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Michael McAuliff   |   November 16, 2012    6:30 PM ET

Scandal-scarred Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) didn't get a lot of help from his party after revelations emerged about the physician lawmaker's past affair with a patient, who he also urged to get an abortion.

But federal election records show that more than $30,000 did come rushing in at the last moment. That help included a donation from one very prominent member of the party that rushed to DesJarlais' aid just as Democrats were trying to unseal court records detailing DesJarlais' multiple affairs in his 2000 breakup with his then-wife.

That donor was National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), who donated $2,000 to his embattled colleague. An NRCC spokesman did not immediately answer an email request for comment.

The Tea Party Express-affiliated Our Country Deserves Better PAC thought DesJarlais should be reelected, and gave him $1,000.

The political action committee of shipping giant Federal Express also delivered for the Tennessean, donating $5,000. Another group that soothed the pain of DesJarlais' scandals was the American Society of Anethesiologists, which gave him $4,000.

DesJarlais also appears to have gotten some last-minute love from a PAC run by Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa). The FEC forms listed a $5,000 donation from "For Americas" with an address at 675 N. Washington St., Suite 410, in Alexandria, Va. Latham's For America's Republican Majority PAC also lists that address and suite. A spokesman for Latham denied the Iowan donated to DesJarlais, but did not answer a request for clarification.

On Election Day, Desjarlais handily defeated his opponent, Democratic state Sen. Eric Stewart.

The same day that the last-minute donations were reported to the FEC, Tennessee Democrats had been trying to unseal court documents from DesJarlais' divorce seeking information about his multiple affairs with patients.

The documents were released Thursday, revealing all those details and also the startling news that the anti-abortion, pro-family lawmaker had mutually agreed with his then-wife on her having two abortions. The court transcripts also showed DesJarlais had multiple patients and coworkers as sex partners.

Ariel Edwards-Levy   |   November 16, 2012    4:52 PM ET

Everything looks better in hindsight, apparently. President Barack Obama's favorable rating bounced to 58 percent post-election, the highest it's been since 2009, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll released Friday.

Obama's favorable rating is 3 points higher than it was a week before the election, although it's still below his 68 percent rating immediately after winning the 2008 election.

The Democratic Party as a whole saw a more significant jump in its favorability rating, which rose 6 points to 51 percent. A majority of Americans now hold positive views of the party for the first time since mid-2009.

The president's GOP rival, Mitt Romney, also benefited -- his favorable ratings rose 4 points to hit 50 percent, tying his personal high from May, according to the new poll. The Republican Party's ratings stayed at 43 percent, similar to the 42 percent it garnered just before the election.

The USA Today/Gallup poll surveyed 1,009 adults by phone between Nov. 9 and 12, with a 4 percent margin of error.

Luke Johnson   |   November 16, 2012    4:15 PM ET

A St. Lucie County, Fla., judge rejected Rep. Allen West's request for a recount of 37,379 early votes Friday. The judge said that he did not have the authority to order a recount.

Democrat Patrick Murphy has a lead of just over 1900 votes, or about 0.6 percent, in the race for Florida's 22nd congressional district, according to the Florida Division of Elections. A margin of 0.5 percent or less would have triggered an automatic recount.

West has refused to concede in the race, while Murphy declared victory in the early hours of Nov. 7.

Murphy's campaign dismissed the recount request. "Once again, Congressman Allen West’s political stunts have been dismissed by the courts. Instead of admitting defeat, Allen West wants to keep counting votes until he gets the outcome he desires. That's not how elections work and that is not how the law works," spokesman Anthony Kusich said in a statement.

West's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

West, elected to Congress in 2010, is a favorite among the Tea Party for his fiery rhetoric. He drew national attention for claiming that 80 members of the Democratic party were Communists and when he said social security is "a form of slavery."

The Palm Beach Post reports that the county canvassing board will meet at 4 p.m. on Friday to consider a full recount. Murphy's campaign has said that if the board orders a full recount, it will go to court to stop it.

