TPM News

The suddenly hot immigration debate has inspired its fair share of out-there rhetoric in just a short time. Last night, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), tried out a new line on the House floor.

Lamenting the state of border security, Poe asked why we can catch and contain invasive species like Brazilian grasshoppers before they get into the U.S., but not illegal immigrants. Nice, right?

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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the PA-12 special election gives Republican businessman Tim Burns the edge in the race for the House seat formerly held by the late Democratic Rep. John Murtha.

The numbers: Burns 46%, with Democratic candidate and former Murtha aide Mark Critz at 40%. The sample of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. The Democrats have held this seat since 1974, when Murtha picked it up from the Republicans in a special election held in the midst of the Watergate scandals. The special election will be held on May 18. The TPM Poll Average gives Burns a lead of 43.0%-40.3%

Two key numbers: President Obama's favorable rating in this western Pennsylvania seat is only 38%, with an unfavorable rating of 55%. Respondents were also asked this question: "Would you be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports and will work to improve the new health care reform law, or a candidate who will work to repeal it completely?" The answer: candidate who supports the bill 34%, candidate who would repeal the bill 48%.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) suddenly announced her retirement today, the last day for candidates to file for the seat, citing health reasons.

"As I have prepared for my campaign, I have been troubled by persistent health problems and have come to the disappointing and sad conclusion that I cannot run for reelection," said Brown-Waite. "There are simply too many unresolved issues around my health and my pancreas in particular."

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In a new Public Policy Polling survey, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is leading the pack in the Republican primary, having built credibility with conservative voters since December. But that all changes if Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a hard-liner on immigration, were to enter the race.

Without Arpaio, Brewer gets 38% of the vote, followed by her closest challenger at 19%. Her approval rating among conservatives is 60% -- not surprising, as the poll was conducted in the days after she signed a harsh new immigration law. A Rasmussen poll released this week showed that her approval numbers statewide got a huge bump after she signed the law, bringing her to 56% approval.

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Former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean is putting the kibosh on speculation that he might be supporting Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist in the Florida Senate race. In a new fundraising letter sent out by Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek's Senate campaign, Dean makes it clear who he is for.

"You may have heard a ridiculous - and completely false - rumor that I'm backing Charlie Crist," Dean writes. "No way, no how. I am supporting just one candidate in the Florida Senate race: Kendrick Meek. The announcement yesterday that Crist is abandoning the Republican Party to run as an independent is a game-changer. Crist and Marco Rubio will now fight over the same pool of Republican voters, giving us a real path to victory."

This rumor briefly spread two days ago. National Review linked to a local paid-subscriber site in Florida, which reported that Dean said he would send Crist a check. A Dean aide quickly e-mailed National Review, alleging that this report originated from somebody overhearing Dean making a joke to Joe Scarborough in a private conversation.

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In another sign of the heightened tensions surrounding illegal immigration in Arizona, a far-right anti-immigration group is stoking fears of violent Mexicans out to murder white people -- and invoking hard-line sheriff Joe Arpaio -- in a bid to raise money. The group's leader tells TPMmuckraker that in the wake of Arizona's draconian new immigration law, "the irresistible force of globalism and the Mexican invasion is about to meet the immovable object of American sovereignty."

A fundraising flyer sent this month by the American Border Patrol -- a group of anti-immigration advocates who conduct airplane missions to monitor the Arizona-Mexico border -- leads with an incendiary quote attributed to Jose Angel Gutierrez, the founder of La Raza: "We have got to eliminate the gringo. And what I mean is, if worse comes to worst, we have got to kill him." Above the quote is a picture of an immigrants rights protest, including a prominent banner declaring: "We Are Indigenous, The Only Owners Of This Continent." (See the flyer here.)

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California Tea Party groups are calling San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's boycott and raising him a ... boycott.

The mayor raised the ire of California Tea Partiers this week when, in response to Arizona's passage of a controversial immigration law, he announced a boycott of the state, barring San Francisco city employees from entering Arizona and threatening to cut off economic ties. Local Tea Partiers who support the Arizona legislation answered his actions with a boycott of their own -- on the city of San Francisco.

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Stephen Colbert admitted last night that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a big deal: "The ocean hasn't seen that much oil since the cast of 'Jersey Shore' all went swimming at the same time."

Though he noted that Obama's plan to build a wind farm is way more dangerous, citing the potential for a "catastrophic wind spill."

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Anthem Blue Cross announced yesterday that it is scrapping its request for a premium rate hike. The Obama administration, which had used Anthem's proposed hike of up to 39% to illustrate the evils of the insurance industry, celebrated the announcement -- and took some of the credit.

"Today's announcement is good news for the more than 800,000 Californians who could have been hit with massive rate increases and gives them some much-needed temporary relief," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement yesterday. "This result was achieved because those who oversee the insurance industry on the state and federal levels heard these voices, held investigations, and demanded action."

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