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We had an exciting Blue America week since last Saturday. Our Senate competition has gone exceptionally well, thanks in great part to the extraordinary efforts of the campaign staffs of the 5 Blue America candidates we’ve endorsed this year, Rick Noriega (D-TX), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Andrew Rice (D-OK), Tom Allen (D-ME) and Mark Begich (D-AK). These guys have assembled great teams and it bodes well for effective office staffs when they’re in Washington.

So far nearly 1,700 people voted by donating over $45,000. It’s probably no coincidence that the numbers of votes exactly corresponded to the population of each state. Rick Noriega is ahead with more than 900 votes (and nearly $20,000) and Jeff Merkley is coming in second with over 600 votes (and nearly $10,000), followed by Andrew Rice, closing in on 500 votes and $8,000, Tom Allen 300 votes/$5,000, and Mark Begich 250 votes/$2,000. The populations of each state:

Texas- 23,904,380
Oregon- 3,747,455
Oklahoma- 3,617,316
Maine- 1,317,207
Alaska- 683,478

At first I was worried that Rick was going into the contest with both hands tied behind his back. Although he had made a great first impression with our community when he visited with us last August, I was concerned because he suspended his campaign two weeks ago. No, no, not like McCain’s cynical, partisan spin pseudo "suspension." A Lt. Colonel in the Texas National Guard, Rick was on duty all week helping Texans recover from the devastation of Hurricane Ike. But when your opponent is John Cornyn…

Cornyn has taken the same tact we have in fundraising. We’re asking our community to donate to Rick and the other Blue America Senate candidates to stop Republican obstructionism with a filibuster-proof majority so McConnell, McCain and the rest of the McGoons can’t keep Obama from enacting real change legislation. Cornyn has been trying– without much success– to convince Texans to react to that differently than we’re asking them too.

"We need to keep the gas on for the next 40 days to make sure our opponents’ dreams of a filibuster-proof Senate don’t become a reality," Cornyn finance director Dolly Gonzalez wrote in an email today to donors.

She attached a memo from Cornyn campaign communications director Kevin McLaughlin with some quotes from Joe Biden about how nice it’d be to have 60 or more Dems in the Senate — "to overcome Republican obstruction and bring fiercely needed change."

McLaughlin’s kicker: "It would be bad enough if Barack and Biden get elected, but imagine if they had ‘rubber-stamp Rick’ there too; there will be no stopping them from shoving their liberal agenda down our throats."

Noriega spokesman Martine Apodaca replied, "Rubber stamp Rick? That’s like getting called unethical by Ted Stevens. Cornyn knows that his rubber stamp voting record for the President’s disastrous policies are the reason the country is in a ditch."

Voting ends at noon (PT) and we’ll figure out the winner by 1pm. If you haven’t voted yet, please do. Remember, first prize is $5,000 and second prize is a thousand dollars. Last time I was in Texas I met Mark Strama, an outstanding young state legislator from the Austin suburbs, once the head of Rock the Vote, now helping turn the state Capitol blue. He’s a major supporter of Rick Noriega and I found this clip of him explaining why Rick can beat Cornyn in November.