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Republican Governors Association launches ads in New Hampshire

1. The Republican Governors Association is going on television with ads attacking Gov. John Lynch (D), a sign that that national GOPers believe the Granite State is in play.

The ad, which will go up statewide -- including the pricey Boston media market -- today, features a series of testimonials about Lynch's spending habits in office.

"I think John Lynch is a very nice man," says one woman. "Unfortunately he has not been able to say no to the state legislature and stop the spending." Another woman say: "My kids are going to pay for John Lynch's inability to say no."

The RGA's buy is for a week and will cost them roughly $370,000. It's not clear whether they will stay on the airwaves after next week.

Several recent polls have suggested that Lynch, who won re-election in 2008 with a stratospheric 70 percent, is in a genuinely competitive race against Republican John Stephen .

On Thursday, the Cook Political Report, a non-partisan political handicapping service, moved the New Hampshire governor's race from "Solid Democrat" to "Toss Up"; "Voters don't appear to dislike Lynch, or seem particularly unhappy with the job he has done," wrote Cook's Jennifer Duffy. "Instead Lynch is feeling the impact of the overall political environment."

(That phenomenon is not dissimilar to what happened in Maryland in 2006 when then Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) lost to Martin O'Malley (D) despite polls that showed the state's voters felt warmly toward the incumbent. Ehrlich simply couldn't survive the strong Democratic winds blowing through his state.)

National Republicans believe that they could score a series of surprising gubernatorial wins in the typically Democratic Northeast as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine all of which are now seen as competitive contests.

2. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) predicted Thursday that his party will hold the Senate after November's election.

"The one prediction that I will make is that, (after) Nov. 2, Democrats will be in the majority in the United States Senate," Menendez said at a luncheon hosted by the National Press Club.

Republicans would have to gain 10 seats in order to retake the majority. While the GOP technically has enough Democratic seats in play -- 13 if you count Delaware, Menendez pointed out that his committee still aims to play offense in Republican-held states like Missouri and Kentucky, too.

Menendez's counterpart at the luncheon, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas), also had a prediction. He said that the consternation caused by the tea party movement during GOP primaries earlier this year will lead to a surge in GOP enthusiasm in November.

"I predict that the stormy weather we've seen in the primary season will lead to a tsunami on Election Day," Cornyn said, adding later: "As much as Bob enjoyed the turbulence of the primaries, I think they've underestimated what's coming at them."

Menendez responded by saying that he didn't think the tea party, in itself, is bad for Republicans, but simply that it has led to extreme Republican nominees in a number of races.

3. Republican Kelly Ayotte has taken a 15-point lead on Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes in the open New Hampshire Senate race, according to a new Granite State Poll from the University of New Hampshire.

The poll shows Ayotte, the former state attorney general who a close primary fight earlier this month, expanding on her eight-point lead from July. She now leads Hodes 50 percent to 35 percent.

The last time the UNH poll showed Ayotte with a 15-point margin was back in April and Democrats had hoped that a hard-fought primary would either damage her or deliver Republicans a less attractive candidate.

Instead, Ayotte's unfavorable rating has risen only marginally since July while her favorable rating climbed at a slightly better pace. She is now viewed favorably by 41 percent of voters and unfavorably by 29 percent.

Meanwhile, Hodes's unfavorable rating inexplicably jumped eight points over that same span. He now has 29 percent favorability and a 39 percent unfavorable rating.

The Granite State Poll, on top of another poll this week showing Ayotte up double digits, suggest one of Democrats' opportunities to play offense might be getting away from them.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has so far designated money for TV ads for GOP-held seats in Missouri and Kentucky. It has not yet done so in New Hampshire where Sen. Judd Gregg (R) is retiring.

4. The Service Employees International Union is launching a hard-hitting Spanish-language TV ad against former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, hitting the Republican gubernatorial nominee for employing an undocumented worker as her housekeeper.

"Whitman attacks undocumented workers to win votes, but an undocumented woman worked in her home for nine years," the narrator of the 30-second spot says.

The ad references Nicky Diaz, the housekeeper who worked for Whitman and her husband, Dr. Griffith Harsh, and was fired last year after she told them that she was an undocumented immigrant.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing Diaz, held a press conference Thursday morning in which she charged that documents -- including a note she claimed was written to Diaz by Harsh -- prove that Whitman and her husband are lying when they say that they were unaware that Diaz was in the country illegally.

Whitman's campaign has furiously disputed the allegations and insisted that Allred is exploiting Diaz. Tucker Bounds, Whitman's communications manager, told reporters on a conference call that Allred "has offered no evidence, absolutely no evidence, that proves that Ms. Whitman and Dr. Harsh knew that Nicky had fraudulently represented herself as being in this country legally."

The ad is part of a $5 million ad campaign being run by the SEIU in an effort to boost Attorney General Jerry Brown (D), Whitman's rival in the gubernatorial race.

It's unclear whether the accusations will do lasting damage to Whitman's campaign, especially among the Latino community. Latino voters typically lean Democratic, but Whitman has made significant inroads thanks to a large-scale Spanish-language TV and radio ad effort.

A Public Policy Institute of California poll released this week showed Brown taking 32 percent among likely Latino voters, but with Whitman relatively close behind with 25 percent.

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With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  | October 1, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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