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Vice President Biden last night helped raise money for three freshman House Democrats from Virginia -- Gerry Connolly, Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello -- and very prominently noted that two of them are from swing seats that could be in real danger in 2010. From the Washington Post pool report:

VPOTUS noted that two of the three Democrats in attendance - U.S. Reps. Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello - would face difficult challenges in their more rural, southern Virginia districts.

"I don't have to tell you that you're in a very competitive state," he said. "You got some tough votes coming up." He noted that the third Virginia House Democrat - U.S. Rep. Gerry Connelly - had a "few liberals" in his left-leaning Northern Virginia district. He called the triumvirate "independent minded" and "damn competent," but united on several core Democratic Party themes, including energy policy and health care.

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A judge in Massachusetts has just ruled against the state GOP's effort to stop the appointment of Democratic Sen.-designate Paul Kirk to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

From the Boston Globe: "Judge Thomas Connolly deliberated for more than four hours before dismissing the GOP's claim that Democratic Governor Deval Patrick overstepped his authority by declaring an emergency so Kirk's appointment could be made immediately."

Kirk is set to be sworn in this afternoon.

The AP has now taken a crack at the story of the sale of Rep. Mike Ross's family pharmacy, for a possibly inflated price of $420,000, to a big drug store chain.

And it elicited yet another response from Ross, Democrat of Arkansas, on the 2007 sale of the pharmacy. He can't remember how he and USA Drug settled on the price for the land and the building. From an interview with AP:

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Just before the Senate Finance Committee wrapped up for the long weekend, members debated one of Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) amendments, which would strike language defining which benefits employers are required to cover.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) argued that insurers must be required to cover basic maternity care. (In several states there are no such requirements.)

"I don't need maternity care," Kyl said. "So requiring that on my insurance policy is something that I don't need and will make the policy more expensive."

Stabenow interrupted: "I think your mom probably did."

The amendment was defeated, nine to 14.

Video after the jump.

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The new CBS/New York Times poll not only shows overwhelming support for the public option -- it shows that a plurality of self-identified Republicans are for it, too.

The poll asked this question: "Would you favor or oppose the government offering everyone a government administered health insurance plan -- something like the Medicare coverage that people 65 and older get -- that would compete with private health insurance plans?"

The top-line result is 65% in favor, 26% opposed. Among Democrats only, it's 81%-12%, and independents are at 61%-30%. And among Republican respondents, 47% are in favor, to 42% opposed.

Although they were originally scheduled to do so today, Senate Finance Committee members won't discuss public option amendments until Tuesday.

"We don't have time today to bring that up," Chairman Max Baucus said, according to the Washington Independent.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are pushing for a public option in the Finance bill. On a conference call last night, Schumer said today would be "the opening day in our big fight."

The committee is adjourning early today and won't meet Monday due to Yom Kippur.

Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) is up on the air with a new Spanish-language TV ad, with Sen. Robert Menendez making a pitch for Corzine to Latino voters.

Unstated in the ad is that Menendez was himself appointed to the Senate by Corzine. Instead, the ad has Menendez praising Corzine on the more broad-based issue of the economy: "In this economic crisis, New Jersey is one of the states that has suffered the least because of the stewardship of Jon Corzine. He has made difficult, but necessary measures, which is why he has been attacked unfairly."



The official English translation is available after the jump.

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Fox News reported this morning that Speaker Nancy Pelosi was working on her own draft of the health care bill -- which a Pelosi aide tells us is false.

Fox had a breaking news item: "We are learning this morning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is working on her own draft of the health care overhaul - including another push for government-run health insurance."

Again, we repeat: A Pelosi aide confirms to us that this is false.

So where do things actually stand? Well, the health care bills are making their way through multiple committees, and the Dem leaders and chairs of those committees have been working to iron out the differences. Perhaps the brilliant parliamentarians at Fox heard something about Pelosi's participation in that ongoing process, and concluded that she's working on her own bill.

A judge will rule before noon today in the Massachusetts Republican Party's lawsuit to stop the appointment of Sen.-designate Paul Kirk (D-MA) to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly heard from both sides this morning. The GOP have argued that Gov. Deval Patrick did not have the constitutional authority to declare the law an emergency measure that would take effect immediately. The Dems have countered that Patrick did in fact have this ability -- and that Republican former Gov. Mitt Romney himself had used it in the past.

Kirk is set to be sworn in by Vice President Biden this afternoon. If Connolly were to suddenly nullify the appointment, that would certainly throw off Democratic efforts to get back to 60 seats -- and if he lets it go ahead, then there will be no time to appeal.

The local coroner has confirmed that the word "Fed" had been written on Bill Sparkman's chest when he was found dead earlier this month.

Jim Trosper, the Clay County coroner, confirmed the information to TPMmuckraker moments ago, adding that the word appeared to have been written in felt tip marker. He declined to give additional details.

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