A pair of big-spending, notably nasty races for governor in Virginia and New Jersey entered their final hours Monday, as candidates made last-minute blitzes and brought in political heavy-hitters to help campaign.
In New Jersey, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine and Republican Doug Forrester spent the day stumping for votes in coffee shops, train stations and senior citizen centers after a week dominated by allegations of infidelity and corruption.
A Quinnipiac Poll released Monday gave Corzine a slight edge, 53 percent to 45 percent. The Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll put the two closer, with Corzine leading 43 percent to 37 percent.
Forrester, who swept through diners and coffee shops with New York Gov. George Pataki, described his mood as "pumped."
"I was told a year ago if we came into the final week in single digits, we'll win. We are going to do this tomorrow," he said.
In Virginia, President Bush was due in Richmond Monday night for a final rally with Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore. Democrat Tim Kaine campaigned with Democratic Gov. Mark Warner, who is barred by state law from seeking a consecutive term.
Recent polls show a deadlocked race between Kaine, the lieutenant governor, and Kilgore, a former attorney general.
The two gubernatorial races are the most prominent in this year's off-year election. New York, Detroit, Houston, Boston, San Diego and Atlanta have mayoral races on Tuesday's ballot. Seven states are considering ballot issues.
In New York, Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg held onto a clear lead against Democratic underdog Fernando Ferrer. Both were out at dawn, greeting commuters in an effort to boost turnout.
Ferrer scheduled appearances with the Rev. Al Sharpton and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, while Bloomberg made a final blitz around the city.
"Let's not take anything for granted," he told seniors at a center near Chinatown, where his speech was also translated into Chinese. "We've got to vote, we've got to keep working."
In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a last minute-push for a set of proposals that pollsters indicated were on shaky ground. The initiatives would cap state spending and give Schwarzenegger more power to cut budgets, rein in public employee unions, and take away legislators' power to redistrict.
The gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey both broke state spending records. In New Jersey, the candidates spent more than $70 million combined on the campaign, much of it their own money.
Forrester ran a TV ad quoting Corzine's ex-wife, who told The New York times that "Jon did let his family down, and he'll probably let New Jersey down, too." Corzine's campaign also aired some controversial spots, including a 19-year-old who lost the use of most his limbs in a wrestling match three years ago. "Doug Forrester doesn't support embryonic stem cell research, therefore, I don't think he supports people like me," said the teen, Carl Riccio.
In Virginia, the harshest ad criticized Kaine, saying "Tim Kaine says Adolf Hitler doesn't qualify for the death penalty," referring to a suggestion he made to a panel of newspaper reporters. Kaine fired back in an ad, pledging to carry out death sentences "because it's the law."
Voters in both states were frustrated.
"There's a lot of people starving in this country, and we're spending $60 million on ads," said Bill Mirrer, a coffee shop owner in Ridgewood, N.J., among the list of Monday's campaign stops.