ARKANSAS: "Senate Democrats and Republicans were left shaking their heads Saturday at Sen. Blanche Lincoln's (Ark.) decision to be the last Democrat to declare her intentions on Saturday night's major health care reform vote," Roll Call writes. "Facing a tough 2010 re-election fight back home, Lincoln was one of three centrist Democrats who withheld their votes on starting the health care debate until shortly before the vote. However, by waiting until after both Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Mary Landrieu (La.) declared, Lincoln arguably became the decisive vote that put the Democratic bill over the top. Of the three, Lincoln is the only one up for re-election next year… Though Democrats were loath to publicly criticize Lincoln after she took a tough vote for them, many said privately they did not understand why she put herself in that position."
CALIFORNIA: Gender Wars: "California state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore (R) fired back at his U.S. Senate primary opponent Carly Fiorina (R) on Twitter today after she said she is the better candidate because she is a woman."
CONNECTICUT: Senatorial candidate Linda McMahon (R) responded yesterday to a question about Khalid Sheik Mohammed's upcoming civilian trial by saying she will "probably have more firm policy statements after the first of the year." McMahon opponent Rob Simmons' spokesman issued a statement saying McMahon's words "raise serious questions about her readiness to serve as U.S. Senator."
FLORIDA: Charlie Shift? Senate candidate Gov. Charlie Crist (R) gave Florida Republicans "a dose of conservative talking points" at a county GOP meeting. He said health care reform was being pushed "almost literally down our throats" and that Republicans need to "stop it in its tracks."
Crist also proclaimed: It would be "hard to be more conservative than I am on [the] issues."
KANSAS: Roll Call reports on the GOP contenders lining up for KS-3. "A handful of the potential GOP candidates met at 7:30 this morning in Johnson County. Those who attended the meeting agreed to start campaigning and raising money earlier in order for the viable candidates to emerge before the late August primary next year so the party can avoid an intraparty contest so close to the general election."
National Democratic operatives told First Read yesterday that they are confident they have at least as good a shot as the Republicans to win this seat, given that Obama won the district, which is mostly suburban, includes the University of Kansas, has a high education rate and is fairly affluent. It's a swing district, for sure. But two things matter to the outcome of swing districts": (1) the candidate and (2) the national environment. Bottom line: Moore would have held the seat. DCCC officials also said they are not concerned that this particular retirement will lead to more retirements.
MASSACHUSETTS: "Two of the leading candidates for the US Senate from Massachusetts vehemently defended Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island yesterday in his uncommonly public dispute with the Providence bishop, saying the Catholic Church is acting exclusionary," The Boston Globe writes. Martha Coakley and Michael Capuano are both Catholics, but took their shots at the Church during a forum yesterday. Remember, Kennedy is the son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who used to hold the seat for which Coakley and Capuano are now running.
"Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker, sending an early signal about the fiscally conservative, socially moderate administration he hopes to build, selected as his running mate yesterday Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei, a veteran lawmaker who is also openly gay. ... Baker, whose brother is gay, also supports gay marriage."
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte "veered off the topic" at a VFW luncheon on fiscal conservatism to talk about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. She called the Justice Department's decision to give him a civilian trial "irresponsible."
NEW JERSEY: Finally… "In a radio interview with WTOP in Washington, [Lou Dobbs said] he wants a dialogue with immigrant rights groups 'to try to bridge some of these conflicts and try to create solutions,'" the New York Daily News notes. "Asked during the WTOP interview if speculation about an Oval Office bid is 'crazy talk,' Dobbs, 64, replied, 'What's so crazy about that? Golly! ... Well, I'll tell you this much - it's one of the discussions that we're having… For the first time, I'm actually listening to some people about politics.' Robert Dilenschneider, a Dobbs spokesman, said a White House bid would be "way down the road." He said an interim step would probably be a 2012 bid for the Senate seat now held by Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)."