TPM News

A new survey of Illinois from Public Policy Polling (D) finds that Sen. Roland Burris appears to be a sitting duck in any Democratic primary, if he does indeed run in 2010.

Burris' approval rating among likely Democratic primary voters is only 27%, to 49% disapproval. In a primary against state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who has already declared his candidacy, Giannoulias leads with 49% to Burris at 20%. Adding Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who is publicly mulling a candidacy and will announce her intentions in June, it's Giannoulis 38%, Schakowsky 26%, Burris 16%.

If state Attorney General Lisa Madigan were to get in, though, she could take the whole field: Madigan 44%, Giannoulias 19%, Burris 13%, Schakowsky 11%. If Madigan were to run for governor instead, she also has a 45%-29% lead over the new Governor Pat Quinn, who took office after Rod Blagojevich was removed from office.

Yesterday we told you that federal investigators are now zeroing in on two other AIG staffers, in addition to Joseph Cassano, as part of their probe into potential criminal wrongdoing at AIG. But a report (sub. req.) in the Wall Street Journal, which confirmed that information, also began to flesh out the more interesting question of just what the Feds suspect Cassano and his crew may have done wrong.

We knew that that December 2007 presentation, at which Cassano and others reassured investors that everything was basically fine, was drawing particular scrutiny from investigators. But the Journal adds some meat to that bone.

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Here's a cool way to get out of debt most Americans probably wish they had as an option: Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign made $2.5 million this year renting out its list of supporters to Hillary Clinton's campaign for Senate, the Wall Street Journal reports today, following up on last week's Politico item. That's enough to pay back the $2.3 million the campaign still owes to her campaign strategist Mark Penn.

Clinton's now-dormant political action committee, Hill PAC, also paid $822,000 to rent the list, and the William J. Clinton Foundation paid "more than $274,000" to rent the list. Why the sweetheart deal for her husband? Maybe it wasn't as valuable to an entity that already has a 2,922-page list of its own. The campaign tells the Journal the prices were set by outside appraisers. It made another $1 million renting out the list to 18 other customers, which paid an average of $50,000 apiece.

The significance of this, apart from "campaign finance is complicated," according to the Journal, is that Hillary is "holding onto" the list in "part of a plan that looks to retain an element of [her] political operation while she serves as secretary of state."

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The complete Roll Call isn't posted yet, but the final tally was 233-193. The Senate votes next, and then all of it--including the threat of an October 15 health and education reform deadline--will be a done deal. I'll update this post when that happens.

Late update: House Roll Call here. As you can see, it got zero Republican votes, just as the House budget resolution got zero votes, and just the stimulus got zero votes. A complete coincidence, I'm sure. Seventeen Democrats voted no as well.

Al Franken is moving further to present his victory in the Minnesota Senate race as a settled matter, with his campaign announcing that he has hired Drew Littman, a former staffer for Barbara Boxer, to be his chief of staff in Washington.

"I'm honored and excited to join Senator-elect Franken in Washington," Littman said in the press release. "Over my long career, I have had the privilege to work with many elected officials and organizations who believed in the same vision Al Franken will work towards as a Senator. I know that Al Franken is ready to serve and that he will work hard on behalf of Minnesota's working families. And I can't wait to help him get started."

Franken's office announced another hire last week, for the position of state director.

Full press release after the jump.

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As I noted below, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) thinks the Republican party will be fine as long as it embraces "mainstream" Americans like Pat Toomey, who stick to their laurels and don't push conservative voters on to a trail of tears to the South. Perhaps Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) will turn to that advice for when, as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he addresses the question, which he raised yesterday, of how to turn the GOP into a national party once more. Or perhaps he'll pay more attention to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who wrote penned for the New York Times a counterpoint of sorts to Jim DeMint's bizarre interpretation of Arlen Specter's move into the Democratic party.

"Republicans [have] turned a blind eye to the iceberg under the surface," she wrote, "failing to undertake the re-evaluation of our inclusiveness as a party that could have forestalled many of the losses we have suffered."

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Jane Harman has hired Lanny Davis as a "media adviser" to help her deal with the fallout from the AIPAC story, reports Laura Rozen at Foreign Policy.

Hiring Davis suggests Harman -- who embarked on a media blitz last week, without perfect success, in response to the affair -- isn't so worried about the perception that she's too close to the Israel lobby. Davis -- who was special counsel to President Clinton during the Lewinsky saga, and an indefatigable spinner for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign -- has long been a supporter of AIPAC, and serves as an adviser and spokesman for the Israel Project, a hawkish, pro-Israel group. He also, for good measure, appears regularly on Fox News.

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The Washington Times reports that Michael Steele is facing a new threat to his leadership of the Republican National Committee -- a proposed rule being circulated by some RNC members that would impose new restrictions and oversight measures against Steele's ability to spend money:

The Pullen resolution would make it a written rule that contracts of $100,000 or more be open to competitive bidding; that all checks be signed by two RNC officers; that party staff be prohibited from signing on behalf of an officer; and that all contracts be reviewed and approved by the members of the RNC executive committee.

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Make no mistake: When it comes to economics, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) knows her history -- even if that history is from another planet.

On Monday night, our friends at Dump Bachmann reported, Bachmann took to the House floor and paid tribute to the economic policies of Calvin Coolidge and the "Roaring 20s" (the era that ended with a massive monetary contraction and the Great Depression). One particular line really does stand out, though -- saying Franklin Roosevelt turned a recession into a depression through the "Hoot-Smalley" tariffs:

Here's what really happened: When Franklin Roosevelt took office, unemployment was already about 25%. And the tariff referred to here was actually the Smoot-Hawley bill, co-authored by Republicans Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah and Rep. Willis Hawley of Oregon, and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover.

Interestingly, this speech also happened on the same day as when Bachmann connected the 1970s swine flu outbreak to Democrat Jimmy Carter being president, even though it was actually Gerald Ford in office at the time.

Late Update: A shout-out to Liberal in the Land of Conservative for also noticing Bachmann's false attribution of the tariff bill to Roosevelt -- and also to Matt Yglesias for pointing to the metaphysical possibilities.

Jon Stewart had a good segment last night on the convoluted Jane-Harman/AIPAC affair, which brought out both the byzantine nature of the saga, and the ultimate fact that nothing much came of any of the scheming: Harman didn't get the intel job, the AIPAC guys didn't get off, and Haim Saban didn't withhold money from Democrats.

As Stewart put it: "Your government, not at work."


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