All counties must file final election results with the state of Florida by noon on Sunday.

John Celock   |   November 16, 2012    3:31 PM ET

A Vermont state judge has blocked a birther lawsuit to disqualify President Barack Obama from the state's ballot, while birther queen Orly Taitz claims a "superhuman effort" in the birther movement.

Vermont Superior Court Judge Robert Bent ruled Wednesday that H. Brooke Paige's suit to remove Obama from Vermont's presidential ballot in last week's election was invalid since Paige filed the suit in state court and not federal court, the Burlington Free Press reports. Paige, who unsuccessfully sought a U.S. Senate seat this year, claimed that Obama was not a citizen since neither of his parents were citizens.

The Burlington Free Press reports:

Bent cited a 2009 decision by an Indiana court that addressed a similar claim and concluded the natural-born-citizen challenge to Obama’s claim on the presidency lacked merit.

“The expression ‘natural born citizen’ is not dependent on the nationality of the parents but reflects the status of a person born into citizenship instead of having citizenship subsequently bestowed,” Bent wrote.

Obama won Vermont's three electoral votes over former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in last week's election. Disqualifying Obama from the ballot would make Romney the winner of the state.

The birther movement has used a series of lawsuits in federal and state courts nationwide to claim that Obama was born in Kenya and not eligible to be president. This week, Taitz filed new papers with a federal court in Mississippi in an effort to get Obama removed from the ballot in that state. Romney won Mississippi's electoral votes. In the Mississippi case, Taitz cited her work on the birther movement.

"As stated previously, Taitz made a superhuman effort of working 24/7 for 4 years in gathering information and serving defendants with subpoenas to appear in court and provide evidence," Taitz wrote in the court papers.

Taitz and her allies also have tried to use a series of state election boards to disqualify Obama, including a November 2011 appearance before a New Hampshire state board, which led to an argument that caused several state officials to flee and seek shelter in a locked room.

In September, the Kansas Objections Board briefly considered a case to remove Obama from the state's ballot, on the grounds that citizenship comes "primarily" from the father and Obama's father was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Kenya. The case was dropped after Joe Montgomery, who filed the objection, withdrew it, citing undisclosed threats.

Taitz tried to continue the Kansas objection, including filing a lawsuit against Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), saying that Kobach did not follow her advice. The Kansas case is still pending.

Elise Foley   |   November 16, 2012   12:40 PM ET

Despite the talk of increased Latino-focused outreach in the 2012 elections, a report released Friday found that actual Spanish-language advertising made up only a tiny portion of overall ad spending this year.

The report from the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and ad-tracking firm Kantar Media CMAG looked at ad spending in 10 states from January to November. The analysis showed that Spanish-language advertising made up 6 percent of overall spending -- $22.8 million of the $355 million total.

"Disappointing numbers here," Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Javier Palomarez said of the report on a press call. "While there was an increase -- we were happy to see that -- we don't believe the increase was significant or commensurate with the importance of the Hispanic electorate."

Of course, not all Latinos get their news on Spanish-language television or even speak the language. But Spanish-language ads were the only advertising specifically targeted to Latino voters with pitches on how the economy, education and immigration.

The campaign for President Barack Obama spent about $2.7 million more on Spanish-language advertising than former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign. Ken Goldstein, president of Kantar Media CMAG, said the discrepancy on spending wasn't as significant as the targeting and total ads: Obama aired 15,355 ads in the 10 states, while Romney aired 8,697.

He also pointed out that advertising didn't seem to decide the election. But Obama did win Latino voters by a large margin over Romney, helping seal his election victory.

Palomarez said the report showed that neither party seemed to have gotten the message on Spanish-language advertising.

"Investment in Spanish-language advertising is a mere fraction of what it should be," he said. "Campaigns aren't effectively communicating with the Hispanic community. And both parties have a good bit of work to do if they want to keep up with what is America's vibrant and fastest-growing population."

