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8:11 AM PT: CT-Sen: Ruh-roh. Roll Call's Abby Livingston reports that the DSCC is coming in to Connecticut with a $320,000 ad buy to help Chris Murphy, who has found himself locked in a tossup with Republican Linda McMahon in recent polling. The sum isn't big, and it may just be a small precautionary gesture, but it could also be a sign that more outside assistance will be necessary to keep this race in the blue column. And either way, it shows that national Democrats are taking the McMahon threat seriously.

In other news, McMahon secured the ballot line for the state's Independent Party; because Connecticut has fusion voting, voters will be able to pull the lever for McMahon either on the Republican line or the Independent line. For a polarizing figure like McMahon, that's a real bonus, because people who aren't comfortable voting for a Republican can still cast a ballot for her as a psychologically "safer" independent.

8:24 AM PT: But McMahon might have over-reached on at least one front. A former C-SPAN scholar, Ilona Nickels, is furious that a McMahon mailer took remarks she made to a newspaper out of context—and when I say "out of context," I really do mean it here. In a story on Murphy's attendance at committee hearings, Nickels said:

"Every failure to attend can't be chalked up to, he's a lazy SOB. He doesn't want to do his work. He's a slacker. Members are overtaxed."
So what did McMahon's flyer say?
CT-Sen Misleading Linda McMahon mailer
Nickels, in a letter to the McMahon campaign, has demanded that they "cease and desist using my words in such a blatant out of context and dishonest manner." Naturally, McMahon is trying to just brazen it out.

Meanwhile, Brian Lockhart at the Stamford Advocate did some actual reporting and learned that "experts agreed available evidence does not support" McMahon's bogus claims that Murphy "got a sweetheart deal or engaged in a quid-pro-quo arrangement with the bank" that gave him a home equity line of credit. McMahon is obviously trying to turn this non-story into a repeat of the Countrywide loan controversy that helped sink ex-Sen. Chris Dodd's political career, but there just aren't any similarities here.

8:52 AM PT: WI-01: As we saw from reports a day earlier, Paul Ryan's hedging his bets as far as that whole VP gambit is concerned and actually running ads for his House re-election campaign. Here's his first spot, in which he gratingly lectures a group of people at a coffee shop about how "[w]e don't want a government-controlled society."

9:08 AM PT: And buried in this story are a few scant details about a recent Ryan internal poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies which had him up 58-33 over Democrat Rod Zerban. I can't understand why Ryan wouldn't have touted this louder to deter speculation that he feels threatened by Zerban. Then again, he was always going to be stuck with the "why is he pursuing his backup plan?" narrative no matter what.

9:25 AM PT: MA-06: We have our first independent poll of the hotly contested MA-06 race, conducted by MassINC Polling Group on behalf of WBUR. They find Dem Rep. John Tierney up 46-34 over Republican Richard Tisei when leaners are pressed (the incumbent's lead starts off at 39-32 without including leaners). Tierney's favorables, at 35-30, are not as bad as I might have feared, while Tisei is still mostly unknown at 29-13. And the survey's presidential toplines are certainly not overly-rosy for Democrats: Obama leads Romney 47-37, in a district he carried by 16 four years ago. Statewide polling's been kind of scattered, but that drop seems plausible. All in all, if I were Tierney, I'd take these numbers.

9:53 AM PT: RI-01: The DCCC conducted another one of their one-night in-house robopolls, just a day before Rhode Island's primary. Dem Rep. David Cicilline handily turned back an intra-party challenge on Tuesday from self-described "conservative Democrat" Anthony Gemma, 62-30, but he has a tougher fight on his hands in November. The D-Trip's survey puts Cicilline up 49-43 over former state police chief Brendan Doherty, and hopefully, Cicilline really is that close to the 50% mark. The poll didn't include presidential toplines, but the memo does mention that respondents were asked how they voted in 2008, saying they went for Obama by 33 points. That's basically the same as the president's actual 35-point margin, which seems optimistic, since you'd expect Obama's performance this year to fall off from his first effort.

10:01 AM PT (David Jarman): FL-Sen: SurveyUSA's previous Florida sample two months ago was one of the weirdest polls of the cycle -- they had Barack Obama leading by 5 points, which seemed unusually good, but at the exact same time, they had Bill Nelson trailing Connie Mack IV by 6, which was not only the biggest lead Mack had ever seen but baffling, considering that every other poll before and after has had Nelson overperforming Obama. Well, SurveyUSA seems to have rectified that with their newest Sunshine State offering, which finds the presidential race in a similar place (Obama leading 48-44) but Nelson doing fine against Mack, leading 47-36 (a 17-point "turnaround"). Maybe Nelson's advertising has been successful in driving up Mack's negatives (which now stand at 25/37), but I suspect they somehow stumbled last time across a disproportionately large patch of the state's few Obama/Mack voters.

