From NBC's Chuck Todd
Slowly but surely, Republicans in Washington are getting ever more optimistic about their chances of at least holding their own in the Senate in 2010 (which in this case is defined by not falling below 40 seats). Four months ago, things looked truly bleak, thanks mostly to the senate retirement situation the GOP was facing in four states: Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio. But now, Florida looks very good for them (assuming Charlie Crist doesn't get too bruised up in the primary); Ohio isn't bad (though I think Rob Portman is a tougher sell than some Republicans; still GOP is benefitting more from Dem primary mess in the Buckeye state); Missouri is a pure toss-up (Roy Blunt seems to be showing some strength again in the primary); and then there's New Hampshire...
Video: June 11: Political analyst Mike Murphy and Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post discuss the daunting task of rebuilding the GOP.
For months, I've been hearing, "oh, don't worry about New Hampshire, we'll convince Judd Gregg to run again." But Gregg's had plenty of time to lay the groundwork for re-announcing and he's passed up every chance. Gregg seems more like a retiree than some Republicans think. So what is plan B for the GOP in the Granite State? I'm hearing that efforts to recruit appointed state Atty Gen. Kelly Ayotte may just come to fruition. In New Hampshire, the governor has the power to appoint the state A.G. Ayotte was first appointed to the post by ex-Republican Gov. Craig Benson, then re-appointed by Democratic Gov. John Lynch. And it's these bipartisan credentials that have had some Republicans in New Hampshire salivating over the prospect of her candidacy. She's never run for office before but her profile might be about as good as the GOP can do in New England. Short of Gregg, Ayotte might be the best candidate the GOP can find as she doesn't come from the current elective wing of the GOP who all seem to have the smell of defeat on them. Ayotte would give the GOP a fresh face to rally around in 2010 and put the very popular Dem Gov. Lynch in somewhat of a tough spot as he'll have to likely campaign against the woman he appointed his Attorney General.
Still a long way to go but if Ayotte's a go (look for a possible July announcement), don't assume New Hampshire is a slam dunk pickup for the Democrats.