Luke Johnson   |   November 16, 2012    9:10 AM ET

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said Friday that he agreed that former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's recent comment on a conference call with donors that President Barack Obama won reelection because of "gifts" to minority and young voters was wrong.

Christie was asked if he concurred with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who called Romney's remark "wrong."

"Yeah, sure," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," and then pivoted to discuss his fellow Republican governors.

Pressed on the remark, he said, "You can't expect to be a leader of all the people and be divisive. You have to talk about themes, policies that unite people, and play to their aspirations and their goals and their hopes for their family and their neighbors."

When asked if it was time for Romney to move on, he said, "That's up to him. Listen, Mitt Romney is a friend of mine. I understand he is very upset about having lost the election and very disappointed," adding that he's a "good man."

"Do I wish he hadn't said those things? Of course. But on the other hand, I'm not going to bury the guy for it," said Christie.

Romney's analysis of his loss was condemned by Republicans, eager to distance themselves from the defeated nominee. "The president's campaign, if you will, focused on giving targeted groups a big gift," Romney said Wednesday, mentioning the president's health care legislation and the Dream Act. "He made a big effort on small things."

John Celock   |   November 15, 2012    8:20 PM ET

Republican state senators in Georgia attended a four-hour closed door briefing last month in which they were told that President Barack Obama and the United Nations are using "mind-control" practices to force through a land use agenda.

The briefing, organized by state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), consisted of a presentation by birther activist Field Searcy regarding Agenda 21, a sustainability plan adopted by the United Nations in 1992. During the briefing, part of which was recorded by Better Georgia, an Atlanta-based watchdog group, Searcy accused the U.N. of using socialist practices to force a relocation of Americans from suburbs into cities, and seeking to implement mandatory contraception to curb population growth, Mother Jones reported. Rogers, who has pushed anti-Agenda 21 legislation in the past, did not seek reelection as majority leader during a GOP caucus meeting on Thursday.

Searcy, who had a falling out with a Tea Party group earlier this year, told state senators that the U.N. and Obama are using mind-control techniques to push the plan, which does not have the force of law in the United States.

Mother Jones reports Searcy's comments:

They do that by a process known as the Delphi technique. The Delphi technique was developed by the Rand Corporation during the Cold War as a mind-control technique. It's also known as "consensive process." But basically the goal of the Delphi technique is to lead a targeted group of people to a pre-determined outcome while keeping the illusion of being open to public input.

Rogers said that he organized the lecture based on constituent requests.

Rogers announced on Thursday that he would not seek another term as majority leader, citing a desire to spend more time with his family, though he will remain a state senator.

"I am honored to have served four years in leading the Republican majority," Rogers said in a statement, according to the Cherokee Ledger-News. "After months of consideration I ultimately decided that the toll of serving my Caucus was taking too much from my family"

Agenda 21 was adopted by the U.N. in 1992 during a climate change summit in Brazil and has been a target for Tea Party activists in recent years, including adoption of resolutions condemning the plan in several state legislatures over the past year. The program set up the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), which conservatives accuse of trying to govern land use in the United States.

"They are very slowly implementing rules and regulations that have not reached a high level yet," New Hampshire state Rep. Anne Cartwright (R-Alstead) told The Huffington Post in May, referring to the ICLEI. "They are implementing it through zoning, planning and regional planning things that impact our property rights."

Kansas state Rep. Dennis Hedke (R-Wichita) told his colleagues during a May debate on his resolution opposing Agenda 21 that the program included "indoctrination" that is "connected to an intense socialistic philosophy." Republican legislators in Kansas called portions of Agenda 21's plan, which includes the promotion of bike paths, solar panels and land use regulations, "radical" and "destructive to the American way of life."

"This is a real problem," Kansas state Rep. Charlotte O'Hara (R-Overland Park) told her colleagues in May. "This has infiltrated our country. You would be amazed at the local government entities in our country that are involved."