All hope's not lost for Mack, though; he's getting $1 million in ad support from Freedom PAC. As you might expect, there are multiple Freedom PACs running around, but according to Politico, it's the one that's funded by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and Swift-Boater/Texas developer Bob Perry. The ad, a highlight reel of Mack's GOP convention speech, will be running in the Tampa and Orlando markets only

10:10 AM PT: NM-Sen: Another day, another good poll for Democrat Martin Heinrich. He's now legged out to a 50-41 lead over Heather Wilson in PPP's latest survey, up from 48-43 in mid-July. Obama's doing well, too: He, too, held only a five-point edge the last time PPP was in the field, but now he's dominating Romney 53-42.

10:54 AM PT: FL-16: GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan's lawyers say that the Dept. of Justice has ended its inquiry into Buchanan's campaign finances and will not bring any charges. The DoJ, of course, is not commenting.

11:02 AM PT: Ads: I'm still trying to track down YouTube accounts for a number of House campaigns. (And I've already gotten a bunch of help—thanks!) My remaining list is at the link. If you know of any, please post `em in comments. Thank you!

11:13 AM PT: Minnesota: PPP's latest batch of Minnesota miscellany has some disheartening numbers on the issue of gay marriage. As you may know, a proposed constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage will go before voters this November. PPP finds 48% favoring the ban and 47% opposing it, which is down from 49-43 opposition in June. The generic legislative ballot has also tightened considerably, goin from a wide 48-36 Democratic lead in June to just a 47-44 edge now.

12:00 PM PT (David Jarman): WA-Gov: The latest fundraising numbers from Washington (which requires monthly disclosures in statewide races) show, just like most other months, near-parity between Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna on the money front. Inslee raised $1.2 million (though $270K of that was a transfer from the state Democratic party), while McKenna raised $1 million. Inslee has $3.4 mil on hand, while McKenna has $3.7 mil. Inslee's fundraising should get a jolt on Saturday the 15th, though, with a fundraising appearance by Bill Clinton in Seattle.

12:04 PM PT (David Jarman): PA-St. House: The Dems lost control of the state House in Pennsylvania in 2010 (hence the terribly gerrymandered U.S. House map we got), and they need to flip 14 seats to re-take control this year. That sounds like a lot, but the chamber has 203 members and small constituencies, so there's always the potential for lots of churn. PoliticsPA has a helpful preview of the 10 most competitive races; unfortunately, there are still a number of Dem-held seats on the list, in places in red-trending western Pennsylvania with retiring Dem old-timers.

12:13 PM PT: Here's a better link on that Ryan internal.

12:56 PM PT (David Jarman): MT-Sen, MT-AL: Public Policy Polling is out with a new sample of the Montana Senate race, where they've tended to see Dem incumbent Jon Tester with a small lead (he was up 5 in their previous poll), Rasmussen tends to give GOPer Denny Rehberg a small lead... and as for a tie-breaker, well, we just don't know, because nobody else ever seems to poll here. Today, PPP continues to find Tester leading, though it's a bit smaller now, with him ahead 45-43. Montanans like neither candidate much (Tester's at 46/48 approvals, Rehberg with 42/52), and they have their respective bases locked down, but Tester's edge among independents (41-33) gives him the lead overall.

In the state's open-seat, at-large House race, Republican Steve Daines leads Dem Kim Gillan only 40-37. If it's truly that competitive I'm a little surprised not to see third-party groups playing here (especially since it's a cheap media state), especially since the two candidates are little-known and some advertising would go a long way to defining them. At the top of the ticket, Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama 50-45, though that's down to 46-43 with Gary Johnson at 3 when factoring in the Libertarian.

1:15 PM PT:Ads:

AZ-Sen: Democrat Rich Carmona says that "Republicans and Democrats both got it wrong" on healthcare.

CT-Sen: Here's that DSCC ad going after Republican Linda McMahon (see separate CT-Sen item above). The spot hits her for laying off " 10 percent of her employees—even workers in Connecticut—and didn't pay Medicare, Social Security and unemployment for her wrestlers." Democrat Chris Murphy also has a new spot that is thematically identical.

Meanwhile, McMahon attacks Murphy for allegedly voting to jeopardize defense jobs in Connecticut. Murphy explains in a press release that the roll calls in question were for "national defense bills that Murphy opposed because they included an open-ended timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan."

HI-Sen: Like many other politicians, Democrat Mazie Hirono took down her campaign ads on Tuesday, out of respect for 9/11 remembrances. But she busted Linda Lingle for failing to do the same. You can catch Lingle's crappy attack ad (about Hirono allegedly missing votes) at the 1:13 mark in this TV capture.

