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The midterms: Kirk's service, Scott's money

AP's Espo: “It's midway through President Barack Obama's term, and high unemployment, an outbreak of anti-incumbent fever and political history are pointing to strong Republican gains in the fall. Yet to a degree unimaginable a few months ago, the party's fate is tied to conservatives with tea party support, scant or no political experience, and views or backgrounds that are largely unknown to statewide electorates.”

“As the midterm elections near, Democrats have been forced to confront more directly the possibility that their House majority is in danger,” The Hill writes. “And now, front-line members of the Democratic caucus are being asked to sound the warning of a GOP takeback, hoping enough of the electorate will be convinced to keep Democrats in power.”

Rothenberg Political Report’s Nathan Gonzales makes a good point that just because the NRCC didn't get its preferred candidates in some races not to write those off automatically as Democratic wins in the fall. And he says look no further than 2006 for proof of that when Democrats won in some places where they didn't get their preferred candidate.

“Senate Republicans, positioned for significant gains but hoping a volatile political climate doesn’t turn against them, intend to add the “check and balance” argument to their messaging arsenal,” Roll Call writes.

ARIZONA: 'Broken Windows,' Broken Metaphors: Arizona Sen. candidate J.D. Hayworth (R), who is challenging incumbent John McCain, took some liberties on Meet the Press citing New York's "Broken Windows" policy out of context. It's true that as mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani (R) went after what was considered small crimes -- turnstile jumpers, jaywalkers, graffiti, squeegee men, prostitution. But to equate that to immigration is a false comparison. Mid-90s Mayor Giuliani (pre-presidential candidate) famously had this to say in 1994, per the New York Times: "Some of the hardest-working and most productive people in this city are undocumented aliens. If you come here and you work hard and you happen to be in an undocumented status, you're one of the people who we want in this city. You're somebody that we want to protect, and we want you to get out from under what is often a life of being like a fugitive, which is really unfair."

CALIFORNIA: CQ: "A Boxer-Fiorina race would test whether a self-described economic and social-issue conservative Republican can prevail in a Democratic-leaning state where successful statewide Republican candidates, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, more often than not have tacked to the political center."

FLORIDA: “Faster than you can say multimillionaire, [Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Bill McCollum’s] aura of inevitability was shattered by a political neophyte who started spending money like Florida has never seen,” the Miami Herald writes. “By the end of next week, controversial businessman Rick Scott of Naples will have spent about $11 million on TV and radio ads over six weeks -- more than Charlie Crist spent overall in his lavishly funded 2006 primary against Tom Gallagher. Scott is on pace to spend $30 million by the Aug. 24 primary.”

ILLINOIS: “The Republican candidate for President Obama’s old Senate seat inaccurately claimed to have received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award for service during NATO's conflict with Serbia in the late 1990s,” the Washington Post reported Sunday. Rather than Rep. Mark Kirk be given the award, bestowed yearly, upon an individual, “[a] professional group, the National Military Intelligence Association, gave Kirk's unit -- based in Aviano, Italy -- an award for outstanding service in 2000.”

“Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who did not endorse anyone in the Democratic primary, is flirting with the idea of backing Republican nominee Mark Kirk in the general election,” instead of Giannoulias, Politico writes.

“Dogged for weeks by his family bank's implosion, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias on Wednesday finally got something he has sought since winning the Feb. 2 primary -- a warm embrace from the White House,” the Chicago Tribune writes. On Saturday “to a crowd the White House estimated at 2,000, Obama noted the presence of ‘treasurer and soon-to-be-senator Alexi Giannoulias.’”

In the flap over Mark Kirk’s military service, an adviser to Kirk says, “He misidentified the award he won and acknowledged as much. Not an exaggeration as there is no hierarchy between these awards as the Taylor Intelligence Award is equally distinguished.” He added, “We are not going to let an ethically-challenged, failed mob banker who cost the FDIC hundreds of millions when his bank collapsed and the state of Illinois tens of millions when he squandered college savings money to criticize the honorable and distinguished service record of a Naval officer when the only uniform he has ever worn was for a basketball team."

INDIANA: Stu Rothenberg reflects on the life and time of Mike Sodrel, the perpetual candidate, who lost his primary bid for yet another run against Baron Hill.

NEVADA: NPR jumps into the Nevada Senate race and Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid’s chances.

Republican candidate Sue Lowden writes an op-ed for Politico, in which she defends her now-infamous chicken bartering observation: I want to set the record straight, clarify my position and shed light on the real motives behind this attack. The comment I made about bartering was not, and was never intended to be, a policy proposal. It was an example of how struggling families are working to pay for medical care in any way they can during these tough times.”

And the Las Vegas Sun reports that Democratic political action committee Patriot Majority is up with a new ad featuring man-on-the-street lampoons of Lowden’s comments.