The Agenda 21 debate has led some Democrats to criticize Republican opposition to the plan. New Hampshire state Rep. Christopher Serlin (D-Portsmouth) called Agenda 21 opponents' thinking "real tinfoil hat material," while Kansas state Rep. Mike Slattery (D-Mission) called the Kansas legislative debate in May "wasteful" and condemned his colleagues.

"Stupid is as stupid does," Slattery said during the Kansas debate.

Sabrina Siddiqui   |   November 15, 2012    3:15 PM ET

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was less than willing to entertain questions Thursday on why he held a press conference Wednesday to complain about lack of information on the September attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, while simultaneously skipping a nearly two-hour classified briefing with administration officials about the investigation.

CNN’s Dana Bash reported on air that McCain, when questioned by a producer on the subject on Capitol Hill, not only refused to answer, but grew “very angry":

I have to tell you something that just happened on Capitol Hill, and that is our Senate producer Ted Barrett just ran into John McCain and asked about something that we're hearing from Democrats, which is John McCain is calling for more information to Congress, but he had a press conference yesterday instead of going to a closed briefing where administration officials were giving more information. Well, Ted Barrett asked John McCain about that, and it was apparently an intense, very angry exchange and McCain simply would not comment on it at all.

McCain has been one of the sharpest critics of the Obama administration’s handling of the attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. Along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the Arizona senator spent much of Wednesday renewing calls for a special committee to investigate the attack and, in the process, missed a Benghazi briefing in which administration officials offered additional details to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, of which McCain is a member.

Politico reported that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) did not see the need for a special committee on Benghazi and even seemed to take a shot at McCain for his absence during the briefing:

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, backed up her chairman, Lieberman, and dinged McCain, a member of the panel, for missing Wednesday’s nearly two-hour briefing in the Capitol.

Both Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, “who was there at briefing, and Sen. McCain, who was not, are members of our committee, and I know they would play very important roles,” Collins told POLITICO after the briefing.

“I do not see the benefit of creating a brand new committee when we already have the Senate’s chief oversight committee, plus the Intelligence Committee, examining this very important matter.”

Brian Rogers, a spokesman for McCain, said the senator missed the briefing due to a “scheduling error.” Rogers declined to comment when The Huffington Post asked for a reaction to comments from Collins and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) that a special committee for Benghazi is unnecessary, or if McCain has spoken with Collins since the briefing.

Collins sought to clarify on Thursday that she was not criticizing McCain for his absence but simply noting that he and Graham would both play an important role in the Benghazi investigation.

“All I was trying to point out is that he's a very valuable member of our committee, so he would be involved in all the briefings, the hearings and investigation," Collins told NBC News. "And thus, I don't think that it's necessary to create a whole new separate committee. Our committee has a history of doing independent, bipartisan, comprehensive across-the-board investigations. We've done it on Fort Hood, on Hurricane Katrina, on a host of different issues. The only point I was trying to make -- apparently inartfully -- was that he and Lindsey Graham are members of the committee, so they will be fully involved, and I'm sure will play an important role.”

In addition to his calls for a special committee, McCain has also vowed to block a potential nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for secretary of state due to comments she made when discussing the Libya attack shortly after it took place. McCain criticized Rice for pinning the attack on a response to an anti-Muslim video, rather than calling it an act of terrorism. CIA talking points given to Rice prior to her appearances, however, were the source of the explanation she offered while addressing the issue on Sept. 16 during a number of television interviews.

During a press conference on Wednesday, President Barack Obama lashed out at both McCain and Graham for their attacks on Rice and invited the senators to go after him instead.

"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after someone, they should go after me," Obama said. "And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the United Nations ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intel she had received, and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous."

UPDATE: 4:25 p.m. -- CNN published a more detailed account of its exchange with McCain, in which, when asked why he wouldn't comment on missing the briefing, the senator responded, "Who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?"

