Hutchison Will Resign Senate Seat

In an interview on WBAP-AM, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) said she would formally announce her gubernatorial campaign to challenge Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) in August and would resign from her U.S. Senate seat “in October or November.”

Public Option Would Not Pass Senate

If President Obama is backing away from a public option in his health care reform proposal, it’s because he prefers to move the bill through the Senate’s normal channels and not through the budget reconciliation process which would require only 51 votes.

In an interview on CNBC, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) said a Finance Committee proposal containing a health care cooperative insurance plan — and not a government sponsored plan — is the only proposal likely to get 60 votes in the Senate to prevent a filibuster.

Said Conrad: “There’s been no final resolution, but I think there’s a good chance the cooperative plan will be adopted, at least at the committee level. The notion of a cooperative plan is that it’s membership-controlled, membership-run — not government-run, government-controlled.”

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Democrats Still Hold Lead in This Poll

We noted two new polls earlier this morning that showed Republicans gaining at least a marginal upper hand on Democrats in a generic congressional ballot test.

However, a new GWU Battleground Poll finds Democrats with the lead, 39% to 34%.

New Jersey Governor’s Race No Longer a Toss Up

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has so much to overcome in his 2009 re-election campaign that CQ Politics is changing the rating of that race from “Tossup” to “Leans Republican.”

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) now holds the advantage.

Not as Close as You Think

Though the Washington Post reports of “an emerging consensus among a bipartisan group of senators” working on health care reform, a staffer on the Senate Finance Committee tells ABC News that “neither an accord nor an announcement is imminent.”

In an email, staff Director Russ Sullivan writes, “In fact, significant policy issues remain to be discussed among Members, and any one of these issues could preclude bipartisan agreement.”

Obama Criticism Crosses Racial Line

TPM observes a dramatic escalation “of Obama-hatred out there that really does cross over into a purely racial territory. This has gotten especially worse in the aftermath of Obama’s comments and subsequent mea culpa on the Henry Louis Gates arrest, but the pattern has been there all the same.”

First Read: “The White House doesn’t want to give Glenn Beck a bigger platform or extra oxygen — especially regarding his remark yesterday that the president has ‘a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture’ — so they won’t comment, even off record. Beck, after all, is a radio DJ who somehow ended up getting a national platform to give his opinion on politics. What’s most amazing about this episode is that what Beck said isn’t a fireable or even a SUSPENDABLE offense by his bosses. There was a time when outrageous rants like this would actually cost the ranters their jobs. But not anymore; if anything, it’s now encouraged.”

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Is Obama Backing Away from Public Option?

In a Time magazine interview, President Obama seemed very open to the creation of a health care cooperative taking the place of a government sponsored option that would compete with private insurers.

Said Obama: “Well, I think in theory you can imagine a co-operative meeting that definition. Obviously sort of the legal structure of it is less important than practically how can it operate.”

First Read: “Speaking of public option vs. co-op, the Finance Committee plan is either going to be the most brilliant piece of triangulation ever, or it’s going to open up a fight on the left that is U-G-L-Y. Clearly, the White House is VERY open to a co-op. It is trying hard NOT to bash the public option or show preference to a co-op. But Team Obama definitely has an open mind.”

Republicans Catch Democrats in Generic Ballot

A new NPR poll finds Republicans catching Democrats in a generic congressional ballot test. 

“Asked whether they would support a Democrat or a Republican for Congress in 2010 if the election were held today, 42% said they would choose a Democrat and 43% a Republican, a difference well within the poll’s margin of error (plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for each number in each question).”

For several years, Democrats have held wide leads on such questions.

A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds Republicans with a three point lead over Democrats.

Dodd, Conrad Under Ethics Investigation

The Senate Ethics Committee “is aggressively investigating whether Sens. Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) received preferential mortgage treatment through Countrywide Financial, with sources saying the inquiry could come to a conclusion in the near future,” Roll Call reports.

“The source familiar with the investigation confirmed that the committee staff has deposed numerous witnesses with knowledge of the mortgage deals and has called some to testify before Senators who sit on the committee. They have also asked Conrad and Dodd to submit to written questions, which both men said they have done.”

The official who handled the mortgages for the senators said they knew they were receiving preferential treatment.

Daily Pulse on Health Care Politics

The Hill reports that a House fight among Democrats working on health care reform “has spread to the Senate, where centrists and liberals are clashing over the direction the legislation should take.”

“Trouble is brewing now that a bipartisan group of senators — led by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) — has signaled it will exclude a government-run insurance option from the committee’s draft legislation that could be marked up next week.”

Roll Call describes the fight over the public option as more like a war. 

Meanwhile, CNN reports a House Republican leadership aide “is forwarding a memo written and distributed by a GOP House staffer, saying he has been informed by the House Democratic leadership they plan to leave for the August recess Friday without bringing health care reform to the floor, but Democratic leaders vehemently deny that decision has been made.”

In fact, CQ Poltiics says House leaders have not yet determined “when the House will begin its August recess, which is scheduled to start at the end of this week.”

They Broke It

“Pushing back against Republican charges that President Obama’s stimulus package has been ineffective, the DNC is launching a three-pronged attack this week focused on projects being funded in the states and districts of the GOP’s congressional leadership,” Politico reports.

Of particular interest is a hard-hitting new TV ad aimed at three GOP House leaders and two Senate Republican leaders.

Key line: “They broke it, now they refuse to fix it.”

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