TPM News

The Senate race isn't the only GOP war going on in Florida. Surprise late-entry gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott -- the former CEO of the the Columbia hospital system and a leading astroturfer during the health care town halls in 2009 -- is threatening to dismantle Republican party plans to replace Gov. Charlie Crist (I) with state Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Scott, a millionaire several hundred times over, jumped into GOP primary on April 13, after months of a campaign that already moved onto the general, with likely GOP nominee McCollum facing off against likely Democratic nominee and state CFO Alex Sink. But a new poll released over the weekend shows Scott has succeeded in forcing McCollum into an unexpected and costly primary fight.

Like so many Republicans these days, Scott is running as an outsider. It's his deep pockets and connection to the conservative anti-health care reform movement from the August 2009 town halls that could be causing Florida Republicans to rethink a race they already thought was over. Now they're left pondering if their nominee for governor might end up being a disgraced hospital executive who says he killed the public option.

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has issued a statement in response to President Obama's nomination of Elena Kagan to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. Cornyn says he doesn't doubt Kagan's "first-rate intellect," but he wonders if someone who "has spent her entire professional career in Harvard Square, Hyde Park, and the DC Beltway" understands "how ordinary people live."

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) needed someone to reform his state's government and shrink its budget. So who's he turning to? Fred Malek: right-wing insider and former President Richard Nixon's "Jew counter."

On Friday, McDonnell released a list of 31 names -- the members of his "Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring," which, according to the Washington Post, "will consider closing some of the state's 130 agencies" and will "consider selling the state's 350 liquor stores."

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A Republican fundraising pro who was fired from the RNC after putting purchases at a high-end jewelry boutique on the party's tab, could potentially wind up in more hot water.

Debbie LeHardy was terminated Friday as the RNC's deputy finance director. Last month, reporters for Alternet and other outlets, combing through the RNC's FEC filings in the wake of the recent scandal over a night out at a bondage-themed night-club, found that LeHardy was reimbursed for a $450 purchase from Henri Bendel, a Manhattan jewelry and accessories boutique that touts itself as a "girls' playground for trendsetting young women from around the world." Though the store has no restaurant, the expenditure was listed on the FEC report as a meal.

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Liberals have been warning President Obama for weeks that Republicans and conservative activists would fight and seek to delay confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee no matter whom he picked. Turns out they were right.

In an April 22 conference call with RNC members, which was recorded and passed my way by a source, activist Curt Levey, director of the conservative Committee for Justice, offered Republican operatives candid strategic advice, pressing them to put up a fight against even the most moderate of judges, and providing a glimpse of the GOP's playbook for obstructing Obama nominees.

The crux of the GOP's strategy is to use Obama's nominee to wedge vulnerable Democratic senators away from the party, and drag the confirmation fight out until the August congressional recess, to eat up precious time Democrats need to round out their agenda.

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After Defense Secretary Robert Gates outraged gay activists by telling Congress to wait to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell until after a policy review is finished this December, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee asked him to clarify what, exactly, that review is for.

Is its purpose, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) asked in a letter (PDF), to determine "whether" to repeal the statute, or "how" to repeal it?

It's "how," Gates wrote in response.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has released a statement on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court -- and it mirrors positive comments he has made about Kagan in the past.

"Solicitor General Kagan has a strong academic background in the law. I have been generally pleased with her job performance as Solicitor General, particularly regarding legal issues related to the War on Terror. I look forward to meeting her again, this time to discuss her qualifications to sit on the highest court in the land," Graham said in a statement. "As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I intend to be fair and firm in my questioning of the nominee. The hearings can be a valuable public service as they give us a window into the nominee's judicial philosophy and disposition. I hope we will have a meaningful opportunity to explore the qualifications, judicial temperament, and judicial philosophy of Ms. Kagan."

Graham has previously talked up Kagan, saying "I like her." At the same time, though, he also cautioned: "It doesn't mean I'm going to vote for her." As the Huffington Post wryly observed at the time, this could have potentially damaged Kagan among liberals -- Graham was referring to Kagan's positions on executive power.

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