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Off to the races: Lhota holds nothing back

Billy House: “As the House and Senate begin a budget conference next week for the first time in four years, what kind of negotiator will [Paul Ryan] be? The answer may lie in what Ryan, whose political future appears both bright and clouded, wants to do next. A Ryan interested in serving as speaker, after a short stint perhaps as Ways and Means Committee chairman, may handle negotiations differently than one who plans to run for president in 2016. Either way, the negotiations and their outcome could have an impact on the Wisconsin congressman’s future, presenting both opportunities and risks.”

CNN: “According to a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday, 64% of Americans say they have an unfavorable view of the GOP, an all-time high dating back to 1992 when CNN first asked the question. Only three in 10 say they hold a favorable view of the party.”

MAINE: A former state ACLU director, Shenna Bellows, 38, is launching a Senate bid for the Democratic nomination to take on Sen. Susan Collins (R).

NEW YORK:The New York Times: “His mayoral ambitions slipping away, Joseph J. Lhota shed his sleepy style to unleash a ferocious attack against Bill de Blasio on Tuesday night in an acrid debate that descended into a free-for-all of interruptions, name-calling and indignant lecturing. Mr. Lhota, a Republican, held nothing back, warning that Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, would ‘annihilate’ charter schools, commit a ‘civil wrong’ by raising taxes and take a ‘reckless’ approach to policing. With a jab of his thumb, Mr. Lhota said that Mr. de Blasio’s policies ‘will push us back to where we were’ in New York City’s grimier days of runaway crime. Mr. de Blasio, despite his enormous lead in the polls, appeared frequently rattled by his opponent’s newfound fury, shaking his head, narrowing his eyes in pique and resorting, at times, to pleas for propriety.”

OHIO:Jill Lawrence: “Ohio Gov. John Kasich has kicked up a political storm by circumventing his legislature to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Conservatives don't like Obamacare, the expansion, or the techniques by which their determined Republican governor made it happen, and they're already challenging him in court. Yet Kasich may have strengthened his hand going into his 2014 reelection race. And should he decide to pursue higher ambitions, a solid victory next year in his purple presidential swing state could hasten forgiveness from GOP primary voters -- or a nominee in search of a ticketmate -- in 2016.”

VIRGINIA: Terry McAuliffe (D) leads Ken Cuccinelli (R) for governor 46-39%, according to a Quinnipiac poll.