| • IL-Sen: AG Lisa Madigan is apparently warming up to the idea of running for Senate instead of Governor (thanks to some entreaties from some big players -- Madigan met with Barack Obama at the White House last week). However, according to the Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, she has some demands: she wants an endorsement from Obama when she announces, and she wants the field cleared of rivals.
That's potentially very awk-ward, though, as state Treasurer (and, more notably, Friend of Barack) Alexi Giannoulias is already in the race, and has been fundraising very well (Madigan is sitting on $4 million, but that's marked for a governor's race and can't be transferred to a federal race, so she'd be back to square one). Giannoulias issued a strong statement today that he wouldn't be "bullied" out of the race, and sought to tie Madigan to party insiders. And even if Obama does manage to dangle some sort of carrot to entice Giannoulias out of the race, does he have the same sort of traction with Chris Kennedy, who also looks set to get in?
• NC-Sen: Here's not the way to rebut polls showing you in bad shape: with a transparently pathetic internal poll. The Richard Burr camp points to a poll that reveals him "winning" (albeit with no specific topline numbers) against SoS Elaine Marshall, but with the head-to-head question asked only after questions as to which of the two would better serve as a "check and balance on the policies of Barack Obama." No results against other interested Dems (like Mike McIntyre) were discussed.
• NH-Sen: More focus today on the possibility of Kelly Ayotte for the GOP Senate nomination. Attorney General in NH is an appointed position, so she's never faced voters before, but that may be an asset; the rest of the state's GOP bench, in Chuck Todd's words, "all seem to have the smell of defeat on them." Meanwhile, Rahm Emanuel will be hosting a DC fundraiser for Rep. Paul Hodes later this month, as Hodes (who banked only $260K in 1Q) looks to pick up the fundraising pace.
• NV-Sen: In an example of the law of unintended consequences, John Ensign's little indiscretions are further complicating the Nevada GOP's efforts to find a suitable challenger to Harry Reid, as insiders get distracted by assessing the fallout. If today is any indication, it looks like the fallout is growing, not shrinking, with allegations of a second affair, and Ensign walking back his initial "extortion" claims in view of the complicated financial links between Ensign and the Hampton clan. For emphasis, if there were any doubt about it, ex-Rep. Jon Porter confirmed today that he won't be running against Reid.
• SD-Gov, SD-AL: Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin hasn't ruled out running for Governor in 2010; she said she'll make a decision by the August recess.
• CA-03: Many insiders seem settled on CA-03 as the Democrats' top target in California next year. Unbeknownst to many, there's a third Democrat in the race against Rep. Dan Lungren, physician Ami Bera, who got in in April... and he's actually been fundraising like a champ, claiming he's on pace to have $250K at the end of June.
• CA-44: CA-44 seems like a good place for a pickup, too, especially now that Rep. Ken Calvert is getting softened up with a primary challenge from his friendly neighborhood teabagger. Real estate broker Chris Riggs said the race would be a "litmus test" and referred to Calvert as a "big tax-and-spend incumbent."
• FL-08: State House speaker Larry Cretul (who just took over the job in March, in the wake of former speaker Ray Sansom's corruption indictment) may already be looking to move up. He's been talking to the NRCC about taking on Rep. Alan Grayson in this Dem-trending R+2 district. This may push out state Rep. Steve Precourt, who said he wouldn't want to share a primary with Cretul. Cretul might still face an uphill battle in a primary, though, as his base is in Marion County, rather than the district's population center of Orange County, where another likely GOPer candidate, Rich Crotty, is mayor.
• MS-01: State Sen. Merle Flowers has decided to forego a challenge to Cold Chillin' Travis (apparently at the behest of the NRCC), clearing a path for fellow Sen. Alan Nunnelee - for now. Others may get in, and in a move reminiscent of the disastrous post-primary period last year, Flowers did not endorse Nunnelee. The big advantage for Nunnelee is that he, like Childers, is from the Tupelo region, whereas Flowers (like Greg Davis) is from DeSoto County in the south Memphis suburbs. (D)
• DSCC/DCCC: Tonight's DSCC/DCCC fundraiser with Barack Obama is projected to raise $3 million, an amount that seems kind of weak compared with the $14.5 million haul from the NRCC/NRSC dinner a few weeks earlier. However, lobbyists were banned from the event, and the GOP haul involves some accounting sleight of hand, as the $14.5 million is the two committees' entire fundraising haul over the eight-week period since early April. In addition, there's a lower-profile fundraising breakfast/"issues conference" planned for Friday morning where there's no Obama appearance but also no lobbyist ban in place.
• Census: It looks like we might break the logjam that's keeping incoming Census Director Robert Groves from being confirmed; it appears he's part of a blanket hold on several dozen nominees, not a specific hold, and Susan Collins is happy with Groves and working with Democrats to get him in place. In other Census news, the tinfoil-hat wingnuts intent on avoiding and/or lying to the Census have a high-profile supporter: Rep. Michele Bachmann, who says she won't answer any questions on her form beyond number of people in her house. Because, y'know, if you told Uncle Sam how many bathrooms are in your house, ACORN might somehow win.
• Voting Rights: An interesting trio of voting rights bills passed committee in the House last week to little fanfare: most notably, the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act (which guarantees no-excuse absentee voting in all states, something that's still restricted in 22 states right now). Also passed were legislation providing grants to help states provide absentee ballot tracking and confirmation systems, and preventing state election officials from serving on federal campaign committees.