Voting Starts In Chicago: It's go time for Rahm Emanuel on Monday, as voting in the Chicago Mayor's race officially begins. Now that he's officially on the ballot, Emanuel is the clear frontrunner and, on Sunday, he boasted the endorsement of the Chicago Sun-Times. Are there any surprises left in this race? New Democratic Megafirm: Two large Democratic consulting firms are joining forces. 4C Partners, which is led by veteran Democratic operative Brian Smoot, is merging with Message & Media, a New Jersey-based shop. Both firms were closely tied to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last cycle. Smoot handled the DSCC's independent expenditures, and Message & Media crafted several ads for the committee. The new firm will be called 4C/M&M. The Starting Five 1. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) says Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) would be a "strong candidate" if she runs for president. And if he runs -- which is looking increasingly likely -- expect to hear a lot more about Pawlenty's role in urging an Indian company to steer clear of investing in Iran. 2. Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (R) is caught in a tough spot as he continues to explore a Senate run: When and if he should resign before his term ends in June to focus on what will undoubtedly be a crowded Republican primary. 3. Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) confirms what we've thought for a while: He's considering a run against Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenownext year. The remarks are some of his first on the Senate race. Former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R), who has also been silent about the contest, also said she is considering a bid. 4. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is back in Israel this week, which reminds us of this New Yorker profile that was reported last time he was there. 5. How big is the potential Republican White House candidate pool? Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer is reportedly looking at the race.
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