The Battle for America 2010: State-by-State Roundup, 9-15-10 (Texas added)

CALIFORNIA

Key Races: Governor, U.S. Senate

Tim Daniel reporting:

While controversy in the Delaware primary is garnering a majority of headlines, plenty of interesting news stories hit the wires this week in California.

First off, the nation's best-funded business advocacy group, the United States Chamber of Commerce, came out swinging in an ad campaign focused on Barbara Boxer.

Many political observers today question "what Congress is smoking these days." Perhaps we know now, as a Boxer senior aid was busted with pot in a Senate office building. There's precedent too -- in 2008 Boxer's senior policy adviser Jeffrey Rosato was busted for child pornography.

Are Fiorina's Farmers Boxer's Dead Fish? This week Carly Fiorina addressed a group of San Francisco tea party activists, noting a key weakness in Barbara Boxer land -- her connection to the Central Valley farmer water shutoff/Endangered Species Act controversy.

Nancy Pelosi, Witch Hunt -- Polling shows him trailing far behind in California's 8th Congressional District, but John Dennis came up with a very clever ad portraying Nancy Pelosi as a Wizard of Oz-inspired "Wicked Witch of the West." The Pelosi camp actually took the ad lightheartedly, and we are looking forward to many more in this series leading up to the November election.

CONNECTICUT

Key Race: US Senate, McMahon (R) vs Blumenthal (D)

Jane Genova reporting:

Connecticut Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, has 53% of likely voters versus former WWE executive Linda McMahon’s 44%, according to the latest Rasmussen poll .  Since March, his poll numbers have ranged from 48% to 60%. Hers had been stuck in the 30s until May, when the New York Times disclosed that Blumenthal had misrepresented his military service.

Overall, current poll numbers show Blumenthal not at the top of his game. This is despite his high-profile victory in removing adult services from Craigslist, heavily covered on Connecticut television. A setback might be that his court win in keeping Pratt & Whitney high-paying jobs in Connecticut seems to be falling apart. The company has been reducing headcount through individual layoffs versus the earlier plan to relocate those jobs out-of-state.

McMahon’s shot at winning is excellent if GOP voters show up on election day. She’s backed by 75% of the state GOP, while Blumenthal is backed by 83% of state Democrats. Recent national polls, ranging from Gallup to NBC/Wall Street Journal, show two things. One is that the GOP could lead with its largest popular vote margin since the 1920s. Two is that registered GOP voters, who usually have a larger number of actual voters than Democrats, are expected to turn out to vote in order to show their disapproval of President Barack Obama.

Interestingly, McMahon’s TV ads have added gravitas. There had been an oddball one which had her close friend, an upper-middle class woman, gushing about McMahon’s great sense of humor and how she knows how to laugh. More recently, the candidate has been depicted in TV commercials as less gregarious and less a member of the privileged class. The ad's focus is on jobs and the content more inclusive of class, race, and ethnic origins.

Blumenthal could lose some of his momentum as a populist now that the Connecticut alternatives noted last week that, just like McMahon, he resides in elite Greenwich. The wealth is from his wife’s family real estate holdings, which include the Empire State Building.

FLORIDA

Key Races: Governor, U.S. Senate

Stephanie Maier reporting:

As Florida’s gubernatorial campaign begins the home stretch, campaigns on both sides of the aisle are still providing few real answers as to what will bring the state out of its current financial crisis. Corporate millionaire and Republican candidate Rick Scott promises to sell the state’s jet as a cost-cutting measure, a move that is still debated by Tallahassee officials such as Agricultural Commissioner Charles Bronson (R), who claims that the sale would severely limit the practical need of government officials to navigate Florida’s large terrain when dealing with emergencies and other official business.

Democrat Alex Sink’s latest television ad accuses Rick Scott of focusing on negative attacks against Obama instead of on Florida’s economic crisis. The Scott campaign says the attacks are necessary because the Obama economic plan is part of the problem in Florida rather than the solution. In a burst of enthusiasm, Scott’s running mate, Rep. Jennifer Carroll (Jacksonville), said last week in a visit to Lakeland’s Republican headquarters that she and Rick Scott were “Batman and Robin, the dynamic duo.”

Both the Scott and Sink campaigns continue to duck the pervading issue as to how they will fix the broken state procurement system responsible for managing one billion dollars in annual contracts.