TPM News

Democratic candidate Robin Carnahan has a new TV ad in the Missouri Senate race, trying to tear down Republican Rep. Roy Blunt's bonafides on the issues of government spending that he's been pushing in the race. The message: He's a "pork-meister."

"What do this museum for teapots, this swimming pool, and this center studying potatoes have in common?" the announcer asks. "Thanks to Roy Blunt, they've been getting your tax dollars. That's right. Blunt's been a leader in allowing earmarks to get out of control. He's been called a 'prodigious pork-meister' for earmarks that cost you $20 billion a year. That's a lot of potatoes. Roy Blunt: The very worst of Washington."

The candidate then closes with her message: "I'm Robin Carnahan. I approved this message, because I'm for banning earmarks once and for all."

The TPM Poll Average gives gives Blunt a lead of 51.2%-44.0%.

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The National Republician Campaign Committee is running an ad against Democratic House incumbent Baron Hill of Indiana.

No, that's not our typo, it's theirs.

Hill has served his district since 1999, but was booted from Congress for one term by Republican Mike Sodrel in 2005 only to return to Congress in 2007. Now the GOP is trying to take the seat back yet again by tying him to Democratic leadership.

So confident are Republicans that they can convince Hoosiers to fire Hill that they've let their copy editors take a month-long vacation ahead of recess.

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Ron Johnson, the businessman and Republican nominee for Senate in Wisconsin against Russ Feingold, is now coming under fire for a previous foray into a public position that he took last January: When he testified against a bill that would have made it easier for adults who had been victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue the responsible organizations such as the Catholic Church.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin legislature considered a bill as a result of the Catholic Church's abuse scandals, which would have eliminated the statute of limitations for victims to sue organizations responsible for sexual abuse, and created a three-year window for past victims to file new lawsuits. The bill, which failed to pass, was opposed by the insurance industry and church organizations -- and by Johnson, who had served on the Green Bay diocese's financial council. (Johnson is not Catholic himself, but a Lutheran.)

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Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is in the driver's seat in her bid for reelection this year, a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows. The PPIC survey of 1,104 likely voters is one of the state's most respected polls and it shows Boxer leading Republican nominee Carly Fiorina 42-35.

In PPIC's last survey of the race, taken in July, Boxer led 39-34. The new result matches other recent polls showing Boxer ahead. The TPM Poll Average shows the Democrat leading 47.4-43.4.

PPIC reports that Boxer appears to be gaining voters even as she loses some public confidence. "Across parties, her approval rating has dropped since May among Democrats (67% today, down 10 points), independents (41%, down 12 points), and Republicans (7%, down 6 points)," the pollster reports. "Disapproval of her job performance is at a new high of 45 percent."

That dip could give Fiorina some hope that she can reclaim the lead in the race between now and November 2.

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When James O'Keefe dressed up like a telephone repairman and started poking around with Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) phone system, breaking the law, Andrew Breitbart -- who backed O'Keefe's ACORN stings -- stood by him. He said Big Government had nothing to do with O'Keefe's stunt, of course, but he also defended O'Keefe, gave him a platform from which to make a public statement and continued to pay him for his contributions to the BigGovernment site.

But not this time around, as O'Keefe finds himself the subject of condemnation from the right for apparently plotting to "punk" CNN by luring a reporter onto his boat and seducing her.

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The former housekeeper of California Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman charged Wednesday that the former eBay CEO knew her maid was in the country illegally, but continued to employ her and treated her poorly.

Whitman's campaign said that the maid, Nicky Diaz, was being "manipulated" by her high-profile lawyer Gloria Allred for "political and financial purposes," and said the candidate did not know Diaz was in the country illegally.

But Allred said Thursday that she had a copy of a so-called "no-match" letter sent by the Social Security Administration to Whitman back in 2003. That letter, which indicated that Diaz's name did not match with the housekeeper's name, indicates that Whitman knew her housekeeper was not authorized to work, according to Allred.

She planned to release the letter at a press conference at noon Pacific time. The Whitman campaign announced it would preempt Allred with a press conference at 10:30 p.m. PT.

So what do we know so far?

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The Public Policy Institute of California is out with one of the most anticipated polls of the California election season today -- and the results show that with the clock ticking down on the state's gubernatorial campaign, the election is anybody's to win (or lose).

The survey of 1,104 likely voters in the Golden State shows Republican nominee Meg Whitman leading the race by one point. She's leading Democrat Jerry Brown 38-37. That essentially matches a July PPIC poll that showed Whitman leading 37-34. Whitman has shored up support in several important areas however.

"Independents were divided in July (30% Brown, 28% Whitman, 30% undecided) but have shifted toward Whitman (38% Whitman, 30% Brown, 19% undecided)," the pollster reports. "Whitman is favored more by Republicans (71%) than Brown is by Democrats (63%)."

Other recent polling in the race confirms a close race, though one poll -- a CNN/Time survey published yesterday -- showed Brown with a nine-point lead. The TPM Poll Average shows the candidates essentially tied, with Whitman leading 45.1-44.7.

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With Louisiana Sens. Mary Landrieu (D) and David Vitter (R) blocking a vote on the confirmation of Jack Lew, President Obama's pick to lead the White House budget team, speculation ran rampant this week that Obama might offer Lew a recess appointment.

Well, that won't be happening.

Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided he'd hold multiple weekly pro-forma Senate sessions during the election-season recess, which will prevent Obama from legally recess appointing his stalled nominees. The reason, according to top Democratic and Republican aides has nothing to do with recess appointments per se, but rather with protecting the rest of Obama's executive and judicial nominees.

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