Wednesday’s campaign round-up

WEDNESDAY’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.

* Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.) announced this morning that he will not seek re-election this year, becoming the 17th House Republican to retire. Ehlers’ 3rd district leans clearly in the GOP’s favor, though it was more competitive in 2008. Ehlers had been facing a right-wing primary opponent.

* In Pennsylvania, a new Rasmussen poll shows Sen. Arlen Specter leading primary challenger Rep. Joe Sestak, 51% to 36%. The 15-point margin is slightly better for Sestak than Specter’s 21-point lead a month ago.

* The same poll, meanwhile, shows former far-right Rep. Pat Toomey (R) leading Specter and Sestak in hypothetical general election match-ups by about eight points each.

* In Missouri, VoteVets is going after Rep. Roy Blunt (R), who is in a competitive Senate race this year.

* Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) is still trailing former Rep. John Kasich (R) in this year’s gubernatorial race, but a new Rasmussen poll shows Strickland closing the gap a bit, now trailing by six (47% to 41%).

* In Colorado’s gubernatorial race, Rasmussen shows Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D) with a four-point lead over former Rep. Scott McInnis (R), 49% to 45%.

* Republicans are optimistic about picking up the late Rep. John Murtha’s (D) House seat in Pennsylvania, but there are several reasons why the Murtha seat is “something short of a sure thing pickup for House Republicans.”

* And despite her truly awful Senate campaign, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) will seek re-election to her current post.

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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.