When CNN approached McCain in a Capitol hallway Thursday morning, the senator refused to comment about why he missed the briefing, which was conducted by top diplomatic, military and counter-terrorism officials. Instead, McCain got testy when pressed to say why he wasn’t there.

“I have no comment about my schedule and I’m not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media,” McCain said.

Asked why he wouldn’t comment, McCain grew agitated: “Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”

When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, “I’m upset that you keep badgering me.”

McCain did attend a briefing on Benghazi held by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Thursday, but refused to take questions from reporters outside. "I have nothing to say," McCain said heatedly as he left the meeting, which lasted nearly two hours.

John Celock   |   November 14, 2012    4:14 PM ET

Republicans will retain their hold on a branch of the New Hampshire state government, while seeing their chances for a similar retention in New York grow.

New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardiner confirmed Wednesday morning that state Sen. Andy Sanborn (R-Bedford) will win reelection following a recount. Sanborn's victory over Democrat Lee Nyquist continues a Republican majority in the New Hampshire Senate. Gardiner's confirmation comes a day after a newly elected Democratic state senator in New York announced his decision to caucus with Republicans, calling into question the potential Democratic takeover of the New York state Senate.

In the New Hampshire race, Bedford Patch reports that Nyquist narrowed Sanborn's election night victory by 40 votes in the recount, but not enough to end the Republican's tenure in Concord.

Republicans had grabbed control of the state Senate in 2010, along with the state House of Representatives, but Democrats regained control of the New Hampshire House in last week's election, wresting control from the Tea Party-dominated GOP majority. Democrats also gained a three-two majority on the New Hampshire Executive Council, along with retaining the governorship, with the election of Democrat Maggie Hassan.

In New York, state Sen.-elect Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) announced Tuesday that he would be joining the Republican caucus in the Senate, Capitol Tonight reported. Election night totals gave Democrats 31 seats in the 63-member Senate, compared to 30 for Republicans, with two races not decided. Felder's decision to caucus with Republicans gives the GOP the one-seat edge. In the still undecided races, Democrat Terry Gipson retains a lead over state Sen. Steve Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) for the Hudson Valley seat, while Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk and Republican Assemblyman George Amedore are locked in a tight battle for a newly created seat outside of Albany.

The four-member Senate Independent Democratic Conference has not decided which party it will side with in New York. The conference broke off from the Democratic caucus in 2011, and its members received committee chairmanships from Senate Republicans. Democrats last controlled the New York Senate from 2009 to 2011.

Nationally Democrats have touted taking control of eight state legislative chambers, including the New York Senate, in last week's election. The other chambers are the Colorado House, the New Hampshire House, the Oregon House, the Maine House and Senate and the Minnesota House and Senate. Republicans gained control of both houses of the Arkansas Legislature along with regaining control of the Wisconsin Senate, which they had lost earlier this year.

With 2012 Election Barely Over, Politicians Begin Fundraising For 2014

Amanda Terkel   |   November 13, 2012   11:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- It's been just one week since Americans were bombarded with political ads, robocalls and knocks on the door by canvassers handing out literature and asking them to vote. For now, people don't have to face emails begging them to donate, once again, to candidates.

Or so they think.

In fact, politicians are already holding fundraisers for the next cycle, two years away, and the cycle after that, which isn't until 2016.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was first out of the gate, with a fundraiser for his reelection campaign on the day after the election. McConnell held the event at the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, charging $1,000 for an individual or $2,500 for a political action committee. The minority leader is up for reelection in 2014, and he's hoping that raising a boatload of money will scare off potential Democratic rivals.

Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) was not far behind McConnell. The weekend after the election, he hosted a golf outing, which cost a minimum of $2,500. Schrader handily beat his Republican opponent in last week's election.

