TPM News

In a press conference this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) demurred a bit on Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-PA) chances to win today's Democratic primary in Pennsylvania against Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).

"As far as Pennsylvania," said Reid, "we have two good candidates up there."

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Sarah Palin may be uber-popular among the conservative base, her endorsement highly sought after by mid-level candidates -- but she's not doing so well among her fellow Alaskans.

Not one Alaska resident donated to Palin's "SarahPAC" in the first quarter of 2010, according to FEC reports. In the second half of 2009, only 33 donations -- out of some 2,000 totaling $1.4 million -- came from her home state. In the first half of the year, it was 29.

Palin resigned as governor of Alaska in July 2009, halfway through her first term. The state has factored largely into her personal story, and was something she mentioned frequently while campaigning as Sen. John McCain's running mate in 2008.

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At his weekly press availability this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid predicted that several Republicans will break from their party tomorrow morning, likely thwarting a financial reform filibuster.

"A number of senators, Republican senators, have told me they will vote for cloture," Reid said.

If Reid's right, it's all but certain that Democrats and Republicans will avoid a repeat performance of their dramatic floor fight several weeks ago, and the Senate will move swiftly to a vote on final passage. Earlier in the press conference, though, Reid hedged, suggesting it's possible the GOP will vote unanimously not to end debate.

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Democrats and the White House are pointing to a lesser noticed special election in southwestern Pennsylvania today, saying that result will have far more import than the results of contentious party primaries statewide there and in Arkansas and Kentucky. Republican Tim Burns and Democrat Mark Critz are locked in a close battle to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) in the 12th Congressional district. If Democrats keep that seat in a battleground district, they think that bodes well for this fall.

Murtha held the seat for more than three decades, weathering multiple challenges. It was the only district that voted narrowly for John Kerry in 2004 (51%-49%) but which Barack Obama lost in 2008 by less than one percentage point. Al Gore handily won the district in 2000. "If the bottom were really falling out the GOP should be walking away with this race," a Democrat close to the White House told me. Given the district demographics, the tough year for the majority party and the president's diminished approval ratings, Republicans have a great chance at a pickup, the source said. "Even if it's close it's a good sign for us."

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As we reported earlier today, Sen. Blanche Lincoln ran into a little trouble at her polling place in Arkansas this morning when she tried to cast her vote in the Democratic primary. Lincoln was forced to cast a provisional ballot after records showed she had already voted by absentee ballot.

After the seeming mega-fail, Lincoln tried to salvage the ballot-casting photo op with a video taken with her family after she and her husband (he had to fill out a provisional ballot, too) had finished up their business at their polling place. The video makes no reference to her voting troubles, and also doesn't include any footage of the couple filling out the paperwork required to cast their provisional votes. She's joined in the video by her two sons.

"Steve and I just voted -- and the boys watched us do it," Lincoln says in the video. No doubt the lads got a good lesson in electoral bureaucracy.

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Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) was there. So were Democratic Reps. Charlie Wilson, John Boccieri and Tim Ryan. Not to mention Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams. The Democrats waited on the tarmac, and burst into applause as President Obama descended the stairs of Air Force One on his visit to Ohio today.

So where was Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D)?

John Collins, Fisher's spokesman, tells TPM that it was simply a scheduling conflict, and that any speculation that Fisher wanted to avoid Obama is "silly."

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Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said this afternoon that he "misspoke" when he said he served in Vietnam, saying the comments were "absolutely unintentional."

"On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service and I take full responsibility. But I will not let anyone take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country," he said during a press conference today, surrounded by veterans who occasionally called out "Oorah! and "Semper fi."

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So what next for Indiana's Third District, where GOP Congressman Mark Souder has announced that he will resign because of a sex scandal?

Dale Simmons, the Republican co-general counsel for the state elections division, tells TPMDC that state law requires at least 60 days from the vacancy itself for a special election to be held. The law does not specifically require that an election be held, but prior case law suggests that an election should be held if there is a "meaningful term" left to be filled. The parties would select their nominees through an internal party process, not through primaries.

It should also be noted that Souder already won his primary two weeks ago, fending off self-funding GOP challenger Bob Thomas by a margin of 48%-34%. So the GOP will also have to use an same internal process to select a new nominee -- similar to how the Dems picked Rep. Brad Ellsworth as their nominee for Senate, replacing Sen. Evan Bayh.

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