As the 2012 presidential election heats up, both parties are pushing hard in congressional and gubernatorial races across the country. While Republicans work to regain control of the Senate, Democrats are vying to pick up seats in the GOP-controlled House. Below, a rundown on election news happening beyond the presidential field.
JOE WALSH TO PICK A DISTRICT TODAY
Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh said he will announce today whether he'll switch districts in his 2012 reelection bid. State redistricting left Walsh, a Tea Party favorite who's gained national attention for his radical views, with the decision to run against fellow GOP Rep. Randy Hultgren or take on the Democratic nominee in the 8th district, who will likely be Tammy Duckworth, former assistant secretary in the federal Veterans Affairs Department. Walsh said he's reluctant to hand over a district to the Democrats.
BOTH PARTIES WAIT IT OUT IN NEBRASKA
Whether Nebraska's open Senate seat swings blue or red in 2012 will mostly likely hinge on whether Sen. Ben Nelson, the Democratic incumbent, decides to run for reelection. If the 70-year-old Nelson doesn't run, Democrats could very well lose the seat in the conservative-leaning state -- if, that is, the GOP can produce a surefire candidate, which they have yet to do. Republicans think they've found their man in Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman, and they have been aggressively trying to convince him to enter the race. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other top GOP leaders are laying it on thick. "It would take a lot to change my mind, but their argument is persuasive," Heineman told The New York Times.
Meanwhile, speculation abounds over whether Nelson will decide to run. Several signs suggest that he will: Majority PAC has been airing ads supporting him, he began putting together a campaign staff and he has released internal polling numbers. But much to Democrats' dismay, Nelson hasn't agreed to run yet. He's expected to announce his decision over the holidays.
In a win for Democrats, the Colorado Supreme Court said today it will uphold new congressional maps proposed by Democrats and Latino groups who argued the population had significantly changed over the last decade and the maps should reflect more "modern, competitive districts." Republicans tried to block the proposal, but the court upheld the new maps. GOP Rep. Mike Coffman's will see his seat get a lot less cushy; he'll be very vulnerable to a Democratic challenger in the redrawn district. GOP Rep. Scott Tipton will also face a tougher race in 2012.
Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) and former Sen. George Allen (R), candidates for senate in Virginia, will face off for the first time in a one-on-one debate Wednesday. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has more analysis on the candidates.
Last week Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) was enjoying a big lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in the Florida senate race, but a new Public Policy Polling report shows the numbers have flipped -- Nelson now has a double-digit lead over Mack.
Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) has picked up an important endorsement in his 2012 Senate bid, Politico reports: Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Support from the Latino congressman and Hispanic advocate is key in a state where Latinos make up roughly 46 percent of the population -- the highest of any U.S. state.
Elizabeth Warren's T-shirt campaign slogan contest is nearing a close, down to the final five slogans. The campaign is asking people to vote on their favorites here. The finalists are:
- The best candidate money CAN'T buy
- Middle class folks buy shirts, not senators.
- Elizabeth has my vote (front) / Elizabeth has my back (back)
- I'm with Warren, not Wall Street
- A vote for Elizabeth is a vote for you
The Warren campaign also released a new video ad: