Top of the ballot: MSNBC host rules out Senate run

Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) waits for caucus results, Tea Party could prove bad for Republicans and MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is not happy with Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).

Bennett awaits Utah caucus results

The first step of a scary renominating process for Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) took place last night in the state's caucuses, and we should get the results sometime today. Much like with the other Sen. Bennet in Colorado, Tuesday night’s results don’t technically mean anything, but they will be used to judge the incumbents strength as we head into a more binding process at the state convention. Bennett needs 40 percent there to stay on the primary ballot and 60 percent to win the nomination outright. If he hovers around 40 or 50 percent in the caucus results, his opponents will feel like they have a good chance to take him to a one-on-one primary. If he’s under 40 percent, blood will be in the water, with his opponents feeling like they can take him down at the convention and unseat him there. Bennett recognizes the peril he faces. He told the local ABC affiliate: “A lot of voters are – who have been my supporters in the past – have now said, ‘Yeah, but you were there when all these terrible things happened. We want somebody new.’”

Spot of Tea for the GOP

If the Tea Party goes third-party, Republicans could be in real trouble. A new Quinnipiac poll shows the GOP leading the congressional ballot 44-39. That’s the good news. The bad news: if the Tea Party is added to the mix as it's own entity, then Democrats open up a 36-25 lead on Republicans. We’ve seen this borne out in the polling in Nevada, where a Tea Party candidate looks like he could keep Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) safe for another term. “The Tea Party could be a Republican dream – or a GOP nightmare,” summarizes Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown. As primary foes, Tea Party types don’t tend to pose much of a threat. As third-party candidates, they can do real damage by taking just a few percentage points from the GOP in key races. The good thing for the GOP is that the former hasn’t become an overwhelming trend yet.

No Maddow for Senate

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) used the prospect of a matchup with Rachel Maddow in a fundraising e-mail, and Maddow’s having none of it. Becoming the latest MSNBC host to turn to down a Senate run, Maddow says it’s not happening.


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