-- There is a big difference between recruiting potentially strong candidates and just talking about it. In Maine and Texas -- two states identified by Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chair Patty Murray earlier this year as part of her "six in '12" program to go on offense -- Democrats have come up empty so far, as Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is on cruise control and Ricardo Sanchez has proven to be a non-factor in Texas. But this week, they had some good recruiting luck elsewhere, in Arizona and North Dakota, respectively landing Richard Carmona and Heidi Heitkamp. Neither will be favored to win the general election, but both give their party a fighting chance that didn't exist before they jumped in. -- Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., made the smart move by dropping his lawsuit against the city of Billings, but don't expect the issue to disappear from his race against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. In a campaign that is shaping up to be as nasty as it is competitive, Democrats will relish reminding voters that the wealthy congressman blamed a local fire department for the wildfire damage to his property. -- Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., had a good week, and he didn't even have to speak. Tea party freshman Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., did enough speaking -- or we should say yelling -- for the two of them. While at an informal coffee event, the north suburban Chicago congressman went off on a constituent over banks. -- In Washington State, Costco spent $22 million winning the right to sell liquor in their stores. A top Costco official said the win doesn't mean they'll be running similar initiatives in other states, but don't count on the company being able to resist the temptation: Oregon is right next door, and the state's beer and wine wholesalers are already nervous about being the next target.
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