David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

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Always interesting poking through the FEC independent expenditure reports filed late on Fridays.

The NRCC, spending like a drunk sailor, reported laying out another $7 million.

Let me hit some of the highlights. These aren't the biggest buys from that $7 million pot, but the NRCC is spending money in places you don't expect to see the GOP having to marshall its resources:

CO-5: The NRCC has made what appears to be its first expenditure in this race, almost $150,000 for a seat which Democrats have never held. A SurveyUSA poll released October 19 showed Democrat Jay Fawcett down by 13 percentage points, but a Mason-Dixon poll released October 10 showed him tied with Republican candidate Doug Lamborn. If the spread were still 13, you wouldn't see the NRCC spending that kind of money here. The race is to fill the seat by the retiring moderate Republican Joel Hefley, who has refused to endorse Lamborn.

NV-3: In yet another sign that GOP incumbent Jon Porter is in trouble, the NRCC has just put almost $400,000 into this race to attack Tessa Hafen.

NV-2: For every dime the GOP spends here, say a little prayer for Chrissy Mazzeo, the cocktail waitress who has accused Jim Gibbons, the GOP incumbent, of propositioning/accosting her in a Vegas parking garage on Friday the 13th. Gibbons is running for governor of Nevada, but before the Mazzeo encounter, the NRCC had not spent a cent on this open-seat race. Since then, it just spent almost half a million dollars, about $230,000 of that coming in the last couple of days.

Wyoming: Yes, Wyoming! Friday the NRCC made its first foray into the race for the lone House seat in blood-red Wyoming, with a $241,000 ad buy against Democrat Gary Trauner, who is challenging Rep. Barbara Cubin. A Mason-Dixon poll about 10 days ago showed Cubin up by 7 percentage points. But that was before she threatened to slap a man in a wheelchair. Shoot a man in the face. Threaten to slap a wheelchair-bound man in the face. It's been a tough year for Wyoming Republicans.

One other race that is reported to be tightening is the Nebraska 3rd in western Nebraska, where Coach Tom Osborne is retiring. The Dems have not held a congressional seat in central or western Nebraska since 1958, but there are indications that the NRCC is poised to put money into this race.

TPM readers on the ground in any of these districts, let us hear from you.

More outside money is flowing into the NV-03, where Tessa Hafen is mounting an unexpectedly stiff challenge to Republican incumbent Jon Porter. The Democratic 527 group, VoteVets, whose ads this year include this one about insufficient body armor in Iraq, spent a quarter of a million dollars this week for attack ads on Porter, according to FEC reports filed yesterday.

The fight is on in New Jersey. The RNC yesterday dropped $3 million into the Senate race for attack ads on Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

Did Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, the GOP's write-in candidate for Tom Delay's old seat, break Texas election laws by campaigning inside a polling station this week?

Poll watcher Jane Borden Matcha said Sekula-Gibbs entered the polling place inside the First Colony Conference Center on Thursday.

"I was dumbfounded because she marched right up to me and said ‘Hi, I’m Shelley Sekula-Gibbs’ …and it was my understanding that candidates are not allowed in the polling place unless they're voting," Borden Matcha said.

. . .

"I had gone inside to go the bathroom," said Sekula-Gibbs. "I was definitely not campaigning."

Who can blame her for hanging out at polling stations? The poor woman has about the worst name imaginable for a write-in candidate. Actually, what I think she said was, "Hi, I'm S-H-E-L-L-E-Y space S-E-K-U-L-A hyphen G-I-B-B-S."

The current budget deficit? Clinton's fault.

So says Rep. John "Animal House" Sweeney (R-NY):

The deficit is actually a result of a recession that began in his administration. We are exponentially paying down the deficit in an accelerated time frame.

Mark Foley started trying to diddle pages during Clinton's administration, so I guess we should blame Clinton for that, too.

That splashing sound is the rats jumping overboard:

Corporate America is already thinking beyond Election Day, increasing its share of last-minute donations to Democratic candidates and quietly devising strategies for how to work with Democrats if they win control of Congress.

The shift in political giving, for the first 18 days of October, has not been this pronounced in the final stages of a campaign since 1994, when Republicans swept control of the House for the first time in four decades.

. . .

An analysis by The New York Times of contributions from Oct. 1 to 18, the latest data available, shows that donations to Republicans from corporate political action committees dropped by 11 percentage points in favor of Democratic candidates, compared with corporate giving from January through September.

Republicans still received 57 percent of contributions, compared with 43 percent for Democrats, but it was the first double-digit October switch since 1994.

Hedging time.

The race in the NV-3rd just keeps getting more interesting:

Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., made dozens of campaign fundraising phone calls last spring from his district and Washington, D.C., offices, according to a former Porter staffer and e-mails obtained by the Sun.

The former staffer, Jim Shepard, a 10-year veteran of Capitol Hill who worked briefly for Porter this year, said he witnessed Porter making the calls on at least five different dates last spring. Such calls would violate federal election laws and House ethics rules.

Porter's top congressional aide strongly denied that the congressman made such calls.

Porter is being challenged by Democrat Tessa Hafen in a race that appears to have tightened recent days.

You haven't truly made a pop cultural impact until you start showing up on eBay.

Mark Foley, come on down! You have achieved eBay status.

Looks like the Mark Foley action figure is drawing some bids.

Thanks to TPM Reader TS for the tip.

Katrina has become a post-apocalyptic American nightmare for those living in the disaster zone, or dying there, or neither living nor dying but stumbling through the carnage like zombies.

Chris Rose is a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. His columns since Katrina and the ensuing flood of New Orleans have been an unblinking look at what passes for life in the Crescent City. At times angry, bitter, and despondent, yet still mustering occassional hopefulness, Rose, through his column, has been a lifeline for those who want to know what is really happening in the city beyond the narrow frame of TV cameras.

The personal toll on those covering the storm and its aftermath has been too little documented. The Times-Pic, whose main office was flooded in the storm, forcing its temporary evacuation, has faced challenges that no modern American newspaper has ever endured. A few weeks ago, one its photographers attempted suicide by cop. Fortunately for all involved, he was well-known and respected by the police, and they showed a level of restraint that was heroic, even as he tried to provoke them into killing him by using his car as a weapon.

Today, Chris Rose has a column that describes in agonizing detail his own descent into depression last fall as the days after the storm turned to weeks and months. Like most of us would, he resisted entreaties from his family and co-workers to get help. He went a year without treatment, 360 straight days of crying. It is, as such things are, a very personal tale. One man. One family. One city.

It breaks your heart. But it also makes me mad as hell. Mad that this slow-motion disaster of broken levees and shattered lives happened in the first place. Mad that the disaster is still happening, a feckless governmental response dragging out the misery and the suffering just as if the fetid water were still pouring through the levee breaches. Mad that in the face of this overwhelming catastrophe at home we are spending by some estimates $246 million a day to create a catastrophe in Iraq. Mad that in light of all of this ineptitude and indifference the party in power has a chance, a very real chance, of retaining some or even all of its power in the first national election since Katrina.

But Chris Rose did not intend for his column today to be a springboard to a political rant. It is just his personal story. You ought to go read it.