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8:31 AM PT: OH-Gov: Can't say I'm surprised: Former Rep. Betty Sutton just announced on Friday that she would not seek the Democratic nomination for governor, leaving Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald a pretty clear path to the nomination. Sutton outperformed the top of the ticket in her bruising member-vs.-member re-election battle against GOP Rep. Jim Renacci last fall, but she never seemed particularly enthusiastic about running another race and didn't even secure a speaking slot at the state Democratic Party's big annual dinner just a week ago. Sutton also said she wouldn't make a bid for any other state office next year either.

The only potential wrinkle for Fitz now is if, as we've noted a number of times, Senate Republicans deny former state AG Richard Cordray confirmation to the Consumer Financial Protection Board and he returns home to run for governor instead. While Cordray's nomination hopes don't seem particularly good (gotta love the Senate's twisted notions of "democracy"), FitzGerald has been moving to consolidate support and gear up for a serious campaign, so Cordray would be at a disadvantage if he tried to pursue Plan B. My advice to FitzGerald would be to formally declare his candidacy as soon as possible and get this game on, because Gov. John Kasich is no pushover.

8:50 AM PT: SC-01: It seems like the also-rans in the SC-01 GOP primary aren't, for the most part, especially eager to declare allegiances in the April 2 runoff between ex-Gov. Mark Sanford and attorney Curtis Bostic. Bostic did secure the endorsement of former state Sen. John Kuhn, who finished sixth and also declared he wouldn't support Sanford even if he won the nomination. But so far, everyone else (except for a couple of dweebs who earned less than 1 percent of the vote each) is remaining quiet, including fourth place candidate Teddy Turner, who moaned that "It’s kind of really hard to kiss and make up" after running a competitive campaign. Oh, and that he's going on spring break with his family. Was Turner ever a serious candidate?

10:14 AM PT: TX-36: When we first heard that Steve Stockman was making a comeback bid, we were cautiously excited—excited because here he was, a living, breathing specimen of the Republican class of 1994, exhumed from amber like a Jurassic Park mosquito... but only cautiously, because here he was, a man who defines the term "moran" so well that he managed to get kicked out of Congress after just a single term. By a Democrat. In Texas. Yet... here he is! Back in the House in all his glory, just like we dared to dream. Sure, his seat's now so red that he's at no risk of getting turfed out by a Dem again, but he could always lose a primary—and anyhow, we're not going to pass up the chance to saddle the GOP with this Texan-sized goiter at every opportunity.

With that mission in mind, here's El Steverino's latest outburst, on the Violence Against Women Act:

"This is a truly bad bill. This is helping the liberals, this is horrible. Unbelievable. What really bothers—it's called a women's act, but then they have men dressed up as women, they count that. Change-gender, or whatever. How is that—how is that a woman?"
How is that—how is that a congressman? I'm at a loss for words. But fortunately, the Stock Man never is, on any and all subjects:
The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out.

@SteveStockmanTX via web
I have a feeling John Boehner wishes one of those holes in the ground would swallow up Stockman whole. (Via Burnt Orange Report)

10:37 AM PT (David Jarman): Sports: If you enjoyed the Daily Kos Elections NCAA bracket based on election results, you might also like a similar project from Open Secrets. They've put together a bracket based on how much each school spends on lobbying! Maybe unsurprisingly, it's the large state schools that spend the most on lobbying, and (spoiler alert!)  the champion is UC-Berkeley.

10:52 AM PT: KY-Sen: This is about as sweet a gig as you can get in the diplomatic corps: President Obama will reportedly tap one of his top fundraisers, Matthew Barzun, as the US's next ambassador to our alma matter, the good ol' United Kingdom. Why are we mentioning this here? Because Barzun, a native of Louisville, had been suggested as a possible Democratic Senate candidate. Assuming he's nominated and confirmed to his post in London, though, that option will come off the table.

11:14 AM PT: MN-Gov: Republican state Sen. Dave Thompson, a former conservative talk radio host, says he's giving "consideration" to running against Gov. Mark Dayton next year (and that he's "serious" about it), but that he hasn't made a decision yet. Thompson also thought about challenging Sen. Amy Klobuchar last cycle but ultimately demurred.

12:00 PM PT: CT-05: Wealthy businessman Mark Greenberg is like some kind of not-giving-up-guy: After two consecutive failed attempts to secure the GOP nomination in Connecticut's 5th Congressional District, he's already launching a campaign for a third try. The sad thing about Greenberg is that he's already poured about $3 million of his own money into his earlier runs (split about equally) and has very little to show for it: In 2010, he finished third in a three-way race with a mere 29 percent of the vote, and last year, he wound up in second place with just 27 percent. The one thing he has going for him is that 2012 nominee Andrew Roraback, who narrowly lost the general election to Democrat Elizabeth Esty, was recently tapped for a judgeship and won't run again. But given Greenberg's limited popularity, other Republicans may decide to jump in anyway.

12:17 PM PT: UT-04: Republican Mia Love, who declared just the other day that she's considering a rematch with Rep. Jim Matheson, has now filed paperwork with the FEC to create a new campaign committee. Beyond that, she hasn't said anything.

12:21 PM PT: Meanwhile, pre-runoff fundraising reports were just due at the FEC, covering the period from Feb. 28 through March 13. Sanford raised $79K and has $272K in the bank, while Bostic pulled in a meager $5K and has $57K on hand, mostly thanks to a $50K loan he made to his own campaign. (That's on top of an earlier $100K loan.) If Bostic has any prayer of winning, it'll come in the form of evangelical shoe leather, because he certainly can't compete in the money department.

12:53 PM PT: California: It can't have been easy to write a piece on the GOP "bench" in California, so credit to Roll Call's Kyle Trygstad for managing to do so. (Indeed, I had assumed last week's installment, which focused entirely on the Democratic Party, was all there was to the story!) As Trygstad notes, though, the few viable Republicans left in the Golden State are all focusing on Congress, since Dems have a supermajority lock on the legislature and the GOP can't win statewide. We've taken note of the potential candidacies Trygstad mentions in CA-03, 07, and 52, but here are a few new ones on us:

CA-16: Fresno County Supervisor Andreas Borgeas is a "top possible contender" against perpetually lazy veteran Jim Costa.

CA-26: Ex-state Sen. Tony Strickland "is expected" to seek a rematch against freshman Julia Brownley, though he could run in the much redder CA-25 if GOP Rep. Buck McKeon retires. MLB pitcher Jeff Suppan (currently a 38-year-old free agent) might also run if he doesn't sign for another season.

CA-36: Assemblymember Brian Nestande is reportedly "likely" to take on freshman Raul Ruiz.

There are many other names cited in the piece, but all of them involve candidates who, like Strickland, could move up if particular Republican incumbents opt to hang up their spurs.

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