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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

We may not have captured this completely in our coverage, but the brouhaha over the political science research project gone so wrong in Montana (and now in California) has been a very big deal in political science circles since the news broke late last week. I know some readers will be amused that anything could be buzzy in the cloistered poli sci world. But this has really captured the attention of everyone in the profession, and reignited some long running debates about field research, the proper ethical lines to draw during research, and a host of related issues.

We've mostly avoided going too far into that part of the story because, let's face it, poli sci research dos and don'ts are pretty damn weedy and matter only to those who do it for a living. But TPM Reader Dan Carpenter, a professor of government at Harvard, wrote in with his insights on the mess, and I think it gives you a good sense of how big a deal some of these issues are within the academy and why this episode has received so much attention. And it's just plain thoughtful and interesting. Here's Carpenter:

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TPM has obtained the mailer that Dartmouth and Stanford researchers sent to California voters. It's very similar to the mailer they sent in Montana that's caused so much trouble, right down to the use of the state seal, in this case California's. The California secretary of state's office hadn't seen the mailer until we showed it them. Unauthorized use of the state seal is a violation of state law, so now the state is looking into the matter.

The doctor hospitalized today at Bellevue Hospital in NYC with ebola symptoms has tested positive for the virus, The New York Times is reporting. Dr. Craig Spencer returned to NYC Oct. 14 after treating ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders.

Yesterday two students from Rwanda were held out of school in New Jersey because of misplaced fears they could be carrying ebola. Ebola-free Rwanda is in East Africa, more than 2,000 miles from the nearest Ebola-infected country. But, you know. Africa!

Today Rwanda began Ebola screening all visitors to the country who have been to the US in the previous 22 days. There's no evidence to suggest the move was in retaliation. Just karma.

The Supreme Court has rejected an emergency appeal from the Justice Department and civil rights groups who were trying to prevent the Texas voter ID law from being enforced in the November election. As you'll recall, a district judge found the law to be unconstitutional last week because it intentionally discriminated against minority voters. But the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and now the Supreme Court have blocked that ruling from going into effect while appeals are pending. That clears the way for Texas to enforce the law in the upcoming election.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. From Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent: "The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters."

You might have seen Norm Ornstein's piece yesterday in The Atlantic about the concerted effort on the right to swing state judicial elections nationwide. Here's one particularly telling example: $200,000 from a national GOP group dropped into a small county judicial race. There are only three judges in the county, and only one is a Democrat. Why would Republicans be focused on one Democratic judge? The county is where the state capital is located and that court hears a lot of key state government cases. The big mystery is who exactly ponied up the money that eventually made its way into this race. Dylan Scott reports.

Add another chapter to the annals of Florida politics.

The gubernatorial debate tonight between current Gov. Rick Scott (R) and former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, descended into the surreal when Scott refused to come on stage so long as Crist was allowed to use a small fan to keep cool during the debate. I almost feel the need to repeat that sentence again to make sure it sticks. A small electric fan at Crist's feet behind his podium derailed the start to the televised debate. The fan was, in the view of Scott and his team, a violation of the agreed-upon debate rules.

After the moderators stumbled through the first few minutes, lamely trying to adjudicate the rules dispute, Scott emerged from the wings and the debate got underway.

Here's the video:

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In practical terms, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has stepped in and reinstated the Texas voter ID law. In legal terms the appeals court issued a stay of the lower court order that threw out the law last week. The rationale for the appeals court decision? We're too close to the election to disrupt the status quo.

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