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Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

Former GOP Sen. Larry Pressler, now running as an independent in South Dakota, has come under attack from Democrats and Republicans as his strong showing has made the race a little unpredictable. But now some of his former aides from his time in Washington are coming to his defense with a new PAC to boost his candidacy.

The Argus Leader reported Wednesday that the group, "Former Staffers of Larry Pressler," would spend $200,000 or more to support Pressler. The effort is being spearheaded by a former Pressler chief of staff Kevin Schieffer, who went on to become a millionaire.

"I was living in my car when I met Larry Pressler," Schieffer told the newspaper, "and he gave me my first professional start in life."

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According to some reports Thursday morning, the Oregon's governor race was suddenly up for grabs. A new poll, as it was reported anyway, showed voters making a huge swing from the incumbent Democrat to his Republican opponent as scandals engulfed the governor's fiancee. But there was a big problem: The poll didn't ask a straight-up head-to-head question. But it was treated as such, anyway, sparking a momentary freakout among political watchers.

"A dramatic shift in poll numbers has taken place since Governor John Kitzhaber’s campaign became riddled with scandal," declared Portland radio station KXL. "A poll commissioned by KATU has Dennis Richardson with a surprising double-digit lead,"

The radio station's report was tweeted out by Political Wire:

But this wasn't a straight-up horse race poll. It was delving into a subset of the respondents to find out how much of an impact the recent scandal was having.
Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber's fiancee, Cylvia Hayes, has been the center of controversy in recent weeks, with revelations that she had married an Ethiopian migrant in the 1990s for money and worked at a pot farm around the same time.

So the new Survey USA poll asked about it and the results didn't look good for Kitzhaber, who has held a consistent and sizable lead over GOP challenger Dennis Richardson. But the pollster had not asked a traditional "Would you vote for..." question.

But that didn't stop some of the coverage from comparing this poll to other recent horse race polls.

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Even the Democratic candidate's pollster calls it a "long shot," but progressive groups are pouring money into the Michigan 6th District in the final weeks of the campaign, hoping to score an unexpected -- and still very unlikely -- upset of House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).

They have quite a climb to push Democratic candidate Paul Clements past Upton, who heads one of the more powerful committees in the House and has represented the district since 1987. Earlier this month, Clements pollster David Beattie found Upton leading, 50 percent to 35 percent. The race had narrowed ever so slightly since August, when Upton was up 57 percent to 37 percent, but it is still a huge gap to close in the last month of a campaign.

"Yeah, it's a long shot, but it's not a long shot about changing the electorate. It is about picking up voters already supporting a Democrat in the Senate race," Beattie told TPM. The district voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 and he lost by only one point in 2012. It also supports Democratic Senate candidate Gary Peters in his race, 50 percent to 38 percent, earlier this month, according to Beattie's polling.

So there are voters who will back Democrats to be won, and Upton does have some liabilities: 67 percent of voters say that he is a "typical politician" and 51 percent say that he "has become more partisan and political." Those would be the people that Clements, who is still working on his name recognition, needs to pick up.

There is just a touch of smoke -- Upton's people have reportedly been calling and berating donors to a big-money group that is pouring money into the race in a last-ditch effort to boost Clements, a Western Michigan University professor, to a shocking win over one of the longest-tenured House Republicans.

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Though he has trailed in most recent polling, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is within striking distance of Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday evening.

Gardner held a 2-point lead, the new poll found, 47 percent to Udall's 45 percent. It is the pollster's first survey in the race, but some recent polling has shown Gardner with a more sizable lead, including another Wednesday poll from Suffolk University that put Gardner up seven points. Others, though, like a Tuesday Monmouth University poll, found a one-point race.

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The FBI confirmed Wednesday that its investigation into the South Dakota immigration-visa program that has ensnared Republican Senate nominee Mike Rounds remains "active," the Argus Leader reported.

"We have an active investigation," Kyle Loven, chief division counsel for the FBI's Minneapolis division, told the newspaper. "As it is an active investigation, I'm not in a position to provide any details."

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Conservative provocateur James O'Keefe, slayer of ACORN, is at it again, this time "exposing" voter fraud in Colorado in a new video released Wednesday.

The only problem? Two days before, Mother Jones published a story quoting Colorado Democrats who said that they had turned O'Keefe and his team away in their undercover bid to show Democrats hankering to falsify some votes in a state with one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country.

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The polling looks pretty grim for Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO). If you take out explicitly Democratic-leaning polls, he hasn't led in any poll since the beginning of October. Udall's campaign believes they can beat the odds by recreating the strategy that led to an unexpected Senate victory in Colorado in 2010.

A big part of that is appealing to women. But another crucial piece is turning out Hispanic voters -- and one Latino pollster told BuzzFeed on Tuesday that there is some evidence that the polls are underestimating Hispanic support for Udall.

And now one Udall-aligned group has made a significant TV buy for Spanish-language spots with early voting underway and less than two weeks to go until Election Day.

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The Republican county clerk who ordered a college newspaper removed from newsstands because it featured a story on Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) -- and thus, in her opinion, violated state law prohibiting electioneering near polling places -- reversed herself Wednesday after she received a cease-and-desist letter.

Larimer County Clerk Angela Myers allowed copies of the Rocky Mountain Collegian to return to newsstands outside the Colorado State University student center on Tuesday evening, the newspaper reported.

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The official autopsy of Ferguson, Mo., teen Michael Brown is consistent with police accounts that the shooting came after Brown reached for the officer's gun during an altercation, according to forensics experts who reviewed the autopsy report for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The full autopsy report was leaked to the local paper and on Tuesday it reported on the report's findings and solicited the opinions of outside experts unaffiliated with the case.

The New York Times reported last week that Wilson told the grand jury that will decide whether to charge him for Brown's death that Brown had reached for his gun during their altercation. The police version of the August incident that ignited long-simmering racial tensions in the northern St. Louis suburb is that the Brown that Wilson stopped Brown and a friend while they were walking in the middle of the street. Brown and Wilson then got into a physical altercation while the officer was still in his vehicle, and Brown reached into the police car for Wilson's gun. Wilson also sustained injuries to his face and neck, according to police accounts.

The official autopsy, conducted by the St. Louis County medical examiner, concluded that Brown had nine gunshot wounds: three to his head, two to his chest, three to his right arm, and one to his hand.

It was the wound to Brown's hand, experts told the Post-Dispatch, that are consistent with a close-range struggle.

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