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More Midterm Mania

The Chicago Tribune notes that with the midterms approaching, religious moderates "are uniting and organizing in an unprecedented bid to challenge the Christian right and broaden the values agenda beyond the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage." 

Women Building for the Future ("The Future PAC") says it's launching an outreach program in six potential battleground states -- CA, IL, MI, NY, OH, and PA -- and 25 cities, to turn out African-American women voters.  

In CALIFORNIA, California State University is launching a "Flunk Arnold" contest this week, asking students to design a 30-second television commercial criticizing him. The AP writes that the initiative is three-fold: "Raise public awareness about fee increases at California colleges over the last few years; help defeat Schwarzenegger in the November governor's race; and get students involved in politics." The producer's winning commercial will be aired during The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and will receive a year's tuition.

After Ned Lamont's primary victory over Joe Lieberman in CONNECTICUT, many of the possible Democratic candidates for president immediately flocked to Lamont's side. But since then, the New York Times writes, "the dance between the presidential contenders and the Lamont campaign has grown more delicate. Some of the White House hopefuls - most notably Mark R. Warner, the former governor of Virginia - are debating how strongly to align themselves with a candidate who has become an icon of the liberal left."

Per the Orlando Sentinel, FLORIDA gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist (R) says he's not afraid of appearing with Bush today and is "proud" of the president. Crist said "he is not looking to take the money and duck out of camera range when standing by the president." But Republicans "might face more awkward choreography with controversial U.S. Senate nominee Katherine Harris expected at the presidential event, which begins at 5:30 p.m."

Republicans aren't the only ones pleased by Bush's appearance today in Florida for gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist (R). So are the Democrats. Josh Earnest, spokesperson for Crist opponent Jim Davis (D), tells First Read that their campaign is billing the race as status quo (Crist) versus a new direction (Davis). "No one symbolizes better the argument that we need a new direction than the president of the United States."

RNC chairman Ken Mehlman is in IOWA today, where he attends a breakfast fundraiser for congressional candidate Mike Whalen (R) and then heads to two other events for fellow candidate Jeff Lamberti (R).

In MARYLAND, the Senate-race battle over the state's considerable African-American vote has only just begun, with African-American Republican groups emerging yesterday to urge blacks to support GOP nominee Michael Steele.

Tuesday's primary in MASSACHUSETTS had the highest turnout since 1990, reports the Boston Globe. It's a "surge that party officials credit to gubernatorial nominee Deval L. Patrick's grass-roots organizing and that analysts say was also fueled by competitive local races and voter-turnout drives."

The Boston Herald reports that former President Bill Clinton will campaign for Patrick next month. "His mission is to generate not just excitement, but cash, as Patrick's gubernatorial campaign seeks national financial support." Though GOP nominee Kerry Healey's camp says it's not concerned, "Republicans are already buzzing about matching Clinton with GOP VIPs like Arizona Sen. John McCain for Healey." 

VIRGINIA Sen. George Allen's mom tells the Washington Post that she only informed her son of her Jewish heritage a month ago, and also said she "swears" that she never used the word "macaca" and didn't know what it meant when her son uttered it recently and caused a major controversy in his Senate race. There has been speculation that Allen picked up the word, a French-language slur, from his Tunisian mother. For these reasons and others, national Democrats now have this race on their radar, judging from Sen. Barack Obama's appearance yesterday on behalf of Democratic nominee Jim Webb.