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POLITICAL INSIDER: Filibuster the top priority

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Senate hopeful Christine O’Donnell says her first priority if elected would be to help the GOP block Democrats’ priorities in a lame-duck session.

O’Donnell, the tea party-backed nominee in Delaware, said in an interview that she would work to stop any Democratic legislation proposed between the Nov. 2 election and when the new Congress is seated in January. Delaware’s election is to fill the balance of Vice President Joe Biden’s Senate term, so the winner can be seated immediately and will have a vote when Congress returns to take up its unfinished business, including debate on the Bush-era tax cuts.

“I could be that 41st vote making sure that they don’t get 60 votes and that we can continue the filibuster to ensure that this back-room wheeling and dealing doesn’t succeed,” O’Donnell said in a Christian Broadcasting Network interview posted online Thursday.

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Republicans already have the 41 votes needed to sustain a filibuster in the Senate. But if O’Donnell and GOP candidates in Illinois and West Virginia win, it would make a filibuster a more potent political weapon for Republicans in a lame-duck session.

Democratic Sen. Ted Kaufman, a longtime Biden aide, is filling Biden’s seat now and is not seeking election. O’Donnell defeated nine-term moderate Rep. Mike Castle in the GOP primary in an upset. She faces Democratic county executive Chris Coons in November.

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Take a sappy retro love song, substitute some politically tinged lyrics, and you have a rough campaign attack on Congress’ only 1970s rocker.

Young Republicans working to unseat New York Democratic Rep. John Hall — former frontman of the band Orleans — are using the group’s mega-hit “Dance With Me” as a weapon against him.

In a web video they produced for Hall’s GOP opponent, Nan Hayworth, college students — including the candidate’s son, Will — lip-synch their own version of the song exhorting voters to help them get Hall out of Congress and back on stage.

“Vote with me/Let’s make John Hall leave Washington, D.C,” they sing in their sendup.

Neither Hall’s campaign nor his former bandmates are amused. An attorney for the band has threatened legal action against Michael Knowles, the volunteer behind the video and a related pro-Hayworth website he calls http://www.orleansreuniontour.com, and demanded that he take down the site.

Polls show Hall in a tight re-election contest against Hayworth, an ophthalmologist and political newcomer, in the Hudson Valley district north of New York City. It’s one of eight Democratic-held districts in the state at risk of changing hands in November.

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The West Virginia Coal Association is endorsing Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin in the race for U.S. Senate, calling him a leader with a long-standing commitment to the industry.

The endorsement Thursday also accused Republican challenger John Raese of lying about Manchin’s positions in campaign ads.

Despite Raese’s claim, the association says, Manchin does not support federal climate change legislation aimed at controlling greenhouse gases. The association also says a state energy law mentioned in a Raese ad is designed to ensure that coal and natural gas remain key parts of the national plan for energy independence by classifying them as alternative energy.

The National Rifle Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as the state chamber, also back Manchin, who has seen his lead over Raese narrow.

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Quick hits:

— The National Rifle Association is backing the Democratic candidate for Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat, Rep. Brad Ellsworth. The NRA’s Political Victory Fund said Thursday that Ellsworth has defended Second Amendment rights and earned an “A” rating. The group urges Indiana hunters, gun owners and NRA members to vote for Ellsworth, a former sheriff. Republican candidate Dan Coats has been criticized for his 1993 vote to implement a handgun waiting period.

— Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is stumping for GOP gubernatorial contender Nathan Deal after backing his opponent in the Republican primary. Romney, seen as a likely candidate for president in 2012, says he now endorses Deal and that his political action committee has written a check to his campaign. Romney previously endorsed Karen Handel, who lost the Republican nomination to Deal in a runoff election.

— A poll released Thursday shows Republican Kelly Ayotte widening her lead over Democrat Paul Hodes in New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate race. The WMUR Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire shows Ayotte leading Hodes 50 percent to 35 percent. The telephone poll of 515 likely voters was conducted Sept. 23-29 and had a margin of sampling error of 4.3 percentage points.

— An Illinois poll shows a tight race for the Senate. Democrat Alexi Giannoulias was favored by 43 percent of likely voters in the Time/CNN poll and Republican Mark Kirk had the backing of 42 percent. The Green Party’s LeAlan Jones trailed at 8 percent. The poll of 828 likely Illinois voters was conducted by telephone Sept. 24-28 by Opinion Research Corp. and has a margin of sampling error of 3.5 percentage points.

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Associated Press writer Julie Hirschfeld Davis contributed to this report.