• FL-Sen: State sen. President Mike Haridopolos already has a key endorser in his column for the likely-to-be-hotly-contested GOP Senate primary: former state party chair John Thrasher. Of course, Thrasher (the former state Sen. president, and who also just got appointed Rules Comm. chair by Haridopolos) and Haridopolos are tight from the state Senate, so it may not be a big surprise. Meanwhile, it seems like the Republican field may have its own Jeff Greene-type candidate, i.e. some guy with a lot of money and a senatorial itch to scratch but no credible reason to run for office: Nicholas Loeb. Loeb, who’s 35, is the great-grandson of one of the original Lehman Brothers and the son of a Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to Denmark, once ran briefly for a Florida state Senate seat but dropped out amidst a divorce from his wife. Loeb may currently be best-known as boyfriend to TV star Sofia Vergara.
• IN-Sen: Richard Lugar is saying he’s preparing (in the form of ramped-up fundraising operations) for what, at this point, is the inevitable: a challenge from the right. Nevertheless, despite his imminent teabagging, he’s doubling-down on his reasonableness, this time with statements in favor of restoring the ban on assault weapons. And here’s an ironic blast from the past that really puts the increase in partisanship by Senate Republicans over the years into perspective: in 1977, as a freshman, Richard Lugar was deemed by CQ as having the highest party unity score of any Republican. At this point, only five GOPers are less loyal.
• MA-Sen: Democrats seem to have their first “real” candidate announcing his presence in the Senate race, although I haven’t heard his name before and have to wonder whether he’ll turn into a credible presence here. Bob Massie was the 1994 candidate for Lt. Governor, but he’s better known for his entrepreneurial work, which includes investing in a fair amount of socially conscious stuff. He also has quite the interesting resume: Episcopal priest with a Harvard Business Ph.D who also happens to be one of the longest-surviving HIV patients ever.
• MO-Sen: There’s one potentially interesting story for the Missouri Senate race that comes out of Friday’s RNC chair election (won by Wisconsin’s Reince Priebus): one of the losers was Ann Wagner, who had initially expressed some interest in running for Senate but then threw her hat in the RNC ring. Her loss frees her up to think about the Senate again, although there’s no comment from her camp on that beyond “Stay tuned.”
• ND-Sen: PSC Commissioner Brian Kalk’s early start on seeking the GOP nomination in North Dakota seems to have just had the effect of painting a big target on his back. State House majority leader Al Carlson (whom I haven’t seen mentioned as a candidate before, and may be kneecapping Kalk on someone else’s behalf) says Kalk’s attempts to scare everybody else off won’t work. Gary Emineth, the former state GOP chair, also seems unimpressed, even floating his own name for the race.
• PA-Sen: On Friday we mentioned that Mark Schweiker’s decision to become a lobbyist betrayed a pretty clear intent not to run for Senate, and over the weekend Schweiker confirmed that he’s not looking at the race. The Republican ex-Gov says the race “was never in the cards.”
• TX-Sen: Two more heavyweights definitely seem moving toward the GOP gubernatorial battle. Dallas mayor Tom Leppert confirmed what everyone has expected for the last week: that he won’t run for a second term (while he didn’t specifically say he’d run for Sen., this certainly points that way). Leppert, who seems to occupy the most moderate position in the field, would have a good shot at following the Rick Snyder/Bill Haslam path against a field chock full o’ nuts if there weren’t the little matter of Texas having runoffs, which would force him into a one-on-one with a fire-breather. Speaking of which, Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams has now confirmed that he’ll run, and he’s resigning from his state post in order to campaign full-time for Senate. The other, less tea-flavored Williams — Roger Williams, the former SoS who’s also a big-name car dealer and the self-proclaimed big business candidate in the race — has already nailed down a name-brand endorser (although not one likely to help him much with today’s flavor of conservatives, especially given how useful his endorsement of Kay Bailey Hutchison was in the 2010 gubernatorial primary): George H.W. Bush.
