290,000 jobs created in April, but unemployment rate inches up to 9.9% (because more folks are looking for work)... Yesterday's Dow drop is sure to impact the financial reform debate… Hung parliament in Britain, but all signs are pointing to David Cameron being the next PM… All signs also point to Sen. Bob Bennett (R) going down in Utah tomorrow… First Read provides a tick-tock of what to expect at Saturday's GOP convention in Utah… Our Top 10 list of most vulnerable incumbents (guess who's No. 1)… By process of elimination, we have a good idea where the 2012 GOP convention will be… Paul and Mongiardo lead in new Kentucky poll… And Tim Cahill/John Weaver vs. Haley Barbour.
From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Ali Weinberg
*** A jobless story? A week ago, we all had today's jobs report circled on our calendars. It was, we thought, the most significant political event as we look ahead to November and even 2012. It still may be -- 290,000 jobs were created in April, the biggest monthly gain in four years, yet the unemployment rate inched up to 9.9% -- but it's going to have a hard time competing with the other news out there. The oil spill in the Gulf coast. The failed Times Square bombing. The situation in Greece. The Dow tumbling nearly 1,000 points before partially recovering. Whew. As for the April job numbers, the news is mostly good for the Obama White House: The 290,000 figure was much higher than forecasters were predicting; private employers added 231,000 jobs; and these numbers could calm the jittery stock market. Still, 9.9% is high. At 11:00 am ET at the White House, President Obama makes a statement on the jobs numbers; he'll be joined by Treasury Secretary Geithner, Commerce Secretary Locke, Labor Secretary Solis, and others.
*** Trading Places: Strikingly, yesterday's unprecedented Dow drop -- triggered by a trader's error? -- comes as the Senate is debating its Wall Street/financial reform bill. And yesterday's news is bound to have an impact on the legislation. As the Washington Post writes, "Thursday's dramatic gyrations added fuel to the biggest policy debate in Washington: how to regulate Wall Street. That billions of dollars in stock-market value could be wiped out so abruptly, with such a lack of certainty about the cause, is a reminder of the high stakes involved in a system that is little understood by average investors."
*** Hung parliament in Britain: David Cameron's Conservative Party has won the most seats in parliament, but not a working majority. "David Cameron is to set out within hours his plans to form a 'stable' government, after the Tories won most votes but not an overall majority," the BBC says. "With results still coming in, the Tories have 293 seats in a hung parliament. He will say he plans to govern 'in the national interest.' Nick Clegg, leader of the third biggest party the Lib Dems, said the Tories had the first right to seek to govern. But Labour leader Gordon Brown is also hoping for a deal with the Lib Dems."
*** Bennett going down? As we've written over the past few days, Saturday could very well bring us the first incumbent to lose this election cycle. That's when 3,500 Utah Republicans hold their nomination convention, and polls show that three-term Sen. Bob Bennett (R) -- who's running for a fourth term -- might not even qualify to make it to the state's June 22 primary. There are seven other Republicans who are challenging Bennett, including former state general counsel Mike Lee and venture capitalist Tim Bridgewater. A recent Salt Lake Tribune poll of the delegates who will attend the convention found Bennett in third place (at 16%), trailing Lee (37%) and Bridgewater (20%). Ironically, the reliably conservative Bennett finds himself in trouble for his 2008 TARP and his work with Democrat Ron Wyden on bipartisan health-care legislation.
*** UT GOP convention tick-tock: The convention gets underway at noon ET, and the eight Senate candidates begin giving seven-minute presentations -- Mitt Romney will introduce Bennett during Bennett's -- that start around 12:45 pm ET. The first vote takes place after those speeches, and the Top 3 finishers make it to the next round. The second round of voting, which begins with one-minute speeches, is estimated to start around 3:30 pm ET, and the Top 2 make it the final round. Once someone gets 60% -- in the first, second, or third votes -- then that candidate becomes the party's nominee. If no one gets 60%, then the Top 2 finishers will compete in the state's June 22 primary. So for Bennett to avoid defeat, he will need to finish in the Top 2 and get more than 40% in the last round of voting. (But a Deseret News poll found that 41% of convention-goers absolutely will not vote for Bennett.) The final results should be known by 6:00 to 6:30 pm ET.
