN-06, the GOP-leaning district that is home to none other than the infamous Rep. Michele Bachmann. A whole lot of money went towards the effort to defeat her -- and a whole lot more money went to re-elect her, too.

State Sen. Tarryl Clark, Bachmann's Democratic opponent, raised $910,000 for the quarter, with a total of $2.1 million raised for the race so far. On the other hand, Bachmann raised $1.7 million for the quarter, with a total haul of $4.1 million for the cycle. Cash on hand figures were not immediately available.

Bachmann held a high-profile rally and fundraiser back in April, starring none other than Sarah Palin. The district voted 53%-45% for John McCain in 2008, but Bachmann won by only 46%-43% due to her habit of making controversial remarks. Since then, she's emerged as one of the biggest political stars of the Tea Party Movement -- and it's certainly not hurting her cash flow.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which is tasked with electing Republicans to Democratic-held House seats and protecting vulnerable GOP-held seats, has now rolled out a new program -- for candidates in open safe GOP seats.

The new Young Guns Vanguard program, an NRCC press release announced, will "assist candidates running in Republican-leaning open seats as they head into the fall. It kicks off a working relationship between the NRCC and these Vanguard candidates, as well as their future colleagues in the House Republican Conference, in advance of the election."

The first seven candidates announced for the program are all in seats that are GOP-leaning or fully safe for the Republicans.

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He doesn't name names, but Andrew Romanoff, who's challenging incumbent Michael Bennet in the Colorado Democratic Senate primary, is attempting to tie his opponent to bailouts and saddle him with anti-Washington voter sentiment.

In a new 30-second spot running statewide, Romanoff implicitly hangs bailouts, and indeed "corruption," around Bennet's neck.

"Washington takes special interest money, Wall Street gambles with our economy. And then Washington bails Wall Street out," Romanoff declares. "The special interests in Washington have more power than the people. And that's just not wrong, it's corrupt. The difference is, I don't take a dime of their money. I stand with you," he says.

Bennet was not in Congress when the 2008 bailout bill passed, but Romanoff is talking about Bennet's vote against amendments to the Wall Street reform bill that would have broken up "too big to fail" financial firms. You can see this on YouTube, where the Romanoff team goes further:

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A federal agency charged with protecting endangered species signed off in 2007 on a new round of oil drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico, saying that even if the new drilling led to a major oil spill, only some 60 endangered turtles would be killed, according to the official agency opinion reviewed by TPMmuckraker. But in the two months since the Deepwater Horizon blew, government scientists say more than 400 sea turtles have been found dead so far.

In 2007, the National Marine Fisheries Service, which enforces the Endangered Species Act, was asked to give its "biological opinion" on the impact of new oil drilling leases -- including the lease of the now-leaking Macondo prospect -- on endangered species, including turtles, sperm whales and sturgeon. Under the law, the Minerals Management Service, which leases the underwater wells, had to get NMFS's sign-off that the drilling wouldn't jeopardize the populations of endangered species.

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Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) had a really tough time with reporters today, who peppered him with questions about a former aide, Brent Furer, who recently resigned as a result of 2008 criminal charges for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend with a knife.

Vitter's been staying out of the public eye since the charges surfaced a couple weeks ago -- along with the revelation that Vitter had not only kept Furer on his staff, but had reportedly also tapped him to handle women's issues. But today Vitter made a public appearance to formally file his reelection papers. And he did not get a free pass from the press.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell backed the wrong horse in the Senate primary back home in Kentucky and now he's paying the price with state Republicans. A new PPP (D) poll out today shows McConnell's approval rating has fallen to a record low 34% in his home state.

Even worse for McConnell is that only 38% of voters surveyed said that they want McConnell to remain the head of his party's caucus in the Senate. Almost half -- 49% -- said they don't think McConnell should keep his job as Republican leader.

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Sharron Angle said today that she could potentially take legal action against Harry Reid -- after he defied a cease-and-desist letter -- for reposting her own old campaign website, maintaining that he has illegally taken her intellectual property.

"I don't think Harry is above the law," she said of Reid today.

The site, which she used during the Republican primary, was posted by the Reid camp in an effort to make Angle look like she was hiding right-wing views from the wider electorate.

"Well your website is like you, it's your intellectual property. So they can't use something that's yours, intellectual property, unless they pay you for it or get your permission," Angle said in a radio interview today, Greg Sargent reports. When asked by host Heidi Harris whether this would go to court, Angle responded: "Well we are going to pursue it. I don't think that Harry is above the law. He needs to obey the law. If you and I need to obey the law, Harry isn't immune. He needs to obey the law as well."

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A conservative group called Americans for New Leadership has a new ad out in the Nevada Senate race, defending Republican nominee Sharron Angle on Social Security. There are just a couple small problems. As Jon Ralston pointed out, the ad makes two errors: Angle's actual past statements on Social Security -- and the proper spelling of the candidate's name.

"Sharron Angle doesn't want to phase out Social Security," the announcer says. "She wants to phase out the way Harry Reid and Congress raid Social Security for their reckless spending." A later piece of on-screen text says "Sharon (sic) Angle will protect Social Security." The misspelling is especially amusing since right before this, photos are shown of Angle campaign signs that use the correct "Sharron."

In fact, during the Republican primary Angle did say that she wanted to "phase out" out Social Security, and said that "getting out" of Social Security and Medicare was "not up for grabs" -- that the only room for debate with her was the proper implementation and timeline for doing so. Since then -- after she won the primary -- Angle has shifted her position to wanting to allow people to use the same Social Security system as we know it, while also giving a choice of using a system of private accounts.

The TPM Poll Average currently gives Angle a lead of 46.0%-40.8%.

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