ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

Nader says the two candidates discussed Kerry's veep selection; late last month Nader sent a letter to Kerry urging him to tap Edwards. When Nader asked Kerry if he knew anything about dirty tricks on behalf of "Democratic Party operatives" Nader says Kerry said he didn't -- but he'd look into it.

Today, Ralph Nader continues to promote his new book, "The Good Fight: Declare Your Independence and Close the Democracy Gap" with radio and television appearances. LINK

On the Hill:

Which party is in control of the Senate? That's right, not the party of Sens. Kerry and Edwards. Could that be why a debate on class-action lawsuits was slated for yesterday and the gay marriage debate is scheduled to begin next week, the week before the Democratic convention? The Boston Globe's Susan Milligan takes a look. LINK

The Washington Times' Charles Hurt leads more emphatically with the point Milligan's trying to make: "One day after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry picked a personal-injury lawyer to be his running mate, Senate Republicans took up a bill aimed at curbing class-action lawsuits." LINK

The politics of same-sex marriage:

Amy Fagan of the Washington Times looks at the efforts by House Republicans, led by Majority Leader Tom DeLay, to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, including not only a constitutional amendment but also the jurisdiction of federal courts to rule on cases involving marriage. LINK

"As the Senate Republican leadership quietly gauges GOP support for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, some Democrats are considering the merits of allowing a direct vote on the issue, rather than trying to derail the GOP effort by a procedural move," Roll Call reports. LINK

Liberal gay rights activists have begun to "out" closeted staffers who work for Senators who favor the amendment. LINK

Nine same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in Maryland yesterday, challenging the state's 1973 law declaring marriage to be only between a man and a woman and adding Maryland to the list of states -- including Oregon, New York, Florida, Washington, and New Jersey -- (Note those battlegrounds!) in which gay-rights advocates have brought suit. LINK

Proponents of an initiative to ban same-sex marriage in Oregon are confident they'll get their measure on the November ballot. LINK

"Leaders in each party are gaming out strategy in anticipation of next week's battle over gay marriage -- a showdown prompted by Republicans' desire for a wedge issue they can use with undecided voters in November," writes Roll Call's Mark Preston.

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

"The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee outraised its Republican counterparts by a 2-to-1 margin in June and by roughly $4 million from April 1 to June 30, marking the first quarter it has "won" the fundraising race in the 2004 cycle," according to Roll Call's Chris Cillizza.

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan writes that "The Illinois Republican Party is under fire from grass-roots groups who say the party forced U.S. senatorial candidate Jack Ryan to withdraw from the race, and they want his name returned to the ballot." They've reportedly gathered thousands of signatures on a petition to bring the candidate back. LINK

The politics of abortion:

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