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POLITICS

Biggest Unanswered Senate Campaign Questions

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Sen. Ben Nelson, (D-NE) talks with Matthew DoBias in his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday,November 30, 1020.(Chet Susslin)

3) Will Ted Cruz make a move in Texas? With Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert each up on TV already, the former state solicitor general's absence from the airwaves is glaring. He's the candidate who most seriously needs to build up his name identification, too. With a March primary looming, time is not on Cruz's side. He does not necessarily need to go up until January, when the ad war will begin in earnest, but he may opt to make his mark before the end of the fundraising period, to reassure donors. 4) Will Richard Carmona's campaign sizzle or fizzle in Arizona? Any time the president recruits a candidate into a race, we'll take notice. So national Democrats got their man when Carmona, the former Surgeon General under George W. Bush entered the race in Arizona. But he's kept a low profile so far, and isn't alone in the Democratic primary. Don Bivens, the former state party chairman who put up decent fundraising numbers last quarter, jumped in first and has sought to label Carmona as the handpicked D.C. candidate. Some food for thought: Will Carmona's past make him too conservative for a Democratic primary? Arizona is by no means a liberal state, so Carmona has that working in his favor. He'll have to show that he can live up to the hype by raising money and he'll have to prove his mettle by making inroads with an Arizona Democratic community which is still largely unfamiliar with him. Carmona got some help in that department on Monday, when former Democratic Sen. Dennis DeConcini -- the last Arizona Democrat to be elected to the Senate -- endorsed him. 5) Will Dan Liljenquist challenge Orrin Hatch? We've seen this story before: Rising Utah conservative star starts laying the groundwork for a Senate bid, launching preemptive barbs at Hatch from the longtime senator's right. Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz passed on a run; will Liljenquist follow in his footsteps or take the plunge? The state senator, who has cultivated a reputation as a policy wonk who has made his mark on entitlement reform is likely to decide at the end of this month and will likely make an announcement shortly after the new year. Meanwhile, despite all the talk of outside groups slamming Hatch, American Action Network is up with a Fox News buy defending him -- and his $4 million war chest. Nothing to scoff at.

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