Meanwhile, here’s a strange possibility: septuagenarian goldbug Ron Paul may actually be interested in making the race (and thus joining his son in the Senate). At least he’s polling visitors to RonPaul.com on whether he should run. (Um, maybe someone should familiarize him with the concept of self-selection bias?) And finally, here’s a list of the recently-declared no-thankses: state Senator Florence Shapiro on the GOP side, and state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia on the Dem side.
• WY-Sen: Back when we did our Teabagger Cattle Call last month, we easily stipulated that John Barrasso, one of the most conservative members of the Senate, was the least likely incumbent up in 2012 to get teabagged. Nevertheless, buried in this article on Sal Russo’s plans for the Tea Party Express, is an astonishing line that, if true, is indicative of just how mindless the orgy of uncritical own-eating has become on the GOP’s far-right:
Democrats still control the Senate and White House, he noted in an interview from Wyoming, where he was visiting potential Senate candidates for 2012.
(H/t to Brian Valco for the catch.)
• ME-Gov: Paul LePage seems to fancy himself a Chris Christie-type in the making, figuring he might survive his blue-leaning state by endearing himself to independents through a lot of everyman-style blustering and sacred cow-punching. He seems to have gotten off to a complete fail of a start, though, with Friday’s comments telling the NAACP to “kiss my ass” in response to questions about why he wasn’t attending any Martin Luther King Day celebrations. Rather than trying to own that, though, LePage seems to have already backed down, slinking unannounced into Waterville’s MLK Day breakfast after all.
• MS-Gov: If you’ve ever wanted to see teabagging in its purest, most undistilled form, look no further than the just-announced candidacy of state revenue department “employee” James Broadwater for the GOP gubernatorial primary. His two main action items: eliminating all taxes other than sales tax, and using the state National Guard to enforce immigration laws.
• NY-Gov: Siena has a new poll of New York state out that shows the state’s famously cantankerous residents’ views about nearly everything improving, whether it be the President, the legislature, or race relations. The most eye-popping numbers are those of new Gov. Andrew Cuomo, still in the honeymoon period but for now with a deity-like 70/17 approval.
• MO-05: With the likelihood that the 5th will have to take on more Republican voters in the face of Missouri losing one of its nine House seats (since Kansas City is surrounded by red exurbs and rural counties in each direction, there’s really no other way to play it), it’s sounding like Emanuel Cleaver might face a stronger challenge than he’s used to in 2012. Republican former state Sen. Bill Kenney is scoping out the race, assuming that the currently D+10 district will become somewhat less solidly-Dem than before. (Recall that Cleaver’s 2010 victory, against little-known Jacob Turk, was a pretty unconvincing 53-42, although that was against a backdrop of statewide destruction for the Dems.)
• NC-08: Here’s a pretty clear sign that Robin Hayes (the Republican holder of this seat until 2008, and a rumored rematch in the early part of the 2010 cycle) won’t be running in a potentially-friendlier (thanks to GOP-controlled redistricting) 8th in 2012. He’s taking over as head of the North Carolina state GOP organization.
• KY-AG: In his bid for re-election, Democratic AG Jack Conway seems to have dodged his most compelling remaining Republican opponent. Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert decided not to run against Conway after not being able to secure a leave of absence from the state’s senior judge program (which lets him sit in as a temp judge when needed). With Trey Grayson already backing up his moving van to leave the state, that leaves Hopkins County state attorney Todd P’Pool as the only logical GOP candidate left.
• TX-LG: With David Dewhurst about to move on from his long stint as the state’s #2, a couple other statewide Republicans are already jostling for that position: Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Comptroller Susan Combs. (Note that the LG election is in 2014, though, so if Dewhurst wins the 2012 Senate race there will be an appointee already filling that slot who’d have an incumbency advantage… and if Dewhurst loses, he may decide to keep on being LG on to infinity.)
• Mayors: Columbus mayor Michael Coleman, up for re-election in November, already knows who his Republican opponent will be (as apparently the nominee gets picked by the county’s central committee, rather than by primary). He’ll face Earl Smith, a familiar face to voters from his former job as the police department’s spokesman.