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8:44 AM PT: DCCC: You're going to want to tear through this: It's the DCCC's latest independent expenditure report, detailing $9.4 million in spending across a ton of races.

9:00 AM PT: IN-Sen: Poor Richard Mourdock. He's spent his whole life living in a bubble, never realizing how ugly his own beliefs are, and now he's finally been exposed to reality:

An emotional Richard Mourdock told fellow Republicans here that this "has been one of the toughest days of my life" as the GOP Senate candidate acknowledged creating "quite a firestorm" from his controversial comments on rape and abortion.

"Today has not been a fun day," a teary-eyed Mourdock told a private dinner meeting of the Hamilton County Republican Party. "Professionally, emotionally, it's been one of the toughest days of my life quite frankly."

"What I said last night I didn't mean obviously to be mistaken but it became a news story," he told the crowd. "For whatever reason, it seemed to further identify me in the public's mind. And if that's the way it is, that's the way it is."

Amusingly, John McCain's managed to blunder his way around this whole mess, too. McCain recently campaigned with Mourdock and was then asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper on Wednesday whether he still planned to continue supporting him. Said McCain:
I think it depends on what he does. If he apologizes and says he misspoke and he was wrong and he asks the people to forgive him, then obviously I'd be the first.
Mourdock had, though, already "apologized" (even if it was a classic no-pology) earlier that day, which forced a McCain spokesman to issue a new statement on Thursday morning saying that McCain is indeed still backing Mourdock.

9:13 AM PT: IL-11: Hey, gay groups supporting GOP Rep. Judy Biggert: Maybe you'd like to get a clue, because this is who you're backing. From Wednesday night's debate with Democrat Bill Foster:

Biggert, who has long campaigned as a social moderate and fiscal conservative, said she has supported civil unions, but as a lawyer, she was concerned about the impact of same-sex marriage on such things as estate law and said it was "a matter for the state."
Her remarks at a post-debate press conference were even more appalling (about 2 minutes into the video):
"Well, I think that, I think that the country is close to this. And, and I think—but there, you know—I think—let's wait and see what the courts have to say. But it is a state issue—you know, we don't have polygamy and bigamy and all of these things in, in the federal government. It's the states that take care of that."
So just to be absolutely clear: Biggert says she is "close to reaching for gay marriages" but is afraid of how such marriages would affect estate law—even though, of course, it's the lack of same-sex marriage laws which prove so vexing in estate matters. She also wants to see "what the courts have to say" rather than take a stand herself. And oh yeah, she compared gay marriage to polygamy and bigamy. Some "moderate" she is. At least Foster's response was hilarious:
Foster, a former congressman who opposed same-sex marriage two years ago in one newspaper questionnaire, said he supported "marriage equality" and was "not ambiguous" on the issue.

"She has not yet evolved. So, she's crawling out of the swamp or something," said Foster, a scientist, after the debate. Asked if he, too, had evolved on the issue, Foster replied, "I'm all dry, fluffed off and happy to be a hominid."

9:19 AM PT: DSCC: The DSCC also has a hefty new IE report, covering $7.8 million in spending. There was also a separate filing for $580K in Nevada.

9:24 AM PT: MN-Sen: C-SPAN's Howard Mortman reminds us that Thursday is the tenth anniversary (or what Jews would call the yahrtzeit) of Paul Wellstone's tragic death in an airplane crash just weeks before the 2002 elections.

 

9:34 AM PT: Polltopia: Poll respondents are not representative of voters in general, at least prior to the final weeks of the election, so we haven't really been able to tell who the general electorate wanted to vote for. (Historically, polling in the final weeks has been fairly accurate though, of course.) Instead, the polls have been tracking how much partisan voters want to answer polls. All we know for sure is that the race is fairly close, and always has been. And that's why dreaminonempty thinks there was probably no debate bounce, and no convention bounce, either—at least, not in the way those terms are traditionally used. Click through to see what he means, and the evidence he's using to buttress this theory.

9:39 AM PT: WI-Sen (Mason-Dixon): Tammy Baldwin (D): 47, Tommy Thompson (R): 45; Obama 48-46. Note: This poll is a week old (in the field 10/15-17), but only went up on RCP earlier this week.

10:08 AM PT: MT-Gov: A state judge in Montana has temporarily ordered Republican Rick Hill to stop spending a questionable $500,000 campaign donation and to cancel any ad buys that were paid for with this money. So what's the backstory here? How the heck could Hill land such an enormous contribution? The Missoulian explains:

[Democrat Steve] Bullock has argued that the $500,000 donation received by Hill's campaign illegally exceeds the $22,600 maximum aggregate limit that a political party can give to a candidate for governor.

