Friday’s campaign round-up

FRIDAY’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.

* It appears Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ken.), after months of insisting otherwise, might be getting ready to retire at the end of his term next year. Kentucky’s Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R) formed an exploratory committee yesterday for the Senate race, a step he said he would not take if Bunning sought re-election.

* Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), as expected, is poised to announce that he’s running for the Senate next year. Despite Illinois’ Democratic leanings, Kirk appears to enter the race as a competitive candidate.

* While Sen. Arlen Specter clearly expects to run in the Democratic primary next year with minimal opposition, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) continues to sound like a possible candidate.

* Speaking of Specter, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) was initially reluctant to say whether he’d support the former Republicans next year, but Casey told reporters this morning, “I’ll support him. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some work to do to go around the state and to listen to people in our party and go through a process. But I think in the end, it is my goal and it has to be my goal to make, which is to make sure we have two Democrats in the Senate in 2011, it is important that we support him I believe.”

* Is Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) vulnerable next year? He’s not on most target lists for vulnerable incumbents, but a Research 2000 poll conducted for Daily Kos shows Isakson leading former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) in a hypothetical match-up by only four points.

* Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is reportedly eyeing the 2012 presidential race, but he may want to refocus attention closer to home. A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows Pawlenty’s approval ratings dropping below 50% for the first time.