ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

The Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the state-by-state unemployment picture today, which will surely creep its way into the stump speeches before network news is in makeup tonight.

Also today, the Illinois GOP finally tries to nail down a Republican challenger to Democrat Barack Obama. The AP reports that Illinois Republicans have narrowed their search to two: Alan Keyes, who ran twice unsuccessfully for president and Senate, and Andrea Grubb Barthwell, former deputy drug czar in the Bush Administration, and will interview both today. LINK

The Chicago Tribune tells us a little more about Keyes and Barthwell and Notes, "Still, the decision sets the stage for a historic Senate race in which for the first time in American history both major party candidates would be black. Both would be vying to become only the third elected black U.S. senator since the Reconstruction era." LINK

Keyes makes his first appearance today at a Chicago rally at 2:30 pm ET. At 3:00 pm ET, he meets with the Republican state central committee. By the time the evening news broadcasts hit the air, we should know whether he's won the sweepstakes.

Yesterday, Missouri voters got a lot done — having chosen a Democratic nominee for governor who is not their current chief executive; having given the OK to banning same-sex marriage; and having picked a Democrat to run for the seat of Rep. Dick Gephardt.

Missouri Gov. Bob Holden became the first governor in a decade to be defeated in his party's primary, AP reports. State Auditor Claire McCaskill defeated Holden by more than 55,000 votes (LINK) to claim the Democratic nomination, and will face Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt in November. LINK

Meanwhile, with 3933 of 3992 precincts reporting, the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Missouri passed — as expected — with nearly 71 percent of the vote. LINK

Perhaps most important: Rock fans — particularly Springsteen fans — and "Nightline" fans everywhere — you've got a treat coming.

Tonight, ABC News' "Nightline" looks at the intersection of politics and popular culture, including an exclusive Ted Koppel interview with Bruce Springsteen — who will talk about his own political activism, the fall election, and the Vote For Change tour, put on this fall by Move On PAC and America Coming Together — about which we give you full details below.

Other artists will appear on the broadcast as well, including musicians Steve Earle, the Dixie Chicks' Martie Maguire, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Mike Mills of REM (on the tour roster) — as well as writers Kurt Anderson and Robert George, and music executives Russell Simmons and Danny Goldberg. Did we mention Ted Koppel's exclusive interview with Bruce Springsteen?

Tune in to "Nightline" on ABC News at 11:35 pm ET — check local listings.

And then there is the fabulous Rick Berke.

Reserve some cover space, Jason Binn.

Get ready for less room to write about Pete Peterson, Liz Smith.

Save a table at Babbo, Mario.

Richard Leland "Rick" Berke — Walt Whitman graduate and high school journalism icon — is moving to Gotham City in January, as the associate managing editor for news of the New York Times !! LINK

Whatever the opposite of "RATS!!" is, that's what we say.

Congratulations, Rick, and do you realize that in your new Manhattan apartment, you probably won't still have your own private elevator?

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