Friday’s campaign round-up

FRIDAY’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:

* Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) isn’t running for president, but at the urging of the Republican Governors Association, it seems all but certain that the far-right House member will run for governor of the Hoosier State next year.

* The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Rahm Emanuel’s favor yesterday, putting the former White House chief of staff back on Chicago’s mayoral ballot. The election is Feb. 22, and if no candidate gets 50%, there will be an April 5 runoff.

* Yesterday, the Tea Party Express, which backed a variety of GOP primary insurgents, said it doesn’t intend to target Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) in Utah next year. Today, however, the far-right group walked that back, saying it would consider supporting a Hatch challenger, if a “constitutional conservative candidate” were to “step forward.”

* Though once considered the 2012 frontrunner in Missouri, former Sen. Jim Talent (R) formally announced yesterday that he will not take on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) next year.

* Reinforcing the fact that he’s serious about his presidential ambitions, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R) hired two experienced Republican strategists in Iowa this week.

* As implausible as it appears, U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) is apparently “leaning toward” running for president, despite having spent the last two years as a member of the Obama administration.

* Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), fresh off his failed gubernatorial campaign, is now giving serious consideration to challenging Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) next year.

* And Republican leaders are off to a strong fundraising start in 2011, with millions of dollars in contributions from “banks, health insurers, and other major business interests.”