-- With the third quarter reporting deadline Saturday, a slew of candidates announced low numbers at the last minute. In Missouri, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman had yet another bad quarter: she reported raising under $100,000, and Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., raised just $280,000 - both falling far short of Sen. Claire McCaskill's, D-Mo., more than $1.2 million haul. Republicans are hoping businessman John Brunner can swoop in and save the day. If he can't, that's a surprisingly weak field against a vulnerable Democratic incumbent. And in New Mexico, two candidates also saved their weak numbers for the end: state Auditor Hector Balderas didn't come close to his previous quarter's performance - or the third quarter performance of his primary competitor, Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. And on the Republican side, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez fell far short of his primary opponent former Rep. Heather Wilson's decent take. -- While former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz has generated the most media buzz over the last few months of all the GOP candidates in the crowded Texas Senate race, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst reminded everyone this week why he is considered a heavy favorite in the Lone Star State. In his first fundraising quarter since joining the race, Dewhurst brought in more than $2.6 million, and he kicked in $2 million of his own money for good measure, leaving him with more than $4 million in the bank. Cruz posted a solid number for the quarter with just over $1 million raised. But he'll need to improve on that number in the fourth quarter if he hopes to have enough money to contend with Dewhurst in a state with several major media markets. -- Wisconsin isn't ready to give up its status as the nation's premier political hotspot just yet. This year, the Badger State played host to a controversial legislative battle over collective bargaining rights for public employees, followed by an unprecedented string of recall elections as Democrats came up just short in their quest to retake control of the state Senate. Things aren't slowing down. This week, Democrats announced plans to undertake an effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker, and both parties said they also will try to recall a new group of state senators. On top of all that, Wisconsin is a key battleground in next year's presidential election, and the contest to succeed Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., is shaping up as one of the nation's most competitive Senate races. -- Democrats rolled out a slate of 60 congressional recruits, making their case that they're in a strong position to take back the House next year. But many of them are running in Democratic-held seats, or running against each other in primaries. While Democrats are focusing on recruiting outsiders - like Rahm Emanuel effectively did in 2006 -- they still face long odds in winning the 25 seats necessary to take back the House, thanks to President Obama's low approval ratings. A decisive win next year in the Oregon special election to succeed former Democratic Rep. David Wu would be a welcome bit of news for Democrats, looking for momentum to start off 2012. It's a solidly-Democratic seat, but Republicans are nominating an outsider with a business background, while the three Democrats are all politicians. -- The question coming out of the Kentucky gubernatorial race this week is not whether Gov. Steve Beshear will win, but by how much. His campaign has already purchased television time for the final weeks for the campaign at a time when he's still sitting on over $1 million in his warchest, having brought in about $4 million since May. Williams only raised $1 million since May and has few resources going down the homestretch to compete with Beshear on the airwaves.
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