CAMPAIGN OVERNIGHT: Scott Brown readies Granite State rumble

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is launching an exploratory committee to run for Senate in New Hampshire, a GOP source familiar with his plans confirmed to The Hill, giving Republicans their best shot at taking down Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) this fall.

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The decision caps months of reporters and pundits attempting to read the tea leaves of Brown’s moves in the state, and confirms that Brown did in fact have his eyes on the Senate when he took a shirtless dip in the frigid waters of the Atlantic earlier this year.

But questions remain: when and how will he ramp a campaign into high gear, while he’s got a trip to Iowa on the books in early April?

Who will his team be? Sources across New Hampshire and Massachusetts dropped a handful of potential names, with Ryan Williams, the former Mitt Romney and New Hampshire GOP spokesman who has remained in constant contact with Brown, cropping up most often. But they all agreed that, as one operative put it, it’s slim pickings when it comes to campaign staff still available for work, as much of the state’s consultant class is already tied up on campaigns or in government.

How will he handle the GOP base there? Brown has already faced protests from pro-gun activists; will that discontent grow, or will the three other Republicans in the state splinter the anti-Brown vote and deliver him an easy win?

Will we again see the famous brown barn jacket and GMC pickup truck that featured prominently in his Massachusetts bids as icons of his everyman appeal?

The one question finally answered on Thursday: Brown appears to be issuing a battle cry in the Granite State.

SENATE SHOWDOWN

AR-SEN (PRYOR): Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by the Koch brothers, is spending another $700,000 against Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), hitting him for ObamaCare’s failure to let everyone keep their healthcare plans.

CO-SEN (UDALL): Rep. Cory Gardner’s (R-Colo.) former chief of staff Chris Hansen, who stepped down last year to manage Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-W.Va.) Senate race, will return to lead Gardner’s challenge to Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.).

IL-SEN (DURBIN): GOP Senate candidate and dairy magnate Jim Oberweis is down in Florida for his wife’s birthday, just days before his primary to face Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

IA-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) leads all of his GOP opponents in a new poll from Quinnipiac University, most by double digits.

LA-SEN: A new ad from the Democratic Senate Majority PAC hits Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) main Republican opponent, for his support from Koch Brothers-backed groups.

MI-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) sought to tie former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) to a controversial new Michigan law that prohibits insurance companies from covering abortion as a standard feature in their healthcare plans. “I am deeply concerned about the consequences of a special interest agenda, like this law, that makes things tougher for our middle class and those aspiring to get there. Michigan cannot afford to have a U.S. Senator like my opponent, Former National Republican Committeewoman Terri Lynn Land who would vote for this discriminatory, anti-middle class measure if it came up in Washington,” Peters said in a release.

NC-SEN (HAGAN): Tea Party favorite Greg Brannon (R) was ordered by a judge to pay $455,000 to two investors in a failed tech start-up company he helped promote after the court found he misled them. Brannon is appealing the court’s verdict.

NE-SEN: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has endorsed Midland University President Ben Sasse for Senate in Nebraska over former state Treasurer Shane Osborn. In her endorsement, the former VP nominee called Sasse the “clear conservative choice” in the race, citing a National Review cover story that featured Sasse and labeled him “Nebraska’s ObamaCare Nemesis.”

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) primary challenger Matt Bevin took advantage of the Web ad of stock McConnell footage the senator’s campaign had posted on his website to give outside groups access to stately shots of him for their own ads. His campaign subtitled the video with its take on what McConnell’s thinking (Hint: mostly violent thoughts, mostly against conservatives).

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

CA-31 (OPEN): Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) and attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes (D) won an unusual dual endorsement from the SEIU, a clear snub for former Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) in the Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.). On the GOP side, San Bernardino city councilman John Valdivia dropped out of the race, clearing the way for former Miller staffer Lesley Gooch to be the GOP standard-bearer.

