• AK-Sen: When Norm Coleman… the man who has pretty much set all current standards for pointlessly dragging out an election for partisan purposes… is telling you to pack it in, believe me, it’s time to pack it in. The ex-Sen. from Minnesota is the latest GOPer to tell Joe Miller to stop the madness. (What’s his angle? He may have designs on behind-the-scenes Beltway leadership, possibly RNC chair, and with that in mind would probably like to discourage nonsensical R-on-R courtroom violence.)
• IL-Sen: The 59-41 Dem edge in the Senate drops to 58-42 for the rest of the lame duck session today, as Rep. Mark Kirk gets sworn in as the newest member. (Illinois, of course, was the only of the special election seats that flipped to the GOP.)
• IN-Sen: This NYT story doesn’t really have any new specifics about Richard Lugar’s upcoming teabagging that you don’t already know, but it has a spectacular quote from former Missouri Sen. John Danforth, another Republican who occupied the same pretty-conservative-but-not-a-jerk-about-it space as Lugar:
If Dick Lugar… having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.
• MA-Sen: The Boston Globe takes a look back at Deval Patrick’s reelection town-by-town, and also wonders what it may mean for Scott Brown’s first re-election battle in 2012. Patrick, for instance, won back many of the larger blue-collar (and usually Democratic) communities like Lowell and Quincy that Brown won. The question for 2012, though, is: how much of Brown’s initial success was unique to Brown (more charismatic than your garden-variety blue-blood Republican like Charlie Baker), and, by contrast, how much of that was unique to the turnout model produced by the special election?
• MD-Sen: Republicans may already be settling on a favorite for the Maryland Senate race in 2012, and they’re considering the same strategy as 2006, running an African-American against Ben Cardin. (In ’06, recall, Michael Steele, well, still lost badly, but made the race more competitive than Maryland is used to.) There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Charles Lollar, who just ran against Steny Hoyer in MD-05 and apparently wowed a lot of people on the stump. Of course, he also lost 64-35, but, well, you’ve gotta start somewhere. (Eric Wargotz, who just lost to Barb Mikulski, is also reportedly interested in trying again.)
• MO-Sen: The Beltway seems abuzz about a potential Claire McCaskill/Jim Talent rematch (thanks to McCaskill tweeting about her random airport meet-up with Talent, no doubt), but the missing part of the story seems to be that Talent, if he runs, could be walking right into a juicy establishment/tea party battle. Ex-Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who lost a feisty gubernatorial primary in 2008 and threatened a 2010 primary run against Roy Blunt, has been turning up the volume on a potential run too. Ed Martin, last seen losing narrowly in MO-03, has also become the subject of some speculation. One unlikely run at this point, though, is former Ambassador to Luxembourg (which is code for “very wealthy donor”) Ann Wagner, who has been linked to the Senate race but just announced a bid for RNC chair instead this morning.
• NJ-Sen: When did Bob Menendez’s numbers start to look like Richard Burr’s? A poll from Fairleigh Dickinson (favorables only, no head-to-heads) finds vast indifference about the Garden State’s junior Senator. At least he’s above water, with 31/25 faves, but 29% are unsure and 15% have never heard of him.
• NM-Sen: Jeff Bingaman, assuming he runs again, is already facing his first GOP opponent, although one from the Some Dude end of the spectrum. William English ran (apparently in the GOP primary) for the open NM-02 seat in 2002, although he seems best known for saying controversial things in his local newspaper, perhaps most notably that Barack Obama “literally amounts to an African dictator.”
• TX-Sen: Yet more names are surfacing on the GOP side for possible primary challenges to Kay Bailey Hutchison: today, it’s Houston-area state Sen. Dan Patrick.
• VA-Sen: Corey Stewart is the Prince William County Supervisor and a likely candidate in the GOP Senate primary, if his latest pronouncements are any indication. He’s started firing shots across the bow of presumptive favorite George Allen’s comeback, saying he had a “mediocre” Senate record and that his base has moved on.
• MN-Gov: The recount of the 2.1 million ballots in the Minnesota gubernatorial race officially kicks off today. You probably already know the candidates, but the Star-Tribune today profiles the really key players at this juncture: the lawyers. One of them, interestingly, is Eric Magnuson, who you may remember from the 2008-09 recount as state supreme court chief justice and head of the canvassing board; having left the court, now he’s on Tom Emmer’s team.
• WV-Gov: It’s still not clear when the election will even occur (to set a permanent replacement for Joe Manchin), but acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin isn’t going to get a free pass in the Dem primary, facing likely opposition from two of the people most actively involved in establishing when that election will happen. Both SoS Natalie Tennant and state House speaker Rick Thompson are eyeing the race, with Thompson “planning” to run and Tennant “seriously considering.”
• CA-20: Look for a likely rematch in the 20th, which turned into one of the nation’s closest races this year. Andy Vidak “promises” he’ll try again vs. Jim Costa in 2012, although if he couldn’t make it this year, the odds of him getting over the hump in a presidential year model seem even slimmer. (Unless, of course, the boundaries of the 20th get changed by the citizens’ commission, but the VRA is likely to keep compelling a Hispanic-majority Fresno-to-Bakersfield district.)
• CA-45: Further south, Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet is another potential rematch. The Democrat already filed for a 2012 campaign, although he says he hasn’t ruled another race in or out and is establishing the committee to settle up some unpaid bills from his 2010 race.
• CT-05: And here’s one more: Justin Bernier, who was initially the GOP’s preferred candidate in the primary in the 5th but got shoved over after Sam Caligiuri dropped down from the Senate race, is saying he’s considering another run in 2012 (motivated in part by the likelihood of an open seat with Chris Murphy’s likely Senate run).
• PA-11: Don’t assume that Corey O’Brien is going to be the Dem nominee in the effort to take back the 11th in 2012, as there’s a long list of possible contenders on the bench in this bluish seat. At the top is Scranton mayor (and, briefly, gubernatorial candidate) Chris Doherty, but other names you might see are Wilkes-Barre mayor Tom Leighton, former Pittston mayor (and Paul Kanjorski crony) Michael Lombardo, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, Wilkes-Barre solicitor William Vinsko, and new state Sen. John Yudichak.
• California: Finally, those of you not living on the West Coast may be unaware that there are parts of the country where the Republicans are the ones in “what did we do wrong?” soul-searching mode. The WaPo looks at the epicenter of that, in California (where they didn’t pick up any House seats, lost all the statewide races, and even lost ground in the state legislature), where local GOPers are flummoxed by the state’s changing demographics.
(General h/t to Brian Valco, bearer of many of today’s links.)