The traditional start of the fall campaign -- Labor Day -- is just about here, and now that most states are done with their primaries, contests for Senate, governor and the House are taking shape. If voters haven't noticed the campaigns until now, they soon will as political advertising begins to glut the airwaves.
Here's a round-up of news from states where the political contests are already intense:
Voters Gird for a Record Onslaught of Political Ads During Governor, Senate Races
Republican newcomer Rick Scott
, who upset state Attorney General Bill McCollum
in the race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, spent $50 million winning that contest, and could end up spending a total of $100 million by the end of the general election campaign, the St. Petersburg Times
The wealthy Scott, a former health-care executive, goes into the fall election season with more money and name recognition than his opponents, Democrat Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, and third-party candidate Lawton "Bud" Chiles, son for former Democratic governor and senator Lawton Chiles.
According to the Times, the Campaign Media Analysis Group estimated that Scott had run so many 30-second commercials so far that it "could take almost 25 days to watch all of them if only one station showed each spot back to back."
"The average TV viewer in the Jacksonville area saw a Scott ad 198 times between April and the primary. Viewers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties -- Florida's most expensive media market -- saw Scott's spots 150 times," the newspaper reported. "In Tampa Bay and the Orlando area: about 266 and 265 times, respectively."
One of the most devastating ads, according to the Times, was one that showed McCollum giving completely different answers to the same question about immigration.
Evan Tracey, of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, told the Miami Herald
that the fall campaign is "going to be a long slog for Florida viewers. You're seeing it nationwide. Voters are angry, so politicians aren't wasting time trying to entertain or sound upbeat. They're going at one another, trying to assign blame, disqualify the opposition and take them out.''
Florida a Key Battleground in Fight to Control the House
Now that the state's primary day is behind it, the congressional contests get under way in earnest, and there are a half dozen closely contested seats in Florida where the outcome may contribute to who controls the House next year, according to the Orlando Sentinel
The newspaper identifies four Democrats as vulnerable: Alan Grayson of Orlando, Suzanne Kosmas of New Smyrna Beach, Allen Boyd of Monticello and Ron Klein of Boca Raton. (Grayson is the lawmaker famous for saying on the House floor
that the Republican health plan was that sick people should "die quickly.") Democrats have opportunities for two open seats vacated by Republicans in south and central Florida.
David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report told the Sentinel, "I expect Republicans to pick up three seats in Florida on their way to the 40 they hope to get nationally. The primaries demonstrated that there is more enthusiasm on the Republican side this year."
Other states are also key battlegrounds, such as Ohio. For a look at the battles over that state's congressional seats, check out the Cleveland Plain Dealer's articles handicapping Republican hopes
and Democratic concerns
Ads on the Nightly Newscasts Soon to Become All Things Political
Florida will hardly be alone among states about to be flooded with a tsunami of campaign ads. The sales manager at a local Kentucky television station tells the Louisville Courier Journal
that it won't be long before all the ads on nightly newscasts in the state will be for or against candidates running for the House and Senate, as well as mayor of Louisville.
An outside-the-state political group has already plunked down $520,000 for a statewide ad purchase, starting with an attack on Democrat Jack Conway (who is opposing Republican Rand Paul) for his support of health-care reform. On the other side, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to spend almost $750,000 targeting voters in Louisville on Conway's behalf, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will spend almost $780,000 on behalf of House candidates.
Top Democrat Says He Won't Vote for Party's Senate Candidate, Alvin Greene
The latest Rasmussen Reports poll
shows GOP Sen. Jim DeMint leading mystery man and Democratic nominee Alvin Greene by 63 percent to 19 percent. Even so, Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3-ranking Democrat in the House, says he's not going to be one of that 19 percent, according to the McClatchy papers
"No, I'm not going to vote for Mr. Greene," Clyburn said. "Look, I have three daughters and a granddaughter. I think it would be an insult to them, if I did that."
Aside from his lack of political background or evidence of having waged much of a real campaign, Greene suffers from having been indicted on a felony charge of disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity, as well as a misdemeanor charge for showing obscene photographs to a female college student.
Brown's Playing-Possum Strategy May Have Worked in Race Against Whitman
Jerry Brown has caught some flak in recent months from fellow Democrats for his strategy of laying low in the governor's race -- some of them felt too low -- while Republican Meg Whitman has poured $104 million into her campaign, which included a primary fight, with $20 million spent on television ads this summer.
But now, the Los Angeles Times
reports that Brown may be finding some vindication with the approach of Labor Day and the traditional start of the general election season because he has managed to stay competitive in the polls despite not airing one ad and rarely appearing on the campaign trail.
GOP strategist Adam Mendelsohn told the Times that "It's a very important point that after Brown not running any campaign, the race is still tied. People are now realizing that Jerry Brown is a tougher candidate than they anticipated, and the fall is going to be a very difficult election. I think some Republicans thought because she had so much money and was running a very competent campaign, they could get themselves 10 or 15 points up" before Brown picked up the pace.
Part of Brown's wait-for-Labor Day strategy was born of necessity -- he has nowhere near Whitman's money, (she made her fortune as chief executive of eBay).
A Public Policy Polling survey
in July found that California voters, by a 52-percent-to-33-percent margin, believed there should be a legal limit on what a candidate can give to his or her own campaign. Fifteen percent were undecided.
Several polls have in fact shown the race to be a real or statistical tie, although the latest, by Rasmussen Reports
, put Whitman ahead by eight points.
Key Primary Looms in September in the Race for David Obey's Seat
There is one more mega-primary day in this election season, with votes set for Sept. 14 in seven states and the District of Columbia. One of the key contests will set up the race to succeed Wisconsin Democratic Rep. David Obey, who decided not to run for re-election.
Obey has been a Democratic institution in Washington and at home, having served 20 terms and rising to head the powerful House Appropriations Committee. When the next Congress is seated, it will be the first time since 1969 that someone else is representing his central Wisconsin district.
State. Sen. Julia Lassa
, a Democrat, and Republican Sean Duffy
are the front runners to win their primaries, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
. Duffy is a county district attorney, not to mention having been a world champion lumberjack and a participant on MTV's reality show, "Real World."
Nearly 5,800 Dead Ohioans Still Registered to Vote
Well, this probably doesn't qualify under our headline about this being a round-up of hot races, especially for the people involved, but a computer analysis of state records by the Columbus Dispatch
found that about 5,800 deceased Ohioans are still on the voter rolls.
The Dispatch said the issue surfaced after the state matched its voter-registration database against records kept by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and found so-called "mismatches." The review is one required by federal lower to verify voter records.
County boards of elections have sent mailings to 221,000 voters statewide, advising them of mismatches between their voter-registration information and their motor-vehicle records, and the Dispatch estimated that 5,800 may have occurred because the individuals were dead. A cross-check of the mismatches with a database of death certificates showed at least 16 voters appeared to have cast ballots after their deaths, the Dispatch said.