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More midterm mania

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The New York Times reports on the GOP's readjustment of its "firewall" strategy to keep control of the Senate.  "Republicans are now pinning their hopes of holding the Senate on three states - Missouri, Tennessee and… probably Virginia - while trying to hold on to the House by pouring money into districts where Republicans have a strong historical or registration advantage…  Republicans also said they would run advertisements in New Jersey this week to test the vulnerability of Senator Robert Menendez." 

The Democratic Senate campaign committee boasts to First Read that five of its candidates -- Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Jim Webb in Virginia, Jon Tester in Montana, Amy Klobuchar in Minnesota, and Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhodes Island -- outraised their GOP counterparts in the third quarter. 

The Sunday Los Angeles Times looked at the difficulties that members -- especially GOP members -- are having because of their ties to the House and to Washington and they run for higher office this year. 

Ethically challenged GOP Reps. John Doolittle and Richard Pombo of CALIFORNIA, both of whom have ties to Abramoff, are now in the most competitive House races in their state, and activists are flocking to their districts to try to help unseat them in November, per the Saturday Los Angeles Times.  "Doolittle and Pombo have characterized the Bay Area activists as carpetbaggers...  Pombo has played up the Bay Area liberal invasion theme in his political mailers. Doolittle is expected to make it the theme of his television ads.  But the volunteers say they have met with little hostility from potential voters." 

In the race to replace GOP Rep. Joel Hefley in his conservative, traditionally Republican district in COLORADO, Hefley himself appears to be boosting Democrats' prospects of capturing the seat by refusing to endorse his party's nominee, saying he has run a "'sleazy, dishonest campaign.'" 

The GOP's gubernatorial nominee is well ahead in his race, but the Saturday Los Angeles Times focused on a handful of FLORIDA House seats that traditionally lean Republican but are looking a lot more competitive lately. 

As many others before it, a new IOWA Poll conducted last week suggests that voter discontent with Republicans in Washington could sweep Democrats into power in the House.  The poll shows 46% of Iowans surveyed saying they would elect a Democrat to the House, while 36% chose Republicans. 

The LOUISIANA Democratic party over the weekend endorsed state Rep. Karen Carter instead of scandal-plagued Rep. William Jefferson. 

Former President Clinton will headline a fundraiser for MASSACHUSETTS Democrats to help Patrick.  Republicans say the event, which is expected to net $1 million, is too little, too late for Patrick's campaign, which suffered week of bad press last week that diminished his lead over Healey. 

In the face of MICHIGAN's struggling economy, Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) has been doling out business subsidies as she seeks re-election, notes the Wall Street Journal.  "The Michigan governor's race serves as a reminder that, for all the attention to scandal and Iraq, the economy remains a factor, particularly in the Midwest, that can sting incumbents of both parties." 

Bob Novak devotes his column to the pro-stem cell ballot initiative in MISSOURI, which polls show might pass.  While the initiative states that it prohibits human cloning, Novak argues that the proposal so narrowly defines cloning that it opens "the door in Missouri to any cloning procedure that takes place outside the womb." 

The Los Angeles Times says PENNSYLVANIA Sen. Rick's Santorum's seemingly likely loss is "a four-alarm fire for conservatives, who are bringing water buckets from all corners of the political world" to try to help him out.  "Santorum is not just a key link between the Republican Party and Christian conservatives...  [H]e is the apotheosis of a younger generation of Republicans... that transformed the party in the 1990s into a more confrontational, ideological political force...  [A] loss by Santorum would be a signifier of the end of that Republican revolution." 

A new Washington Post poll on the VIRGINIA Senate race shows the two contenders basically tied, with Sen. George Allen (R) at 49% and Jim Webb (D) at 47%.  The poll offers both campaigns reasons for concern.