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More 2012: Shays in, Chaffetz out

CONNECTICUT: “Former Republican Congressman Chris Shays said Monday he will officially declare his candidacy for U.S. Senate on Oct. 3, after completing his work with a government commission examining wartime contracts,” the Hartford Courant reports, adding, “Only one other Republican, Hartford attorney Brian K. Hill, has formally entered the Senate race so far. Linda McMahon, the party's 2010 nominee, is widely expected to declare her candidacy in coming weeks.” More: Shays, who earned a reputation as a centrist during his time in Congress, has already weathered an onslaught of attacks from Democrats. They cite his move to Maryland after losing to Himes as evidence that he is a political carpetbagger.”

MASSACHUSETTS: “Elizabeth Warren’s combative history with Wall Street could create a fundraising dilemma for her burgeoning Senate campaign,” The Hill writes.

NEVADA: “With three weeks to go before the Sept. 13 special election in Nevada's 2nd district, both parties are taking a fresh look at the race and re-evaluating their strategies for the stretch run. But even though the race isn't over, Republicans are starting to believe that they've avoided yet another special election loss,” Nathan Gonzales writes.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Tea Party members in Charleston hosted Sen. Lindsey Graham at a town hall meeting yesterday, where he was received much better than when he visited last year and had to ask the news media to leave the room, the Charleston Post and Courier writes. Graham attributed the more relaxed mood to his support for a debt ceiling resolution that included the “Cut, Cap and Balance” plan. “This whole debt-ceiling debate, the size and scope of government, has shown unity between me and tea party folks,” Graham said.

UTAH: Rep. Jason Chaffetz decided against challenging incumbent Sen. Orrin Hatch. “In bowing out of a U.S. Senate clash with Orrin Hatch on Monday, Jason Chaffetz avoided what he said would be a ‘multimillion-dollar bloodbath,’ but predicts Hatch is not in the clear,” the Salt Lake Tribune writes. “‘I think he’s vulnerable,’ Chaffetz said. ‘He’s got a major task ahead of him in convincing Utahns he’s still the right guy for that job. I think he’s got a serious threat of [Democratic Rep.] Jim Matheson running against him, a serious campaign, and another insurgent campaign on the Republican side.’”

Roll Call calls it “a surprising decision that follows months of preparation to challenge the six-term incumbent.” So why didn’t he run? “The Hatch campaign, led by former state party Chairman Dave Hansen, started its counterattack early. Chaffetz would have started the race well behind both organizationally and financially, even with likely assistance from conservative advocacy groups such as the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, both of which disapprove of Hatch’s voting record. By the end of June, Hatch reported more than $3.4 million in the bank, compared with Chaffetz’s $227,000. The Hatch campaign has also been working to build up support among party activists seeking to become delegates, who will be chosen at 1,850 local caucus elections March 15.”