| • FL-Sen: Here's one late-30-something, telegenic conservative helping out another: WI-01's Rep. Paul Ryan just endorsed Marco Rubio in the Senate primary. Ryan (who's actually been getting some dark-horse presidential buzz lately) may in fact be the real beneficiary here, since it may direct some of Rubio's healthy glow among the teabag set in Ryan's direction, bolstering his future credentials. Speaking of the teabaggers, despite having claimed the scalp of Florida GOP chair and key Charlie Crist ally Jim Greer, they still aren't happy with the annointment of John Thrasher as the new chair; apparently he too is insufficiently crazy, or at least part of the same backroom process. Finally, take this with a huge hunk o' salt, but ex-Rep. Mark Foley is highlighting a rumor on his Facebook page (yes, Mark Foley is on Facebook, and I'm not eager to think about what else might be on his page) that Charlie Crist is on the precipice of pulling his FL-Sen bid altogether and running for another term as Governor instead.
• NY-Sen-B: Lots of walking-things-back going on in New York's Senate race. Republican Rep. Peter King is now saying he's "leaning against" a Senate bid. Taegan Goddard rightly invokes both Mario Cuomo and Hamlet in ridiculing King's protracted public vacillations. And ex-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. also may be dialing things down too, in regards to a possible primary challenge to Kirsten Gillibrand. An operative working with Ford is now saying that Ford is "unlikely to take the plunge," and seemed more interested in "creating buzz" for himself. (Why am I not surprised?)
• AZ-Gov: The GOP primary field in Arizona is getting even more scrambled, with the entry of Some Dude who claims to be bringing $2.1 million to the table with him. Owen Buz Mills' campaign report was the first anyone has seemingly heard of him. He's a member of the National Rifle Association's board of directors, and owner of a company called Gunsite (which operates a 2,000 acre weapons training site). Current Gov. Jan Brewer said she wouldn't be deterred by Mills' presence, as did former state regent John Munger (who probably has more to lose by Mills' entry, as he's sort of the de facto non-Brewer for now, at least until or unless state Treasurer Dean Martin gets in the race).
• CO-Gov: While much of the speculation, in the wake of Gov. Bill Ritter's surprise decision not to seek another term, has focused on Denver mayor John Hickenlooper, or a switch from the Senate primary by former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff, there's one other high-profile possibility: Interior Secretary, and former Senator, Ken Salazar. Salazar, however, is staying mum, for now. PPP's Tom Jensen is skeptical of a Salazar candidacy, though, pointing out that Salazar didn't have strong favorables (39/36 in late 2008) even before he joined the Obama administration, and Colorado has seen one of the biggest drops in Obama approvals of any state, making his time in the Cabinet something of an anchor for him.
• CT-Gov: Three sort-of prominent local officials are all scoping out the already-crowded Governor's race in the Nutmeg State. On the Dem side, the First Selectwoman of Simsbury, Mary Glassman, said she'll seek the nomination (she was the 2006 Lt. Governor candidate). On the GOP side, Shelton mayor Mark Lauretti says he's considering the race; he's banking on his nearly 20 years of experience running the city, although he is currently the target of a federal corruption probe. (Although what Connecticut mayor isn't?) Also, the Republican mayor of the much larger city of Danbury, Mark Boughton, says he's reached a decision on whether or not to enter the race. The weird thing is, he doesn't plan to let anyone know what that decision is for another month.
• AL-02: Businessman Rick Barber made it official today: he's launching a teabag-powered primary challenge to the NRCC-crowned establishment favorite, Montgomery city councilor Martha Roby. He owns several "billiards facilities" in the area, as well as organizing tea parties in his spare time. The primary winner will face freshman Democratic Rep. Bobby Bright.
• AR-02: Another GOP establishment fave, former US Attorney Tim Griffin, just got bumped up a notch in the NRCC's three-tiered fundraising pyramid [scheme]. He was promoted to "Contender," leaving him just one step away from coveted "Young Gun" status.
• CA-19: With a big three-way brawl already brewing in the GOP open seat primary between ex-Rep. Richard Pombo, state Sen. Jeff Denham, and former Fresno mayor Jim Patterson, ex-SoS and 2004 Senate race loser Bill Jones has decided to give the race a pass.
• NJ-03: One possible alternative to Jon Runyan as the GOP nominee in the 3rd said "no thanks" yesterday. State Sen. Christopher Connors was apparently the first choice of the Ocean County Republican party; Runyan is the Burlington County party's pick, so it remains to be seen whether Ocean County unites behind Runyan or pushes someone else (like Toms River city councilor Maurice Hill).
• TN-08: The NRCC, based purely on their own fantasies, has been attempting to "gay bait" Dem Roy Herron. And of course, the tradmed has dutifully transcribed whatever bullshit the NRCC has spewed out. Funny, then, that the kid spokesbot responsible for this smear enjoys attending "GOB festivals." No, Arrested Development fans, this has nothing to do with erstwhile ne'er-do-well George Oscar Bluth. Just click the link and John Aravosis will tell you all you need to know. (D)
• VA-05: The teabagging right keeps coalescing behind businessman Laurence Verga as the Republican primary alternative to state Sen. Robert Hurt (who apparently voted in favor of a tax once)... and now Verga is getting the endorsement of one of their iconic figures: Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher. Could a Chuck Norris endorsement be far behind?
• UT-03, UT-Sen: Freshman Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz is expected to announce today that he'll run for another term in the House. He's been occasionally associated with a potential primary challenge to Senator Bob Bennett, but has more recently said he's likelier to seek re-election to the House.
• WA-St. Sen.: This is getting way down in the weeds, but remember attorney Randy Gordon? He was briefly the leading Democratic candidate in the 2006 race in WA-08, before standing down in the primary in favor of a Camp Wellstone classmate with better fundraising chops: Darcy Burner. Well, it looks like he's secured the temporary appointment to take over the vacant state Senate seat in the 41st LD, left vacant by Fred Jarrett's move to become Deputy King Co. Executive; he should have a fairly easy time retaining this Dem-leaning seat based in suburban Bellevue.
• Mayors: Here's a wild rumor (with Sally Quinn as its source): ex-Rep. and current CoS Rahm Emanuel isn't planning on a long-term stay in the White House. Emanuel is reportedly eyeing a run for Chicago mayor in 2011. Also on the mayoral front, Baltimore mayor Sheila Dixon is leaving office; she offered her resignation and an Alford plea on a count of perjury in order to settle a number of charges against her.
• DCCC: Chris Van Hollen offered some boilerplate reassurances today that few, if any, Democratic retirements in the House are in the offing. He said there would be a "couple more," if that. (With almost all the troublesome seats accounted for, that's not a surprise; SC-05's John Spratt seems to be the biggest question mark outstanding in a difficult seat.) (UPDATE: Ooops, I missed Spratt's re-election announcement over the holidays. So now I don't know who's vulnerable and unaccounted for.)
• RNC: By now, readers should be familiar with the NRCC's cash crunch, which severely hampers its ability to capitalize on recruiting successes and the favorable environment. But anyone thinking they might turn to the RNC for a bailout may be surprised to hear that the once-flush RNC is in almost equally dire shape. After a spending spree under Michael Steele's leadership (to the tune of $90 million last year), the RNC is only sitting on $8.7 million in the bank. That's down from $22.8 CoH at the start of Steele's tenure. That's the party of fiscal discipline at work for you, right there.