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.

* The Cook Political Report has made Connecticut’s Senate race “Lean Republican” for the first time, making Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) the only Democratic incumbent now favored to lose. The analysis concluded that Dodd is “just too badly damaged to have a decent shot at getting re-elected, almost regardless of who wins the Republican nomination,” adding that the incumbent “is about as unelectable as unindicted incumbents get.” Ouch.

* On a related note, few lawmakers enjoy as much goodwill in Democratic politics as Chris Dodd, and the establishment will continue to rally to his defense. Tonight, Vice President Biden will be in Connecticut for a Dodd fundraiser, though the senator will still be in D.C.

* In Ohio’s closely watched Senate race, former Bush budget director Rob Portman (R) — yes, Bush’s former budget director actually has the gall to run for the Senate — has a narrow lead over Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D). The latest Rasmussen poll shows Portman up by two, 38% to 36%.

* In Illinois, a new Rasmussen poll shows state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) leading Rep. Mark Kirk (R) in a hypothetical match-up, 42% to 39%. Two months ago, Rasmussen showed the two leading candidates tied at 41% each. The new poll also shows Giannoulias leading his leading primary rival, former Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman, by four, 42% to 38%.

* With Rep Brian Baird (D-Wash.) announcing his retirement, Republicans wasted no time in announcing their leading candidate, and Democrats are doing the same thing — state Rep. Deb Wallace (D) announced her campaign yesterday morning. Rumor has it that the DCCC loves her.

* Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) decided to skip California’s gubernatorial race, but if Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) steps down — either to run for governor or to retire — don’t be surprised if Villaraigosa eyes the Senate race.

* Interesting tidbit: nine House Democrats are forgoing re-election next year, three are retiring, and six are seeking higher office. Two years ago at this point, far more Republicans were eyeing the exit.