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Hotline Sort: That Bruning Feeling

6) The negative campaigning in the West Virginia gubernatorial race is not just happening on the Democratic side -- the GOP primary contest is also growing increasingly ugly. Businessman Bill Maloney's (R) campaign has called former Secretary of State Betty Ireland (R) a "liberal" in a radio ad and Ireland's campaign is saying Maloney "has yet to come out with any ideas for West Virginia" in an automated call to GOP households, the Charleston Daily Mail reports. The Daily Mail also notes that the Democratic Governors Association called GOP households last week to test a couple of negative messages about the two GOP front-runners. And the West Virginia AFL-CIO, which is backing House Speaker Rick Thompson in the Democratic race, broke an earlier pledge to take the "high road" and not attack other Democrats. Instead, the union launched a TV ad attacking acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D). 5) Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman's political action committee has added more operatives to its communications team, the Washington Post reports. James Richardson, who initially signed with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour's campaign and Matt Connelly, who has worked for former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), will be signing on. Meanwhile, Huntsman was scheduled to meet with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie later this week, but that meeting has been postponed. 4) We reported Tuesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) will deliver a landmark address on health care Thursday in Michigan. He'll also make his first visit to Iowa this year on May 27. 3) The Tea Party Express is making its first endorsement of this cycle Wednesday and is backing Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R). The endorsement further solidifies Bruning's position as the clear GOP front-runner and underscores the Tea Party group's desire to unseat Sen. Ben Nelson (D). What's more, at a time when Bruning's main GOP opponent, Treasurer Don Stenberg is questioning Bruning's conservative credentials, following reports about Bruning's former liberal views in law school. Bruning will be appear with the Tea Party Express at a press conference in Washington later this morning. Stay tuned to Hotline On Call for more coverage. 2) Former Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez (D) is expected to file paperwork to begin a Senate campaign Wednesday, according to a Democratic source close to the campaign. The source said he will announce his intentions on his Facebook page this morning. Democrats see an opening to compete for the seat being vacated by retiring-Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (D), because of the state's fast-growing Hispanic population. But as we've noted before, Texas is still very much an uphill climb for the party and recent history has shown that Democrats have been excited about several statewide candidates, only to see them lose in the general election. And while Hispanic population growth is exploding, it is not the same as voter participation. Democrats will have to work hard to turn out new Hispanic voters to give Sanchez a fighting chance. Sanchez's announcement comes a day after President Obama was in Texas for an address in which he made a renewed pitch for immigration reform. 1) Obama also attended a fundraiser in Austin Tuesday, and he included the killing of Osama bin Laden to the rundown of administration achievements in his stump speech. Meanwhile, senior officials say Obama is preparing a fresh outreach to the Muslim world in coming days, an approach that will ask those in the Middle East and beyond to reject Islamic militancy in the wake of bin Laden's death and embrace a new era of relations with the U.S,, the Wall Street Journal reports.

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