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Democratic National Committee transfers total $20 million

1. Amid a Republican fundraising surge at the candidate level, the Democratic National Committee has funneled $5.5 million to national party committees and targeted states already this month -- and more than $20 million in the election to date.

The two largest contributions this month -- $1.8 million each -- went to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Both committees have now taken in a total of $6.6 million in transfers from the DNC.

So far this month, the national party committee also doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to seven states with targeted races.

Ohio received a $500,000 transfer -- the governor's race is a major priority for both parties -- while Wisconsin ($300,000), Minnesota ($250,000), New Hampshire ($250,000), Oregon ($233,000) and Maine ($200,000) also took in large DNC donations.

Interestingly, the DNC also dropped $100,000 in South Carolina, where party strategists believe they have a chance of upsetting state Rep. Nikki Haley (R) in the governor's race. That sum was deemed insufficient by some Democrats in the Palmetto State.

In 2010, the DNC has transferred more than $1 million to Ohio ($1.3 million) and Florida ($1.26 million). Georgia is the third--largest recipient of DNC largess, taking in $750,000 so far this year -- money aimed at strengthening the comeback bid of former Gov. Roy Barnes (D).

The DNC's channeling of campaign cash to party committees and states should help Democrats fight back against the massive infusion of campaign cash that top Republican Senate and House candidates have enjoyed over the past few months.

The DNC's transfer numbers are also likely to shine a light on the continued financial struggles of the Republican National Committee under the leadership of Chairman Michael Steele.

2. A new Republican poll shows Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) in a statistical tie with her GOP challenger, former state Sen. Dino Rossi, with a little more than two weeks remaining until Election Day.

The Moore Information poll, which was conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and obtained by The Fix, shows Rossi taking 47 percent to Murray's 46 percent among likely voters. When only the most likely voters are sampled, Rossi leads Murray 50 percent to 45 percent.

The survey also shows Rossi is viewed favorably by 47 percent of likely voters and unfavorably by 44 percent; Murray is viewed favorably by 46 percent of likely voters and unfavorably by 46 percent.

The Moore poll comes on the heels of an independent poll in the race showing Murray leading Rossi 50 percent to 42 percent.

The race is a top priority for both national party committees as well as the White House. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee went up with new TV ads in the race late last week. Vice President Joe Biden stumps for Murray on Tuesday, and President Barack Obama campaigns for her Thursday.

The two candidates faced off Sunday night in their second debate in Seattle.

3. The Kentucky Senate race took its most bitter turn yet on Sunday night as Democratic state Attorney General Jack Conway and ophthalmologist Rand Paul (R) traded jabs at each others' character during their latest debate.

Much of the back-and-forth focused on a new TV ad released by Conway's campaign that focuses on several controversial episodes from Paul's college years, including reports from anonymous classmate of Paul's that the candidate once tied her up and told her to smoke pot and worship "Aqua Buddha."

The spot mentions the latter controversy directly and also takes aim at Paul's religion, asking, "Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Holy Bible 'a hoax,' that was banned for mocking Christianity and Christ?'

Paul mentioned the ad in his opening statement, telling Conway: "You should be ashamed of yourself. You should apologize. Have you no decency? Have you no shame?" At the close of the debate, Paul refused to shake hands with Conway, declaring, "I will not be associated with someone who attacks my religion."

Conway reiterated the accusations made in the ad against Paul. "Why did he freely join a group known for mocking, for making fun of people with faith?" Conway asked the audience. "And secondly, when is it ever a good idea to tie up a woman and ask her to kneel before a false idol, your god, which you call Aqua Buddha?"

Paul's camp is launching a response ad stating that Conway is "attacking Rand Paul's faith."

"Rand Paul keeps Christ in his heart, and in the life he shares with his wife and three boys. Don't be fooled by Conway's desperate attack," the ad's narrator says, adding that Conway would "bear false witness against another man just to win an election."

The race to succeed Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) was contentious from the start. But with Sunday's debate and both candidates' new ads, it looks as though it's on track to be one of this cycle's most acrimonious.

4. The House playing field keeps growing, with the national party committees spending money in nine new districts over the weekend.

The National Republican Congressional Committee made its biggest expenditures so far on Friday and Saturday, putting $11.8 million into 61 districts, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The NRCC spent the vast majority of the money on advertising, but also dropped a significant amount of cash on polling to gauge how competitive some races will be down the stretch.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent about $500,000 on 16 districts, including its first expenditures to protect four incumbents -- Reps. David Loebsack (Iowa), Jim Costa (Calif.), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) and Lincoln Davis (Tenn.).

Republicans responded by putting money of their own into Davis' district -- $308,000 worth -- a sign party strategists believe that physician Scott DesJarlais (R) can pull off an upset in a strongly conservative district.

Republicans put money into five other new districts, including one where they will have to play defense. The new districts are held by incumbent Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), Mark Critz (D-Pa.), Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) and Charles Djou (R-Hawaii).

Critz and Djou won special elections in May. Djou's seat is only the second district where Republicans have spent money on defense.

5. Got plans tonight? Cancel them. It's the last "Politics and Pints" -- our once-a-month night of political trivia and libations.

Sound too good to be true? It's not! The fun starts at 7 p.m. tonight at the Capitol Lounge. But, get there early to make sure you get a table. Don't worry if you don't have a team, we'll pair you up with some good folks.

Make sure to sign up on our Facebook event page -- and see you there.

With Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake

By Chris Cillizza  | October 18, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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