The question is no longer whether Romney competes in Iowa; the question is how much time and money he'll invest in the state that so wounded his candidacy in 2008. -- Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., sounds less like a candidate this week than he did last week. That's terrible news for Democrats; ask any senior party strategist and they'll tell you the more a candidate moves away from the idea of running for re-election, the harder it is to reverse the momentum. Democrats have already sunk $1.2 million into Nelson's re-elect. Watch to see if they keep that pace up. If the ads stop, Nelson's probably signaled his intentions to the powers that be. -- Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert released his second television ad this week, demonstrating the Leppert campaign's recognition of the fact that the other candidates in the Texas Senate race are going to have to greatly increase their name recognition if they want to keep pace with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. With Leppert already on the air statewide (he's skipping the Houston market, our sources say), all eyes turn to former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz. While conservative activists in Texas and political commentators in Washington have anointed Cruz a rising star, he still has his work cut out for him in introducing himself to the average Republican voter across the state. -- It looks like Democrats will get the candidate they want in the North Dakota Senate race: former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp is expected to jump in shortly. It's enough to make the race interesting, but it still looks like an uphill climb for Democrats to take on Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D. Berg just unseated a Democratic incumbent last year, and President Obama is unpopular in the state. Even before Heitkamp makes her bid official, Republicans are preemptively working to tie her to the president. But give Democrats credit: We've poked fun at the party for years because Heitkamp was their go-to evidence for a North Dakota bench. Now that they've actually got her in a race, they have a shot. -- For the second consecutive year, an eastern Asian religion has become the focus of a top-of-the-ticket statewide race in Kentucky. This week, Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams one-upped 2010's "Aqua Buddha" ad by accusing Gov. Steve Beshear of worshipping false idols. Why? Beshear sat in a Hindu blessing ceremony with officials of an Indian company that is bringing hundreds of jobs into the commonwealth. "As governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, I will not be climbing down into a pit and worshipping Hindu gods," said Williams. Trailing significantly in the polls and fundraising, it doesn't appear likely Williams will have the chance to make good on that promise any time soon. -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's successful effort to remove redistricting commission chairwoman Colleen Matthis was one of the most aggressive moves during this otherwise-tame redistricting cycle. Now, no one really knows where the process goes from here. Will the maps be completely redrawn? Only tweaked? Democrats could have won as many as five of the nine seats in the proposed map Matthis was involved in, but three seats were toss-ups too. The blowback won't stop this week - Democrats are fighting to keep Matthis. Legal battles over redistricting are common; legal battles over redistricting personnel much less so.
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