Welcome back to Hotline Sort. Ben Nelson's retirement puts the GOP in the driver's seat in Nebraska as Democrats float Bob Kerrey's name. Meanwhile, the Neumann/Thompson battle over fundraising emails rages on in Wisconsin, Washington state will release its redistricting map, and Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., could announce his retirement today Here's today's rundown:
10) Election commissioners drawing the congressional lines for the new Washington state map have reached an agreement, and will be releasing the new map today at 2:00 EST. Expect Republican Reps. Dave Reichert and Jaime Herrera Beutler to get safer seats, while the new 10th District will likely be a solidly-Democratic seat.
9) The Wall Street Journal takes a closer look at data from Catalist, an organization with Democratic ties that studies voter rolls. Some troubling signs for Democrats, and in particular, the president's reelection team:
Republican-oriented voters have run slightly ahead of presumed Democratic voters in new registrations in North Carolina throughout 2010 and 2011.
The picture is similar among new registrations nationally. Democrats had a 2-to-1 advantage in 2008, but in the most recent quarter, Republicans were slightly ahead, Catalist found.
8) Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., who has served in the House since 1985, will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. to discuss his health following his recent hospitalization, North Carolina's News 14 reports. It could be an opportunity for the 80-year-old congressman to discuss whether he plans to seek reelection in 2012.
Stay tuned to Hotline On Call for the latest developments.
7) The New York Times takes a closer look today at Mitt Romney's habits when interacting with voters out on the campaign trail. Much has been written about Romney's often awkward exchanges. An interesting nugget from the piece: the former Bay State governor often tries to play something of a guessing game, venturing guesses about a person's age or ethnicity (often incorrectly, the piece notes).
To wit: This recent exchange from New Hampshire: "'Daughter?' he asked a woman sitting with a man and two younger girls at the diner in Tilton, N.H., on Friday morning. Her face turned a shade of red. 'Wife.'"
6) The Democratic women's group EMILY's List has released its GOP presidential candidate scorecard
. The higher the score, the worse the record is, according to metrics established by the abortion rights group. Newt Gingrich
scores highest, while Texas Gov. Rick Perry
has the lowest score.
5) Gingrich says he wouldn't
vote for Rep. Ron Paul
, R-Texas, if the congressman was the GOP nominee.
4) The Democratic bench in Nebraska is very thin, and following Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson
's decision not to run for reelection, the prospects are bleak for the party. The Lincoln Journal-Star floats the following names
as potential Democratic candidates, with the caveat that none is viewed as likely to run at this point: Former Sen. Bob Kerrey
, Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler
, state Sen. Steve Lathrop
and former Lt. Gov. Kim Robak
. Kerrey, in particular, would be a big get for Democrats, given his statewide name ID. But he lives in New York, a fact Republicans would exploit in a campaign. He also passed up a campaign in 2008, under much more favorable circumstances.
3) I noted on Tuesday morning
that former Wisconsin GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson
's team sent out a fundraising email that pointed to criticism former GOP Rep. Mark Neumann
has leveled against Gov. Scott Walker
. Neumann's team hits back today with a fundraising email of its own:
"I just don't believe Tommy Thompson would have authorized his campaign to go negative on the second day of Christmas just to raise money," writes former state Treasurer Jack Voight
It's clear Thompson's team sees an opportunity to drive a wedge between supporters of the governor -- who now faces the likely possibility of a recall election next year -- and his 2010 primary opponent, Neumann, who went negative against Walker in the campaign. Keep an eye on how heavily team Thompson presses the matter in the new year.
2) Let the (Iowa) games begin. On Tuesday in Iowa, Gingrich sought to portray Romney as an establishment defender of big government, the Washington Post notes
. Romney, meanwhile, saved most of his words for President Obama
, but did manage to get in one jab against the former speaker in New Hampshire, likening
his difficulty in getting on the ballot in Virginia to an episode of "I Love Lucy."
1) Take a glance at the headlines in major national publications, including Politico
and the Washington Post
-- they are reflective of the current conventional wisdom -- that Romney is rising in Iowa. Indeed, if Romney wins Iowa, one of the toughest states demographically for him, it's hard to see how he doesn't emerge as the GOP's presidential nominee.