The New York Times front-pages that Democrats now think a Senate takeover is realistic. But for that to happen, they have to hang onto New Jersey, which looks like a tougher challenge than it was two months ago.
Stuart Rothenberg suggests that some races Democrats are touting as close and competitive may not turn out to be that close, in reality, with early solidification of the Democratic vote just making them appear that way.
The gubernatorial race isn't the only statewide contest in CALIFORNIA worthy of national attention: Former Governor Moonbeam, Jerry Brown (D), is running for state attorney general. "Brown has changed a bit," Bloomberg observes. "Once known for his liberalism, environmentalism and often baffling political prose -- 'Ad astra per aspera' (To the stars, through the thorns) was his 1992 presidential campaign slogan -- Brown now chiefly devotes his life to fighting crime" as Oakland mayor. "Brown's Republican opponent, State Senator Chuck Poochigian of Fresno, scoffs at the re-tooling of Brown, says it is all an act," and tries to tie Brown to Jane Fonda.
Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has outmaneuvered Democrat Phil Angelides on the environment, further gutting Angelides' central argument against the Governor: that he's too much like President Bush. "Beyond the environment, analysts say, Schwarzenegger has also diverged from Bush's conservative path on abortion, gay rights and gun control, holding moderate or liberal stands. At the same time, Schwarzenegger's opposition to tax increases has anchored his conservative support."
The Los Angeles Times takes a long look at how COLORADO could be a source of Democratic gains this year and increase the party's beachhead in a previously GOP-leaning region of the country.
In CONNECTICUT, the latest Quinnipiac poll has Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) leading Ned Lamont (D) by 10 points, 49%-39%. "Lamont directed $750,000 toward his campaign this week. Lamont, who spent almost $4 million of his own money defeating [Lieberman] in the primary, has written checks totaling $2.25 million for the general election."
In the MARYLAND governor's race, in which incumbent Robert Ehrlich (R) is trailing Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D), Ehrlich "launched an appeal yesterday to black voters in Prince George's County and Baltimore with a radio ad suggesting that policing has become too aggressive in Baltimore under" O'Malley. The 60-second ad is narrated by... a prominent black Baltimore lawyer who is a longtime friend of Ehrlich's."
In MASSACHUSETTS, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R) is trying to distance herself from retiring Gov. Mitt Romney (R) on taxes as she seeks to replace him.
In NEW JERSEY, the GOP Senate campaign committee (NRSC) is trying to stoke speculation that Democrats will seek to replace Sen. Bob Menendez on the ballot with a stronger candidate now that polls show Menendez trailing GOP nominee Tom Kean Jr. The tactic is meant to remind voters of how Democrats switched out ethically challenged Sen. Bob Torricelli (D).
Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and NEW YORK House candidate Kirsten Gillibrand all address the DNC Women's Leadership Forum annual issues conference in Washington. With blowouts expected in the state's other contests, its marquee race has become the showdown between Andrew Cuomo (D) and Jeanine Pirro (R) for attorney general. But Pirro's chances may be slimmer now that federal prosecutors are investigating whether she and Bernard Kerik illegally taped conversations of Pirro's husband last year to see if he was having an affair.
In TEXAS, the GOP House campaign committee has donated about $100,000 to help the write-in candidacy of Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (R) in the race for former Rep. Tom DeLay's seat. Also, Vice President Cheney is scheduled to headline a fundraiser for her next week.
Meanwhile, independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman hit the trail with former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. The AP says a "key element of the Friedman election effort, emphasized by Ventura, is getting college students who traditionally have avoided the polls to vote."
And in VIRGINIA, now it's Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb who's having a hard time explaining that he's never used a certain racial epithet. Webb earlier "refused to say whether he had used the 'N-word,' but he insisted he has never used it as a racial epithet aimed at anyone."
Fred Barnes says in the Wall Street Journal that "Mr. Allen is going on TV today with an ad zinging Mr. Webb for a 1982 article critical of women in the military, especially in combat. The article used vivid language that shows, according to the ad, Mr. Webb is disrespectful and insulting to women."