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Senate Republicans launch $1 million ad buy in West Virginia

1. The National Republican Senatorial Committee will launch ads in the West Virginia Senate race today, a seven-figure expenditure that strongly suggests the party thinks they can pull off an upset in the Mountain State.

The commercial goes directly at Gov. Joe Manchin (D) -- arguing that the governor "supports Barack Obama's big government agenda" on big ticket items like the economic stimulus package and the health care law.

"Big spending, more government and less freedom...we don't want a rubber stamp for Obama," says the ad's narrator. "We can't afford Joe Manchin in Washington."

The ad will cost the NRSC roughly $1.2 million and will run statewide -- including in the pricey Washington, D.C. media market -- for two weeks, according to sources familiar with the buy.

Republicans have been hinting for the last several weeks that the race between Manchin, a popular second term governor, and wealthy businessman John Raese was surprisingly competitive.

A PPP poll, which conducts its survey using automated rather than live callers, released earlier this week put Raese at 46 percent to 43 percent for Manchin. And, Democrats acknowledge privately that the deep unpopularity of President Obama as well as his major policy initiatives like health care were making it a tougher than expected race for Manchin.

That the NRSC is willing to put its money where its mouth is puts Senate Democrats in an interesting spot. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has a number of endangered incumbents they need to protect in places like Colorado, Wisconsin, California and Nevada -- but also can't afford to ignore a seat like West Virginia where they have a top-tier candidate in a winnable race.

Does the DSCC respond with ads hitting Raese? Or let Manchin handle it on his own?

2. A Democratic-affiliated outside group is going up with a new ad hitting Republican Dino Rossi in the Washington Senate race.

The ad by Commonsense Ten, a political action committee led by Democratic strategists Jim Jordan, Monica Dixon and Jeff Forbes, goes after the two-time gubernatorial candidate for his personal business practices.

"He's running again, and Dino Rossi is still caught up in scandal," the ad says. It goes on to detail property that Rossi bought with lobbyists, an accusation that his bank had "unsound practices," and his speaking gig at a seminar about how to make money off of foreclosures.

The group declined to give exact figures about the size of the buy, saying that it will feature heavy broadcast and cable buys in Seattle and will air on cable statewide.

Rossi appears to have lost a step of late, with the last few polls in the race showing Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) breaking 50 and growing a lead.

Commonsense Ten was launched in June as a response to all the outside groups spending money in favor of Republican candidates across the country. It launched its first ad in the Missouri Senate race last week. According to a filing with the Federal Election Commission, Commonsense Ten spent just over $123,000 on that ad.

3. A new Democratic poll shows Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) nipping at Rep. Roy Blunt's (R) heels in the state's open Senate race.

The Garin Hart Yang poll conducted for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee shows Blunt leading the race 45 percent to 41 percent. Taking out those leaning to either candidate and Blunt is at 41 percent to 40 percent for Carnahan.

The survey echoes another Democratic poll this week conducted for the Missouri Democratic Party by the Global Strategy Group that showed Blunt at 43 percent and Carnahan at 39 percent.

Both the Carnahan camp and the DSCC have been unloading on Blunt on television in recent weeks, attacking him as a tool of a broken status quo in Washington.

There hasn't been much in the way of live interview polling in recent months, but a Missouri State University survey from last month showed the race tied, and a Mason-Dixon poll from July had Blunt up six.

Missouri represents perhaps Democrats' top pickup opportunity in an otherwise difficult year. Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) is retiring.

4. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) is up with a new TV ad in which he acknowledges voter anger and touts himself as a fighter who has stood up to Washington and Wall Street.

"Ohioans are angry, and I'm angry, too," Strickland says in the ad. "Wall Street got their recovery, and executives who outsourced our jobs, they got their bonuses. But we're putting a stop to that, right here in Ohio."

Strickland goes on to say that he's fought to improve education, cut taxes and protect jobs. "I don't work for the Wall Street guys. I work for you," he says as the ad's conclusion.

The last line is a not-so-subtle jab at Strickland's opponent, former Rep. John Kasich (R), who worked at Lehman Brothers following his time in Congress.

Strickland's camp announced the ad on the same day that Kasich received a major endorsement in the race: the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, in its first-ever endorsement in a gubernatorial race, announced that its backing the Republican. The endorsement is a blow to Strickland, who had actively sought the Chamber's support.

Strickland campaign manager Aaron Pickrell downplayed recent poll results showing his candidate fallling behind Kasich on a conference call with reporters Thursday, saying that most public polling has been "extraordinarily inconsistent with what we see" in the campaign's internal polling.

5. Fridays means two -- count 'em, two! -- chances to chat with the Fix.

First, at 10:30 a.m., we'll unveil the winner of our "Worst Week in Washington" award via live video chat. Then at 11 a.m., we'll field question for an hour in our tri-weekly -- Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays -- "Live Fix" chat.

Have a question about the week that was in politics? Or the week to come? Or the best new music out there? Or the current unbeaten streak for the Catholic University field hockey team? We have answers.

See you soon!

With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  | September 24, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: Change is the name of the game in governors races

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