A note to this blog's readers: Starting this week, I'll be adding some down-ticket '08 election coverage to Mike and Noam's wonderful blogging on the presidential campaign here at the Stump. Yes, I know -- there even are down-ticket races? But to my mind, many of the governors', senators', and congressmens' matches starting to heat up across the country have just as much drama, on a smaller scale, as Hillary-Obama. Dejected GOP congressmen are fleeing the House in droves, and Democrats just won Denny Hastert's old seat, a psychological blow to Republicans. The NRCC has been fleeced out of a full one-fifth of its money by its former treasurer, Christopher Ward, a creepily characterless, Suburban-driving Average White Guy who was apparently capable of carrying out far more sophisticated and elaborate financial heists than Eliot Spitzer. (Wouldn't Dylan Baker make a good Ward in the future NRCC movie?)

A hot open race in Alabama's Fifth will hint at how tightly the GOP still grips the South, and the race to replace robotically conservative Senator Wayne Allard in Colorado will show us how big Democrats can dream in the Mountain West. The Virginia Republican Party is imploding, pretty much assuring my home state another Democratic senator next year (and the Democratic nominee a shot at winning some Virginia love?). Alaska's trying to clean up its dirty reputation, New Hampshire's going bluer, and Louisiana's going redder. Al Franken is running for U.S. Senate in Minnesota -- meaning we get to discuss things like the potential political damage done by Franken's one-time on-air imitation of a "pouty Asian sex kitten."

But best of all? Not one of these races counts among its direct factors the sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

--Eve Fairbanks