TPM News

Yesterday we flagged the report that Alvin Greene, the mystery candidate for Senate in South Carolina who won the Democratic nomination Tuesday, was arrested on a felony obscenity charge back in November.

Now the AP has provided some new details on the episode at University of South Carolina that led to the charges of "disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity":

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The new Quinnipiac poll in Florida suggests that there is in no true frontrunner at all for the Democratic nomination for Senate -- Rep. Kendrick Meek and businessman Jeff Greene are both so unknown to voters that it could be anyone's game in the race to go up against Republican Marco Rubio and independent Charlie Crist.

The numbers: Meek 29%, Greene 27%, former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre 3%, and a plurality of 37% undecided. The survey of likely Dem primary voters has a ±3.5% margin of error.

The candidates are all unknowns. Meek's favorable rating among Dem primary voters is at 29%, with 8% unfavorable, and 59% who haven't heard enough. Greene is at 23%-10%-64%. And Ferre, who was mayor of Miami all the way back in the 1970s and 1980s, is at 8%-6%-83%.

A number of key senators returned to the Capitol after election Tuesday with good news for Wall Street foes. By defeating her primary challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) has strengthened her hand in the final financial reform negotiations, and has given new life to a much-debated provision, which would require financial firms to spin off their derivatives trading desks. But the measure still faces broad and stiff opposition from powerful interest groups and the Obama administration, and there's little if any evidence that Lincoln's victory weakened their resolve to, at the very least, scale it back.

"She returns as the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, running for re-election in November, which I think gives her a strong bargaining position," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters yesterday.

The reasoning is simple: Facing a tough re-election challenge in November, Democrats will be loath to publicly undercut her, particularly given how great a role her contributions to Wall Street reform played in the Arkansas primary.

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The new Quinnipiac poll in Florida shows that former healthcare executive Rick Scott's right-wing campaign for governor is having a serious impact -- he now leads the establishment GOP candidate state Attorney General Bill McCollum, in the Republican primary.

The numbers: Scott 44%, McCollum 31%. The survey of likely GOP primary voters has a ±3.4% margin of error. At the same time, 59% of primary votes who expressed a choice also said that their minds could potentially change, with that number spread evenly across both candidates' supporters.

Scott has been spending heavily on the race, focusing on illegal immigration and opposition to President Obama's health care reform law. From the pollster's analysis: "In addition to being a testament to the power of television, Scott's ability to take the lead so quickly is also a reflection on McCollum's lack of strong support within his own party despite his two decades in Florida politics."

A pair of new polls show former professional wrestling CEO Linda McMahon could be closing the gap slightly in the Connecticut Senate race. But one is a McMahon campaign poll. The other, from the well-respected Connecticut pollster Quinnipiac, shows not much is happening at all.

In the last Quinnipiac poll, taken May 24-25, Blumenthal led McMahon by a margin of 56-31. In the new Q poll, conducted June 2-8, McMahon has closed that gap a little. That poll shows Blumenthal ahead by a margin of 55-35. (The poll was conducted among 1,350 registered voters and has a margin of error of 2.7%).

The McMahon campaign poll, released yesterday, shows the race is even closer than that. The poll, conducted June 1-3 among 600 registered voters with a margin of error of 4%, shows Blumenthal ahead by margin 51-38.

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Democrats Breathe A Bit Easier CQ reports: "Senate Democrats on Wednesday were as upbeat about their midterm election prospects as they have been in several months, celebrating Sen. Blanche Lincoln 's hard-fought primary runoff victory Tuesday night and expressing optimism that Majority Leader Harry Reid may be making a comeback...Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) offered that Republicans probably would have 'run the table' had the midterm elections occurred in late January when Sen. Scott P. Brown (R) won a Massachusetts special election to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D). But Carper predicted Wednesday that, come Nov. 2, the economy will have improved, the federal deficit will be smaller, and the new health care law will have grown more popular."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET. He will receive a briefing at 10:30 a.m. ET on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. He will meet at 11:15 a.m. ET with a bipartisan group of members of Congress. He will meet at 1:30 p.m. ET with family members of those killed on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. He will meet at 2:30 p.m. ET with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), and at 3 p.m. ET with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. He will meet at 3:45 p.m. ET with business leaders and energy experts to discuss energy reform.

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One of the enduring mysteries of the Alvin Greene Senate candidacy down in South Carolina is that Greene, an unemployed veteran who registered his candidacy with the Democratic party in March, never filed any paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.

But sometime in the last three or four days, Greene's name did show up on the FEC database -- but not because he had filed a statement of organization for a campaign committee, as federal candidates typically do. (Greene apparently raised no money for his successful primary bid.)

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Union officials bruised by Lt. Gov. Bill Halter's loss in Arkansas were beyond irritated when the White House took an anonymous swipe at the labor movement for trying to unseat his Democratic rival, Sen. Blanche Lincoln. But the punchline is that they say they're more determined now -- even if it means the Democrats lose the House this fall.

An unnamed White House official called Politico's Ben Smith to criticize labor's involvement in the Democratic primary, saying they'd "flushed $10 million" on a "pointless exercise."

"If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November," the official told Politico. That's right in line with what national Democrats were telling me right after Halter kept Lincoln to under 50 percent in the May 18 primary, forcing the runoff which she won last night.

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Democrats on Thursday will launch a new 60-second ad on national cable television accusing repeal-happy Republicans of wanting to get rid of health care reform and all its benefits. The ad, obtained by TPMDC, is timed to coincide with the government mailing to seniors the first $250 Medicare rebate checks fixing the so-called prescription drug "donut hole."

The ad is titled "We Can't Afford To Go Back." It outlines the positive parts of the health care law signed by President Obama this spring and charges, "Republicans want to take it all away."

I've learned that DNC Chairman Tim Kaine on Thursday will dare Republicans to make repeal the focus of their fall campaign to try and win back control of Congress, challenging the GOP to tell senior citizens and others benefiting from health care exactly which parts of the reform law they'd scrap.

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