-- Snowe's retirement may have ruined Republicans' day, but it was great news for political junkies. Snowe would have cruised to re-election, but the race to replace her should become one of the most hotly contested and unpredictable of the cycle. On its face, Democrats should have the advantage. They have a deep bench of potential challengers, and Obama won the state by 18 points in 2008. But a competitive campaign from an independent candidate could be in the offing, affecting the calculus in both parties -- or maybe even sending both parties home upset. -- State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald may be getting left behind in the Republican primary in Wisconsin's Senate race. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson and former Rep. Mark Neumann both grabbed headlines this week. Thompson released the first TV ad of the contest, and Neumann unveiled a comprehensive plan for balancing the budget. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald posted anemic fundraising numbers at the end of last year, and his campaign has received minimal coverage in the Wisconsin press. Fitzgerald entered the race with a lot of goodwill in GOP circles thanks to his role in the state's collective bargaining saga, but his more high-profile competitors seem to be pulling away early. -- A primary will be held in Texas the day after Memorial Day weekend, a federal court decided earlier this week -- and that's good news for former state Solicitor General Ted Cruz in the Senate race. Low tunrout is what Cruz wants -- and a late July runoff would be an even lower turnout affair. But whether or not Cruz -- who heretofore has not built his name ID up all that much -- can capitalize between now and then is an open question. -- What happens out west does not always stay out west. Rep. Norm Dicks's, D-Wash., decision not to run for re-election is a boon for Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio. Dicks is the ranking member on the powerful Appropriations Committee, and Kaptur is next line behind him. Her position does not guarantee she will succeed Dicks on the committee, but it does help her argument in Ohio's 9th District primary by giving her another reason to argue that she should remain in Congress.
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