| • MA-Sen: Well, that was a nice week off from forward-looking horse-race reporting. On to 2012: one of the first Dem names being floated as a potential challenger to Scott Brown is someone I'd never heard of till now, but who seems to have 'rock star' frequently appended to his name: Setti Warren, the mayor of the very affluent yet very liberal suburb of Newton. Warren, who is African-American, has been mayor of the city of 93,000 (which is 3% black) for only a year.
• NV-Sen: In case it just wasn't clear what an astoundingly well-handled re-election effort came from Harry Reid's camp this year, check out Jon Ralston's re-cap. He recounts how the groundwork was laid years ago, lopping off potential challengers until the weakest one was left standing, details the post-primary ad blast that defined Angle permanently, and also goes into how Reid's team never lost faith that their own internal polls (the same ones Ralston saw) were right and the public polls were wrong.
And then there's the 2012 race, already fascinating, with the first question being whether the unpopular and impoverished John Ensign even tries to run again. The LVRJ looks at the four top Dem contenders and six potential GOP challengers as well, including (could lightning strike twice?) Sharron Angle. The article also looks at potential musical chairs and open seats in the House, given the imminent creation of a Dem-leaning NV-04 and the possibility of multiple House members running for Senate.
• UT-Sen: One guy who shouldn't feel too confident going into 2012 is Orrin Hatch, despite his state's GOP lean: Bob Bennett's death by teabagging is a huge red flag, and now a poll from Mason-Dixon for the Salt Lake Tribune has him at a 40% re-elect, with 48% saying "someone else." (Of course, that 48% no doubt includes both Dems and Tea Partiers.) No head-to-head numbers in the general or primary, though.
• VA-Sen: Jim Webb has sounded notably ambivalent about the prospect of a run for re-election in 2012; it's also been evident in his fundraising so far. A recent interview has him still continuing that tone, say he's "still sorting that out" and seeing him venting about the White House.
• WV-Sen: I suspect this isn't likely to have the desired effect, but it certainly can't hurt them to ask: the GOP is already leaning on newly-elected West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin to change parties. They're offering him his pick of committee assignments (in the minority, natch) and citing the difficulty of running downticket from Obama in 2012 in WV.
• CA-Gov: Here's a nice bit of early perceptions-setting: Jerry Brown has ditched the offer of swank transition headquarters on Sacramento's K Street (apparently Sacto has its own K St. that serves a similar purpose?) in favor of keeping operations at his old campaign HQ in Oakland. Shades of the old Plymouth Duster from 35 years ago! (Although it's worth noting that the Duster, though considered an econobox at the time, today holds a minor place in the muscle car pantheon.)
• IN-Gov: So this Mike Pence for Governor thing may not be a done deal yet. Moving to Gov was clearly done with an eye toward an eventual run for President (as nobody, if you're not named James Garfield, gets elected Prez straight out of the House). But he still seems to be gauging the possibility of a 2012 run straight from the House, buoyed by his popularity at the last Value Voters Summit and the lack of a dominant player in the current GOP field. He says he'll make a decision by the end of the year.
• MT-Gov: This small state will have a big gubernatorial race in 2012, with Brian Schweitzer term-limited. Former Republican Rep.-at-large Rick Hill has just announced he's running; Hill served from 1997 to 2000 before retiring because of health issues which he says have been resolved. Two other GOPers, former state Sens. Corey Stapleton and Ken Miller, are also running; no Dem has thrown his hat in yet.
• KY-AG: This could be an interesting matchup, of the Senate race that could have been. The Kentucky off-year elections are in just one year, and Trey Grayson (the SoS, and loser of the GOP Senate primary) is looking for a promotion of sorts, to AG. That would put him up against Dem Jack Conway (loser of the Seante general), who presumably will be running for re-election.
• DGA: One committee that can feel pleased with its mild overperformance (not that -5 seats is a good thing, of course, especially what with the heartbreaker in Florida, but there was some definite beating of the spread going on here) is the DGA. Director Nathan Daschle lays it out in a memo that's worth reading if you need something to feel good about, pointing out that the GOP's gain is explicable purely by the races that the DGA didn't financially contest (KS, MI, OK, TN, and WY).
• Leadership: It looks like we can call off the Pete Sessions Deathwatch. He'll be back for another term at the helm of the NRCC (after abandoning plans to run for majority whip, which looks like it'll fall effortlessly to Kevin McCarthy). Whether he can maintain the NRCC's gains this next cycle will be the real test of Sessions' abilities; although he'll get some aid from redistricting, there's an awful lot of deadwood washed up on the beach that'll need protecting. Also, John Cornyn will almost certainly also be back at the NRSC, eager to finish what he got halfway through this cycle.
Meanwhile, as we mentioned last night, the DSCC chair is the hot potato that no one, even Charles Schumer, wants to hold. The main unresolved issue for the Dems is the minority whip race, which pits Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn against each other in the #2 spot on the truncated leadership ladder in the minority. Surpisingly, it seems like Hoyer may (despite what looks like Nancy Pelosi efforts to box him out) be able to pull this out, given some crossover support from many members of Pelosi's camp (notably Ed Markey and Jerry Nadler). Progressive Caucus leadership (like Lynn Woolsey and Raul Grijalva) has lined up behind Clyburn, though. Here's one weird suggestion for breaking the stalemate (from Jesse Jackson Jr.): both should get out of the whip race, and co-run the DCCC together (which, with Chris Van Hollen out, is also without a head right now).