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.

* While the Republican establishment rallies to support Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s Senate campaign, Sen. Jim Bunning (R) is throwing his support to right-wing ophthalmologist Rand Paul.

* In Florida, a new Quinnipiac poll shows Marco Rubio with a 23-point lead over Charlie Crist in their Republican Senate primary, 56% to 33%. If, however, Crist runs as an independent, he narrowly leads the three-way field.

* On a related note, Crist’s campaign manager didn’t rule out the possibility that the governor would exit the GOP primary and run as an independent.

* David Malpass, best known for his work as Bear Stearns’ former chief global economist, has decided to take on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) in New York this year. Malpass, who has never held elected office, will run in the GOP primary.

* Speaking of the Empire State, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino will not drop out of the race, despite reports this week about his racist and explicit emails.

* The latest poll out of Pennsylvania shows Pat Toomey (R) leading Sen. Arlen Specter (D) in a hypothetical Senate match-up, 48% to 38%.

* The latest poll out of Arkansas shows the Democratic Senate field growing increasingly competitive, with incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln leading her chief primary rival, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, by only seven points, 38% to 31%.

* Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) is still the favorite to win the open Senate contest this year, but his campaign is hitting some speed-bumps.

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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.