Tom Kludt

Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Tom

Ted Cruz leads David Dewhurst in the intense Republican Senate runoff in Texas, according to a new poll released Sunday evening.  

In the final survey from Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling (PPP) before Tuesday's runoff, Cruz leads Dewhurst among likely voters, 52 percent to 42 percent.  The PollTracker Average currently shows Cruz holding a 5-point advantage over Dewhurst.  

Cruz, the former state solicitor general, has emerged as the favorite candidate of the tea party.  He campaigned with former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin last week and his candidacy has been energized by momentum at the grassroots level in the months since the May Republican primary.  Dewhurst, the state lieutenant governor backed by Gov. Rick Perry and other members of the Texas Republican establishment, topped a crowded primary field but failed to eclipse the 50 percent threshold necessary to win the nomination outright.  

That set the stage for a runoff with Cruz, who finished 11-points behind Dewhurst in the primary.  Cruz has generated considerable enthusiasm since then, while Dewhurst has been forced to spend much of his own money.  The two candidates are vying  to replace retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R).

From PPP's analysis:

Cruz has a 63-33 advantage with voters who describe themselves as 'very excited' about voting in Tuesday's runoff election. He also has a 49-45 advantage with those describing themselves as 'somewhat excited.' The only reason this race is even remotely competitive is Dewhurst's 59-31 lead with voter who say they're 'not that excited' about voting. It's an open question whether those folks will really show up and if they don't it's possible Cruz could end up winning by closer to 20 points. 

The greater excitement among Cruz voters can also be measured by their eagerness to get out and cast their ballots during the early voting period. Cruz leads 55-40 among those who say they've already voted, so Dewhurst will likely need a huge advantage among election day voters to overcome the deficit. But Cruz has a 49-44 lead with those who have yet to vote too.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) is receiving treatment for "depression and gastrointestinal issues" at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., WGN-TV in Chicago reports.  

Mayo Clinic released a statement Friday evening on behalf of Jackson:

“Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has arrived at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and gastrointestinal issues.

Further information will be released as Congressman Jackson's evaluation proceeds.

Congressman Jackson and his family are grateful for the outpouring of support and prayers that have been received throughout his care.”

The lawmaker from Chicago's South Side has been on a mysterious medical leave for weeks.  Jackson's whereabouts or condition had not been fully specified until Friday.

The Guardian reports:

David Cameron will challenge Vladimir Putin next week to support a fresh UN security council resolution condemning the Assad regime in Syria and paving the way for non-military intervention.

The prime minister will raise his concerns with the Russian president when Putin visits London next Thursday to see the judo at the Olympic Games.

Cameron made light of the Putin visit, his first to London since he embarked on the presidency again, when he spoke to the Global Investment Conference in London on Thursday.

Stressing that the main focus of their talks would be trade, the prime minister said: "We will be at the judo so it may be a bit off-putting. But nonetheless I know my major priority is to get those trade deals, to get that investment and not to concentrate on what is happening on the mat."

President Barack Obama holds a solid lead Mitt Romney in the perennial bellwether of Ohio, according to a new poll relased Friday.

In the latest auotomated survey from Republican-leaning pollster WeAskAmerica, Obama earns the support of 48 percent of likely Ohio voters, while Romney trails with 40 percent.  Gary Johnson, who is running on the Libertarian ticket, picks up the support of 2 percent of voters.  

The PollTracker Average currently shows Obama leading in Ohio by a comparable margin, an advantage he has held in the Buckeye State throughout the 2012 campaign.  

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, and his wife, MacKenzie, have made a significant financial contribution to the coalition campaigning to defend a state law in Washington that protects civil marriage for same-sex couples.

Washington United for Marriage (WUM) announced on Friday a $2.5 million financial gift from the Bezoses, bringing the coalition's fundraising total to $5 million.

"I am thrilled by Jeff and MacKenzie's staggeringly generous donation," said WUM's volunteer finance co-chair Jennifer Cast said in a press release.  "Their support of our efforts to approve R74 comes at an important time and will have great impact.  I am deeply grateful to both of them as this donation is going to help us make history."

Washington voters will decide on Referendum 74 in November.  If approved, the referendum will uphold a measure legalizing same-sex marriage that was passed by state lawmakers in Olympia and signedby outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) in February.

Priorities USA Action, the Super PAC supporting President Barack Obama, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are highlighting Mitt Romney's deteriorating favorability ratings among Latino voters in Colorado, Nevada and Orlando and Tampa, Fla., a trend the groups claim is a direct result of their Spanish language ads that have run in those media markets.

A memo released Thursday by Priorities USA and SEIU focuses on tracking polls conducted on behalf of the groups that show Romney's unfavorable ratings among Latino voters have spiked since May in each market where the ads have aired.  The polls also show Obama with a commanding lead over Romney among the key voting bloc in the aforementioned states and cities.  

"The poll mirrors what we are hearing in the field," SEIU national political director Brandon Davis said in a press release.  "When voters hear Romney's disingenuous rhetoric and how his policies would devastate communities, they recognize that re-electing President Obama is essential to moving the country forward."

The ads can be viewed here, here and here.  According to the PollTracker Average, Obama has maintained an enormous lead over Romney among Latinos throughout the campaign.


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) will likely issue a sharp denunciation of President Barack Obama's record during his keynote address at next month's Republican National Convention, but a new poll from Monmouth University shows that both men are widely admired by Garden State voters.

The poll, released Thursday, shows that 55 percent of likely voters have a favorable view of the first-term governor, compared with 35 percent who have an unfavorable view. Obama, meanwhile, is viewed favorably by 53 percent, while 38 percent view the president unfavorably.  

Thursday's poll also shows Obama leading presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney among likely New Jersey voters, 50 percent to 42 percent.  Obama holds a comparable lead in New Jersey, according to the PollTracker Average of the presidential race in the state.

Militants took down an Iraqi army helicopter on Thursday in fighting around the town of Hadid, the AP reports.  The clashes left at least 19 people, including 11 police officers, dead and appear to be a part of an effort by al-Qaida to reclaim one of its erstwhile strongholds.    



Reuters reports:

Damascus and Syria's second biggest city, Aleppo, came under shell fire on Thursday as troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad stepped up efforts to crush rebels threatening the government's two main power centers.

One of the most senior figures to defect from Assad's inner circle, Brigadier General Manaf Tlas, put himself forward as someone who could help unite the fragmented opposition inside and outside Syria on a blueprint for a transfer of power.

A bomb attack that killed four of Assad's closest lieutenants last week prompted predictions among his enemies that the 46-year-old president's time in power was drawing to a close.

But in the days that have followed that attack, Assad's forces have noticeably toughened their response to the armed revolt, with fixed-wing combat aircraft seen in action over Aleppo and rebel fighters said by opposition sources to have been summarily executed on the streets of Damascus.