| • CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons has previously sounded unlikely to run (and rather sulky about it), but now he's saying he's "considering" the race and will make a decision by March. He's also seeking to replace state GOP party chair Chris Healy, who he thinks favored Linda McMahon during the nomination process. Simmons also had some kind words for state Sen. Scott Frantz as an option in case he himself doesn't run.
• FL-Sen: Already having the backing of the man he replaced as state Senate president (John Thrasher), now Mike Haridopolos got the endorsement of the Republican leader of the other chamber, state House speaker Dean Cannon. (Not that those kinds of endorsements move a lot of actual votes, but this could be harmful in the behind-the-scenes game to former state House majority leader Adam Hasner if he runs, as he'd probably have expected Cannon's help.)
• MA-Sen, MA-06: Rep. John Tierney didn't sound much like a candidate in the Senate race when asked about it at an appearance with area high schoolers, saying he's focused on his current job and plans to run again. That, on top of Barney Frank's announcement yesterday that he's running again (and the months-ago announcement from John Olver that he's running again) point to an increasing likelihood that two of the state's 10 Dem Congresspeople will have to face off in a primary (unless either Mike Capuano or Stephen Lynch roll the dice on a Senate bid). One other total wild card here that came into sharper relief today: John Kerry seems to be amping up his lobbying to become Secretary of State. While there's no indication that Hillary Clinton is in any hurry to leave, that does raise the specter of another special election if there's a changing of the guard at SoS after the 2012 election. That possibility, and the chance at an open seat run instead of going up against Scott Brown's millions, might induce Capuano and Lynch to keep their House jobs for now.
• NE-Sen: PPP gives AG Jon Bruning a substantial lead in the GOP Senate primary, for the right to take on Ben Nelson. He leads state Treasurer Don Stenberg 47-19, with throw-ins Pat Flynn and Deb Fischer at 7 and 6 apiece. Bruning's faves among Republicans are 57/12.
• VA-Sen: Jamie Radtke, the principal tea party opponent to George Allen in the GOP Senate primary so far, has shown she can compete, at least on the financial front. She raised $100K in the fourth quarter; Allen didn't report anything since his candidacy didn't launch until the new year.
• WA-Gov, WA-AG: Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee is launching some rhetorical salvos in Republican AG Rob McKenna's direction over health care reform in what's very likely the beginnings of the 2012 gubernatorial general election; McKenna is one of the few blue-state AGs who signed on to the multi-state suit against HCR implementation, a possible foot-shooting move that seems more oriented toward fending off primary opposition from the right than enhancing his electability in November. By the way, if you're wondering about who's planning to replace McKenna in the AG slot, there's word that ambitious King County Councilor Bob Ferguson is about to announce his candidacy next week. His likeliest GOP opponent is fellow King County Councilor (and progeny of WA-08's Jennifer Dunn) Reagan Dunn.
• WV-Gov: It looks like we finally have some consensus on when that pesky special election for Governor is going to be. The state House and Senate ironed out a compromise that will hold the primary on May 14 and the general election on Oct. 4. Acting Gov. (and candidate) Earl Ray Tomblin has agreed to sign off on the deal, even though it contains a different primary date than he wanted.
• IA-03: Here's some more evidence that 77-year-old Leonard Boswell is seriously gearing up for a 2012 battle to stay in the House, despite possibly facing two major opponents (first Christine Vilsack in a Dem primary, then Tom Latham in a redistricting-forced general). He named his former campaign manager Julie Stauch as his new chief of staff. (His fundraising may say otherwise, though; see below.)
• LA-03, LA-AG: Jeff Landry, who's been in the House all of one month, is the likeliest Rep. to get squeezed in a 6-district map of Louisiana, by virtue of his lack of seniority and depopulation in his district (and the need to keep next-door LA-02 a VRA district). So, it seems sensible that he's already contemplating some alternate plans. Rumors are flying now that the reason that AG Buddy Caldwell is planning switch over to the Republican party is because Landry is looking at challenging Caldwell in this year's AG race (although Caldwell's switch would just move that challenge to the primary, if it goes through). David Rivera might not even have the shortest stay among this year's freshman class, if Landry wins the AG race and leaves the House after one year.
• Fundraising: This Politico piece on fundraising among House members has some interesting red flags from Q4 that may portend retirement. On the GOP side, CA-41's Jerry Lewis raised $1,700, while MD-06's Roscoe Bartlett raised all of $0. For the Dems, NY-05's Gary Ackerman raised $924, NY-28's Louise Slaughter raised $320, and MI-05's Dale Kildee raised the strangely specific sum of $1.42. They also point to how fundraising may have dried up for several likely casualties of redistricting, including MI-09's Gary Peters (down to $88K CoH), IA-03's Leonard Boswell ($66K CoH), PA-12's Mark Critz (net negative-$36K), and LA-03's Jeff Landry (net negative-$24K).
• Redistricting: As expected, the battle over Florida's Fair Districts initiative is moving into the courts, starting with a new suit filed by the amendments' backers (including the League of Women Voters and NAACP) demanding that Rick Scott re-engage the process of seeking VRA preclearance for the chances to Florida's system. (Scott has apparently been dragging his feet on preclearance in hopes that the initiative's requirements won't be in place by the time of 2012 redistricting, which could let the GOP legislature gerrymander to their hearts' content.) Meanwhile, the GOP legislature in Georgia is already consolidating their power to take advantage of their control of the trifecta there: they removed primary responsibility for map-drawing from the nonpartisan Carl Vinson Institute at UGA, and instead are creating a new Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office more directly under their control.
• Census: If you tried to open the ftp version of the new Census data yesterday and found yourself looking at incomprehensible txt files (that, if you scroll through them quickly enough, look like you're able to see through The Matrix), fear not. They're available via American FactFinder now, and even through interactive widget form.
• FEC: I'm not sure how many max-out donors we have among our readership, but the FEC has raised contribution limits for this cycle, meaning you can give a little more to your favorite candidate or committee before hitting the ceiling. You can now give up to $2,500 per candidate and $30,800 per committee.
• Trivia: I had absolutely no idea this number was so low: there have been only four open seat Senate races in Texas since the 1920s. (Not only do Senators there tend to have long tenures, but vacancies tend to manifest themselves in special elections.) The races were in 1948, 1952, 1984, and 2002.