Frank: Three or four House members may run for Kennedy's seat

Three or four Massachusetts lawmakers may look at running for the vacant seat in their state, but many will be discouraged because of plum House positions, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Thursday.

"Frankly, in 2004, most of us were thinking about running when John Kerry looked like he might become president, because we were in the minority," Frank said in a telephone interview on MSNBC. "And when you're in the minority, you don't have much of an impact."

Frank backed the idea of an interim senator to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) before a special election could be held, but said it would be a mistake for some lawmakers to give up high-ranking positions in the House.

But the veteran House member, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, seemed to take himself -- and others -- out of consideration for the Senate seat.

"I've got a committee chairmanship that's very important to me and to the things I'm trying to do," Frank said, naming Reps. Ed Markey (D) and Jim McGovern (D) as others with important positions.

"I think three or four may run, but I think many of us have positions now that it would be a mistake to give up," he added.

Frank praised the late senator, but noted that his voice had been absent for some months now in the Senate, as Kennedy had been holed up in Massachusetts during his struggle against cancer.

Candidate accused of abandoning Arena Football League

Ohio House candidate Jim Renacci's (R) day job as an Arena Football League owner was supposed to help him in his race against Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio).

But at least one AFL fan isn't happy to see Renacci take the plunge, noting that he was supposed to be responsible for saving the league from its impending doom.

Writing in the Grand Rapids, Mich., Press (where they also have an AFL team), columnist Brian VanOchten tears Renacci a new one:
No wonder the Arena Football League remains in limbo.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Jim Renacci, co-owner of the Columbus Destroyers and leader of the AFL Board of Directors' restructuring effort, has been preoccupied with launching a political campaign.

Renacci filed paperwork to run for a U.S. House seat in northeast Ohio.

And here's the punch line: He says his priority will be job creation.

The lack of leadership from Renacci, former mayor of Wadsworth, Ohio, has resulted in hundreds of jobs lost in numerous communities -- including Grand Rapids -- that supported AFL teams.

The AFL canceled its 2009 season last December because of financial problems amid crumbling economic conditions. The league recently announced it suspended operations indefinitely.

So, now, it appears Renacci has abandoned the league.

Vt. Gov. Douglas declines reelection, bid for the White House

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas (R) announced Thursday that he would not seek reelection to a fifth term in office, declining to run for any higher office in the immediate future.

"I will not seek another term as governor of Vermont," Douglas said during a press conference at Vermont's statehouse in Burlington.

"I know there will be some speculation about my future plans," Douglas quickly added. "I am not running for president. I'm not running for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House or any other office in 2010."

Douglas, a centrist Republican, has been elected to four two-year terms as Vermont's governor. National Republicans had sought to draw him into the Senate race in 2006, to run against then-Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the open seat.

While Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is up for reelection in 2010, Sanders won't be up until 2012 -- leaving the slightest possibility open that Douglas could challenge the considerably less entrenched Sanders (relative to Leahy, at least) in that cycle.

Douglas cited a desire to hand over the reins of state government to someone new as part of his desire to decline reelection, noting that his first grandson had been born recently, and that he wished to spend more time with family after a grueling work schedule.

Biden wants more Kennedys in politics, maybe to fill Senate seat

Biden said he hoped younger Kennedys would pursue elected office when asked during an appearance on NBC this morning whether a Kennedy family member should succeed the late senator.

"They have so much talent," Biden said, referencing his having spent time with many members of the Kennedy family while attending the funeral of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. "There are some remarkable young women and men in that family who are totally, thoroughly capable of being United States Senator, and governor."

"I hope some of them decide that elected public office is a battlefield they want to compete in," the vice president added.

Many Kennedys have pursued public life, from Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and onetime Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D) to California First Lady Maria Shriver.

Some Kennedy relatives have been discussed as potential heirs to Ted Kennedy's senate seat, including his widow, Vicky, and former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-Mass.), the senator's eldest son.

Mass. Gov. Patrick says succesion bill likely to advance

The late Sen. Edward Kennedy's (D-Mass.) request to have a quick successor named to fill his Senate seat is a "reasonable request" that could make its was through the Massachusetts legislature quickly, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) said Thursday.

Patrick reiterated pledges he made Wednesday to sign a bill giving him the power to appoint an interim senator, and said he believed that state lawmakers may take up such legislation soon.

"I'm talking regularly with legislative leaders, and they're not, my sense is, in principle opposed to the idea," Patrick said during an interview on MSNBC. "There's a bill actually pending already. The thinking in the legislature is that they might take up the bill sooner" than had been thought, he added.

The proposal would reverse a 2004 law put in place by Democrats in the state house during the presidential election, fearing that then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) would appoint a GOP candidate to replace Sen. John Kerry (D) in the Senate, should Kerry have won the presidency.

Patrick pointed out that he wasn't then in office, but that the bill to give him the power to appoint an interim senator between Kennedy's death and a special election was reasonable.

"I think it's a very reasonable request, and it was so like Sen. Kennedy to look ahead and around the corner," he said.. "Given the significance of the proposals before the Congress right now, I think it's important to have two senators."

State legislator to give Rep. Don Young another battle

Alaska state Rep. Harry Crawford (D) will challenge Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) in 2010, giving the embattled incumbent his second-straight quality opponent.

"It's time for our state to have a member of Congress who offers fresh ideas backed by new energy and enthusiasm," Crawford said in a statement. "Whether it's strengthening our economy ... or getting Alaska's energy resources to market, I'm committed to finding solutions that make sense for Alaska."

Young has already announced his reelection bid. He narrowly defeated now-Gov. Sean Parnell (R) and former state Rep. Ethan Berkowitz (D) last year in the primary and general elections, respectively. But ethical issues continue to dog him, and he saw longtime Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) go down alongside him last year thanks to similar issues.

