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More Midterm Mania

— Stuart Rothenberg declares in his Roll Call column, "We are not going to have an anti-incumbent election in November. We are going to have an anti-Bush election." "Republican incumbents are in trouble not because they are incumbents, but because they are Republicans."

The New York Times reports that a new Democratic 527 group organized by Harold Ickes, the September Fund, plans to raise spend $25 million for advertising in key midterm races and ballot measures.

In CALIFORNIA, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and challenger Phil Angelides (D) have agreed to take part in one debate on Saturday, October 7. "In an effort to make himself better known to voters, Angelides had hoped to debate Schwarzenegger as many as 10 times. But the governor agreed to debate just once, and the event's timing - at 6 p.m. on a Saturday during major league baseball playoffs - could limit the number of viewers." Meanwhile, a Los Angeles radio station is disputing "the Schwarzenegger administration's claim that [Angelides' campaign] improperly obtained audiotapes of the governor bantering with staff" by saying one of its own talk-radio hosts "had many times accessed the same trove of audiotapes without a password and without hacking."

In CONNECTICUT, the Hartford Courant reviews Democratic Senate nominee Ned Lamont's national security speech yesterday, saying "Lamont seemed more interested in establishing his philosophical underpinnings... than attempting what has been elusive to all: drawing up a detailed strategy for exiting from Iraq."

Both candidates vying for governor in FLORIDA have chosen their running mates. Charlie Crist (R) has chosen state Rep. Jeff Kottkamp, a "conservative" who "brings with him what Crist doesn't have: a wife, a child, home ownership and a solid conservative pedigree that appeals to the Republican Party's traditional base," writes the Miami Herald. Jim Davis (D) has tapped former state Rep. Sen. Daryl Jones, who gives the ticket "a military shine and a precious political foothold in South Florida, where African-American voters overwhelmingly favored the Tampa congressman's opponent in the primary last week." 

The Boston Globe examines how both parties in MASSACHUSETTS are intervening in the primary contests, in some cases to protect incumbents, which is "angering grass-roots activists in a year when incumbents are facing strong challenges from inside their own parties." The balloting is next Tuesday.

In NEW YORK, Sen. Hilary Clinton's opponent John Spencer has challenged her to a debate and is attempting to narrow the gulf between his $800,000 and her $22 million. But the once-gushing well of anti-Clinton money has dried to a trickle, and the national party is sending resources to races it has a better chance of winning, notes the New York Daily News.

Not surprisingly (we guess), TEXAS gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman (I) has called for marijuana to be decriminalized. "'We've got to clear some of the room out of the prisons so we can put the bad guys in there, like the pedophiles and the politicians,' said Friedman."

In the VIRGINIA Senate race, GOP Sen. George Allen "launched a character attack on" Democratic opponent Jim Webb, former Reagan Navy Secretary, for his "past views toward women in combat," based on a 27-year-old magazine article written by Webb and titled, "Women Can't Fight." Webb's campaign "Allen of opposing the admission of women to the Virginia Military Institute and of once having accepted membership into an exclusive club while he was governor."