12:24 PM PT (Steve Singiser): California: Something tells me that this is not what the well-intentioned Progressives envisioned a century ago. A piece in Capitol Weekly today underscores how well-funded donors are pouring nearly endless amounts of cash into the slate of popular initiatives (called "Propositions" in California) in hopes of either securing or denying passage. The biggest spender is actually on the left-of-center, as wealthy attorney Molly Munger has thrown $28 million in support of her tax initiative, which is racing with a competing measure boosted by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.
The exceptionally deceptive "reform" measure known as Prop. 32, which would greatly curtail union participation in elective politics while leaving corporate entities essentially untouched, has predictably seen a boatload of money sent its way, as well. Among the benefactors? None other than the Koch brothers, who just tossed an additional seven-figure donation into the kitty.
And lest you think that money in these initiative battles isn't everything, I would ask you to reflect back just four short months ago, when a $40+ million ad blitz by the tobacco industry managed to smother an increase in the cigarette tax in California, as it was narrowly defeated in the June primary.
12:36 PM PT: Race Ratings:
• AR-01 (Likely R to Safe R): Democrats did pretty much everything wrong in Arkansas this cycle, from not bothering to draft a decent map in redistricting to letting Mike Ross announce his retirement after the map-making process was complete. Above it all, though, are Team Blue's massive recruitment failures, which yielded weak candidates in all three districts held by Democrats until just a cycle ago: the 1st, 2nd, and 4th. AR-01 held perhaps the last bit of promise, but GOP Rep. Rick Crawford's absolutely swamped prosecutor Scott Ellington on the fundraising front, leaving Ellington with peanuts. A recent independent poll showed the incumbent up 53-28, and national Dems have shown little interest in Ellington's candidacy.
• FL-02 (Likely R to Lean R): We're as surprised as anyone to be making this move, especially since we made the reverse change at the end of August. But we were wrong about the DCCC's interest in this race, and now both party committees are spending here. And it all seems sparked by a newly-released D-Trip internal from mid-September that has the contest tied between GOP Rep. Steve Southerland and Democrat Al Lawson. This is still tough territory that's home to a lot of conservative Dems, but FL-02 is now officially interesting.
• FL-10 (Likely R to Lean R): GOP Rep. Daniel Webster got a lot of help in redistricting, seeing his seat shift from +6 Obama to +5 McCain. But Democrats landed a strong recruit in former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings, who has actually outraised Webster by a healthy margin and has more cash in the bank. Dem-aligned groups (the House Majority PAC, SEIU, and EMILY's List) must think there's a real chance here, since they've spent $600K already, with nary a penny from the GOP. So Republicans either feel supremely confident, or they're taking a major risk here (or perhaps they're about to start shelling out dough). Either way, a new DCCC poll showed Demings behind by 46-41, and Wesbter's response was... non-responsive. An upset is definitely possible here.
• FL-26 (Tossup to Lean D): GOP Rep. David Rivera is all but doomed. Even though he managed to skate on a series of ethics charges, he apparently couldn't help but keep up his crooked ways and illegally bankrolled a fake candidate in the Democratic primary to harry Joe Garcia. Garcia won the nomination anyway, and now the whole scandal has blown up—and taken Rivera down with it. With a series of polls showing the Democrat with dominant leads, local Republicans are openly casting about for a candidate to take on Garcia in 2014.
• NJ-07 (Likely R to Safe R): Deputy Assembly Speaker Upendra Chivukula seemed like an interesting recruit for Democrats, particularly since he's shown an ability to tap into the strong network of Indian-American donors eager to send one of their number back to Congress. But it would probably take a wave election to unseat GOP Rep. Leonard Lance, who saw his district get shored up by about eight points in redistricting. Outside groups have not gotten involved here.
