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The midterms: Hayworth plays defense

ARIZONA: It's never good when your kick-off ad features your wife lamenting negative ads and saying you're "not perfect." But that's the backdrop of J.D. Hayworth's first ad after getting pummeled on air and in the press by McCain's campaign. "Tired of John McCain's negative ads? So am I," Hayworth's wife, Mary, says right before turning off her flat-screen TV. "I'm Mary Hayworth, and John McCain is hiding his record behind false attacks on my husband. John McCain has sold out the people of Arizona on immigration, bailouts and tax increases. Now, John McCain has embraced character assassination to keep his job. John McCain should be ashamed. J.D.'s not perfect but he is a principled conservative."

Politico's Jonathan Martin wrote yesterday, "To inoculate himself [McCain's] run from the, yes, maverick image he nurtured for years and perhaps done lasting damage to his brand. But it may have won him six more years in the Senate."

CALIFORNIA: A new Field Poll shows Barbara Boxer leading Carly Fiorina by just three points, 47%-44%, in the state’s Senate contest. “At the same time, her job approval rating is among the lowest that Field has measured for her since she was first elected to the Senate in 1992: 43 percent of registered voters disapprove of her performance while 42 percent approve. Among likely voters, 48 percent disapprove and 42 percent approve,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. “While voters' responses to a pollster in July may change by the time they vote in November, the new poll shows that whether voters love or hate her, 93 percent hold an opinion about Boxer. ‘She is vulnerable,’ Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said. ‘This is very ominous for her.’”

COLORADO: Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff is up with a new ad calling Washington a “rigged casino” and vowing to “shut the casino down.”

GEORGIA: In a new ad introducing himself to voters, gubernatorial candidate and former Rep. Nathan Deal lists the pieces of President Obama’s agenda that he voted against, as well as his plans to replicate the Arizona illegal immigration law in his state: “Liberals won’t like it when I empower local law enforcement to help deport illegal aliens,” Deal says in the ad.

LOUISIANA: As both Senate candidates filed campaign papers yesterday, “Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon says he’s expecting a ‘very dirty’ campaign as he tries to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, but Vitter says he will focus on issues,” the Monroe News Star reports. When asked whether he would make Vitter’s dealings with prostitutes an issue on the trail, Melancon said, “I’m not planning to make it part of my campaign.”

NEVADA: "Sen. Harry Reid opposes Arizona's new border law and has proposed an alternative in Congress. But he declined Wednesday to take a stand on the Obama's administration's lawsuit against the state," The Las Vegas Journal-Review reports. "Reid, D-Nev., declined to offer support or to distance himself from the Justice Department's challenge of the Arizona law as unconstitutional. 'That's the administration's decision,' Reid spokesman Jon Summers said when asked for Reid's views on the lawsuit and whether he agreed with it." And: "Democratic Rep. Dina Titus also questioned the suit, saying it would do little to solve the root problems of immigration." Titus is sure to be in a tough reelection fight.

OHIO: “The Republican Governors Association is using a new TV ad to blame Gov. Ted Strickland for [self service technology company] NCR Corp.’s move from Dayton to Georgia,” the Dayton Daily News writes.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Joe Wilson's Democratic opponent is raising money in DC today.

TEXAS: Democrat Bill White and Libertarian Kathie Glass, “two candidates for Texas governor criticized the current office holder during a forum in Kerrville that turned to taxes and accountability,” the AP writes. “[Gov. Rick] Perry has refused to appear with White until the Democratic candidate makes public more of his tax returns.”