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Florida Governor Rick Scott’s name has been thrown around Kentucky for several weeks. Scott’s attempt to stop a prescription drug tracking system has prompted state, federal and city officials* to reach out to the Floridian leader and encourage him to reconsider the cut.

Scott has also made national headlines for refusing to accept federal money for high-speed rail projects in his state.

The Washington Post cites those issues and several others in a post predicting that Scott will soon take the spotlight from the GOP governors in Wisconsin, Mississippi and New Jersey, who have each notably clashed with President Barack Obama in recent months.

*Governor Beshear, Congressman Rogers, Attorney General Conway, Lieutenant Governor Mongiardo, U.S. Drug Czar Kerlikowske and several police officers and sheriffs

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Congressman Mike Pence are both considering seeking the GOP nomination for president in 2012.

Both are undecided on whether they will run. This news may inspire them to either stay home or get moving:

…there was a straw poll last weekend of the New Hampshire Republican Party people who gathered in Derry for their annual meeting.

Manchester’s WMUR and ABC News conducted the poll, in which 273 of 500 eligible GOP attendees voted.

The results: former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has a house on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee, got 35 percent of the votes cast. And Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and father of Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., came in second with 11 percent.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty came next with 8 percent, former Alaska Gov. and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin drew 7 percent, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachman and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint each got 5 percent, and tea party leader Herman Cain took 4 percent.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indiana Rep. Mike Pence of 6th District, who have not closed the door(s) on running, were among the 3 percenters.

 

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour (who hasn’t had the best press lately) have long been friends. That could be a problem if they both decide to run for President.

From Politico:

Not “friends” in the political sense, the way fellow senators disingenuously refer to one another during floor debate, but pals who truly like each other, and have a long-standing, personal relationship. It’s a nontransactional friendship that’s uncommon in the rarefied air of national politics.

Barbour and Daniels first became close as 30-somethings working in the Reagan White House, where Barbour served as political director and Daniels headed up the inter-governmental affairs shop.

Here’s an interesting map:

That comes from the Daily Yonder (link currently unavailable) courtesy of the Rural Blog, which says:

The 125 most rural districts analyzed by the Yonder had at least 33 percent of their population living in rural areas. The rural average of all 435 House districts is 21 percent. “There are 39 rural districts that switched from Democratic representation to Republican,” Bishop and Ardery write. “These account for 65 percent of the 60 seats Republicans captured from Democrats on Tuesday.” No Republican district on the most rural list switched to Democrat.

To better predict how congress might look after the midterm elections, Politico has broken down close House contests into three categories. Every seat listed is held by a Democrat, and the categories comprise 75 seats Republicans could win.

The first group includes the most imperiled Democratic seats — these are the “must-wins” — without which the GOP has no shot at House control. It’s a roster filled with freshmen who benefited from Barack Obama’s coattails, the most vulnerable veterans and Republican-friendly open seats where the retirement of a Democratic incumbent has created a prime pick-up opportunity. If Republicans can’t win most of these seats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will take the gavel again for the 112th Congress.

The second group of seats could be labeled the “majority makers”—a class of races that are within GOP reach, but will require defeating well-prepared Democratic incumbents or winning on highly competitive terrain. If the GOP is winning most of these races on election night, a Republican majority will be close at hand. If not, Democrats still have a chance of waking up Nov. 3 with a slim margin in the House.

The third group could be described as the “landslide” class. For the most part, these districts are a tough climb for GOP candidates, either because of the strength of the Democratic incumbent or the partisan tilt of the seat. If the Democrats in this category start to fall on election night, a wave election is unfolding.

Kentucky’s 6th District–represented by Ben Chandler–is in the third group, meaning a Chandler loss could signal a near-collapse for Democrats elsewhere:

Chandler has had no problems holding this Republican-oriented, Lexington-based district but his cap and trade vote is already causing him problems in a coal-producing state.

The commonwealth’s other Democratically-controlled District, the 3rd–represented by John Yarmuth–is among 13 additional races listed as “on the bubble.” A recent Survey USA poll showed Yarmuth in a tighter than expected race against newcomer Todd Lally.

Politico’s new way of organizing races may make sense on the surface, but I suspect Ken Silverstein of Harper’s might take issue with such a broad analysis. In August, he wrote this as pundits tried to make sense of recent primaries, and fit the results into an “anti-insurgent” narrative:

America is a big place. Winning or losing state and local races depends on different issues in different places; there may not be a One-Size-Fits-All explanation for results around the country.

That’s not to say, however, that an electoral sweep–or lack thereof–in November would be a matter of coincidence.

The Kentucky gubernatorial race is next year, but the contest has been in the news since last summer, when Mayor Jerry Abramson announced he was seeking the Lieutenant Governor’s post on Governor Steve Beshear‘s re-election ticket.

But what about a Republican ticket? The Herald-Leader has a rundown of the Republicans who may challenge Beshear:

The most prominent of the Republicans mulling a challenge to Beshear is Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville. But talk by Williams, a member of the state legislature since 1985, about running for governor has failed to freeze the field of candidates for the political heavyweight.

David Adams, a former campaign director for U.S. Senate Republican nominee Rand Paul, has said he will announce a Republican ticket Thursday that hopes to pick up support from the Tea Party movement. The announcement is to come after 3 p.m. on Leland Conway’s radio show on 630 WLAP, followed by a news conference.

