TPM News

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) asked the Justice Department to look at allegations that voters in Baltimore and elsewhere around Maryland received robocalls on election day that Cardin says were intentionally designed to suppress voter turnout.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Cardin requests that the Justice Department investigate anonymous, automated phone calls his office said were made to predominantly African-American and other voters in Baltimore and elsewhere around the state.

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With less than two months left until the conservative majority of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights loses control of the agency, the Republican and libertarian members are hoping to breath new life into the controversy over the Justice Department's decision in the New Black Panther case by subpoenaing four more DOJ officials. The subpoenas -- first announced at a meeting on Friday -- show that depositions have been set up in mid-November, a TPMMuckraker review of the documents sent to the Justice Department shows.

The new subpoenas were sent to former acting Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Loretta King; her former deputy, Sam Hirsch; Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steve Rosenbaum, a career employee.

In an e-mail to the commissioners, DOJ's Director of Federal Programs Joseph H. ("Jody") Hunt accepted service of the subpoenas on behalf of the Department employees on Oct. 28. The Justice Department previously declined to comply with subpoenas issued by the commission on the issue and instructed two employees to ignore them (one DOJ employee quit and testified anyway, another stayed at DOJ but testified against their instructions). A DOJ spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new subpoenas.

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In a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation this morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had kind words for Tea Party activists, who energized the GOP base but whose candidates likely cost Republicans control of the Senate. At the same time, though, he threw cold water on one of the movement's top goals -- an elimination of earmarks -- by noting that without Congressional input, President Obama will get to make most decisions on how federal money gets spent.

"Tea Party activists will continue to energize our party and challenge us to follow through on our commitments," McConnell said.

The Tea Party's top ally in the Senate is Jim DeMint (R-SC), who's also McConnell's main rival within the GOP caucus. DeMint plans to put the Republican conference on the spot about an earmark moratorium as soon as Congress returns. DeMint told the National Journal, "The first test vote will probably be as soon as we get back later in November: Will Republicans vote to ban earmarks ... to help a moratorium on earmarks? Because that's the rule change I'm going to bring forward and I think we'll see right away in the House and in the Senate whether or not Republicans are serious about what they ran on."

And yesterday, President Obama said he'd be happy to work with Republicans on such an initiative: "That's something I think we can -- we can work on together."

But McConnell says no way.

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The Illinois gubernatorial race isn't completely over -- but it appears to be getting there, with incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn expanding his narrow lead against Republican state Sen. Bill Brady.

The Chicago Tribune reports, Quinn led on election night by the tiny margin of 8,000 votes. The race then became a contest of sorts between the under-counted areas, which overall would favor Quinn, versus absentee ballots that might help Brady.

So far, Quinn's lead has grown to 20,000 votes.

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The midterms are over, and while the GOP regained control of the House, the coronation of the Tea Party movement is still up for debate. Sure, a number of Tea Party candidates won their races, but perhaps the most visible -- Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell -- suffered a rather significant defeat. So what's next for Ms. O'Donnell? Some are suggesting that, not unlike her endorser Sarah Palin, a Fox News contributor-ship is just around the corner.

Not so, according to a spokesperson.

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Although there is not yet a final result int he Washington Senate race, where incumbent Democrat Patty Murray faced a strong challenge from former state Senator and two-time gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi, the latest numbers can probably make Democrats rest easier.

As the Seattle Times reports, additional vote totals last night from King County (Seattle) and elsewhere expanded Murray's raw-vote lead from 14,000 up to more than 27,000.

The Republican Rossi has noted that hundreds of thousands of votes still haven't been counted, and thus say that the race is too close to call. However, analysis at the Times appears to indicate that he would have a tough time pulling ahead:

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Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose corruption trial began this week in Austin, on Wednesday took a little credit for the Republicans' takeover of the House Tuesday night.

"Well, I hope I played a little part into it. A lot of the guys that are there now are from Texas came from our redistricting and we gained three more seats in Texas and that's pretty amazing," he said. "So what every little bit I had to play, I am very proud of."

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It's hard to say who's going to have a tougher 2012, Republican pollster Bill McInturff says. With the rise of the tea party Tuesday night, the man who should be in the best position for for the Republican nomination -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- is probably now on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, President Obama, who has failed to appease the left, according to McInturff, is in prime position for an embarrassing and weakening primary challenge from his own party.

Tuesday's results blew up the classic GOP nomination model, McInturff told reporters this morning at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. A partner in the well-respected Public Opinion Strategies firm, which conducts polls for numerous Republican candidates as well as national media outlets like NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, McInturff said the numbers he's been crunching show that Republican primary voters are less interested in throwing their support behind "the next guy in line," as they may have been in the past.

That's bad news for Romney. And potentially good news for Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, who've got tea on their side.

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The Coast Guard shut down several recruiting stations in the D.C. area yesterday as a precaution after shots were fired at their center in Woodbridge earlier this week. That shooting was just the latest in a string of incidents targeting military installations that have left law enforcement officials searching for answers.

"Obviously, we were concerned about it and we're continuing to assist the FBI however we can," Scott Carr, a public affairs officer for the Coast Guard's recruiting command, told TPMMuckraker on Thursday. "Yesterday we had closed the recruiting office in Potomac Mills, we also went ahead and closed the recruiting offices in D.C. and in Baltimore as a precaution."

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