*Thursday’s campaign round-up

THURSDAY’S CAMPAIGN ROUND-UP….Today’s installment of campaign-related news items that wouldn’t generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers.

* Rush Limbaugh was asked yesterday on Fox News to name his favorite “up-and-coming Republicans.” The right-wing host responded, “I — I like the kind of things I am hearing out of Governor [Mark] Sanford from South Carolina. I have always admired Governor [Sarah] Palin.”

* RNC Chairman Michael Steele wanted to participate in the far-right “Tea Party” in Chicago next week. Organizers told him he isn’t invited.

* Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was expected to excel in fundraising — it’s always been his forte — and he lived up to his reputation in the first quarter, raising more than $4 million in three months. The total is more than five times the amount of his next closest Democratic competitor.

* Remember former Sen. Bob Smith (R) of New Hampshire? Smith was defeated in a 2002 Republican primary, and moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he began selling real estate. Now, Smith is trying to launch a comeback, running for the Senate in his new home state. As a senator, Smith temporarily left the Republican Party, complaining that it was too liberal.

* Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), a perennial Democratic target, has his first challenger for 2010. Doug Pike, a former member of the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s editorial board, announced his candidacy yesterday, and is reportedly prepared to spend up to $1 million of his own money on the race.

* Will Montel Williams go from talk-show host, to infomercial salesman, to talk-show host, to politician? Maybe.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.