Top of the ballot

Republicans may have new hope in New York’s governor’s race thanks to … a Democrat. Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is set to announce that he will switch parties in order to seek the GOP nomination, which would almost surely match him up with state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. First, of course, he faces a primary matchup with former Rep. Rick Lazio (R-N.Y.). Adding to the drama is a New York Post report yesterday citing anonymous sources who said the RNC has threatened to withhold money from New York if GOP Chairman Ed Cox allowed Levy to be the party's nominee. Republicans are already sore over the state party allowing Dede Scozzafava to become their standard-bearer in a race that exposed a chasm in the party. Having a recent former Democrat run in your governor’s race probably doesn’t do much to rebuild bridges.

Boxer race heats up

For the first time this cycle, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) trails – albeit by one point – in a general election poll. The new Field Poll shows former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) with a 44-43 lead on Boxer, who has seen her favorability numbers drop fast. She is now viewed favorably by 38 percent of respondents, compared to 51 percent who view her unfavorably. Those numbers rival where Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) started to get in real trouble. The poll also released numbers yesterday showing Meg Whitman surging in the governor’s race. If Republicans can make California competitive, it's become pretty clear that the Senate could be in play to. It should be noted that the Field Poll doesn’t generally inflate the numbers of unknown candidates. Carly Fiorina, who trails 45-44 in the new poll, trailed by 15 points in January and 30 points early last year. And Boxer campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski doesn’t sound too surprised by the numbers: “We're obviously in a very tough political environment where voters are understandably frustrated with the economy, and we're facing an (off-year) electorate that's naturally more conservative. We always thought this was going to be a challenging race, and now it's clear this is going to be the toughest Boxer campaign yet."

Health care update

Confirming his earlier comments, Rep. Steve Driehaus’s (D-Ohio) office spells out more clearly that, unless abortion provisions are added, he will oppose the bill. “Unless changes are made to the abortion language in the Senate version, Rep. Driehaus will be voting no," spokesman Tim Mulvey told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. Meanwhile, another Ohio member, Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), will be a ‘yes.’ Sutton recently drew a challenge from wealthy car deal Tom Ganley, but she's not thought to be in serious danger.

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