TPM News

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has easily won the Republican nomination for governor of Tennessee, to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen -- and he perhaps didn't even need the "silly vote" to be split between two other candidates.

With only 7% of precincts reporting, Haslam has 51%, Congressman Zach Wamp has 27%, and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey has 21%. It must be noted, however, that these returns represent much, much more than a mere 7% of the total ballots, due to the fact that it includes a large number of the early votes. As such, Haslam has been projected as the winner by the Associated Press.

As we'd previously noted, this primary saw the other two candidates seeming to trip over each other to be more right wing than the other. Ramsey speculated that Islam might not be covered by the First Amendment's guarantee of the free exercise of religion, on the grounds that it's not really a religion but is instead a "cult." Meanwhile, Wamp flirted with the idea of Tennessee seceding from the United States (again), if the 2010 and 2012 elections did not go well. (Fun fact: A disliked election result in 1860 was the final straw that led to Southern secession last time.)

Meanwhile, Haslam only tacked slightly rightward, abandoning his former ties to New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's gun control efforts. And as the only "sensible party" candidate in the race, he obviously did quite well. He now faces Democratic businessman Mike McWherter, son of Dem former Gov. Ned McWhether. The TPM Poll Average gives Haslam an early lead of 48.0%-30.0%.

Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT) fired back today at a recent ad by his opponent in the Connecticut Senate GOP primary, former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, by blasting the indecency of WWE's programming.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Bringing The Smackdown: Linda McMahon's Campaign For Senate, And Her Colorful Pro-Wrestling Past]

During an appearance on Hardball, Chris Matthews asked Simmons about McMahon's ad, which shows two women talking to each other in a car, and concluding that WWE was a "soap opera" and that McMahon was a strong businesswoman who could shake up Washington.

"Well I think it makes those two women look a little bit like airheads," said Simmons. "Look, I'm like you. Back in the days when I was a kid, I saw Haystack Calhoun wrestle in New London. It was a lot of fun, it was a carnival show. But when you see a Down syndrome wrestler being beat up and abused, and his head being pushed in the toilet by Mrs. McMahon's husband and son, that's not funny. And that ad simply ridicules some of the ugly behaviors that they've promoted as soap opera. It's not soap opera. It's ugly, it shouldn't be marketed to our children."

The Republican primary will be held this Tuesday, August 10. The TPM Poll Average shows McMahon ahead with 48.9%, followed by Simmons at 28.7%, and financial commentator Peter Schiff with 13.9%.

Read More →

Republicans have been trying to extract as much political gain as possible from the ethical clouds surrounding Democrats Charlie Rangel (NY) and Maxine Waters (CA). But in an unexpected statement this afternoon, House Minority Leader John Boehner acknowledged it's not making much of a difference.

"It's a sad day for the House when members are charged with violating the rules of the House," Boehner told WHAS in Louisville, KY in an interview, "This is going to play itself out, but I don't expect it's going to have a big impact on the election."

Boehner was in Kentucky to help Republican Todd Lally defeat incumbent Democrat John Yarmuth.

Read More →

Rep. Kendrick Meek, who's battling Jeff Greene in Florida's Democratic Senate primary, is out today with a new internal poll that shows he and Greene statistically neck-and-neck. The poll, conducted from August 1-3 by the Feldman Group, shows Meek with 46%, Greene with 45%, and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre with 8%. The margin of error is ±3.5 percentage points.

Abe Dyk, Meek's campaign manager, writes that the poll's crosstabs contain more good news for Meek:

Kendrick leads by six points among those voters who have participated in each of the last four Democratic primaries and by four points among those who voted in the August 2008 primary election. Kendrick also enjoys a double digit advantage in the four Congressional districts with contested U.S. House primaries. Grassroots turnout will be critical, and Kendrick is running a grassroots campaign. Higher turnout in those districts give Kendrick a real boost.

Polling of the race has been scant and varied, but the latest Quinnipiac poll showed Greene leading Meek 33%-23%. The primary is August 24.

Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), who lost his primary on June 22 by a whopping 71%-29% margin, appeared on CNN this afternoon to further discuss the forces that took him out of office: Crazy right-wing conspiracy theories, and his inability and refusal to go along with it.

CNN host Rick Sanchez went over a recent piece on Inglis in Mother Jones, in which Inglis talked about the crazies that he would come across on the campaign trail.

Sanchez read from Inglis's recollection of a conversation with some voters: "'Bob, what don't you get? Barack Obama is a socialist, communist Marxist who wants to destroy the American economy so he can take over as dictator. Health care is part of that. And he wants to open up the Mexican border and turn [the US] into a Muslim nation.'"

Read More →

A Muslim civil rights advocate says it's "concerning" that more prominent New York Democrats aren't speaking up in the debate over new mosque projects in New York City. Ibrahim Ramey, civil rights director for the Muslim American Society in Washington, told me today that it surprises him how few Democratic politicians have spoken up as angry right-wing protesters have taken on mosque projects in Staten Island, Brooklyn and, of course, lower Manhattan.

"It's been very, very disappointing really," Ramey said. "To the extent that we're not hearing from prominent Democrats, it really is a concerning thing. Concerning for Muslims and for the nation as a whole."

Check out TPM's roundup on what New York Dems have said -- and haven't said -- about the issue here.

Ramey said for him, it's not about the politics. He just expects more politicians to offer the no-holds-barred statements in support of Muslim rights that he said New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg did in his recent speech endorsing the so-called Ground Zero mosque project.

Read More →

In yet another indication of how difficult November's elections will be for Democrats, the Cook Political Report has changed its rating of the Wisconsin Senate race (sub. req.) from "Lean Democratic" to "Toss-Up."

Explains Cook:

Just three weeks ago, we moved this race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold and businessman Ron Johnson, the presumptive Republican nominee, from the Solid Democratic column to Lean Democratic. After watching the back and forth between the candidates and having met with Johnson, the race is making yet another move to Toss Up.

Citing Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's unpopularity, the low number of Wisconsin voters who believe the state is on the right track, and the energized Republican base, Cook argues that an anti-incumbent climate may be enough to topple the incumbent Democratic senator. "Feingold could do everything right and still lose," Cook writes. Johnson, meanwhile, is well-positioned as an "outsider" candidate who "appears to have very little baggage for Democrats to exploit."

Read More →

Bill Binnie, a Republican candidate for Senate in New Hampshire, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Committee that alleges his Republican primary opponent Kelly Ayotte coordinated an attack ad against Binnie with a conservative group, in violation of FEC rules.

Read More →

Elena Kagan was confirmed as the newest Supreme Court justice today, with senators voting 63-37 to approve President Obama's second nominee to the high court. Her confirmation will put three women on the bench for the first time ever -- a statistic that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed as "real progress" on the Senate floor before his colleagues took the rare step of casting their votes from their desks.

The Democrats were nearly united in support, with only Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) voting "No." There were 5 Republicans who voted "Yes," breaking with the majority of their party.

Read More →