TPM News

Three recent polls -- each not without its critics -- show Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) trailing in a hypothetical match up with former Wisconsin governor and Bush administration cabinet member Tommy Thompson (R). He hasn't decided whether he'll seek the GOP nomination yet, but is rumored to be seriously considering it.

If he does, polling suggests Thompson could depose one of the strongest progressive voices in the Senate. With the two latest polls added in, the TPM Poll Average for the race shows Thompson leading Feingold by a margin of 46-42.8.

Media reports have picked up on the polls, painting the picture of an incumbent on the ropes. The Feingold campaign rejects that assertion outright, claiming that the polls are the problem, not the Senator.

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Steve Hildebrand, a former top staffer to the Obama campaign in 2008, says that he could potentially run against Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) in the Democratic primary -- if she doesn't vote for health care reform.

"I want to see how she votes on health care," Hildebrand, a native South Dakotan, told CNN. "If the vote is very, very close and we lose it or come close to losing it, I will take a seriously look at challenging her."

Hildebrand said he has not spoken to the Obama administration, nor to South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson or former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. He said that if he does decide to run he will have a "conversation with them." However, he added: "But I would not expect them to go against an incumbent within their party."

The only way Democrats may be able to salvage November, according to Michael Moore, is to "find their courage" this week, add a public option back to the health care bill and start passing as much liberal legislation as possible.

"Maybe they won't win. But their boat is sinking. And when your boat is sinking, I think you have to take radical measures to stop it," Moore said in an interview with TPMDC. "Don't just sit there and watch it sink."

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Rep. Don Young (R-AK) praising earmarks is hardly news. After all, the Alaska lawmaker, whose "generous appetite for legislative pork," was once noted by the New Republic, is a co-sponsor of the Bridge to Nowhere, and bragged of an appropriations bill that he had "stuffed it like a turkey" with homestate spending items.

But these days, Young's pro-earmark position isn't jibing too well with the image the GOP caucus wants to project. Eager to present themselves as more restrained than House Democrats and the Obama administration, House Republicans last week announced a one-year earmark hiatus.

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Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), who is facing a primary challenge from her left, has a new TV ad that takes an unusual step for a Democrat: Attacking labor unions, after they went after her first.

In her new TV spot, Lincoln responds to a spot by unions supporting Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in the Democratic primary, which declared that Lincoln is "working for them. Not us."

"So, who's the 'us' that I'm not working for?" Lincoln asks rhetorically. "That ad is paid for by a bunch of Washington, D.C., unions. And they're right. I'm not working for them -- I work for you."

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Scattered amongst the now-familiar chants, shouts and cackles at this morning's Code Red tea party-style rally on Capitol Hill (you know the drill -- "Kill the Bill!," "Shame!," etc) was a new line of attack on the Democratic health care reform package and the woman trying to bring it to final passage in the House, Nancy Pelosi.

"Treason!" several in the audience yelled as Pelosi's "deem and pass" plan was criticized by speaker after speaker standing in the center of the circle of several hundred protesters. "Try her for treason!"

Joe Lisanti, a physician from Ohio, was one of the loudest in the crowd calling for Pelosi to face charges for the deem and pass plan. See Lisanti explain his position in an interview with me after the jump.

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Interns are scrambling to get the talking points right as the phones ring off the hook. Press secretaries' BlackBerries are running out of batteries from downloading hundreds of emails along the lines of, "Will your boss switch his vote?" Constituents asking about taxes aren't able to get through the clogged switchboards.

In what seems to be the final (really!) push on health care reform on Capitol Hill, offices have been deluged with phone calls from across the country. They are pro-reform, anti-reform, blasting reconciliation or begging for an up-or-down vote - engaged voters who are attempting to influence the course of what will be a razor-close vote this weekend.

No one has been more targeted than the 37 House Democrats who voted "No" the first time around on health care, the majority of which did so under the mantle of fiscal responsibility. They are prime gets for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House, who need to peel off a few to make up for the lost votes due to retirements and a change in the abortion provisions in the legislation.

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With his $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme crumbling last fall, a desperate Scott Rothstein agreed to cooperate with the Feds in a sting operation that helped bring down an alleged Sicilian mafioso, according to a remarkable new story in the Miami Herald.

Roberto Settineri was arrested in Florida last week on money laundering charges. On the same day, he was charged in Italy with "extortion, drug trafficking, attempted homicide, and other crimes arising from their alleged affiliation with Santa Maria di Gesù, a Sicilian mafia family," according to the FBI.

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