1:09 PM PT: Campaign Finance: In a surprising ruling, a federal judge struck down Montana's campaign finance contribution limits, just a month before election day. As Rick Hasen notes, the judge offered little in the way of explanation, only promising a lengthier opinion at some point in the future, which leads Hasen to think that the state's chances of getting an emergency stay at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals are pretty good. It's also a chance for Dem AG Steve Bullock, who is running for governor, to once again make an issue out of the huge sums of outside money pouring into Montana elections. If the ruling stands, though, it would certainly hurt Bullock and other Democrats; while, as I say, third-party groups have been spending heavily, campaigns are entitled to much cheaper advertising rates, which is why conservative interests are fighting Montana's laws in the first place.
2:00 PM PT: AZ-Sen: Politico's Alexander Burns reports that the DSCC is doubling down on its TV expenditures on behalf of Democrat Rich Carmona, throwing in another half mil on top of the $526K they've already invested. On top of that, Burns says the DS has spent $500K in coordinated (as opposed to independent) expenditures, working in concert with the Carmona campaign. That number sounds a bit too high, though, since according to the FEC, the 2012 limit in Arizona is $443K.
2:11 PM PT: IN-Sen: Another Democratic group has just jumped into the Indiana Senate race on behalf of Rep. Joe Donnelly: The veterans group VoteVets, which is spending $300K to air a new TV ad. On one level, it's similar to a devastating new Majority PAC spot that slams Richard "Howlin' Mad" Mourdock for saying "I didn't take a pledge that I would support every job in Indiana" and then castigating him for fighting the Chrysler bailout. The VoteVets ad cites the same issues, but it's narrated by an Iraq & Afghanistan vet who delivers some serious added oomph, saying that Mourdock "would have killed thousands of jobs here—jobs that returning veterans like me could use." Damn.
3:33 PM PT: 3Q Fundraising:
• CT-Sen: Chris Murphy (D): $3 mil raised
• WA-Sen: Maria Cantwell (D-inc): $1 mil raised, $2 mil cash-on-hand
• AZ-09: Kyrsten Sinema (D): $775K raised, "somewhere north of" $275K cash-on-hand
• CT-05: Andrew Roraback (R): $555K raised
• FL-10: Val Demings (D): $500K raised
• FL-13: Bill Young (R-inc): $408K raised
• NH-02: Annie Kuster (D): $720K raised
• NY-27: Kathy Hochul (D-inc): $730K raised
• WI-01: Paul Ryan (R-inc): $567K raised, $4 mil cash-on-hand; Rob Zerban: $770K raised
3:40 PM PT: Ads:
• AZ-Sen: Rich Carmona (D)
• AZ-Sen: NRSC (R)
• CT-Sen: DSCC (D)
• IN-Sen: DSCC (D)
• MT-Sen: DSCC (D)
• MT-Sen: Jon Tester (D)
• MT-Sen: Majority PAC (D)
• MT-Sen: NRSC (R)
• ND-Sen: NRSC (R)
• WA-Sen: Maria Cantwell (D)
• WI-Sen: Americans for Prosperity (R)
3:41 PM PT: Ads:
• IN-Gov: John Gregg (D)
3:42 PM PT: Ads:
• CA-24: Abel Maldonado (R)
• CA-36: Mary Bono Mack (R)
• CA-39: America Shining (D) (in Chinese)
• FL-02: DCCC (D)
• FL-02: DCCC (D)
• FL-18: Allen West (R)
• IA-01: Bruce Braley (D)
• IA-03: Tom Latham (R)
• IL-08: Tammy Duckworth (D)
• IL-08: Tammy Duckworth (D)
• IL-11: Chamber of Commerce (R)
• IL-12: Chamber of Commerce (R)
• IL-17: Bobby Schilling (D)
• IL-17: Chamber of Commerce (R)
• IN-02: Brendan Mullen (D)
• IN-02: Jackie Walorski (R)
• MA-06: Chamber of Commerce (R)
• ME-02: Kevin Raye (R)
• NY-19: SEIU (D)
• NY-21: Matt Doheny (R)
• OH-16: Betty Sutton (D)
• TX-14: Nick Lampson (D)
• WA-06: Derek Kilmer (D)
• WI-01: Rob Zerban (D)