According to the Sunlight Foundation's Political Party Time website, which tracks politicians' fundraisers, there are at least eight such events this week, including one by newly elected Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), raising money to retire her primary debt.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) is holding a breakfast fundraiser at the National Democratic Club in Washington on Friday, requiring a minimum donation of $500. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Nev.) will be the special guest at a Thursday breakfast for Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), who isn't up for reelection until 2016. And Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) is holding his annual birthday bash in Altoona, Iowa, on Saturday. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will be there, already raising questions about his possible presidential ambitions for 2016.

"Republican super PACs and special interests may be down, but they're not out," said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Jesse Ferguson. "Democrats have built networks of small donors so we can compete, but you don't win the next election by resting on your laurels after this one."

The events rapidly pick up in the weeks after Thanksgiving, with congressmen and senators of both parties hosting fundraisers ranging from football games to ski trips.

According to an estimate by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, 2012 election spending topped $6 billion. Outside groups such as the Democratic Priorities USA and the Republican American Crossroads hit nearly $1 billion.

'Out Of Touch' Republican Blamed For Election Night Confusion

John Celock   |   November 13, 2012    6:40 PM ET

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) faces calls for his resignation led by a group that contends his out-of-state work on immigration legislation made him "out of touch" and led to election problems in Kansas' biggest county.

KanVote, a voting advocacy coalition, issued the resignation call on Tuesday, saying that Kobach's out-of-state travel allowed problems counting and releasing vote totals in Sedgwick County last week. Louis Goseland, the KanVote coordinator, said 1,200 state residents have signed the petition demanding Kobach's resignation. Research by the group showed Kobach traveled out of state six times between the August primary and Nov. 6 election, primarily on immigration-related business, Goseland said. Sedgwick County, which includes Wichita, had similar problems with the release of vote totals during the primary.

"It is his agenda," Goseland told HuffPost. "We have a secretary of state who is disconnected because he is rarely here. He is really out of touch with what it means to be a public servant."

Sedgwick County computer software problems delayed vote totals until midnight. The county also had problems with provisional ballots, voter identification rules and the inclusion of voter names in electronic rolls. County Elections Commissioner Tabitha Lehman, a Kobach appointee, is being questioned by Democrats, who complained she blocked poll agents from watching the counting of paper ballots. Democrats also are battling Kobach's office to release the names of voters who were given provisional ballots.

Kobach has dispatched a four-person team of investigators to Sedgwick County to probe the issues in Lehman's office. Kobach's spokeswoman, Kay Curtis, told HuffPost the team was to begin work Tuesday afternoon.

According to KanVote, Kobach traveled to Pennsylvania, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana to promote his immigration agenda, and made a trip to Missouri to promote voter identification. Kobach, who advised Mitt Romney on immigration, authored new immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama. He has said he does his immigration work in the evenings.

"It seems like poor judgement to travel the country to promote yourself as a politician instead of serving constituents," Goseland told HuffPost. "This is an ongoing trend with our secretary of state. He spends far too much time working on immigration. How many bad elections do we have to have before the secretary of state does his job? The people are fed up."

Goseland said Kansas election law changes that Kobach has pushed, including voter ID, have led to "mass confusion."

KanVote's petition comes a month after two activists filed a recall petition against Kobach. Kobach told HuffPost last month that he does not believe the recall petition will succeed. Kobach did not return messages about KanVote's call for his resignation.

Lehman told HuffPost that the delay in tallying votes was largely because of the state's redistricting and new vote-counting computer software. Lehman said representatives of her office, Kobach's office and a software consultant would review the computer system and change what isn't working.

Lehman also downplayed the provisional ballot issue, saying that only 95 out of 6,400 provisional ballots stemmed from voter ID problems. Most of the provisional ballots, she said, were because voters went to the wrong polling place or voted in person after requesting an absentee ballot. She said voter ID confusion only involved one election worker.

Lehman said she allowed people -- including the media -- to watch the paper ballot count. Levi Henry, who was in Lehman's office on election night representing Democrat Keith Humphrey's state Senate campaign, said "that is factually inaccurate."

Goseland questioned what he said is another trip planned by Kobach in the coming weeks.

