Thursday’s campaign round-up

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

* The 168 members of the Republican National Committee will elect their chairman tomorrow, and by indications, incumbent Michael Steele has no chance whatsoever. The favorite, at this point, appears to be Wisconsin GOP Chair Reince Priebus.

* For what it’s worth, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has officially endorsed Maria Cino for the RNC position, making an unexpected investment of his political capital.

* Far-right activists in Massachusetts would still love to find a primary challenger for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), but they can’t find anyone credible. “It is interesting that [tea party] people will say Scott Brown needs to be defeated, and you say, OK, who can beat him?’ And it’s crickets,” Christen Varley, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party, said. “I think Scott Brown is completely safe.”

* Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), arguably the NRSC’s top target in 2012, appears to have his first challenger. North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk (R) has formed an exploratory committee.

* In New Jersey, the latest survey from Public Policy Polling shows Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) with a narrow lead over his 2006 opponent, Tom Kean Jr. (R), 41% to 39%.

* In Iowa, PPP found President Obama leading all of his potential GOP challengers in a hypothetical 2012 match-ups. Mike Huckabee was the most competitive (trailing Obama by four points), while Sarah Palin was the least competitive (trailing by 16 points).

* In case there were any doubts about Sen. John Thune’s (R-S.D.) interest in the 2012 presidential race, note that this week he accepted an invitation to speak to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

* In Pennsylvania, PPP found Rick Santorum running fifth in the field of Republican presidential candidates in his own state. Huckabee was first in the poll with 21%, followed by Palin at 18%.

* And Herman Cain, who ran a pizza company before becoming a Tea Party pseudo-celebrity, created a presidential exploratory committee this week, en route to officially seeking the Republican nomination. Cain’s only political experience is losing a GOP Senate primary in Georgia seven years ago.