Adams has declined to identify the ticket, but several political blogs have mentioned that it might be Phil Moffett, a Louisville businessman and a member of the board of directors of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, and state Rep. Mike Harmon of Boyle County. Neither could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Republican State Rep. Bill Farmer of Lexington, who has pushed for state tax reform, confirmed Tuesday that he is looking at the race with Rep. Adam Koenig of Erlanger as his running mate.

Farmer, who has been in the state House since 2003, said he is disappointed that the state has not tackled changes in its tax code.

“I know a lot of people are surprised that I am talking about the race but no one has gotten out front to tackle our problems,” said Farmer.

Several Republicans say their “dream ticket” would be Williams slated with state Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer, who still enjoys much popularity in the state as a standout basketball player at the University of Kentucky in the 1990s. He is not related to Bill Farmer.

Republican House Whip Eric Cantor will be the keynote speaker at the Graves County Republican Breakfast before Fancy Farm next month.

CN2 reports:

Patricia Vincent, the Graves County Republican Party chairwoman, confirmed Saturday that Cantor has accepted the group’s invitation. She told cn|2 Politics earlier in the week she had hoped to land a Republican congressional leader but wouldn’t say who until he confirmed he would be there.

Cantor will be the first major Republican official from outside the state to appear at the breakfast in at least a decade, Vincent said. It’s unclear whether Cantor’s schedule will allow him to speak at the Fancy Farm picnic at St. Jerome Catholic Church later in the day. The political speaking portion of the picnic serves as the kick-off to the fall election season.

“I have just seen Congressman Cantor on TV quite a bit,” Vincent said. “I was impressed by the way he answered questions.”

She said while not a lot of Graves County Republicans know much about Cantor, “we needed a spark” in the breakfast and he will be it, she said.

Ripon Forum editor Lou Zickar says despite the Tea Party hype, moderation is the key to the Republican Party’s success.

The Ripon Society is a historically centrist Republican organization, and Zickar argues on their behalf in a Politico opinion piece:

By the end of this year, for example, the three biggest 2010 races for the GOP may be won by centrist Republicans.

One victory has already occurred — in Massachusetts, where centrist Scott Brown defeated liberal Martha Coakley to win the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy since 1962.

The other two races are for the Senate seats up for grabs in Illinois and Delaware. Republicans are calling these “trophy” races. It is easy to understand why — the seats were once held by Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

In both these races, the Republican candidates are centrists.

Rep. Mark Kirk in Illinois is a leader of the moderate Tuesday Group in the House. Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Castle in Delaware, a former governor, is a leading centrist and a member of The Ripon Society’s Honorary Congressional Advisory Board.

If both Kirk and Castle win — as they are now favored to — it can be viewed as a big win for the GOP. It can also be viewed as a victory for centrist Republicans.

But it may not be the only centrist win. From Meg Whitman in California to Jane Norton in Colorado to Linda McMahon in Connecticut, centrist Republicans stand poised not only to win on election night but also to pick up Senate seats held by Democrats.

[edit]

Does this mean the country is entering a new age of Rockefeller Republicanism? Of course not.

But the country may be entering a period in which — even amid all the anger and rage — the importance of centrist, solution-oriented Republicans is again recognized.

Pair that with this post from Public Policy Polling, and it seems that the best hope for either party in November could be with centrists and moderates.

It’s just another data point showing that Democratic troubles this year are not the result of them losing the center, but of conservative voters being more motivated to turn out. In places like Kentucky and Missouri, where the GOP will be slightly favored to win this fall, Robin Carnahan and Jack Conway lead their respective Republican opponents by 40 points with moderates. Democratic candidates also have 20+ point leads with moderates in places like North Carolina, Colorado, and Ohio.

Trey Grayson isn’t the only GOP-favorite candidate facing a tough challenge from a political upstart. Politico reports that Grayson, Charlie Crist in Florida, Rob Simmons in Connecticut and Carly Fiorina in California are all National Republican Senatorial Committee darlings having trouble nabbing their party’s nomination.

Back in August, 23 GOP senators, including Cornyn and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, held a D.C. fundraiser for Grayson’s bid to succeed outgoing Sen. Jim Bunning. Eight months later and just three weeks before the primary, physician Rand Paul holds a 15-percentage-point advantage over Grayson, according to the latest SurveyUSA automated poll.

Paul’s campaign, riding a wave of tea party support, said it was encouraged by the “blowback against the NRSC fundraising” among voters in Kentucky, calling it a tactical error.

[edit]

There’s a good chance the primary election upheaval may not matter in the end, given the favorable political environment for GOP candidates and the resources of some of the insurgent candidates.

“One lesson of 2010 is, no one can control all the variables. No leader or committee can change the basic equation,” said Hunter Bates, a Kentucky GOP strategist who called 2010 “an embarrassment of riches” for Republicans.

Another reason that strategists, activists and donors don’t seem overly concerned about which candidate ultimately emerges is that polls show that, in most cases, even the upstart GOP contender remains in a prime position to defeat the Democratic nominee come November.

“The reality is that at the start of this cycle, many political analysts were predicting more GOP Senate losses and yet, 16 months later, we’re on offense in at least nine Democratic seats,” said NRSC communications director Brian Walsh.

As we reported on WFPL, this year’s tax day tea party in Louisville was largely a chance for various Republican candidates to make pitches to voters. Former county GOP chair Brad Cummings was there. He attributes the increased campaign presence first and foremost to the upcoming primaries and general election. Second, though, he says the tea party is a key group of voters for many conservative candidates.

There were lots of campaign signs, but not everyone was campaigning or supporting specific candidates. Here are some photos from the 2010 tea party.

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