*** TARP -- a sleeping giant of an issue: One other thing: If Bennett goes down, and if Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas and Gresham Barrett in South Carolina also lose in their upcoming primaries, then we'll have good evidence that TARP is playing a huge role in American politics. Bennett, Lincoln, and Barrett voted for the bailout, as did many other Dem and GOP members.
*** First Read' Top 10 most vulnerable incumbents: If it's Friday, it's time for another First Read Top 10 list. Today, pegged to tomorrow's GOP convention in Utah, we look at the folks considered to be this cycle's most endangered incumbents.
1. Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT): Decision Day: Saturday. For the reasons above, he's No. 1 on our list.
2. Gov. Jim Gibbons (R-NV): D-Day: June 8. Dogged by a messy divorce, cheating allegations, and scandal, Gibbons is hardly his party's choice for governor -- that's Brian Sandoval -- despite being the incumbent.
3. Rep. Ahn "Joseph" Cao (R-LA): D-Day: Nov. 2. He represents a New Orleans district once held by William "Money in the Freezer" Jefferson (D). It's an overwhelmingly African-American district, and Obama won 75% of the vote there in '08.
4. Gov. Chet Culver (D-IA): D-Day: Nov. 2. Polls show him trailing possible GOP nominee Terry Branstad (R) by double-digits, and Culver's campaign has undergone multiple shakeups.
5. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV): D-Day: Nov. 2. The Senate majority leader has a big target on his back, and he has been trailing a lackluster field of Republicans for nearly a year.
6. Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD): D-Day: Nov. 2. He's from left-leaning Maryland, but this freshman represents a district that McCain won in '08, 59%-40%.
7. Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM): D-Day: Nov. 2. The freshman is a top GOP target and will have a tough time in this swing district against former Rep. Steve Pearce.
8. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR): D-Day: May 18 or Nov. 2: The moderate senator has a tough primary later this month. And if she survives that, she automatically becomes a top GOP target in the general.
9. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH 15): D-Day: Nov. 2. In 2008, she eked out a win by less than a percentage point, 45.94%-45.18%. And this isn't 2008…
10. Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL): D-Day: Nov. 2: This might not be the best environment -- Blago, Burris, even Scott Lee Cohen -- to be the incumbent governor of Illinois.
*** Time to make those Tampa hotel reservations? Looking ahead to 2012, we have a good idea where the Republican Party is going to hold its political convention. How come? Because the RNC had narrowed down its choices to Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and Tampa, FL. But with Latinos boycotting Arizona, and with Romney still considered the GOP front-runner (just how many stories on the Mormon Church would the media do if Republicans held their convention in Salt Lake with Romney as the nominee?), it seemingly looks like Tampa is going to be the pick by process of elimination.
*** Set your TiVo: RNC Chairman Michael Steele appears on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports," which begins at 1:00 pm ET.
*** Super Senate Tuesday: In Kentucky, a new poll has Rand Paul leading Trey Grayson by 12 points (44%-32%), and also shows Dan Mongiardo up seven points (39%-32%) over Jack Conway. In Pennsylvania, the chairman of the state Dem party says that Joe Sestak beating Arlen Specter would have "cataclysmic" consequences for the party's ability to win in the general election, Politico writes.
*** More midterm news: In California, Sarah Palin endorsed Carly Fiorina in the Senate GOP race… In Hawaii, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen said he's reevaluating whether to spend additional money in that special congressional election… In Iowa, a new poll shows Chuck Grassley (R) below 50% in his race against Roxanne Conlin (D)… In Massachusetts, Tim Cahill and John Weaver punch back at Haley Barbour… And in North Carolina's Senate run-off, Cal Cunningham has challenged Elaine Marshall to a series of debates.
Countdown to UT GOP convention: 1 day
Countdown to NE and WV primaries: 4 days
Countdown to AR, KY, OR and PA primaries, and PA-12 special: 11 days
Countdown to HI special election: 15 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 179 days