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More midterm mania

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USA Today samples some of the more striking campaign ads airing on TV, saying that old-fashioned ads are still the best way to shape voters' attitudes, despite the ground broken by YouTube and other websites.  "Most Americans insist they don't believe what is said in campaign commercials...  Campaign strategists and political scientists say ads do work, though, especially the negative ones that voters profess to hate." 

A radio ad paid for by a conservative African-American group is causing controversy with its assertion that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican, and some prominent black Republicans agree with their Democratic counterparts that the ad should be pulled. 

In CALIFORNIA, the Sacramento Bee reports that Phil Angelides (D) is stepping up his character attacks on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) -- this time suggesting that the governor "should respond to recall-era claims that he once groped and humiliated women…  'It was the governor who told (former NBC anchor) Tom Brokaw on national news that he would fully look into this matter and tell the people what it was all about,' Angelides said.  'He was the one who made his commitment and didn't keep his promise.'" 

Democrats are increasingly confident they can unseat the state's two GOP veteran congressmen, Reps. John Doolittle and Richard Pombo.  The Democratic House campaign committee says "favorable trends" in the past few weeks have allowed them to add 24 House seats to the list of competitive races. 

The Wall Street Journal looks at the GOP's weak hold on the governorship and two or three House seats in COLORADO. 

In FLORIDA, state law prohibits election officials and Foley replacement candidate Joe Negron (R) from placing signs at polling places explaining to voters that a vote for Foley is really a vote for him. 

In IOWA's competitive contest for governor, a new independent poll shows Chet Culver (D) leading Jim Nussle (R), 49%-44%. 

In KANSAS, "nine former Republicans will be on the November ballot as Democrats," the Washington Post reports.  "Though yet untested in the election booth, the Democratic developments in Kansas reflect polls in many parts of the country.  As elsewhere, Democrats and moderate Republicans say they are frustrated with policies and practices they trace to Republican leadership, including the Iraq war, ballooning government spending, ethics violations and the influence of social conservatives." 

Former President Clinton rallies with MARYLAND Senate nominee Ben Cardin (D) in Baltimore City this afternoon.

A prominent lawyers' publication in MASSACHUSETTS has broken tradition and endorsed gubernatorial nominee Deval Patrick (D) because of his opponent Kerry Healey's attacks on Patrick's legal work. 

The Chicago Tribune notes how MICHIGAN has become ground zero for the war over affirmative action, as the state considers a ballot initiative that would eliminate affirmative action in public education, hiring, and contracting.  "The vote comes as affirmative action… remains in the spotlight.  The Supreme Court will hear cases this term from Seattle and Louisville about whether public elementary and high schools can consider race in assigning students to specific schools to maintain a racial balance." 

Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean rallies Democratic students at the University of MINNESOTA.

"MONTANA Democrats on Wednesday blasted GOP Sen. Conrad Burns for saying in Tuesday's debate that he believes President Bush has a plan to win the war in Iraq but is keeping it quiet.  'We're not going to tell you what our plan is,' Burns told Democrat Jon Tester.  Matt McKenna, a Tester spokesman, likened Burns' comments to statements by President Nixon that led to rumors of a 'secret plan' to end or win the war in Vietnam."  Burns' spokesman Jason Klindt "said he doesn't know if Burns knows any specifics of a plan, but added, 'I think he knows the general strategy.'" 

Presidential candidate and Sen Evan Bayh campaigns with the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in his party's second-in-the-nation caucus state NEVADA.

Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman is in PENNSYLVANIA today campaigning for Republicans in the Philadelphia suburbs.