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Off to the races: Texas abortion law could be headed to Supreme Court

NBCNews.com: “A federal judge Monday ruled that abortion restrictions authorized by Texas lawmakers in July are unconstitutional, and will not be implemented as scheduled on Tuesday.” An appeal of the ruling could wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The New York Times: “A federal judge in Texas on Monday blocked an important part of the state’s restrictive new abortion law, which would have required doctors performing the procedure to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.” More: “Texas officials quickly said they would appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, and Judge Yeakel said that ‘at the end of the day, these issues are going to be decided definitively not by this court, but by either the Circuit or the Supreme Court of the United States.’ Courts in Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota and Wisconsin have blocked similar admitting-privilege requirements as part of the continuing battles over how much states may restrict the right to abortion granted by Roe v. Wade in 1973.”

Charlie Cook says the 2014 election could decide the balance of power in the Senate for years to come. Cook notes that the GOP can't afford to have any weak candidate if they want to win back the Senate: "The reason next year is so make-or-break for Senate Republicans is because in 2016, when all of the seats they won in 2010 come up—they netted a six-seat net gain that year—there will be 24 GOP seats up, compared with only 10 for Democrats, leading to some serious Republican overexposure. Seven of the 24 GOP senators up are hailing from states that Obama carried in 2012. After having had plentiful Democratic targets in 2012 and 2014, it will be Republicans in 2016 who will have the most incumbents in the crosshairs." 

(Bottom line: If the GOP doesn’t win back the Senate in 2014, it’s hard to see how they win it in 2016.)

LOUISIANA: Roll Call: "The Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness over Rep. Bill Cassidy in Louisiana’s GOP primary for Senate, throwing its support behind a conservative underdog in one of the cycle’s most competitive races."

MISSISSIPPI: Joining Senate Conservatives Fund, Club for Growth and the Madison Project, FreedomWorks PAC announced Monday they were also endorsing state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the GOP primary over incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran, who hasn't announced yet whether he's running for a 7th term. FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe in a release: "The Senate needs new blood. It needs leaders who lean on principle, not on praise from the entrenched elite to make decisions, and Chris McDaniel is that kind of man. He led the fight for Mississippi’s lawsuit against ObamaCare and has amassed a strong record in the state Senate. His character as a conservative force is unquestionable. He will be a strong ally for conservatives in the U.S. Senate.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE:The Boston Globe: “Former senator Scott Brown has opened a state political action committee in New Hampshire, a move bound to stir further speculation that the Massachusetts Republican is interested in running for office in the Granite State. Brown, who has been making frequent visits to speak to GOP activists in New Hampshire, registered the People’s Seat PAC Inc. with the New Hampshire secretary of state’s office earlier this month.”

NEW JERSEY: Gov. Chris Christie (R) leads for reelection, 64-31%, over Barbara Buono (D) in a new Quinnipiac poll. By a 48-41% margin, they think he should run for president, but by just a 42-43% margin do they think he’d be a good one.

OHIO: The New York Times on Gov. John Kasich: "He embodies conventional Republican fiscal priorities -- balancing the budget by cutting aid to local governments and education -- but he defies many conservatives in believing government should ensure a strong social safety net."

RHODE ISLAND: Political Wire: “Herbert Claiborne ‘Clay’ Pell IV (D) confirmed that he's actively exploring whether to jump into the 2014 Democratic primary for governor of Rhode Island and expects to make a decision within weeks, WPRI reports. Pell is the grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI) and has never held elected office. He and his wife, the Olympic figure-skater Michelle Kwan, live in Providence.”

From the NBC Senate Madness brackets, in which Pell was a 16-seed: “Pell served in the Senate for more than 35 years (1961-1997), and he’s best known for authoring the legislation creating federal grants for college students -- or Pell Grants.”

TEXAS: Texas Tribune: "After a nationwide search, State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth will tap veteran Democratic strategist Karin Johanson to run her race for Texas governor, her campaign announced Sunday. Johanson managed Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s successful 2012 campaign in Wisconsin and was executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee when her party took control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 midterm elections. The $11.5 million effort was one of the largest congressional voter turnout operations ever, covering 36 congressional districts."

VIRGINIA:AP: “President Barack Obama plans to campaign for Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Terry McAuliffe on Sunday. A spokesman for McAuliffe’s campaign says Obama will join McAuliffe at a rally in northern Virginia.”

Terry McAuliffe (D) has opened up a double-digit lead in a Washington Post poll over Ken Cuccinelli (R) 51-39%.

NBC’s Jessica Taylor and Ali Weinberg were at McAuliffe and Cuccinelli events yesterday. Rand Paul, campaigning for Cuccinelli, “stayed away from the socially conservative rhetoric he used at an earlier rally in Lynchburg. At an earlier at the conservative Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell, Paul said that DNA testing and abortion could lead to eugenics and allow the government to ‘select out the imperfect among us.’”

And get this: “Both Paul and Cuccinelli took the stage with Big Gulps -- a not-so-subtle slam against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose gun control super PAC has dropped $1.1 million into the race’s final weeks to boost McAuliffe, who’s already heavily outspent Cuccinelli on the airwaves. ‘I figured after he got my Big Gulp, he was coming for my guns,’ the Kentucky senator laughed.”

Richmond Times Dispatch: "Democrat Terry McAuliffe has more than double the cash on hand of his opponent for the final week before Election Day, holding $1.6 million, compared with Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s $604,163. McAuliffe raised $8.1 million from Oct. 1 to 23, compared with $2.9 million for Cuccinelli, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics."

Democratic opposition research group American Bridge announced a new paid digital campaign to help Virginia voters locate their polling places. The new site http://letvavote.com/ also highlights GOP records on voting rights.