MA-Sen: Democrat Elizabeth Warren's new ad features a narrator talking about how she'll fight on behalf of the little guy, along with clips of regular citizens saying the same thing. The spot appears to reflect a contemplated shift in messaging reported by the Boston Globe, relying "more on the voices of voters from all walks of life," rather than the somewhat more didactic ads Warren's run previously, where she talks directly to the camera.

2:16 PM PT (Steve Singiser): ARIZONA: Well, lookee here: perhaps veteran blowhard and Republican birther-in-chief Joe Arpaio's big mouth might actually be exacting a toll on his political fortunes.

A new poll, from Switchboard Communications on behalf of his opponent (Democrat Paul Penzone) shows Arpaio with only a slight edge over his challenger. In the poll, Arpaio is at just under 45 percent, with Penzone at 39 percent. A potential saving grace for the loathesome Arpaio: the presence of an independent candidate (Mike Stauffer), who is drawing 8 percent of the vote. A related article on the poll noted that Arpaio's unfavorables were just shy of 50 percent.

2:24 PM PT (David Jarman): WA-Gov: Hot on the heels of Tuesday's SurveyUSA poll giving Dem Jay Inslee a 5-point lead over GOPer Rob McKenna comes a new poll from Public Policy Polling (on behalf of Washington Conservation Voters) finding Inslee with a barely-different 6-point lead. They have Inslee up 48-42. (And cross-checking the presidential results shows that it's not an overly-Dem-friendly sample; they also find Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney by "only" 53-42. Actual 2008 results in Washington were 57-40.)

2:30 PM PT:FL-Sen: GOP Rep. Connie Mack tries to attack Dem Sen. Bill Nelson over those bogus "$700 billion in cuts to Medicare." Crummy production values.

NV-Sen: Three new ads from Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley. In the first, Berkley speaks out passionately on behalf of the unemployed and why supporting unemployment benefits is the right thing. The second pushes back against the usual "cuts to Medicare" lies and attacks GOP Sen. Dean Heller over the Ryan plan. The third is in Spanish and talks about the DREAM Act. Heller also has an awfully-edited Spanish-language ad featuring two women complaining about energy prices.

PA-Sen: Dem Sen. Bob Casey uses a clip of Tom Smith saying he's started his own tea party group and attacks him for supporting Social Security privatization and the Medicare-ending Ryan plan. Great imagery of a spinning teacup with Smith's mug on the side ("is Tom Smith your cup of tea?").

VA-Sen: Democrat Tim Kaine goes on the attack, contrasting his record as governor with George Allen's record as governor (and senator). Meanwhile, Allen offers a paean to a "better future" that's "free of excessive regulations and taxes" and where we "stop the devastating defense cuts" that Congressional Republicans of course agreed to.

WI-Sen: The DSCC attacks Tommy Thompson for going Washington and selling out regular folks to become a highly-paid lobbyist. Meanwhile, Thompson offers some platitudes.

2:46 PM PT: Ads:

IN-Gov: Continuing a theme of past ads, GOP Rep. Mike Pence goes positive and mostly non-partisan, focusing on jobs.

MT-Gov: In his first general election ad, GOP ex-Rep. Rick Hill touts his humble upbringing in a "one-room apartment" and mentions that he contracted polio as a kid before launching into some platitudes about Montana. Meanwhile, AFSCME attacks Hill for voting to cut Medicare while in Congress. (Note this isn't Ryan-related, as Hill served in the `90s.)

NC-Gov: In his first ad, Democrat Walter Dalton says he's "not slick or fancy" and says he wanted to end job outsourcing, education cuts, and "unfair tax cuts for big corporations." Republican Pat McCrory complains about the high cost of gas and says he wants to "unleash" North Carolina's natural resources.

WV-Gov: Doesn't the RGA have more competitive races to worry about? I guess they're probing for weaknesses in this new spot that tries to compare Dem Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's state-level healthcare plan to (what else?) "Obamacare."

3:28 PM PT: Ads:

AZ-02: A constituent who suffered what she calls the "perfect storm" of an illness and a job change which put her home at risk praises Dem Rep. Ron Barber for helping her sort out her mortgage issues and keep her house.

CA-10: Democrat Jose Hernandez nails GOP Rep. Jeff Denham for an amateur screwup: At the end of this Medicare-related attack ad, Denham recites the standard "I approve this message" incantation, but fails to include a written approval notice on screen, as required by law. Hernandez says that Denham pulled the ad, but I presume they'll be back up with an amended spot shortly.

CA-21: Democrat John Hernandez wants to "put jobs first."

CA-26: Democrat Julia Brownley attacks Tony Strickland as a foot-solider in the war on women (opposed the Violence Against Women Act and contraceptive coverage), contrasting his record with her own.

