| • MI-Sen: This looks like a tea leaf that Peter Hoekstra isn't a likely Senate candidate for 2012: he's joining big DC law/lobby firm Dickstein Shapiro, a popular destination for outgoing Congresspeople and certainly not the usual route for someone who wants to keep in touch with the little people back home. (Current "senior advisors" there include Dennis Hastert, Tim Hutchinson, and Albert Wynn.)
• MN-Sen: Norm Coleman comes right out and says it explicitly: he's not going to run against Amy Klobuchar in 2012 (although he didn't rule out eventual other runs). Not that anyone rational was expecting it, but now we can check that box.
• NV-Sen: Cue up some doomy soundtrack music for John Ensign: despite his having dodged the DOJ, the Senate Ethics Committee has decided to plow ahead on its inquiry of him, just in time for the cycle where he's up for re-election. Today a special counsel in l'affaire Ensign was announced.
• NY-Sen: Going up against Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012 (in the wake of her cresting 60% in the down year of 2010) seems like an unenviable task for any Republican, and the duties might fall to former Lt. Gov. turned health insurance industry astroturfer Betsy McCaughey. Speaking before a confab for New York's Conservative Party, when asked about the race, she said she's "considering it."
• WA-Gov: We can't officially shut the door on a highly-unusual run for a third term by Chris Gregoire until she actually says "no" herself, but state Dem party chair Dwight Pelz is publicly saying that he's looking ahead to electing a new governor in 2012. Don't expect Gregoire to say anything until the end of the legislative session, though.
• WV-Gov: Get out your calendars and your red pen, because it looks like things are getting switched around yet again in West Virginia. The state House passed a bill authorizing the upcoming elections (including a primary, which wasn't considered a done deal because of the cost involved), but they've moved the dates around again. Now the primary date is May 14 (instead of June 20), and the general special election date is Sept. 13 (instead of Oct. 4). Of course, that's only the House version, so the state Senate could monkey around with it even more. Meanwhile, one Republican candidate is already exiting the field: state party chair Mike Stuart, who probably saw the writing on the wall given his 1% showing in PPP's sample of the primary. A few more GOPers that we haven't mentioned before are thinking about getting in to replace him, though: state House minority leader Tim Armstead, and state Del. Mitch Carmichael.
• CT-05: This is a bit of a surprise, and ought to create a wide-open Republican field in the open seat race created by Chris Murphy's quest for a Senate seat. State Sen. Sam Caligiuri, who made a competitive race of it in 2010, says he won't run again in 2012.
• MT-AL: As Denny Rehberg-related rumors got ramped up over the last few days, there's been a corresponding rise in rumors that Steve Daines (the Republican businessman who lost the 2008 Lt. Gov. race and announced a Senate bid in November) might bail out of the Senate race and drop down to the now-open House race instead. That would be a bit of a turnaround for Daines, who had already consolidated some backing from right-wing orgs for a possible tea-flavored primary rumble, but the House is a path of much less resistance for him. No confirmation from Daines today, but as of yesterday he sounded open to the idea.
• State legislatures: This article about how state legislature constituencies are getting too populous for legislators to maintain effective old-school communications with their voters is most noteworthy for its neat interactive graphic. You can compare the legislator-to-constituent ratio for each state (unsurprisingly, California and Texas are the worst, while North Dakota and New Hampshire are the best).
• Fundraising: We have fundraising numbers from 2010 Q4 for five different Senate Dems up in 2012, and we'll start with the weakest link: Dan Akaka, who has $66K CoH. (Not that that should presage retirement or even encourage Linda Lingle, as he doesn't really fundraise outside the cycles where he's up for re-election; he had $83K at this point six years ago.) Next up: Jim Webb, who has $444K CoH but raised only $12K last quarter, a number that by itself screams retirement... but as we know, Webb marches to his own drummer and could turn that around quickly. Ben Nelson is also in camped out in the land of the mediocre (and of the potential retirees), raising only $81K, though he has a more robust $1.4 million CoH.
Jeff Bingaman, on the other hand, seems to be heading for another term, albeit in slightly lukewarm fashion, raising $216K last quarter; he has $511K CoH. Debbie Stabenow is looking pretty aggressive, by contrast: she raised $537K and has more than $2 million CoH. One Republican to report on, as well: Orrin Hatch, likely to face a serious primary, raised $400K and is sitting on $2.5 million CoH (compared with Jason Chaffetz's $140K CoH).
• Redistricting: Here's more on the growing worries from plugged-in Republicans that they don't have the money in place to effectively fight the legal battles associated with redistricting. The sense is that they're victims of their own success: they spent so much money on winning state legislatures last year that they didn't leave any leftovers budgeted for the aftermath.