Hill disagreed. He said he legally received the donation Oct. 4 during a six-day window when state contribution limits, including the aggregate one, were struck down by a federal judge and before they were reinstated by an appeals court.

But Bullock's lawyer contended that the $22,600 aggregate limit for party donations applies for the entire campaign.

We mentioned that weird, six-day gap in an earlier digest—and evidently, Hill was eager to exploit it, with the Montana Republican Party plowing that half a mil directly into his coffers. (Why couldn't the MT GOP just spend it themselves? They could, but Hill, as a candidate, is entitled to cheaper ad rates.) As I noted, this is not a permanent injunction, but the judge won't hear oral arguments until Monday, scarcely a week before election day. So even if Hill gets a favorable final ruling, he'll have limited time to make use of all that extra cash. And either way, he's taken a bad p.r. hit, since the ongoing abrogation of Montana's strict campaign finance laws doesn't tend to play well in a state that, until very recently, could proudly point to its efforts to keep money out of politics.

10:58 AM PT: OH-Sen: After initially refusing to comment on Richard Mourdock's instantly-infamous rape remarks—even though Dave Catanese read them aloud to him—Republican Josh Mandel has now pulled a real winner out of his hat:

INGRAHAM: What's your take on that whole deal yesterday?

MANDEL: I've gotten to know Richard because we're both state treasurers. We're treasurers in states next to each other. He's a gentleman. He's a class act. He's a thoughtful guy. He'll make a great United States senator. Yesterday he apologized for his comments and I think he was right in apologizing for them. I disagree with the comments he made, and I think he did the right thing by apologizing.

But listen. The liberal media will do everything they can to twist and turn things that conservatives say. And you know, I think Richard is a man who would make a terrific United States Senator.

11:01 AM PT (David Jarman): PA-St. Sen.: The easiest pickup for Dems in the Pennsylvania State Senate is looking like a done deal, at this point; in an internal poll from 39th St. Strategies, Democratic candidate Sean Wiley is claiming a 19-point lead, 57-38, over GOPer Janet Anderson in this GOP-held open seat in Erie that leans blue at the presidential level. For the Dems to draw even in the Senate, though, would require four more pickups, which would mean running the table on every race that's even remotely competitive.

11:13 AM PT: AZ-Sen (Rasmussen): Rich Carmona (D): 44 (41), Jeff Flake (R): 50 (47).

NV-Sen (Rasmussen): Shelley Berkley (D): 45 (43), Dean Heller (R-inc): 50 (50).

11:19 AM PT: CA-31: It sure must sting to be Bob Dutton: The former Republican state Senate minority leader is now the target of mailers sent out by his very own state party, blasting him as "big spender" in an effort to boost the fortunes of fellow Republican Rep. Gary Miller. (Thanks to CA's top-two primary, the race in the 31st is an all-GOP affair.) What makes the whole thing so priceless is that Dutton had raised tons of money for the state GOP over the years. But even better: Why the hell are Cali Republicans wasting their very limited resources on an R-vs.-R affair? We should be glad that they aren't spending on a competitive contest.

11:25 AM PT (David Jarman): AK-St. Sen.: One of the most interesting, but easily forgotten, state legislatures is in Alaska, where the state Senate for a number of years has been controlled by a coalition of Democrats and pro-public-works establishment Republicans, with a handful of libertarian and social con-type GOPers deep in the minority. That may change this year, as there's a lot of outside money flowing into Senate races this year, as groups like Alaska Family Action try to take out four of the Senate's Democrats. (I'm not sure how that would break the coalition entirely -- out of the 20 seats in the Senate, 16 are currently held by coalition members -- but it's a start, especially since one of the GOP coalition members, Linda Menard, who represents Wasilla, was defeated by a right-winger in the primary.) While they're using social issues as a wedge, this may come down to (as do all things in Alaska) oil, as the right wing is looking for more votes to back up Gov. Sean Parnell's planned oil tax cuts.

11:53 AM PT: CT-05: We have dueling internals in Connecticut's 5th. Republican Andrew Roraback went first, saying that National Research has him up 45-39 over Elizabeth Esty. In early September, the margin was similar, 42-35. Esty responded with numbers from Garin-Hart-Yang that instead had her on top, 46-42. Both surveys also showed very different numbers in the presidential race: Roraback sees it tied at 46, while Esty has a 53-42 edge for Obama. I feel like the truth is somewhere in between, seeing as the president won here 56-42 in 2008 but has definitely seen his fortunes slip statewide this year.

12:02 PM PT: The Live Digest continues here.

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