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The midterms: The stimulus 91

Democrats have been starting to hammer Republicans, who have touted the stimulus' benefits while in their districts -- despite voting against it. By the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's count, 91 House Republicans, or 51% of the whole House GOP conference, have taken credit for bills they opposed.

The Hill covers the story this way: "Congressional Democrats are celebrating what they say was their best week politically since Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts on Jan. 19. After playing defense on the economy, the stimulus and healthcare for much of the past year, Democrats went on the offensive this week. Democrats took advantage of the one-year anniversary of the passage of the economic stimulus package and a slow news week to blast Republicans for claiming credit for stimulus funds they opposed."

The Outsiders: "Chris Coons wants to be a Democratic Senate incumbent. But don't mistake him for one just yet," the Washington Post says. "Coons, the New Castle County executive in Delaware, is one of a handful of Democrats vying to win races in open seats that could swing the balance of power in the Senate. These challengers are seizing on the sour national mood to cast themselves as reform-minded outsiders, willing to drive a wedge between themselves and Democratic leaders as they vow to shake up the political establishment that their party controls."

"In Missouri, Democratic candidate Robin Carnahan pronounced "I'm disappointed" when President Obama released his budget early this month. "Missouri families have to balance their checkbooks, and our government should be no different," Carnahan lectured the White House. In Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal shrugged off the prospect of an Obama campaign visit as "an open question" and has steered clear of Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, whose poor reelection prospects contributed to his decision to retire. "I have been independent of Senator Dodd and everyone else in Washington," Blumenthal, the state attorney general, told Yale University students last week.

"It is this message the public is demanding, said Democratic pollster Geoffrey Garin. 'This is a change electorate, much as it was in 2008, and the thing they want to change is how Washington works,' he said." 

FLORIDA: "Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Fla.) will debate his primary opponent for the Republican Senate nomination on national TV next month. Crist and Rubio have both agreed to appear on Fox News Sunday on March 28th. The Crist campaign has agreed to a Meet the Press appearance as well, originally schedule for March 7th, but Rubio will only agree to a Meet appearance if it's televised AFTER Fox."

IOWA: A new Des Moines Register poll finds that "approval for U.S. Sens. Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin has fallen again in recent months, to new all-time lows," with Grassley's at 54% and Harkin's at 51%. The poll also found that 45% of Iowans are inclined to vote for their Congressional incumbent, while 45% say they would like to replace them.

NEW YORK:  The New York Times on Gov. David Paterson's campaign kickoff this weekend: "[He] returned to his boyhood hometown on Saturday and defiantly proclaimed his candidacy for election, portraying himself as a champion of New Yorkers struggling with discrimination and economic hardship." The Times also notes that Paterson "has lower job-approval ratings now than his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, did on the day after Mr. Spitzer was implicated in a prostitution scandal."

The Washington Post: "Reflecting the possibility of an internal party fight, the lone politician on stage with Paterson on Saturday was the mayor of the village of Hempstead, Wayne Hall. Some Nassau County Democratic legislators and other local officials were in the audience."   

The New York Post on Sunday asked: "What if David Paterson ran for governor and nobody noticed? Saddled with an anemic campaign bank account and nose-diving popularity, Paterson declared himself the man to beat at a campaign kickoff in Hempstead, LI, yesterday -- bereft of the Democratic establishment whose help he badly needs to win September's primary. A crowd of about 400 -- including a few dozen reporters and camera people -- witnessed the event, at which the governor took swings at 'pundits and politicians' who say he's going to lose." 

The New York Daily News' Saltonstall on Gillibrand vs. Ford: "Harold Ford's maybe-I-will, maybe-I-won't stance on jumping into the Senate race has been a boon for one person -- his likely opponent, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, experts say."  

And Mort Zuckerman hasn't ruled out a Senate run. He'd either run as an independent or a Republican. 

PENNSYLVANIA: "Rep. Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) said yesterday that the White House offered him a federal job in an effort to dissuade him from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in the state's Democratic primary," the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday. "Sestak would not elaborate on the circumstances and seemed chagrined after blurting out 'yes' to [the] ... direct question."

SOUTH DAKOTA: Ex-Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney campaigned for GOP Sen. John Thune on Friday, where "both insisted the campaign at hand is Thune's re-election bid this year and not the prelude to a possible presidential run for either of them in 2012."

TEXAS: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, running to unseat Gov. Rick Perry, told the New York Times that in order to win against Perry, who is favored to win re-election, 'I need for the November Republicans to turn out in the primary.'"