| • AR-Sen: There seems to be a competition among Arkansas Republican Senate candidates to see who can make the biggest ass of himself. It was businessman Curtis Coleman's turn this time; yesterday, in reference to southeast Arkansas (where most of the state's African-American population is), he said you "might as well get a visa and shots" before heading down there. Not content to stop digging his own hole, today he explained that what he meant was "accentuate or maybe even celebrate the enormous diversity we have in Arkansas.... I love Southeast Arkansas and meant it only as a metaphor." Oh, well, if it's only a metaphor, I guess that makes it OK.
• DE-Sen: After Rep. Mike Castle made an inartful comment a few days ago ("They've asked me to run for Senate as a Republican. I don't know if I'm going to do that."), he went ahead and clarified that he isn't intending to switch parties.
• FL-Sen: Marco Rubio picked up a potentially useful endorsement in the GOP Senate primary: Rep. Jeff Miller, who represents FL-01 in the dark-red Panhandle, an area of the state where Rubio is little known so far but where his hard-right conservatism is likely to play well. Miller endorsed Charlie Crist in the 2006 governor's primary.
• MO-Sen: Here's another minor tea leaf that former Treasurer Sarah Steelman won't be getting into the Senate primary: prominent Missouri political operative Gregg Keller, who was reportedly set to work for Steelman, instead went to Connecticut to manage Tom Foley's CT-Sen campaign.
• NC-Sen: Here's some good news out of North Carolina: former state Senator and Iraq vet Cal Cunningham seems to be moving to get into the Senate race for the Dems. Cunningham described his efforts to put together a campaign in a post to his Facebook supporters group.
• NH-Sen: With establishment figures dithering on whether to get into the GOP Senate primary, businessman Fred Tausch is jumping into the void, launching a TV spot promoting his fiscal-discipline advocacy group, STEWARD of Prosperity. He says he's interested in the Senate race, although not ready to publicly declare.
• VT-Sen: It wasn't a done deal that 69-year-old Pat Leahy would be back for another term in the Senate, but he confirmed yesterday he'll be back for a seventh term.
• AZ-Gov: Former Democratic state party chair and 2006 Senate candidate Jim Pederson said today that he won't run for Arizona governor, despite earlier statements of his interest. This leaves AG Terry Goddard (who has said he "intends" to run) with a pretty clear shot at the Dem nomination; it remains unclear if Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, armpit-deep in a frustrating fight with her GOP-held legislature, will run for a full term.
• CA-Gov: Rep. Loretta Sanchez announced she won't be running for Governor but will seek another term in the House; she naturally became a topic of conversation with LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's exit from the race, leaving the Dem field without a SoCal, Hispanic, or female candidate. On the GOP side, Rep. John Campbell's defection from the Steve Poizner camp to the Meg Whitman camp was just the tip of the iceberg: three state legislators and a county chair just flipped.
• SC-Gov: State Rep. Nikki Haley has been the subject of breathless conservative hype over the past few months as the anti-spending candidate to replace Mark Sanford (and also Sanford's preferred choice for the job, if you read the tea leaves). See this pre-Sanford-implosion Politico piece from earlier this week to see what I mean. But with revelations that Sanford hasn't been able to keep it in his pants or on this continent (a snap SUSA poll finds 60% of state residents think he should resign, with only 34% saying stay in office), Haley has moved to distance herself from Sanford, scrubbing all traces of him from her website where he was once prominently featured. (J)
• UT-Gov: Soon-to-be Gov. Gary Herbert looks like he won't have a free ride at the nominating convention in the 2010 special election. Univ. of Utah professor Kirk Jowers, who reportedly had been offered the role as Herbert's Lt. Gov., is the subject of a draft movement and may challenge Herbert for the top job instead -- with Josh Romney (son of Mitt) as his LG. Rep. Jason Chaffetz appears to be in their corner.
• ID-01: Idaho pollster Greg Smith tested the approvals of local politicians, and Idahoans just like their politicians, gosh darn it, even that Demmycrat Walt Minnick (whose approval is 47/20, good news heading into a potentially very tough re-election). Governor Butch Otter has the most troublesome numbers, and even he's at 47/35.
• IL-07: Here's a potential open seat, although at D+35, not one we're going to have to sweat very hard. Rep. Danny Davis, who had been vaguely associated with the IL-Sen primary, now looks to be taking concrete steps toward running for President of the Cook County Board, forming an exploratory committee. Davis was runner-up in that race three years ago. This time, he says he has a poll giving him a 7-point lead over county commissioner Forrest Claypool, who was presumptive frontrunner but pulled out of the race last week. With over 5 million constituents, it seems like a pretty good gig.
• NY-23: New York county Democratic leaders set an initial timeline for finding a nominee for the upcoming special election to replace Rep. John McHugh. July 17 is the deadline for declaring interest.
• PA-03: With no GOPer left to challenge freshman Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, Elaine Surma formed an exploratory committee to consider a bid. With no elective track record, she's a senior agent with the state Attorney General's office.
• PA-15: Bethlehem mayor John Callahan's seeming change of heart about running against Rep. Charlie Dent comes after having been called by Joe Biden last week with promises of White House support in the race.
• VA-02, VA-05: Roll Call looks at the prospects for the Virginia freshmen. Ex-Rep. Virgil Goode is apparently close to making a decision on whether to try to wrest the 5th back from Rep. Tom Perriello, with state Del. Rob Bell or state Sen. Rob Hurt as backup plans. In the 2nd, none of the local elected GOP officials seem to be moving toward the race, and the GOP field is more a hodge-podge of various businessmen/veterans: Chuck Smith, Ed Maulbeck, Ben Loyola, and possibly Scott Rigell.