"Even in the midst of this investigation, he'll be at a family conference with other celebrity politicians," Goseland said. "Does this guy take us seriously?"

DSCC Touts Record Online Fundraising In 2012 Cycle

Amanda Terkel   |   November 13, 2012    4:06 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ramped up its online fundraising operation in the 2012 cycle, bringing in record amounts and helping level the playing field against Republicans, who had the help of deep-pocketed independent groups like American Crossroads.

The DSCC raised more than $35 million online in the 2012 cycle, which is more than the previous three cycles combined.

According to numbers provided by the DSCC, this online fundraising component gave Democrats an edge over the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which raised a total of $83 million for 2012. The DSCC raised a total of $106 million -- a difference of $26 million.

Three Democratic Senate candidates also raised a record amount of money online in their states. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) raised $7.5 million online (out of a total $21 million raised), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) raised $4.5 million online (out of a total $20 million raised) and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp raised $2 million online (out of a total $5.25 million raised).

The DSCC also boasted that 99 percent of its contributions were grassroots donations, meaning they were under $200. They brought in $43.8 million through Oct. 15, compared to the NRSC's $24.5 million.

While the NRSC did not bring in as much as the DSCC, it also benefited from strong online fundraising numbers. Like the Democratic committee, it raised more online in 2012 than in the previous three cycles combined.

NRSC communications director Brian Walsh noted that while Democrats raised more in this cycle, it was a smaller gap than it was in 2008.

“Given that the Democrats are in the majority we always expected to be outraised this cycle, but the fact that we were able to cut into their 2008 fundraising margin by over $40 million in just four years is welcome news," said Walsh. "Under Senator [John] Cornyn’s leadership, the NRSC made substantial investments in online and direct mail technologies, and coupled with a lot of hard work, that allowed us to substantially close what was once a very significant gap. So while there is still a lot of work to be done the trend-lines have to trouble the Democrats as both parties look to the future."

Republicans fell short in their quest to take control of the Senate, with Democrats picking up two extra seats in this election cycle.

Karl Rove's American Crossroads organization spent more than $300 million during the cycle. And despite the widespread GOP losses, the group has argued that it was an essential player precisely because the DSCC was so strong at fundraising.

"President Obama, over the course of the campaign, outspent Mitt Romney on television by $154 million from April through November," said American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio last week on MSNBC.

"Senate Democrats -- if you take away the two self-funders in Connecticut and Pennsylvania -- outraised their Republican counterparts by $60 million. Not to mention the DSCC outraised the NRSC by another $20 million. So what Democrats did in this election extremely effectively was leverage their incumbencies to have huge financial advantages over their Republican opponents. We believe that American Crossroads by evening out the playing field kept this what was essentially a 2-point race at the end."

Elise Foley   |   November 13, 2012    3:19 PM ET

Florida congressman-elect Patrick Murphy, the Democrat who defeated Republican Rep. Allen West, said Tuesday he isn't nervous about seeing the congressman around the Capitol during his freshman orientation, but he doesn't expect much in terms of cordiality.

"I mean, he never shook my hand in the two years we were campaigning against each other, so I don't expect him to reach out to me," he told HuffPost after a press conference introducing the Democrats newly elected to the House. He said he hasn't spoken to West since results came out last week.

West has refused to concede even after multiple confirmations that Murphy received more votes. Murphy said it's up to the judges and lawyers now -- he wants to move on and focus on preparing for his time in Congress.

"My focus is getting to work," he said. "I'm here learning as much as I can -- I want to hit the ground running. And voters want to put the campaign behind them, you know, they're tired of an ugly long campaign."

UPDATE: 5:45 p.m. -- The West campaign contacted HuffPost later Tuesday to point out that the congressman and Murphy have, in fact, shaken hands. They are pictured here shaking hands at an Oct. 4 debate.

Obama's Reelection: Change,or More Status Quo?

John F. Kimberling   |   November 13, 2012    1:22 PM ET

Does the election change anything? What happens now?

