The Note: Not Just a Slogan

"Ohio's John Boehner fought off a last-minute challenge by California's Dan Lungren for the minority leader post, but his new deputy will be Eric Cantor, a tough-talking Virginian who led this fall's fight to stall a financial rescue plan crafted by the White House, Democrats and Boehner loyalists," Lightman writes. "The party's third-ranking House slot, conference chairman, went to Indiana's Mike Pence, a former radio talk-show host who had challenged Boehner for the leadership job two years ago and is a favorite of hard-line conservatives."

The Minnesota recount is underway -- and look for nightly vote reports that mean just about nothing.

That said -- a narrowed lead already: "The Great Minnesota Recount kicked off Wednesday with masses of volunteers for Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken moving into a fresh phase of the struggle: eyeballing the first of 2.9 million ballots, ready to pounce on anything that looked questionable," Patricia Lopez and Curt Brown report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

"By day's end, with about 18 percent of the vote recounted, Coleman continued to lead Franken -- but by only 174 votes, notably narrower than the unofficial gap of 215 votes at which the recount had begun. Franken's gain owed much to a swing of 23 votes in the Democratic stronghold of St. Louis County -- the result of faintly marked ballots and older optical scanners that failed to read the marks."

Colorful quote, via, from Minneapolis lawyer Bill Starr, who is volunteering for the Franken campaign, positing an interesting theory for why his guy is going to win: "People who voted for Coleman are more likely to have taken the SAT in their lifetime," he said. "They've filled in circles. Franken voters are probably not college-educated. They're new voters and immigrants. They've been brought in by groups like ACORN, from the inner cities. They're more likely to make mistakes. I've bounced this off of minority people, and they agree with me."

In Georgia: "Former President Bill Clinton urged Georgia voters on Wednesday to send the man who will sit in his former office one more deputy -- Jim Martin," Aaron Gould Sheinin writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

"Clinton told a chilly crowd at Clark Atlanta University to return to the polls on Dec. 2 to elect Martin to the U.S. Senate and reject incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Martin, Clinton said, is 'the kind of guy we ought to have in public life. His opponent was elected on a false premise six years ago and is running on a false premise today.' "

(It's looking unlikely that Obama will show -- but his team is working it.)

In Alaska, Sen. Ted Stevens concedes (but what of final plaudits on the Senate floor): "Given the number of ballots that remain to be counted," Stevens' statement said, "it is apparent the election has been decided and Mayor Begich has been elected."

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