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Off to the races: Christie-Buono debate

"At this point, it's both an understatement and a statement of the obvious to say the government-shutdown showdown hasn't been good for the Republican Party," writes the Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib. "But there's an exception to every rule—and in this case, three. That is, three nationally prominent Republicans have improved their standing while their party's has slid backward"--New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. 

Charlie Cook writes that "Increasingly we are seeing more members, in both chambers and both parties, leadership as well as rank and file, who seem to have little sense of customs, traditions, and responsibilities of the institutions that they have been given the honor or privilege to serve. We are seeing more and more behavior and tactics that truly bring disgrace on the institution. Much of the same can be said about this White House as well....There is nothing new about divided government; it has been the rule more than the exception for much of modern history. But how it is handled has changed—we aren't seeing adult behavior from any of the three corners of this House-Senate-White House triumvirate."

NEW JERSEY: The gubernatorial candidates debate tonight, and a Monmouth poll (which is now partially using IVR) shows Gov. Chris Christie (R) up 59-35%. Stockton and Quinnipiac last week had Christie up 33 and 29 points. Christie and Democrat Barbara Buono debate at 8:00 pm ET for 90 minutes at Montclair State University. It will be televised by NJTV and nationally on CSPAN. NBC’s Ron Allen will be a panelist.

Ahead of tomorrow’s Senate special election, Quinnipiac has Cory Booker (D) up 54-40%. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll has Booker up by a wider 58-36% margin.

Booker has been trying to tie Republican Steve Lonegan to House Tea Party Republicans, especially after Lonegan told House Republicans to “hold the line.” President Obama put out a video urging people to vote for Booker.

VIRGINIA: Terry McAuliffe (D) leads Ken Cuccinelli (R) 46-39%. Robert Sarvis takes 11%, including 30% of independents (!!!) in a new Christopher Newport University poll. McAuliffe leads with independents 36-30%. McAuliffe leads by 14 points with women, 51-37%, and he is winning 95% of black voters, which are Obama levels. Cuccinelli also continues to struggle with his own party, as 13% say they are either undecided (6%) or will vote for Sarvis (7%).

The shutdown also appears to be having an impact on Cuccinelli – 13% say the candidates bear some blame for the shutdown, and of those, 47% blame Cuccinelli and 7% blame McAuliffe. Of those impacted by the shutdown, 49% say they are voting for McAuliffe and 34% are voting for Cuccinelli.

Fun fact: If the winner of the race gets less than 50%, it would be the first time in almost half a century that a Virginia gubernatorial candidate would do so. 1965 was the last time when Mills Godwin won with 48%.

Richmond Times-Dispatch: "Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will formally endorse Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate for governor, on Saturday in Falls Church. Clinton will attend a 'Women for Terry' event at The State Theatre. Among others attending the event will be Dorothy McAuliffe; Del. Charniele L. Herring, D-Alexandria, chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia; and Leni Gonzalez, a member of Latinos Con Terry."

Washington Post; "McAuliffe did not publicly disclose his investment with a Rhode Island man who preyed on dying people in forms filed with the state four years ago. A financial disclosure statement that McAuliffe submitted in 2009, during his failed bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, makes no mention of what was then an active investment with Joseph A. Caramadre, who has pleaded guilty to scamming terminally ill people."

WISCONSIN: “The son of a slain Sikh temple president plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan in next year’s congressional election, in a Wisconsin district where support for the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee has been strong but slipping,” AP writes. “Amar Kaleka, 35, told The Associated Press he'll file paperwork Wednesday to form an exploratory congressional committee. He plans to formally announce his candidacy as a Democrat next month.” Kaleka “won an Emmy for his 2010 direction of Jacob’s Turn, about a 4-year-old boy with Down syndrome who joins his first T-ball team.”