NBC’s Jessica Taylor: “Sen. Ted Cruz’s hardline on the government shutdown is forcing Republicans to decide whether to embrace heated rhetoric ahead of the 2014 Senate primaries — music to Harry Reid’s ears… And as the shutdown drags on and Republicans dig in on the debt ceiling, Republicans are only digging the hole deeper, endangering what should be their year to take back the Senate, with early warning shots… The battle is far from over, but already Republicans and Democrats alike are pointing the finger squarely at Cruz, who both sides credit with fueling the strategy of linking Obamacare to the government funding fight — without an obvious exit strategy."
Politico: "Republicans are eager for November 2016 — and not just because Barack Obama’s presidency will be in its final days. It’s when Harry Reid, the man reviled by Republicans for his inflammatory rhetoric and hardball tactics during the government shutdown, could be booted from his Nevada Senate seat. Reid knows it — and he’s quietly plotting his plans more than three years out. In an interview from his Senate office last week, the 73-year-old majority leader insisted he’s running for reelection in 2016. He’s ramping up his campaign organization, and he’s getting ready for the onslaught the GOP is preparing to send his way."
ALABAMA: “The Republican Party’s identity crisis is on full display in a special congressional election in Alabama. A Nov. 5 runoff for the state’s vacant 1st District is emerging as a proxy fight pitting those who argue that the GOP should embrace a conventional, mainstream approach aimed at appealing to a broad spectrum of voters and those who favor a hard-hitting, bombastic approach that excites the conservative base,” Politico writes.
NEW JERSEY: New York Times: "Cory A. Booker is an undisputed star of a new generation of African-American leaders, electrifying liberal audiences with his oratory and charming the social media set with his digital savvy. But the Senate campaign Mr. Booker, a Democrat, is running in New Jersey — at times sputtering, unfocused and entangled in seemingly frivolous skirmishes over Twitter messages involving a stripper — has unnerved his supporters, who thought that a robust and unblemished victory over his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, would catapult him onto the national stage. As his allies move to shore up what was supposed to be a painless path to Congress, the biggest and wealthiest of them, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, will start spending more than $1 million on Monday to broadcast television commercials on Mr. Booker’s behalf, a vast sum to pour into a single candidacy."
"Booker brought in big bucks in the final weeks of his Senate bid in the New Jersey special election. That’s in part thanks to some megawatt help from Hollywood." Roll Call looks at "a number of players in the entertainment industry who contributed toward his $2.58 million total haul for August and September."
PENNSYLVANIA: Allentown Morning Call: "Less than two months after one of his lawyers created a political firestorm by comparing gay marriage to unions of 12-year-olds, Gov. Tom Corbett torched himself with a similar analogy. He compared gay marriage to a union between brother and sister during a TV interview that aired Friday morning....m; Corbett issued a written apology about six hours after the interview aired. He said he did not mean to offend anyone by making a legal argument between sibling wedlock and same-sex marriage because both are illegal under state law."
VIRGINIA: James Hohmann: “That was awkward. In the clearest sign yet of the potent effect of the government shutdown on the Virginia governor’s race, Republican Ken Cuccinelli avoided being photographed with Ted Cruz at a gala they headlined here Saturday night—even leaving before the Texas senator rose to speak. Backstage, a source said, Cuccinelli urged Cruz to work with Democrats to end the federal shutdown. But he did not make that point, or even acknowledge Cruz, in short public comments to some 1,100 social conservatives.”
But: “For his part, Cruz heaped praise on his ‘friend’ Cuccinelli and argued passionately in a 54-minute speech that their party can still win the messaging fight over the shutdown if the people just speak out loudly enough. ‘Ken is smart, he’s principled and he’s fearless,’ said Cruz, in a line that may give the left fodder for attack ads, given how the campaign has gone. ‘And that last characteristic in particular is a rare, rare commodity in elected life. There are so many elected officials in both parties that desperately crave the adulation of the media and the intelligentsia.’”
Washington Post: "The federal government shutdown continued to reverberate across the Potomac River in the Virginia governor’s race Sunday as businessman Terry McAuliffe pointedly called on Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II to denounce the shutdown and one of its key architects, Sen. Ted Cruz. Cuccinelli (R) — a longtime ally of the tea party movement who is running to lead a state fueled by federal spending — made no mention of the shutdown in his remarks at a campaign event."
AP's Bob Lewis: "Cuccinelli last week rolled out what he believes is a game-changer" against McAuliffe: "the Affordable Care Act, or 'Obamacare,' for Cuccinelli's purposes. His loathing for the Democratic-passed law is in many ways his calling card. It was the first action to put him in the national limelight and rocketed him to superhero status among the nation's conservative tea party movement when he became the first state attorney general to sue challenging the law's constitutionality — just one day after Obama signed it. On Tuesday, it became a major feature of Cuccinelli's struggling campaign."
AP: "Coal has emerged as a defining issue in the race for Virginia's governor, and the stark divide between" Cuccinelli and McAuliffe "has grown wider with the release of new federal pollution limits on coal-fired power plants."