Top of the ballot

It’s on in Kentucky, where Trey Grayson launched his first GOP Senate primary ad and Rand Paul launched a response ad within 12 hours. Kudos to the Paul campaign on the rapid response. Grayson went negative, and Paul immediately went up with an ad rebutting Grayson’s claims AND attaching him to President Obama. Combined with the narrative of Grayson going negative early, this could be a win for Paul. Grayson’s ad is a little smoother, but it’s notable that Paul’s campaign is on the ball and able to respond quickly. There have been questions about just how good his campaign operation will be.

Waiting on Hill

Rep. Baron Hill’s (D-Ind.) decision to entertain a Senate campaign is troubling for Democrats, but don’t count on him running. Hill has eyed the governor’s mansion in 2012, and his comments saying he will look at a Senate bid don’t exactly sound like those of a probable candidate. It’s possible that Hill feels a little slighted being passed over in favor of Ellsworth while Hill was out of the country on a congressional delegation. It’s easy to see him inserting his name into the dialogue for a few days and then stepping aside gracefully. If, for some reason, he did challenge Ellsworth for the nomination, both his and Ellsworth’s House seats became GOP-favored.

Rubio to … South Carolina?

Marco Rubio is heading to the presidential primary state of South Carolina in what is looking more and more like a PR mistake. Rubio is surging in the polls in his Senate primary with Gov. Charlie Crist, but now that he’s looking more and more like the favorite in that race, the honeymoon is over. The press will look for chinks in the armor, and a multi-stop tour with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) can make it sound an awful lot like Rubio is looking beyond 2010 and toward 2012. Look for the media to run with that narrative.

Mitch Daniels too?

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’s (R) Sherman-esque statements about not running for president in 2012 no longer apply. The governor, who has emerged as a potentially strong outsider candidate, is now leaving the door open to pursuing a challenge to Obama. He’s definitely worth keeping an eye on, as one of the few governors to remain popular – and win reelection – in a difficult economic time.

Check out my story today on the situation in New York's 23rd district. Doug Hoffman is again lining up big-name support, but he's fighting a different battle with Republicans this time around.