The Hill looks at 10 questions/campaign themes to watch: 1. How real is the tea party effect? 2. How many more Democrats head for the exits? 3. Will Republicans have the funds they need to win big? 4. Does the economy turn around? 5. How will 2009 issues translate to 2010? 6. Can Republicans restore their good name? 7. What does President Barack Obama do for the Democrats? 8. How much emphasis do the national parties put on governor's races? 9. Will open seats ruin the National Republican Senatorial Committee's (NRSC) Election Day? 10. Do Democrats face formidable primaries?
On the fundraising front, vulnerable House Democrats from the fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition are getting a leg up in campaign contributions from the group's political action committee, which, according to CQ MoneyLine, has given out the most contributions of any politician-controlled PAC through November 2009: $635,000 to be exact. Among the recipients are Reps. Bobby Bright (AL), Frank Kratovil (MD) and Walt Minnick (ID), whose races CQ Politics has deemed Tossups, the most competitive category.
Politico takes a look at the fundraising disparity between the DCCC and NRCC -- the former vastly outraising the latter. However, it also notes that the underdog Republicans of 1994 were also outspent, but succeeded in taking back the Congressional majority. NRCC recruitment chairman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also predicts that donations will increase as Republicans feel more confident in the prospect of midterm wins. "You're going to find the money will soon be growing once members get past the primaries, when they'll be able to give more. When members are on defense, they're trying to keep as much money as they can to protect themselves," McCarthy was quoted as saying.
CALIFORNIA: According to The Hill, some California Republicans are "uneasy" with gubernatorial candidate and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman's "middle-of-the-road" campaign approach, especially on fiscal issues. She recently turned down the chance to speak at an upcoming Los Angeles Republicans' forum, where both her opponents, Steve Poizner and former Rep. Tom Campbell, are scheduled to speak.
COLORADO: Democrats in the primary for Colorado's junior U.S. Senate seat are trying to keep the race polite "so that whoever emerges as the victor won't be too bruised for the general election," the Wall Street Journal says. Current Senator Michael Bennet, who was appointed to the seat by Gov. Bill Ritter after current interior secretary Ken Salazar vacated his seat, has so far outraised his primary opponent, former state house speaker Andrew Romanoff, but Romanoff may garner more statewide support, holding a majority of state legislators' endorsements, the Journal adds.
FLORIDA: The St. Petersburg Times names their winner and loser of the year in Florida politics. Winner: Marco Rubio. Loser? Charlie Crist. "But," the Times notes, "nobody should count him out. He has a lot of cards to play over the next nine months."
MASSACHUSETTS: We'll know if Republicans are a TAD serious about attempting to target Dem Martha Coakley in this race if John McCain and others do more than simply provide support for Republican Scott Brown via press release.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Republican Attorney General Kelly Ayotte leads Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes 43% to 36% in a new American Research Group poll, conducted Dec. 26-29, CQ Politics reports.
NEW YORK: "President Obama still wants Gov. Paterson dumped from the Democratic ticket, even though the field of GOP candidates for governor is weaker now that Rudy Giuliani is out of the race, a high-level source close to the White House told The [New York] Post." The source said, "Rin Tin Tin could beat Paterson," adding that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo "has to run."
OHIO: This year's midterm elections will undoubtedly hinge, in part, on candidates' economic records. While there have been over 300,000 jobs lost since incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland (D) took office, his challenger, former Rep. John Kasich (R) -- whom Strickland is either tied with or trails in polls -- was managing director of Lehman Brothers after he left the House in 2000, a position which Ohio Democrats have been quick to highlight, the Dayton Daily News writes. Kasich contends, however, that "blaming him for Lehman's collapse 'is like blaming a car dealer… for the collapse of General Motors."
TEXAS: The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on opposition research spending in the race between Republican gubernatorial contenders Rick Perry, the incumbent, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, his chief primary rival. According to the Star Telegram, Perry's campaign spent at least $13,250 last year on research from the premier Republican "oppo" company, John Doner & Associates, while Hutchison's campaign reports $66,400 to a Little Rock public affairs firm headed by former U.S. prosecutor Tim Griffin, who has previously done opposition work for the RNC, although a Hutchison spokesman declined to elaborate on Griffin's role on the campaign besides saying he "advised" it on some projects.