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Starting Lineup: Steelman Catches A Big Fish Starting Lineup: Steelman Catches A Big Fish

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Starting Lineup: Steelman Catches A Big Fish

Writing On The Wall For Ensign? New polling is likely to increase the calls from Nevada Republicans for scandal-plagued Sen. John Ensign (R) to step aside and let Rep. Dean Heller (R) run for his seat. The Public Policy Polling survey -- a Democratic automated poll -- found that Ensign trails every potential Democratic challenger, while Heller leads all of them in hypothetical match ups. More troubling for Ensign: 50 percent disapprove of his job performance and nearly six in 10 say he shouldn't run for re-election. "John Ensign's poll numbers are pretty atrocious," said Dean Debnam, the firm's president. The potential Democratic challengers tested -- Rep. Shelley Berkley, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto -- all have net positive approval ratings. There has already been a movement in Nevada and D.C. Republican circles to get Ensign out of the race, and many expect him to eventually bow out. These poll numbers, even though they come from a Democratic firm, will only amplify those concerns. (An interesting side note in the survey: 68 percent of Nevada Republicans think they should have nominated someone other than Sharron Angle to face Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) last year.) Start The New Hampshire Expectations Game: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney starts out 2011 with a considerable lead among the New Hampshire Republican electorate as attention turns to the 2012 race, according to a new survey. A word of caution: It's very early to put too much weight into presidential polls. No one is officially in the race yet so no one has begun to campaign in earnest. That being said, the striking aspect of the of the NH Journal poll is the size of Romney's lead. He leads the second place finisher, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, by 23 percent -- 39 percent to 16 percent. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came in third with 10 percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich earned 8 percent, Rep. Ron Paul pulled 7 percent and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty got 4 percent. Early leads are no doubt welcome in Romney camp, but they also lead to high expectations for the former governor of a neighboring state. The Starting Five
  1. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is heading to New Hampshire on St. Patrick's Day to speak at a charity breakfast, further fueling 2012 speculation.
  2. Rudy Giuliani (R) is reportedly considering a 2012 presidential bid.
  3. Newly elected Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), known for his temper, is seeking inspiration from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).
  4. That didn't take long: Just two days after Republicans took control of the House, the Democratic National Committee is up with a hard hitting video on Friday targeting Republicans for breaking a campaign promise to cut $100 billion from the budget in 2011.
  5. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman takes on Gov. Rick Perry (R) for his claims about Texas' budget -- a major part of his 2010 campaign platform.

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