"Republicans are luring new candidates into House and Senate races, and the number of seats up for grabs in November appears to be growing, setting up a midterm election likely to be harder fought than anyone anticipated before the party's big victory in Massachusetts last week," the New York Times writes. Referring to some potentially contentious Republican primaries, the paper adds, "Republicans said that the glut of candidates was evidence of the party's robustness, and that were as likely to be helpful as damaging to the party's hopes in November."
Stu Rothenberg says the fall isn't likely to be an anti-incumbent environment, but an anti-Democrat environment: "We never, or almost never, have true anti-incumbent elections… Nonincumbent Republicans who have the mantle of the establishment are also vulnerable given the current environment. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for the state's GOP Senate nomination, is the most obvious example… But if those incumbents (and establishment-backed nonincumbents) get past their primaries, they will then benefit from the public mood, which currently looks likely to punish Democrats at the ballot box… [W]hen the general election rolls around, unless there is a significant change in the national mood, voter dissatisfaction will be aimed overwhelmingly at the candidates of one party. And that is why Democratic insiders are privately raising their own estimates of party losses."
ARIZONA: "Former Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth says he's planning to run against John McCain for his U.S. Senate seat," the AP reported over the weekend. "Hayworth told The Associated Press late Friday that he stepped down as host of his radio program on KFYI-AM, a conservative radio talk show in Phoenix. Legally, he wouldn't be able to host the program and be an active candidate."
And on Friday, McCain launched a radio ad attacking Hayworth, Politico says.
ARKANSAS: "Rep. Marion Berry (D-AR) is expected to announce his retirement tomorrow morning, according to three sources briefed on the decision. Berry will become the sixth Democrat in a competitive seat to leave in the last two months but the first to announce his retirement since the party's special election loss in Massachusetts last Tuesday."
"Rep. John Boozman, the only Republican member of the Arkansas congressional delegation, said Thursday that he's weighing whether to jump into the already crowded primary contest for the seat held by Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln," the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports. "There are nine Republicans who have already lined up for the May 18 primary election."
DELAWARE: Vice President Joe Biden's office had to scramble yesterday after a Wilmington (DE) NewsJournal columnist implied that Biden didn't think his son Beau, the state's attorney general, was going to run for Senate. Politico writes that while Biden was quoted as saying, "I don't think he does either," when the interviewee mentioned a candidate's reluctance to join the race. The camp clarified that he was talking about Sen. Ted Kaufman, who currently holds the seat vacated by Vice President Biden.
FLORIDA: The Hotline on Sen. Jim DeMint, whose Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed anti-establishment candidates like Chuck DeVore in California and Florida's Marco Rubio: "Perhaps emboldened by Rubio's progress, DeMint has gone from actively supporting Rubio's campaign to actively opposing [Gov. Charlie] Crist's as well. In an email to supporters, DeMint asks for the $100K in donations by Feb. 10 -- the anniversary of a town hall meeting when Crist joined Pres. Obama at an event in Ft. Myers to support the stimulus package."
ILLINOIS: Longshot Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Schillerstrom -- he of the expletive-ridden name-recognition campaign ad -- dropped out of the race on Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, citing inability to raise funds. He threw his support to former Attorney General Jim Ryan. Memories… Here's to maybe the best campaign ad so far this cycle. We barely knew ye, Bob…
NEW YORK: Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is gearing up to challenge Gov. David Paterson in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, the New York Daily News reports. "A source close to Cuomo told The News, 'He will make an announcement at the end of March. And what he will say is that he intends to run for governor… He thinks there are a lot of problems in the state and he thinks he can help solve them.'" Responding to the rumor, Paterson responded: "I hear all kinds of reports -- a lot of them about myself -- that aren't true, so I'll let the AG handle reports about him"
But the New York Post's Dicker has this from Paterson Campaign Manager Richard Fife: "Since it's clear Mr. Cuomo is running for governor, it's time for him to stop ducking the hard questions of how he would close a $7.4 billion deficit, balance the budget and pass ethical and fiscal reforms." Cuomo's camp "had no immediate comment, but a source close to him said, 'If Andrew Cuomo had been governor last year, the state wouldn't have a $7.4 billion deficit this year, and the chaos and dysfunction it has under Paterson wouldn't exist.'"
OHIO: An Ohio News Organization poll Republican John Kasich leading incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland in the race for governor, 51%-45%, WKYC News reports.