Campaign '06: In Final Days, Parties Dream of Senate Upsets

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Democrats and Republicans have each picked a state where they're hoping for a November Surprise and have begun pouring buzzer-beating money into Senate contests that have not been on anyone's toss-up list.

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For Democrats, the hope for an upset is Arizona, where incumbent Sen. Jon Kyl (R), has looked safe from the Democratic challenger, shopping mall developer Jim Pederson.

For Republicans, the long shot is Michigan, where the National Republican Senatorial Committee is throwing a $900,000 lifeline to Mike Bouchard, a sheriff challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D).

In Arizona, Kyl would only lose in a national typhoon. But Democrats are acting confident and Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is touting an "expanding Senate playing field." Pederson, the Democrat, has mounted an attack focusing on Iraq and special interests. The conservative Kyl has focused on "Arizona accomplishments" and expertise on terrorism.

In Michigan, Stabenow has led handily in polls and fundraising. Bouchard, with the slogan "Results for a Change," began running the nationally financed ads yesterday, and reaches out to younger voters tonight by appearing with Kid Rock. Democrats say it's too late, and that Stabenow has used her cash advantage to build a lead and define Bouchard.

Republicans hope for an upset in Michigan because an anti-incumbent tide could benefit the G.O.P. in a state where both U.S. Senators and the Governor are Democrats. That is one of the races that will help illuminate whether any wave this year is anti-incumbent, or just anti-Republican. The G.O.P. is also making offensive moves in New Jersey, where Tom Kean Jr. is profiting from corruption charges against incumbent Robert Menendez, and Maryland, where Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is running on change against Democrat Ben Cardin, a 10-termer in the U.S. House.

In other Senate races, two struggling Republicans are both running ads acknowledging public frustration with Iraq. In Washington State, Republican Mike McGavick, former chief executive of an insurance giant, is using the tag line "Real. Change" to challenge freshman Sen. Maria Cantwell (D), who has supported the war. A new McGavick ad uses the President's former "stay the course" mantra as a slur against Cantwell and says: "President Bush doesn't understand our frustrations." In Minnesota, three-term Rep. Mark Kennedy (R) is gaining on prosecutor Amy Klobuchar (D) with an ad that tries to level with voters. "None of us like war. And we've made some mistakes in Iraq," the ad says. "Leaving Iraq now will create a breeding ground for new attacks on America." His close is one of the year's most memorable: "I'm Mark Kennedy.... I approve this message even though I know it may not be what you want to hear."