President Barack Obama has been reelected, and the Republicans have held on to control of the House of Representatives. There is no real change.

The Republicans are disappointed. Apparently, Gov. Mitt Romney thought he was going to be the next Commander-in-Chief. The Republicans did not fare well in the voting booth with Hispanics, minorities, single women and young people—while Obama successfully organized this coalition of "unprecedented diversity." However, already many Republican leaders are blaming their defeat in the presidential race on Romney being a poor candidate, making missteps during the campaign and the superior campaign organization and operation of the Obama team.

They do not seem feel they have a problem with a declining core of older, white males as the base of the party. They should be worried that the changing demographics of this country bode ill for them in the future unless they make some changes.

But there is no evidence yet of any change. They hold strong views on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage--views which are not popular with the emerging new young voter. Some Republicans still adamantly declare they will never vote for any tax increase on the super-rich taxpayer.

It remains to be seen if a new tough aggressive Obama will appear and be able to negotiate a compromise on taxes and spending which is palatable to his opponents.

It is more likely that we will continue to have gridlock and polarization on vital issues.

The country will go over the so called "fiscal cliff" December 31 unless both parties reach an accord. Most economists say the resulting raising of taxes and cutting spending in the middle of our modest economic recovery might lead to another recession.

The economy is slowly improving. It is, in fact, healthier and growing more than Europe with its austerity, cost cutting programs. Obama can try to pass a jobs bill, take action to relieve mortgage delinquency. put in place tax programs to take effect some time in the specified future. He can create incentives to create and keep jobs in this country. He can address economic inequality by raising taxes on the wealthy and making Wall Street financiers pay the same tax rate paid by workingmen and women.

He can increase funding for education, research and rebuild the infrastructure. The private sector cannot do these things alone. It needs government help to develop new ideas and projects like the computer, the Internet, the GPS system--all these came from government-funded research. If recent history is any example, Republicans in the House of Representatives will fight all or most of these proposals.

The Republicans have to decide who and what they will be. It is difficult to believe they will move to the center to capture minorities and young men and women. Will they become amenable to reasonable compromise on some of these issues? If the right-wing of the party decides the election was lost because the party was not far enough to the right and true to basic conservative principles, they will continue to obstruct Obama in the House of Representatives.

It is still a squabbling two-party system. Various third parties were on the ballot in many states, but had no real effect of the outcome. There are a number of third parties, but they do not garner many votes nationwide. We do not know for sure what happened to the Ron Paul primary voters. Did they stay home and withheld their vote from Romney and the GOP? Or did they held their nose and vote for Romney anyway, and he still lost?

If the third party movement is to be effective, action is needed. There needs to be an effort to get the leaders of all third parties to meet. They need to talk and see if there is a basis for agreement on some major issues--as there seems to be. If so, they should plan a convention of their members to talk and try to draft a platform of common goals.

They then need to select a leader to run for president in 2016 and recruit candidates for other positions.

Something has to be done. President Obama must become a fighting, determined President to bring about long term change, and the Republicans must change in many ways or become extinct as a viable party. There is little reason or evidence yet that this is a realistic possibility. The country cannot have or survive indefinite stalemate and repeated dangers of going over a "fiscal cliff."

It is a new world, and we need a new unified strong third political party that is centrist and pragmatic to solve our problems to enable us to live and prosper in this new world.

About the Author

John F. Kimberling is the author of "What This Country Needs: A New Political Party (Revised Edition Election 2012)" (Polimedia Publishing, $4.95) a study of voter alienation and a manifesto for political change. Kimberling is widely known as a leading U.S. litigation specialist, a charter member of the ABA section on litigation, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a veteran of two wars, and at various times served in leadership positions in both the Democratic and Republican parties. He was once hailed by The American Lawyer as the "one of the top trial lawyers in the country" and led a panel as moderator on a C-SPAN discussion titled "Is It Time for a New Political Party?"