4) Good news for Illinois Democrats: A federal court has upheld their redistricting map
that Republicans had challenged. The cements the 16th District Manzullo/Kinzinger
GOP primary matchup -- the only member versus member showdown in the state, since Republican Joe Walsh opted to run in the 8th District.
3) Here's the clearest sign yet that Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist
will mount a GOP primary bid against Sen. Orrin Hatch
: He resigned his seat in the legislature. Liljenquist told the Salt Lake Tribune
on Thursday that he's made a decision about his future and, "I'll make an official announcement about my plans early next year."
2) A big get for Mitt Romney
in a state he could face very stiff competition in from Newt Gingrich
: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
has endorsed the former Bay State governor. The two will campaign together in the Palmetto State later today.
1) The final debate before the Iowa caucuses was a relatively subdued affair, but Romney rebounded from his weak performance last Saturday. Romney stayed positive the entire debate, avoiding tit-for-tats with Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry. And he also tweaked his message, acknowledging the occasional misstep during his time at Bain, accentuating the differences in economic philosophy between himself and the president, and effectively blasting him over Solyndra and foreign policy. Meanwhile, the other candidates (Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul) landed their punches on Gingrich.
If Romney wins the nomination, we'll look back at this debate as where he captured that necessary momentum. He looked presidential in the last debate before the caucuses. If Gingrich falters, polls have shown Romney being the candidate getting the lion's share of his supporters. Romney may be winning the nomination more by default - thanks to the glaring flaws of his opponents - but in last night's debate, he articulated a positive, conservative vision that could rally some conservatives to his side, as well. The endorsement from Haley, a Tea Party favorite,. looks like a leading indicator of that.
Jessica Taylor contributed