3:47 PM PT:IA-03: GOP Rep. Tom Latham attacks Dem Rep. Leonard Boswell for voting for TARP and the stimulus, and for the usual "cut Medicare" lie.

IA-04: GOP Rep. Steve King tries to soften his image, with Marilyn King saying: "He's had one wife, one house and one church for forty years. And I'm that one wife." Also, check out his awesome sideburns in the first frame.

IL-13: Democrat David Gill's first ad is a nice introductory spot, talking about his humble upbringing (working as a dish-washer at age 13 after his father died). The narrator mentions that Gill, a physician, has "never been on a public payroll"—a contrast to his Republican opponent, former congressional staffer Rodney David.

IL-17: Democrat Cheri Bustos goes after GOP Rep. Bobby Schilling for wanting to "keep using our tax dollars to reward companies shipping jobs overseas."

IN-08: GOP Rep. Larry Buchson promises to repeal Obamacare because "as a heart surgeon, I know that the relationship between patient and doctor is sacred."

3:54 PM PT: Polltopia: PPP is conducting a boatload of polls this weekend, in Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia and Wisconsin. As per usual, Tom Jensen is looking for question suggestions in all of these states, so head on over to PPP's website and post your ideas at the link.

4:31 PM PT:MA-06: Dem Rep. John Tierney does his best to shred Richard Tisei's image as a "moderate" Republican, unearthing several statements of Tisei's which show him pretty friendly to the tea party agenda. Size of the buy: A huge $525K in the Boston media market. Part of the purchase is being paid for by the DCCC.

ME-02: Republican Kevin Raye touts his efforts toward bipartisanship and tries to tie himself to retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe, whom he worked for for 17 years.

NC-07: If you didn't know Rep. Mike McIntyre was a member of the Democratic caucus, you'd assume this ad was for a Republican. A local pharmacist/deacon praises McIntyre as a "strong conservative and Christian" who "leads a bipartisan prayer group" and is "endorsed by the NRA."

NJ-03: Democrat Shelley Adler tries to use GOP Rep. Jon Runyan's past as an NFL lineman as a hook for bashing his record in Congress. A couple of mock sports announcers use some football metaphors ("still blocking like a pro!") to dig Runyan on healthcare.

NV-03: The DCCC slams GOP Rep. Joe Heck for voting against requiring insurance companies to pay for a vaccine that helps prevent cervical cancer vaccine. Size of the buy: $133K.

4:43 PM PT: DCCC: Here's a big honking independent expenditure report from the DCCC, totaling over $2 million across 16 districts. Click through for the details.

5:05 PM PT:NY-21: Dem Rep. Bill Owens tries to play a little Obamacare ju-jitsu, defending his vote for the Affordable Care Act by saying "we can't go back to letting the insurance industry deny care for pre-existing conditions."

NY-25: Dem Rep. Louise Slaughter is apparently leaving nothing to chance and is going negative on Maggie Brooks. Slaughter hits Brooks for mismanagement of Monroe County, where she serves as executive, reciting a dizzying array of screwups and scandals.

OH-16: Annoyingly, GOP Rep. Jim Renacci has two YouTube accounts, and he just re-uploaded an ad that he first started airing two weeks ago. (Luckily, I decided to Google it, because his claims were so irritating.) He does appear to have a new spot, though, complaining about third-party attack ads in general. Amusingly, AFSCME is up with a new ad of its own, attacking Renacci on a variety of grounds, but mostly for going Washington.

PA-08: Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick says he wants to "balanc[e] the budget" and "reduc[e] wasteful regulations" in his first ad.

PA-12: Dem Rep. Mark Critz says he fought "President Obama's EPA" to get an air shaft built at a coal mine that would have created 700 jobs. He could stand to work on his laconic delivery.

5:19 PM PT:SD-AL: GOP Rep. Kristi Noem's first ad attacks the national debt and spending. Also, she bounces up and down on a horse in slow-motion at the end. Speaking of farm animals, Democrat Matt Varilek compares Congress to a herd of cattle and says sometimes it takes "a little prodding to get results."

UT-04: Republican Mia Love goes hyper-literal, featuring a potted tree with dollar bills for leaves (remember, money doesn't actually grow on them!) and her slicing through a fat piece of red caution tape with a pair of scissors.

WV-03: Dem Rep. Nick Rahall says he "stood up to the Obama EPA" when "coal mining jobs were threatened." He also wants "big corporations and Wall Street millionaires" to "pay their fair share."

HMP: The House Majority PAC is going big with a six-district, $2.2 million ad blitz. Their targets: CA-07, IA-04, NC-07, NY-18, OH-06, and WI-07. You can find all the ads at the link.

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