TPM News

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who had attempted to leverage her superstar status among Tea Party activists into a role in the House Republican leadership as GOP Conference Chair, instead ended her bid tonight and endorsed the leadership's favored candidate, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.

Bachmann had argued that her role in mobilizing Tea Party activists for the Republican Party: "I have been able to bring a voice and motivate people to, in effect, put that gavel in John Boehner's hands, so that Republicans can lead going forward."

However, she only picked up the public support of five other House members: Her close ally Steve King of Iowa, Louie Gohmert of Texas, and her fellow Minnesotans John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Chip Cravaack.

As such, this was one insurgent bid that didn't quite take off.

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A federal judge has denied Joe Miller's request for an injunction to stop the counting of Alaska Senate write-in ballots, ruling that Miller will not face irreparable injury if the count continues.

Miller filed a suit yesterday arguing that counting write-in ballots that misspell the candidate's name is unconstitutional. He requested the injunction because he claimed that any count will cause him "irreparable injury, as both a candidate for U.S. Senate and a registered voter who cast a vote in the U.S. Senate race in this election, if Defendants are permitted to proceed with counting write-in ballots under an illegal standard."

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The current House Budget Committee Chairman -- Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), who lost his re-election bid last week -- has endorsed Chris Van Hollen to take over as the top Democrat on the panel next year.

"I am writing to state my enthusiastic support for Chris Van Hollen as Ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee in the 112th Congress," Spratt wrote in a letter to colleagues today. "Through his work in the Democratic leadership and on the Ways and Means Committee, Chris has demonstrated his dedication to our values as well as his knowledge of the issues.

Van Hollen appears to have a clear path to becoming the ranking member on the committee. Yesterday, the committee's second highest-ranking Democrat, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) backed his candidacy, and a source close to him tells me he has thusfar rounded up the support of 17 of the 19, returning Democrats on the panel, and counting.

You can read the entire letter below the fold.

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Counting write-in ballots in the Alaska Senate race is taking longer than expected, and could end up taking an extra two days to finish, according to Alaska Division of Elections Director Gail Fenumiai.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that officials had hoped to finish counting 129 precincts by the end of the day today, but by 1:00 p.m. Alaska time they had only finished 31. "I don't think we're going to get through them," Fenumiai said.

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Alaska Lt. Governor Craig Campbell contended today that Republican Joe Miller's campaign has changed its tune when it comes to pushing a "literal interpretation" of the write-in ballot count laws in the contentious Alaska Senate race.

Miller's campaign filed a lawsuit yesterday, arguing that the state should not count misspelled write-in ballots as votes for write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, since the law stipulates that write-in votes may only be counted "if the name, as it appears on the write-in declaration of candidacy, of the candidate or the last name of the candidate is written in the space provided."

In a press conference this afternoon, Campbell argued that the Miller campaign had previously objected to such a "literal interpretation" of the law, back when Campbell initially announced that write-in votes cast for Miller would be tossed since he is not a declared write-in candidate. At the time, Miller accused Campbell of "bias" when he refused to count those votes, and Campbell quickly decided to count them.

Campbell said today that he decided to count those votes because he wanted as many votes as possible to be included if "voter intent" could be determined. The Miller campaign argued at the time that the law required those votes to be counted.

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Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) is ready for war. He told an audience today that he doesn't shy away from a fight, even a tough one like repealing the health care reform law passed in March.

"One of my heroes is a guy named Davy Crockett," Barton said this morning. Crockett and the rest of the doomed defenders of the Alamo "fought a fight that most people thought was hopeless," Barton added, saying that because they did, Texas eventually became the state it is today.

"One of Crockett's sayings is 'be sure you're right, then go ahead," Barton said, turning to the health care law. "The right thing to do is repeal this bill...and we're gonna do it."

War on Obamacare wasn't the only one Barton declared before an audience at the Heritage Foundation today.

The ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and one of the men vying to be the next chair of the powerful panel when Republicans take over the House next year, Barton laid out his plan for, essentially, undoing most of what President Obama and Democrats accomplished in the past two years. He laid out the central fronts: the battle to repeal what he calls Obamacare, the fight against the EPA, backing the growing insurgency opposed to net neutrality regulations, taking on "environmental radicalism" and -- of course -- defending the "traditional, incandescent light bulb" against government regulators who want to replace it with what Barton called "the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones."

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Joyce Kaufman, the south Florida talk-radio host and new incoming chief of staff for Rep.-elect Allen West (R-FL) has made an auspicious debut in her staff work: Calling outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "garbage."

As The Hill reports:

Joyce Kaufman, the incoming chief of staff to Rep.-elect Allen West (R-Fla.), said: "Over these months I have been blessed to form very wonderful relationships with the West family. I looked at this family and [told] myself, 'How do you not fight and put them up on the pedestal when we've got this garbage up on the pedestal now, people like Nancy Pelosi?'"

Kaufman, a conservative South Florida radio personality, made the comments on her show Tuesday.

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The White House's debt commission co-chairs were not planning on publicly releasing their preliminary recommendations, at least not in such a hurried fashion. But the commissioners' reactions to their eye-popping proposals weren't exactly positive. And so, concerned about potential leaks and negative press, the co-chairs decided to unveil it and get ahead of the spin, according to a source with knowledge of the proceedings.

In that regard, this afternoon's briefing was a bid to keep the commission and its work from unraveling precipitously -- to lay out their discussion document publicly, as a starting point from which members will have to work.

"This is not a package that I could support," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) -- one of the only progressives on the panel -- told Bloomberg during a break at the commission's private meeting this morning.

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After six days of testimony, prosecutors in the corruption trial of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay have yet to directly tie DeLay to an alleged money-laundering scheme that benefited Texas Republicans in 2002.

But, according to the Austin American-Statesman, they hope to change that today by introducing DeLay's own words, in the form of a statement he gave to investigators before he was indicted in 2005.

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