FLORIDA: The Hill: "Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart said in a statement late Monday that he will not seek the appointment to replace Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.). Diaz-Balart was one of three people Gov. Charlie Crist (R) said he requested questionnaires from, but Diaz-Balart said he will not be submitting one." http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/rep.-diaz-balart-wont-seek-senate-seat-2009-08-18.html
"Crist (R) will name a replacement for retiring Sen. Mel Martinez (R) before Congress returns from August recess, choosing from among what is likely to be a pool of seven potential candidates," The Hill's Wilson reports. "Republican sources say former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, former Sen. Connie Mack (R), ex-Rep. Clay Shaw (R) and state Sen. Daniel Webster (R) could also be on the list, along with a surprise dark horse — former Crist chief of staff George LeMieux, now the chairman of a major Florida law firm."
Roll Call: "The others who received the application form were former Florida Secretary of State Jim Smith and former U.S. Attorney Bobby Martinez. Crist is expected to appoint a caretaker to fill the vacancy since he is running for the open seat in 2010."
NEVADA: Given the scandals hitting Sen. John Ensign and Gov. Jim Gibbons, Politics Daily's Jill Lawrence wonders if the Nevada GOP can be saved. "A week ago, given the problems of Sen. John Ensign and Gov. Jim Gibbons, the answer was probably not in time for the 2010 elections. This week the picture is much brighter because of one man: U.S. District Judge Brian Sandoval. Sandoval, a former state legislator, attorney general and Nevada Gaming Commission chairman, the first Hispanic federal judge in his state, now in his mid-40s, said late last week that he will step down Sept. 15 from his lifetime job on the bench. There's little doubt he plans to run for governor, taking on Gibbons and others in a primary if the field doesn't clear."
More: "That sets up a possible showdown in November 2010 against Rory Reid, son of Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader. Which would be quite ironic, as many local pundits have noted, since Harry Reid pushed for Sandoval's appointment and no doubt assumed the lifetime job would keep the young up-and-comer out of future contests for any office, including his own."
NEW JERSEY: "As U.S. Attorney, Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie gave high ranking staffer Michele Brown a $46,000 mortgage loan that she continues to pay off, NJN reported in its news cast tonight," PolitickerNJ writes. The report ... said that Brown has been paying Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, back in monthly increments of $499.22 since taking the loan in October, 2007. She is scheduled to finish payments in 2017." (Democrats are pushing this story, and Corzine ads are all over the place on Politicker's Web site.)
The AP: "Democrats have questioned whether Christie still has ties to the U.S. Attorney's office and whether he received any notice of last month's sweeping federal corruption probe that lead to the arrests of 44 people, 29 of which were elected or public officials."
The Star Ledger: "Brown is the first assistant U.S. attorney and had been promoted to two top posts by Christie while he ran the prosecutor's office. The Corzine camp questioned whether it is proper for a candidate for governor to have any financial relationship with someone inside the U.S. Attorney's Office. In an interview, Christie said he lent Brown the money after her husband lost his sales job, and it was nothing more than he and his wife helping out a friend."
More: "Corzine began stepping up his attacks on Christie last week. The story of the loan broke on the day he was fending off Corzine's allegations that it was improper for Christie to have conversations with Karl Rove, political guru to former President George W. Bush, while he was U.S. attorney. The story was first reported last week Christie dismissed the allegation saying he and Rove never talked about criminal investigations and he criticized Corzine for trying to make it a campaign issue. 'When you're double digits down in the polls and you're desperate and you're just hoping for something to stick after you've spent millions and millions of dollars on negative ads, this is the kind of stuff that you do,' Christie" said.
PENNSYLVANIA: The Washington Post does a deep dive on Arlen Specter's newly acquired political problems.
A group opposed to the Employee Free Choice Act (or "card check") has a new Web video highlighting Specter's past opposition to the legislation -- now that he has signaled that he would vote to end debate on it.