From NBC's Ali Weinberg
Here's an update on the local headlines from the top ten 2010 Senate race states. Below is the order First Read rated them, in terms of the likelihood of switching parties.
5. NEW HAMPSHIRE
NEW HAMPSHIRE: "Retiring Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., is scheduled to host a fundraising lunch Wednesday for former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte), who the National Republican Senatorial Committee recruited to run for his open seat in 2010," CQ Politics reports. "Some New Hampshire Republicans have criticized Ayotte for being handpicked by Senate Republicans to run for Gregg's seat, so Ayotte has been careful not to appear as the establishment candidate -- even declining to ask NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) for an endorsement."
Republican candidate Ovide Lamontagne writes an op-ed for the New Hampshire Union Leader criticizing Democratic opponent Rep. Paul Hodes' support of the health care bill currently making its way through Congress. Tying hodes to the national Democratic establishment, Lamontagne writes: "The public option in the Pelosi-Hodes health care bill will bring us into a government-run single-payer system in very short order...Paul Hodes and the liberals in Washington always think big government knows best, and they are wrong."
CONNECTICUT: Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon and former chief executive of WWE Wrestling apprised members of a local Rotary Club of her credentials on fiscal issues: "The best quality I have is I helped build a business from the ground up, and my mom and dad taught me you can't spend what you don't have," McMahon said, according to the Stamford Times. "We're spending too much. If the government had to run on standard accounting principles, well, they don't, and they won't. We have to not spend more than we bring in."
FLORIDA: A day after disbarred Florida lawyer Scott Rothstein pleaded not guilty to charges that he ran an intricate Ponzi scheme, Democratic Senate candidate Maurice Ferre sent out a press release calling for an "investigation into allegations that [Governor Charlie] Crist's administration traded judicial appointments in Broward County in exchange for hefty campaign contributions from Rothstein," South Florida Business Journal reports.
Crist is "pulling out all the stops to woo the Chicago Cubs to Florida for spring training," reports NBC Miami. "Crist reportedly met with Cub officials Tuesday and told them he was willing to go "as far as possible" to get the team to move it's spring training to Naples." The team currently trains in Arizona, the home state of Crist's friend Sen. John McCain.
ILLINOIS: CQ Politics reports that Democratic candidate and former Chicago Inspector David Hoffman is up with his first TV ad in the race for President Obama's former Senate seat. "Let's take that fight to the U.S. Senate," Hoffman says in the ad. "The bankers, the lobbyists and insiders have owned Washington for too long." CQ writes that"[t]he reference to bankers is an obvious jab at [primary opponent Alexi] Giannoulias, who used to manage his family's Chicago bank."
MASSACHUSETTS: Per Taegan Goddard's Political Wire, the Boston Globe reports that Rep. Edward Markey will endorse Senate hopeful Rep. Michael Capuano.
And the Boston Herald endorses Capuano, following the Boston Globe's suit.
TEXAS: In an interview with Real Clear Politics, Governor Rick Perry denies any interest in running for president in 2012. He did, however, say Sarah Palin would be a " "very, very talented and incredibly focused candidate" if she decided to run. And on the president's newly-announced Afghanistan decision, Perry said: "[American] military leaders have spent a lifetime studying tactic and politics, and they are substantially better qualified, in my opinion, than the president [who's] trying to make a decision to placate those on the left who want him to unilaterally cut and run."
The political action branch of the advocacy group Empower Texan/Texans for Fiscal Responsibility endorses Governor Rick Perry for re-election, though the group's treasurer adds that "Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison continues to be an asset working on behalf of all Texans in Washington...There is no better service she can provide for our state and country than continue the federal fight she has so ably waged on our behalf."
Stay tuned for a superpoll: Texas' top five newspapers have "joined to conduct a series of polls for the 2010 statewide political races in Texas:" The Dallas Morning News, the Austin American-Statesman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Houston Chronicle, and San Antonio Express-News will release their first poll before the March primaries.