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Off to the races: Bill Young retires

FLORIDA: Tampa Bay Times: " U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, Florida's longest-serving and most influential member of Congress, whose skill at obtaining federal money has been a boon to the state but also a source of controversy, said Wednesday he will retire when his term ends in 2014." 

NBC's Jessica Taylor notes that the now-open seat is a "top pick-up opportunity" for Democrats "for a seat that’s vexed them for years. Young, 82, had previously waved off speculation each cycle he was retiring, but" said Wednesday "he wouldn’t seek an 23rd term, citing not just health problems but a growing frustration with gridlock in Congress."

KENTUCKY: Louisville Courier Journal: "As the federal government moves into its 10th day of a shutdown, with an imminent debt failure looming, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is taking flak from both the right and the left."

NEW JERSEY: Gov. Chris Christie (R) is up over Democrat Barbara Buono (D) 62%-33% in the race for governor. By a 59-33% margin, though, voters say the state legislature should override Christie’s veto blocking legalization of same-sex marriage. Overwhelming numbers of Democrats and independents are for the override, but a majority of Republicans are not.

Republican Steve Lonegan went after Cory Booker (D) in the Senate race and also went after the city of Newark, where Booker is mayor, calling it a “‘big black hole’ that fills a nearby river with "bodies floating around from shooting victims," Politico notes. And he pitted the suburbs and rural areas versus cities, saying, “The taxpayers in the suburbs and rural areas of this state have been ripped off now for 30 years. They gave us a sales tax. They said that was going to cut property taxes. Then they passed an income tax and that was going to cut property taxes. All that income tax and sales tax money gets poured into the big black hole of Newark.”

Newark Star-Ledger: "Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan apparently did not hug and make up after last week’s tense U.S. Senate debate. Wednesday night, both emerged from their campaign corners and came out swinging for round two: a debate with even more heated arguments over crime, abortion, the economy and gay marriage that stirred controversy, raised grisly visuals and sometimes threatened to get out of hand."

NBC'S Andrew Rafferty: "The Republican attempted to hit Booker on the issue of crime throughout the night, arguing he has failed to keep his city safe. At one point, while discussing environmental regulations, Lonegan suggested that Newark residents were unable to swim in a local river not because of pollution, but 'because of all the bodies floating around from shooting victims in your city.'"

UTAH: Salt Lake City Tribune: "More than half of Utah voters now disapprove of the performance of Utah Sen. Mike Lee, with support for the junior senator dropping significantly in recent months, a new poll shows. The survey also finds that 57 percent of Utahns want Lee, whose crusade against funding Obamacare helped bring about a budget impasse and the shutdown of the federal government, to be more conciliatory and compromise on a budget, even if it means funding President Barack Obama’s signature health care law."

VIRGINIA: Terry McAuliffe (D) has opened up a 47%-39% lead over Ken Cuccinelli (R) in the race for governor, according to a Quinnipiac poll. It was McAuliffe up narrowly 44%-41% a month ago. He’s up 53%-34% with women. And maybe the key paragraph from the poll release: “Cuccinelli is too conservative, 46 percent of Virginia likely voters say, while 7 percent say he is too liberal and 37 percent say he is ‘about right.’ McAuliffe is too liberal, 38 percent of voters say, while 2 percent say he is too conservative and 48 percent say he is ‘about right.’”

Those who cover the governor’s race were in a tizzy yesterday about a story that McAuliffe lied to federal investigators, but the story was later retracted.

Washington Post notes the poll "also has bad news for Libertarian Robert Sarvis, who now looks unlikely to participate in the final debate of the contest on Oct. 24, at Virginia Tech....Under an agreement negotiated by Cuccinelli, McAuliffe and the Virginia Tech debate’s sponsor -- WDBJ (Channel 7) in Roanoke — Sarvis needed to be polling at 10 percent or above as of Thursday in order to be given a spot on stage."

Richmond Times-Dispatch: "Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli took to the Internet today to blast Democrat Terry McAuliffe's plans to invest in education, transportation, health care and energy, saying the Democrat's proposals would amount to either 'higher taxes or broken promises.' Cuccinelli said McAuliffe's proposals would cost $14 billion to fund over four years, costing the average Virginia family an additional $1,700 in taxes a year."

"The Gabrielle Giffords-backed group Americans for Responsible Solutions will invest heavily in the final weeks of Virginia’s off-year elections and is poised to launch a campaign program targeting the statewide races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general," Politico reports.