TPM News

As if we needed any evidence, the new Rasmussen poll of South Carolina gives Republican Sen. Jim DeMint a wide lead over the surprise Democratic nominee Alvin Greene.

The numbers: DeMint 58%, Greene 21%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. The poll also finds 62% of likely voters giving DeMint a favorable rating, with 25% unfavorable, compared to a 20%-51% rating for Greene.

Greene won last week's Democratic primary with 60%, over the establishment's choice of former judge Vic Rawl, despite having not actively campaigned. Neither candidate was known by the voters, and Greene may have benefited from being listed in the first position on the ballot. After the primary, it was revealed that Greene was arrested last November on an obscenity charge for allegedly showing pornography to a college student. He has refused calls by the Democratic Party to drop out.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is sending national money and resources to help state Sen. Mike Oliverio -- a tea party-endorsed conservative -- get elected to Congress as a Democrat in West Virginia's 1st district. Oliverio (D) defeated incumbent Rep. Allan Mollohan (D) in the May 11 primary, a race that saw the DCCC take him on and Mollohan question his Democratic credentials in part because he proposed a one-percent across the board cut to the federal budget.

But that's all over now. The national Democrats, whose candidate in the primary just finished calling Oliverio "dangerous," are now touting their nominee as the future of party control of the district. The DCCC has placed Oliverio on its "Red To Blue" list -- a group of candidates the party thinks are most likely to flip a Republican seat to Democratic hands or win an open seat contest. (The DCCC says WV-01 counts as open because, well, Oliverio defeated the Democratic incumbent it used to back.)

Making nice goes both ways in the race. Oliverio has embraced his new establishment friends by, among other things, a promise to vote for whomever the party chooses as its leader on Capitol Hill (read: Speaker Pelosi) and welcoming the influx of DCCC cash and advice.

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BP And Other Oil Companies Face Grilling In Congress Top oil company executives will testify today at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as they face new potential new regulations and oversight by the federal government. BP America head Lamar McKay will appear before the committee, along with executives from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive a briefing at 10:15 a.m. ET with Adm. Thad Allen and local officials in Pensacola Beach, Florida, on efforts to fight the BP oil spill. He will deliver remarks at a 12:10 p.m. ET event with military personnel. He will depart from Pensacola at 1:15 p.m. ET, arriving at Andrews Air Force Base at 3:15 p.m. ET and the White House at 3:30 p.m. ET. He will address the nation from the Oval Office at 8 p.m. ET.

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John Haggerty, a New York Republican political operative who was indicted Monday for allegedly stealing $1.1 million from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign, was hired recently by gubernatorial candidate and TPM favorite Carl Paladino.

Paladino is the Tea Party candidate whose campaign took a beating after revelations that he regularly sent racist and sexually explicit emails to friends. It took so much of a beating, in fact, that delegates at the recent NY GOP convention voted that he not be allowed to speak.

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Gov. Charlie Crist (I-FL), who left the Republican Party a month and a half ago to run for Senate as an independent, is becoming one of the most vocal opponents of offshore drilling since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig was destroyed in April, which led to an oil spill that has been characterized as one of the biggest environmental disasters in American history.

Most recently, he appeared on Face The Nation and spoke up for a temporary ban on offshore drilling. "I dare say that, you know, we need this moratorium. Look, if this spew in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico doesn't tell us that we need to be more cautious and more careful about doing this in the future, I don't know what else would," said Crist.

"I mean, you know, we don't have these rigs off the Florida coast. We are suffering from the one off the Louisiana coast and it troubles me greatly that that's occurring. That's why I think this is the greatest wake-up call ever that we need to go to alternative fuel. We need to have cre-- cleaner fuel for our people. That'll create greater independence and stop sending so much money over to the Middle East," Crist continued.

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State Sen. Robert Hurt (R-VA) probably thought he'd put his Republican problems behind him when he overwhelmingly captured the party nomination to challenge Rep. Tom Perriello last week. Not so much, as a former GOP rival Jim McKelvey and the local tea party are refusing to endorse Hurt's candidacy.

We've been writing for months about Virginia's 5th district, likely to be ground zero for Republicans who are attempting to win back control of the U.S. House this fall. Hurt was considered the most electable and best-known in the district, which spans central and Southside Virginia. But he was bruised in the primary by a host of Republican opponents who labeled him a moderate tax-raiser who was too close to the Washington establishment. Nothing's really changed.

According to the Lynchburg News and Advance, the Lynchburg Tea Party said in a statement they "cannot and will not endorse a candidate that does not align with our core principles," an argument that stems mostly from Hurt's vote in favor of a $1.4 billion tax increase in 2004 to balance the state budget. The much smaller Danville Tea Party has reportedly said they are likely to endorse Hurt in the spirit of unity.

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Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum -- locked in an increasingly tough Republican gubernatorial primary with former hospital CEO Rick Scott -- could be about to find his campaign in some legal trouble, according to the St. Petersburg Times. That's not be the best situation for the state's top law-enforcement officer to find himself in while be battles for position on the campaign trail.

From the Times' report, based on "documents obtained" by the paper:

McCollum is using his name to solicit contributions for the Florida First Initiative, which is airing attack ads against rival Rick Scott...despite his campaign's suggestion that they are not affiliated.

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The Alabama Republican gubernatorial primary is headed into its next phase -- a recount before a runoff.

The first-round June 1 primary saw Bradley Byrne, the former chancellor of the state's two-year colleges, come in first place with 28% of the vote -- far short of the 50% needed to avoid a July 13 runoff. In the second position, however, it was a near tie, with state Rep. Robert Bentley and businessman Tim James at 25% each -- and Bentley edging out James by 167 votes in the final certified count.

A recount requested by James will begin tomorrow, with James having sent counties checks to cover expenses that could add up to as much as $200,000. It should be noted that recounts rarely produce enough swing to change a result -- but if James's efforts pay off here, and he overtakes Bentley, the state would be a in real mess here, having already certified Byrne and Bentley as the two candidates for the runoff next month.

We've been keeping a close eye on the accusations and rumors coming out of South Carolina in recent days following a very strange Democratic primary. It's far from clear whether any of the mysterious candidates who performed better than expected for being little known were "plants" or part of any larger plot.

Today House Majority Whip James Clyburn accused all three candidates he's already suggested were "plants" of hiring Stonewall Strategies, a firm run by former aide to Rep. Joe Wilson. On MSNBC today charged that Democratic candidates Gregory Brown, Ben Frasier in SC-01 and Alvin Greene in the Senate race had employed Stonewall. Preston Grisham, who runs Stonewall, flatly denied the charge in an interview.

Clyburn (D-SC) has spent the last several days suggesting that something was amiss during Tuesday's primary, during which Frasier and Greene prevailed despite a lack of campaigning and no recognition from the state Democratic party.

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