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More midterm mania

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The New York Times says several candidates across the country -- both Republican and Democrat -- "are showing signs of strain, uttering words they later wish they could take back, running last-ditch advertisements that push the envelope and taking other actions that are out of the political ordinary…  'It is definitely the funny season,' said Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican strategist...  'All these Republicans who thought they were in safe seats have seen their numbers drop dramatically.  They are freaked.'"  

Campaign ad spending could hit "a record $2 billion in spending this year, $300 million more than in 2004, when there were both congressional and presidential elections," Bloomberg reports.  "Republicans, Democrats and outside groups have accelerated spending since" the Foley scandal broke and became the catalyst for an even more competitive election cycle than expected. 

Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean rallies with CALIFORNIA gubernatorial nominee Phil Angelides in Los Angeles.  The latest poll by the Public Policy Institute of California has Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) leading Angelides by 18 points.  "Schwarzenegger appears headed for re-election by a landslide -- even though California voters strongly believe Democrats are better suited to handle key issues like the economy, the Iraq war, immigration and the environment." 

Sen. Hillary Clinton and Rep. Charlie Rangel host a brunch for House candidate Tim Mahoney, who's seeking to replace Foley in FLORIDA.

In MARYLAND's tight gubernatorial contest, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) has refused to release a copy of his state bar application, "a document that requires disclosure of any arrests and court proceedings in which applicants have been involved," after reports "that O'Malley (D) had been charged with -- but found not guilty of -- driving under the influence of alcohol in 1987, when he was a 24-year-old law student at the University of Maryland." 

And in the Senate race, the Washington Times looks at how African-American Democratic leaders are declining to attack GOP Senate nominee Michael Steele.  Steele told the paper earlier this week that he supports full voting rights in Congress for the District of Columbia 

In advance of Bush's visit there today, Bush looks at the governor's race in MICHIGAN, which is turning on the state's struggling economy and which side is to blame for it, as USA Today observes. 

The New York Times covers the decision by the GOP Senate campaign committee to spend $3.5 million in NEW JERSEY in the final 12 days of the campaign.  "The new push in New Jersey reflects the state's status as the Republicans' great hope this year. Mr. Menendez's Senate seat is the only one now held by a Democrat that Republicans in Washington believe they can steal away." 

The four candidates in the MASSACHUSETTS gubernatorial race met for their third debate last night, yielding fiery exchanges between Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R) and Deval Patrick (D).  Healey who is trailing Patrick by the double-digits "appeared tired at times, but asked aggressive questions of Patrick."  Meanwhile, Polly Klaas' dad spoke out against Patrick yesterday.  Per the Globe, Klaas said Patrick's "advocacy on behalf of convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer makes him 'philosophically unqualified' to be governor."

Former President Clinton campaigns with Democratic House candidates at events and rallies in his adopted home state of NEW YORK, where his wife is hoping to bring lots of Democrats along with her in her sweep on election day.

And the Washington Post front-pages a long look at VIRGINIA Sen. George Allen's attitude toward race and evidence suggesting that his sensitivities have both evolved and not evolved over the years.  Allen and his campaign declined to provide interviews for the story.