Crawford has met with leaders from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). And he is a giant-killer; he won his seat in the state legislature in 2000, when he defeated powerful Republican leader Ramona Barnes by less than 100 votes.

Retired colonel is Rep. Kissell's first opponent

Retired Army Col. Lou Huddleston (R) announced Wednesday that he would run against Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) in 2010.

"Since Larry Kissell has gone to Washington, things have gotten worse, not better," Huddleston said in a statement. "The citizens of the 8th congressional district deserve a principled leader who represents them, not a yes man for the out-of-touch politicians in Washington."

First, the good: Huddleston is a black Republican with a solid resume in a district that is 27 percent black. If he can steal some of that demographic from Kissell, he'll have a real good shot in a swing district.

The bad: Huddleston lost by a big margin in a state House campaign last year, 62-38, against an incumbent Democrat.

National Republicans view Huddleston as a promising candidate, but he isn't a field-clearer, so it will be interesting to see who else gets in this race after former Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) said last week that he wouldn't seek his old seat.

Hayes has offered Huddleston some praise, but others, including Union County District Attorney John Snyder, have also shown some interest in the race.

Tennessee Valley Authority official Linwood Faulk recently announced that he would not run for the seat and would support Huddleston.

GOP candidate demands Dodd reject HELP chairmanship

One of Sen. Chris Dodd's (D-Conn.) potential Republican opponents next fall is calling on Dodd to reject the permanent chairmanship of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee.

Dodd had managed the HELP committee in the absence of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who passed away late Tuesday night, in addition to his responsibilities as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Republican state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, a GOP primary candidate to face off against Dodd, demanded the incumbent Democrat reject taking over the HELP committee.

"I am calling on Senator Dodd to decline the position of the HELP Committee Chairman, if it is offered to him," Caligiuri said in a statement. "He should be finishing the job he has barely started of fixing the financial sector problems that got us into this economic disaster in the first place, and not spending his time promoting ill advised health care legislation."

Dodd said earlier today in a teleconference that he wasn't sure what his status with the committee would be going forward, and that it would take a few weeks to sort it out.

"Only in Washington would someone who failed miserably at one crucial job be considered for taking the reins on another important front," Caligiuri said. "In typical DC fashion, Senator Dodd is all politics all the time, hoping to secure this new post to dust his past failures under the rug and forge ahead with yet more bad legislation."

Campaign Update: Schumer's dis, another Ill. Senate candidate

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) is up with an ad before he even has an opponent for 2010. The ad talks about Dorgan's work on energy issues, but the real message is: "Hey, Gov. Hoeven, I'm ready for you, so you had better think twice before entering this race."

A new Republican poll shows state Attorney General Bill McCollum (R) building a double-digit lead over state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D), 48-37. This is the second GOP poll this month to show McCollum opening up a big lead.

In the latest sign that she's planning to resign, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) has put her Virginia house on the market. It doesn't necessarily mean anything on it's own, but it's part of a growing puzzle.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) didn't exactly do the Democratic nominee in the upcoming New York special election a favor by reminiscing about state Sen. Darrel Aubertine's (D) would-have-been candidacy. What's troubling here is that Schumer is one of the sharpest political talkers in the biz, so it's just too tempting to read into his words. I think it's a reasonable question to start asking just how hard Democrats are going to push in this race, especially given that they aren't defending a seat, as they were in the other special election in the Empire State. With the national environment turning on them a bit, they could certainly save some face by not even trying. Perhaps the former DSCC chairman is hinting at this? (Note: pure speculation)

Place your bets! Gov. Charlie Crist (R) aims to appoint a replacement for Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) by the end of this week. Two current House members have pulled their names from the running, and this is sure to be a placeholder pick (given that Crist himself is running for the seat in 2010). So as far as Washington goes, there probably won't be any dominoes, and we're pretty much waiting for the next Ted Kaufman.

Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman adds his name to the Democratic Senate primary in Illinois, joining state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Chicago Urban League President Cheryle Jackson. Having another Chicago-based, second-tier candidate should help Giannoulias by diluting the anti-frontrunner vote and splitting Chicago, but Hoffman's corruption-buster reputation could also draw attention to some of the less attractive aspects of the Giannoulias candidacy. Whatever the case, Hoffman has been good at upsetting the Daley machine, so he's got plenty of enemies in this Senate primary.

Poll shows Sen. Lincoln in serious reelection trouble

It might be time to start looking at Arkansas as a marquee Senate state in 2010.

According to a new survey from Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling, Sen. Blanche Lincoln's (D-Ark.) net approval rating has dropped by double digits in the last five months, to below 40 percent approval, and she is virtually tied with three Republicans - all of whom have favorability numbers in the single digits.

The state is shaping up similar to Nevada, where a series of unknown Republicans are already polling competitive with - or leading - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The different between the two is that Reid has long been unpopular in his home state, while Lincoln still had a net positive approval rating in March (45 percent positive/40 percent negative, according to PPP).

But that was five months ago. Thanks to Democratic initiatives and the very conservative nature of the state, Lincoln's approval is now 36 percent positive and 44 percent negative.

She polls at 40 percent in three potential general election matchups, trailing state Sen. Gilbert Baker and businessman Curtis Coleman by 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively, and leading attorney and Iraq/Afghanistan veteran Tom Cotton by 1 percent.

In other words, Republicans might not need a big-name candidate. And that's good for them, because they're not getting one.

The most interesting part of the poll might be the fact that Lincoln is viewed favorably by just 62 percent of Democrats. Basically, conservative Democrats who could hold their nose before are now getting a taste of the more liberal element of the party's leadership, and they don't like it.

Lincoln's numbers track closely with Obama's, and something tells me his fate could be hers.