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Hot midterm race developments

From NBC's Mark Murray
While we're focused on all the primaries taking place today, especially the Chafee-Laffey contest in Rhode Island, here are some other developments in the races we're following:

-- In Illinois, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running automated telephone calls from retired Air Force Gen. Tony McPeak, who calls House candidate Tammy Duckworth (D) -- who lost both of her legs in Iraq -- "a great American." More McPeak: "She's tough. She is a veteran who made extraordinary sacrifices for her country. Tammy Duckworth has what it takes to be a wonderful representative." McPeak supported John Kerry in 2004.

-- In New Jersey, with incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez (D) dogged by news that federal prosecutors are looking into his lease deal with a federally funded nonprofit group, his campaign is launching a TV ad hitting at what they perceive to be challenger Tom Kean Jr.'s (R) biggest weakness in this blue state: President Bush. "[W]hen George Bush tried to sell our ports to a foreign country and threatened our security, I led the fight to stop him," Menendez says in the ad. "Five years after 9/11, President Bush just doesn't get it... And if he won't stand up for New Jersey, I will." NBC political analyst Charlie Cook now calls this "the most vulnerable Democratic seat in the Senate."

-- The National Republican Senatorial Committee is blasting Ohio Senate candidate Sherrod Brown (D) for his speech tomorrow, in DC, at an event sponsored by liberal MoveOn. "If a 15-year career of championing the far left in Congress wasn't enough evidence for Ohioans that Brown is an out of touch liberal, this appearance should put any doubts to rest," an NRSC spokesman said in a statement. Democratic Sens. Barack Obama and Russ Feingold are set to address future MoveOn events.