Starting Lineup: Singling Out Stabenow
Good Wednesday morning and welcome to December and the Starting Lineup. On the radar today: A well-heeled businessman considers a run against Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan; the DGA taps Martin O'Malley; Alaska takes Joe Miller to court (really); Mark Dayton looks in control of the Minnesota gubernatorial recount; and Mitt Romney to appear with Jay Leno tonight.
Finding A Stabenow Challenger: So far, all the discussion about the 2012 Michigan Senate race has focused on outgoing Rep. and 2010 gubernatorial contender Pete Hoekstra (R) and whether he'll challenge Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D). But here is another name you might be hearing a lot more of after the New Year: Tim Leuliette.
Leuliette is a businessman and major Republican donor who is considering the race.
"We're still digesting the last election," he told Hotline On Call Monday evening. "That's something we'll think about and talk about around the first of year."
Leuliette has made calls to prominent Michigan Republicans, according to sources in the state. He would bring a lot to the table -- most notably his checkbook.
Most recently, Leuliette was the CEO of Dura Automotive -- an auto parts distributor -- and managing director of the automotive group at Patriarch Partners -- a New York private equity firm. He held both of those positions until mid-October, so it makes sense he is looking for what he is going to do next.
If Hoekstra passes on the race (his spokesman declined to comment), Leuliette could step into the Republican void coming off a 2010 election where the GOP gained control of both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship. Michigan Republicans also have a history of being receptive to self-funding businessmen -- with Gov.-elect Rick Snyder (R) being the most recent example, along with Dick DeVos, who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2006.
Other potential Republican Senate contenders include Rep. Mike Rogers and Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, who briefly ran for governor this year.
DGA Taps O'Malley: Fresh off his re-election win this year, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) will serve as chairman of the Democratic Governor's association during the 2011 cycle, according to DGA sources familiar with the decision. A formal announcement will come Wednesday at a DGA event featuring governors and governors-elect from across the country.
O'Malley has been considered a rising star in the Democratic Party since he was elected in 2006. He was particularly successful in 2010, winning his rematch with former Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) by double-digits, in a tough environment for his party.
There are three gubernatorial races in 2011 -- Mississippi, Kentucky and Louisiana. Democrats will have to defend Gov. Steve Beshear in Kentucky, which won't be easy. In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) is considered a favorite for re-election and there is an open seat race in Mississippi, where Gov. Haley Barbour (R) is term-limited.
O'Malley will be facing off against Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who was recently named chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
Murray Takes DSCC Job: Speaking of committee chairs, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) accepted the job of chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Tuesday -- after plenty of hand wringing among Democrats. This is Murray's second stint at the helm of the DSCC -- she also led the committee in 2002. http://bit.ly/fggUdd
Alaska Challenges Miller: The state of Alaska filed a lawsuit on Tuesday calling for a federal judge to speed up its ruling on Republican Joe Miller's challenge to the Senate results -- another indication that conclusion of the race may be closing in (finally). The state is calling on the court to resolve Miller's legal challenge, which focuses on write-in ballots that did not write Sen. Lisa Murkowski's name as it appeared in her candidacy declaration, by Dec. 9.
From the AP: "They also want the judge to decide the case brought by Republican Joe Miller outright, in the state's favor, unless Miller provides proof to back up claims of fraud, which they call unfounded. 'Miller cannot invalidate votes merely by kicking up dust,' [lawyers representing Alaska] write. 'He must actually demonstrate compelling reasons why the court should do so.'" http://bit.ly/gl7lM9
There is a hearing set for Wednesday in Juneau to review Miller's challenge.