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More Midterm Mania

USA Today says most members of Congress seeking higher office this year are having trouble because of their ties to Washington and, if they're Republican, to President Bush.

One of the overlooked but potentially competitive Senate races this cycle is in ARIZONA, where incumbent Jon Kyl (R) leads challenger Jim Pederson (D) by just single digits, according to some recent polls.  Pederson, in Washington yesterday, briefly chatted with First Read about his race.  On how he is withstanding charges from Kyl's camp that his support of the Senate immigration bill is supporting "amnesty:" "I've got to believe we're smarter than that, to withstand buzzwords like that...  Usually the tough talkers have something to hide."  And in this case, he says, it's Congress' failure to do anything on immigration.  And on Kyl using popular Sen. John McCain in his TV ads: "Maybe we should point out the differences between John McCain and Jon Kyl" -- on global warming, immigration, stem cells, and the budget deficit.

Per the Sacramento Bee, CALIFORNIA Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) called Phil Angelides' (D) plan to bring home the state's National Guard troops from Iraq "'absolutely irresponsible.'"  Angelides returned the fire: "'It's irresponsible to continue to defend George W. Bush's failed policies in Iraq.  You disserve our nation and you disserve our troops.'"  Another Sacramento Bee article notes that corporate and campaign funds are being used to defray the costs of Schwarzenegger's bill-signing ceremonies.  

A poll released by Democratic state Sen. Ron Klein's campaign in FLORIDA shows him pulling even with his Republican opponent, Rep. Clay Shaw.  Shaw's camp "disputed the numbers," the Miami Herald notes.  "Both campaigns are hungry for money as they enter the final month before the election.  The dependence on television advertising makes the campaign one of the most expensive House races in the country." 

The Boston Herald has a little gotcha on MASSACHUSETTS Democratic gubernatorial nominee Deval Patrick.  A "Herald review of Patrick's voting record on file in his hometown of Milton shows he has skipped voting in at least seven local and state elections over the past 10 years, including the 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns.  The 1996 missed vote is especially significant, because it shows Patrick apparently did not cast a vote for President Bill Clinton, who hired Patrick to work as a top Justice Department attorney in 1994." 

The Washington Times writes about the GOP's rare bright spot of MICHIGAN, where Democrats hold both Senate seats and the governor's mansion, and which is "suffering the worst economy of any state in the nation." 

The Washington Post rounds up the situation in the NEW JERSEY Senate race, which has become extremely close for such a blue state, largely because of ethical issues that have plagued Sen. Bob Menendez (D) and because some voters may think that GOP nominee Tom Kean, Jr. is really his father, the popular former governor.  Menendez just had to sever ties "with a longtime campaign associate who was taped seeking a political favor on his behalf."  Polls in the race show it basically tied.  Republicans are trying to stoke speculation that Democrats will seek to replace Menendez on the ballot. 

A New York Times/CBS poll finds Eliot Spitzer (D) blowing out John Faso, 64%-18%, in NEW YORK's gubernatorial race.  In the Senate race, incumbent Hillary Clinton (D) has almost as large a lead, 59%-27%, over opponent John Spencer (R). 

In VIRGINIA, Sen. George Allen (R) is now getting it from the other side -- regarding his comment that the Confederate flag has been a symbol of hate and intolerance.  "That infuriated the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  'We feel he's using our flag to wipe the muck from his shoes that he's now stepped in,' Frank Earnest, the Virginia division commander of the group, said Thursday.  Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner campaigns today with Allen challenger Jim Webb (D).