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More Midterm Mania

New suburbs in formerly rural areas "are among the hottest battlegrounds" this fall, says USA Today.  "Some of these areas are increasingly ethnic and Democratic, while others are growing more Republican.  Some give big margins to GOP presidential candidates but split more evenly in other races...  All have enough voters to make them worth fighting for." 

More than $4 out of every $5 spent by the party's House campaign committees in September was spent on negative advertising, Bloomberg reports.  "Republican committees spent $17.74 million last month, about 92 percent of it to oppose Democratic candidates.  Democrats spent $11.44 million, about 68 percent to oppose Republicans." 

Outside groups are also pouring money into tight races -- sometimes even more money than the candidates themselves are spending, says the Washington Post

CONNECTICUT Sen. Joe Lieberman, running as an independent, "says the [Democratic] leadership has assured him he would keep his seniority if he returns to Congress.  Local Democrats are responding with irritation, political opponents voice disbelief, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) denies making a decision," The Hill reports. 

In IOWA, the two candidates for governor debated for the first time last night.  Democrat Chet Culver painted Republican Jim Nussle as a product of Washington, while Nussle focused on Culver's big spending. 

MASSACHUSETTS Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R), who's running to replace retiring Gov. Mitt Romney (R), will get a chance to catch up with opponent Democrat Deval Patrick, who holds a wide lead in the polls, when they meet for their second debate.  Healey "said her focus is going to be pointing out the issues where she and Patrick differ, including taxes and spending plans - in addition to showing voters that she's more than Gov. Mitt Romney's lieutenant." 

But Romney's falling approval ratings could hurt Healey anyway, despite her attempts to distance herself from him on social issues. 

Vice President Cheney does his now usual routine of open-press arrivals and departures from airports he flies into and out of in the process of appearing at closed-press fundraisers today, these on behalf of TEXAS Rep. Henry Bonilla and House candidate Van Taylor.

Another Republican-held House seat that's endangered due to the logistics involved in voting for the Republican candidate is DeLay's Texas seat.  Roll Call writes up the hurdles GOP candidate Shelley Sekula-Gibbs faces in educating voters on how to support her on election day. 

Embattled Sen. George Allen (R) bought two minutes of TV airtime for a statewide address in VIRGINIA last night.  Allen campaign manager Dick Wadhams told First Read yesterday, "What's been lost in the last six weeks obsession with macaca, Jewish heritage and the 'n' word allegations is that Webb was practically dead and buried in early August and this race became competitive because of nothing [Democratic nominee Jim] Webb did.  Now that we are playing offense again, the gravy train is over."  During his two minutes, Allen "acknowledged that he has been sidetracked by the questions about his racial and ethnic sensitivity but said he wants to talk about 'real issues' with Webb," says the Washington Post

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) campaigns for Webb and does a media availability with him in Alexandria.