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The midterms: The money watch

"The National Republican Senatorial Committee outraised it's Democratic counterpart for the third month in a row in December, bringing in $4.1 million to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's $3.4 million according to monthly fundraising reports set to be filed with the Federal Election Commission," CQ Politics reports. 
The DCCC says it has $16.7 million cash on hand, raised $3.8 million last month, $11.2 million for the quarter, and a total of $55.6 million for the year.
"[W]hile a new round of departures by Democratic Members in competitive districts would undoubtedly dampen Democrats' spirits further, party strategists firmly believe that they remain far from the tipping point at which Democratic control of the House is in jeopardy," Roll Call writes.

ARKANSAS: Democratic Rep. Marion Berry, who is retiring from his House seat after this year, said he began reading the tea leaves on the fate of health care last year: "'I began to preach last January that we had already seen this movie and we didn't want to see it again because we know how it comes out,' the congressman told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Berry blamed the current intra-party rancor on the White House's insistence that President Obama's popularity would carry the bill to passage: 'They just kept telling us how good it was going to be,' Berry said. 'The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, 'Well, the big difference here and in '94 was you've got me.' We're going to see how much difference that makes now.'"

"Sen. Blanche Lincoln's office (D-AR) is denying reports that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is allegedly urging her to retire this year, in the face of poll numbers showing her in a tough race," Talking Points Memo reports. "The DSCC also strongly denied the report, in an interview with TPMDC. 'Sen. Blanche Lincoln is running an aggressive campaign in Arkansas, and we have no doubt that she will win,' said DSCC National Press Secretary Deirdre Murphy. This came after the Arkansas Times reported that the DSCC was urging Lincoln to bow out. Such a retirement would hypothetically open the way for a different Democratic candidate, such as fifth-term Rep. Mike Ross or retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark. and

FLORIDA: Marco Rubio leads Charlie Crist, 47%-44%, in Republican primary match up, according to a new Quinnipiac poll.

ILLINOIS: "The election last week of a long-shot Republican, Scott Brown, to the Senate in Massachusetts... has invigorated Republicans" in the similarly blue state of Illinois, the New York Times writes today. "Next Tuesday's statewide primaries -- the first in the nation this year -- have suddenly turned into a pep rally for November and could provide a window into what is to come nationally as the 2010 primary season unfolds," although national Democrats argue that Illinois has the opposite anti-incumbent atmosphere of Massachusetts: Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican frontrunner for the seat President Obama vacated, is seen as the establishment candidate, running against a slew of "outsider" primary challengers and Democratic opponents. 
Seeking to "capitalize on voter discontent against the state's governing class," Democratic Senate candidate David Hoffman released an ad yesterday against frontrunner primary opponent Alexi Giannoulias, the state Treasurer, accusing him of "ethical misconduct and ties to the state's Democratic establishment." And "Giannoulias is wasting no time responding" to Hoffman's ads, releasing his own spot, accusing Hoffman of "making false attacks" and saying "his negative ads won't solve problems or create jobs."
Ethan Hastert looks like he has the edge heading into Tuesday's GOP primary for his dad's old seat.

NEVADA: In the search for a Democratic candidate that could beat the Republican frontrunners in the general election for Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid's seat, a new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll found that Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, a Democrat-turned-Independent, is the only "Democratic" candidate, whose name has been floated recently, with poll numbers that top Republicans Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian, 44-40% and 44-41%, respectively.

PENNSYLVANIA: "Rep. Joe Sestak may want to join Harry Reid in the United States Senate, but he thinks the majority leader could demonstrate, well, better leadership. He also was not bashful about sharply criticizing Sen. Ben Nelson and the rest of the Senate Democrats as lacking courage," Talking Points Memo reports. When asked who in the Senate would make a better majority leader than Harry Reid, Sestak responded, "I don't know them all well enough. I like Jack Reed… No one jumps to mind."