| • MA-Sen: Here's another academic name popping up in connect with Ted Kennedy's vacant senate seat. The Center for American Progress Action Fund thinks that Deval Patrick should appoint Harvard prof and Boston-based surgeon Atul Gawande to the post. Gawande is best-known these days for his seminal article this summer in the New Yorker about health-care costs, but he also was a healthcare advisor to Bill Clinton in the early 90s. (D)
Also in the Bay State, Rep. Mike Capuano got a potentially helpful endorsement, from fellow Rep. Barney Frank. Frank's imprimatur may help Capuano prove his liberal bona fides and win over some voters in the Boston suburbs who may not be familiar with him.
• NH-Sen: Despite Kelly Ayotte's reputed field-clearing abilities, yet another Republican is adding his name to the list of possible candidates in the New Hampshire Senate race. Real estate investor William Binnie is quite literally from the country club wing of the GOP -- he's owner and president of the Wentworth-by-the-Sea Country Club and owner/driver of an auto racing team. Another suggestion he may be running to the left of Ayotte (although her intentionally amorphous political persona gives no clue about her ideology); Binnie is tight with moderate GOP ex-Rep. Andrew Zeliff, and has given money to Democratic candidates in the past.
• TX-Sen: Rumors out of Texas have Kay Bailey Hutchison resigning her seat at year's end (on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1) in order to pursue her gubernatorial bid against Rick Perry. Under Texas law, this would lead to a short-term appointment, and then a special election on May 8.
• IA-Gov: Incumbent Dem Chet Culver continues to sport rather good favorables, clocking in at 50/37, but his re-elect numbers may give him some pause (28% say "definitely vote for," 27% say "consider an alternative," and 21% say "definitely vote for alternative"). Republican ex-Gov. Terry Branstad, who's been receptive to the idea of a bid for a return to office, is still remembered fondly by Iowans, with favorables of 59/22. Sen. Chuck Grassley is the state's best-liked figure, though, with 64% favorables and a 45% "definitely vote for." (H/t Steve Benen.)
• NJ-Gov (pdf): Neighborhood Research is a Republican internal pollster (they worked with primary loser Steve Lonegan), but they were the first pollster to find Jon Corzine moving back within the margin of error. They're back with a new poll, showing Corzine still within striking distance, trailing Chris Christie 37-33 (although that's down from their August finding of 37-35) with Chris Daggett at 6. Meanwhile, Chris Daggett has joined a voter suit challenging ballot ordering in New Jersey, which favors the two major-party candidates.
• PA-Gov: Montgomery County Commissioner and ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel says he's moving ahead with plans to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. No formal announcement date is set, but the progressive from the Philly suburbs is starting to staff up, and is bolstered by an internal poll he commissioned through Lake Research, showing him leading the nebulous field at 15%, with Allegheny County Exec Dan Onorato and state Auditor Jack Wagner both at 12, Scranton mayor Chris Doherty at 6, and Philly businessman Tom Knox at 5.
• NY-23: With the 23rd now officially vacant, Dem candidate Bill Owens is the first to put up a TV spot. He stresses his military roots and efforts to generated jobs via the redevelopment of the old Plattsburgh AFB.
• TN-01: Get ready for Roe vs. Davis III in the 1st. Ex-Rep. David Davis, who defeated current Rep. Phil Roe in the 2006 GOP primary and then lost the 2008 GOP primary to him (in this R+21 district), has been publicly blasting Roe's record.
• NY-Lt. Gov: On Friday, Sept. 11th, New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, heard oral arguments regarding David Paterson's appointment of Richard Ravitch as Lt. Governor. According to reports, Paterson's camp seemed to have gotten its most favorable treatment to date. Lawyers on both sides, says the NYT, expect a decision within two weeks, which would mean the end of this week or the beginning of next. One possibility is that the court could rule that Republican leader Dean Skelos simply didn't have standing to sue, which would leave the Ravitch appointment intact. (D)
• NYC-Mayor: Marist finds that Democratic city Comptroller William Thompson, despite a convincing primary win, still trails Independent/Republican incumbent Mike Bloomberg in the general, 50-39 among RVs and 52-43 among LVs. It's still some improvement for Thompson, who trailed 48-35 among RVs in July.
• Ads: Conservative PAC the Family Research Council has published its own target list for the 2010 cycle: Michael Bennet and Chris Dodd, plus the Missouri and Ohio open seats, in the Senate, and John Boccieri, Steve Driehaus, Parker Griffith, Mary Jo Kilroy, Ann Kirkpatrick, Betsy Markey, Walt Minnick, John Murtha, Glenn Nye, Tom Perriello, and Dina Titus in the House.