CA-33 (OPEN): State Sen. Ted Lieu (D) — one of the two front-runners in the race to replace retiring Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), along with former Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel (D) — won the endorsement of the state’s SEIU chapter, boosting him in the race. Twenty-one Democrats have filed for the heavily Democratic seat.

FL-19 (OPEN): The Naples Daily News reports on the troubled history of the wheel and brake company that Florida Republican House candidate Curt Clawson led as chief executive. According to the paper, one of the company’s plants was cited for safety problems that eventually resulted in the death of a worker, and the company laid off more than 1,300 workers and closed seven plants in the U.S. while Clawson was at the helm. Clawson has pitched his business background as a main selling point in his campaign for resigned Rep. Trey Radel’s (R-Fla.) seat.

ID-2 (SIMPSON): Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) is out with his first TV ad, blasting Tea Party opponent Bryan Smith (R) as a "personal injury lawyer" and touting his conservative credentials.

NJ-3 (OPEN): Republican House candidate Steve Lonegan, who previously ran a colorful but ultimately failed campaign against New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D), said that in the GOP primary for the state’s open 3rd District, “Republicans are going to want to put their best foot forward – that’s me.” A PolitickerNJ poll showed Lonegan taking 41 percent support, while his two Republican opponents were 30 points or more behind him. Lonegan said he toppled Booker in the district when he ran for Senate, which proves he’s the best Republican to take down expected Democratic nominee Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard.

NY-21 (OPEN): Former Bush White House adviser Elise Stefanik launched her first radio ad on Thursday, which touts her as “the only conservative in the race” for New York’s open 21st District. She’s facing investment fund manager Matt Doheny, who is making his third run for the seat, and the two have split GOP endorsements in the primary. Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf, a documentary filmmaker and political neophyte, finally ended his silence and conducted interviews with the press, pledging to focus his campaign on the economy.

WV-3 (RAHALL): State Sen. Evan Jenkins, Rep. Nick Rahall’s (D-W.Va.) Republican challenger, is launching a robocall to push back on a recent super-PAC ad that touts Rahall’s record on coal. The robocall, obtained first by The Hill, features a coal miner, Republican state Del. Randy Smith, who says he’s “insulted by Nick Rahall’s dishonest new ad.”

2016 WATCH

CLINTON UP BIG IN IOWA: Hillary Clinton has a big lead over her potential 2016 GOP foes in Iowa, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

PUBLIC THINKS CHRISTIE, CLINTON KNEW: Most people do not believe New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) or former secretary of State Hillary Clinton when it comes to controversies that have happened under their watch, according to a new Bloomberg poll.

HUCKABEE TO GOP: DON'T ABANDON ABORTION: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said the GOP can’t abandon abortion as a major campaign issue, saying talking about it is “how we win elections.”

DEMS COOL TO RAND RUNNING DOUBLE: A Kentucky Senate committee passed a bill that allows candidates in the state to run for both president or vice president and a U.S. House or Senate seat at the same time, a development towards removing a hurdle to Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) potential 2016 presidential run. The bill is unlikely to pass the Democratic-controlled House, however, with House Speaker Greg Stumbo saying last week that "we kind of take the position over here that a man (who) can't decide which office he wants to run for isn't fit to hold either office."

JUST FOR FUN

MORNING IN AMERICA FOR MORNING JOE? MSNBC host Joe Scarborough will be included on a GOP presidential survey that will be conducted at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, N.H., this weekend, along with GOP presidential prospects both likely — Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) — and obscure — former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

 —This piece was corrected to reflect the fact that SEIU endorsed both Aguilar and Gomez Reyes in CA-31.

Please send tips and comments to Campaign Editor Jessica Taylor, jtaylor@thehill.com; and Campaign Staff Writers Cameron Joseph, cjoseph@thehill.com; and Alexandra Jaffe, ajaffe@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @JessicaTaylor @cam_joseph and @ajjaffe.