Welcome back to Hotline Sort. Cuccinelli will run for governor of Virginia in 2013, while Cain hints he could be leaving the presidential race. Meanwhile, Gary Herbert gets a second GOP challenger, Ben Nelson gets more reinforcements, and Iowa viewers get their first TV ad from Romney. Here's today's rundown:
9) The argument, in South Carolina politics, over whether it is indeed a great day or not.
8) Democratic allies keep tacking on help on behalf of Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb.: Majority PAC , the super PAC spending money to help Senate Democrats get elected, is up this week with a small ad buy on his behalf.
Nelson has indicated he could retire after this term, but the fact that a top Democratic group is still putting money behind his re-election suggests they think he's sticking around.
7) More bad news for former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: The Wall Street Journal reports he is being investigated by a federal grand jury over possible campaign-finance violations stemming from his 2008 White House bid, including allegations that he arranged for supporters to pay off a woman who planned to say they had engaged in an extramarital affair.
6) Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, who is disliked by many tea party activists in the state, now has a second GOP challenger: Morgan Philpot, who challenged Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in 2010. GOP State Rep. Ken Sumsion was the first to announce his challenge against Herbert.
Last year, Philpot took 46 percent of the vote against Matheson, who represents a conservative Salt Lake City-area district.
5) Rep. Tom Rooney
, R-Fla., is probably a little more nervous this morning than he was yesterday: a highly-placed source affiliated with Republican Rep. Allen West
's camp tells the Miami Herald
that West is considering running against him
in the 16th District. West's 22nd District -- already a tough climb for a Republican -- stands to become even more Democratic under the state's Senate's proposed map.
4) Mitt Romney
is launching his first television ad in Iowa
, a 30-second spot that focuses on his business stewardship, and not on Obama. It's a sign his team is playing to win in Iowa, despite publicly downplaying their prospects there.
3) Virginia Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
will announce next week the he is running for governor in 2013, the Washington Post reports
. Cuccinelli is best known nationally for his role in the legal challenge against President Obama
's health care law. His decision is not a surprise, as it's well-known that he has been considering a run for higher office. Cuccinelli could face Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling
, who is expected to run as well.
2) Even as his campaign manager denied that Herman Cain
would drop out of the presidential race, Cain said on Wednesday that he's still deciding
whether to drop his bid. Cain told Fox News he will make up his mind within several days: "One week, I will have made a final decision."
1) Meanwhile, Romney is facing a scenario his advisers never really anticipated: the rise of Newt Gingrich. Romney, whose team has run a carefully calibrated campaign and withstood the rise and subsequent falls of Rep, Michele Bachmann
, R-Minn., and Herman Cain
now is beginning to get a little flustered, the Washington Post
's Philip Rucker
explains. One adviser told the Post
that taking on Gingrich is "going to be a process. It's not going to be an overnight kind of a thing, unless he steps in it. But he seems less likely than the others to do that."