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:

* In Montana, Sen. Jon Tester (D) is likely to face a very tough challenge from the state’s lone U.S. House member, Republican Denny Rehberg. This week, with Rehberg launching his Senate bid, Tester immediately began tying him to one of his close allies: “He’s going to bring Michele Bachmann to Montana — that’s who he’ll be standing beside when he announces.”

* On a related note, businessman Steve Daines (R), who had been running against Tester in Montana, ended his Senate bid and launched a campaign for Rehberg’s House seat.

* In a bit of a setback for NRSC recruiting, Rep. Sam Graves (R) of Missouri officially announced yesterday that he will not take on incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in 2012. Graves called it “an agonizing decision,” but wants to keep his House chairmanship.

* Former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.), who lost a Senate primary last year, sounds like he’s poised to try again, this time running for retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) seat.

* There will apparently be two Mormon candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination — Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman — but Utah Republicans appear to strongly prefer the former Massachusetts governor to the former Utah governor.

* And speaking of Utah, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) was outwardly hostile towards Tea Party groups over the last year, but facing the threat of a tough primary challenge in 2012, the conservative senator has reversed course and begun telling Tea Partiers he’s one of them.

* Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) isn’t raising a lot of money just yet, but the 87-year-old legendary Hawaiian still intends to seek re-election in 2012.

* If former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) wanted to launch a comeback bid next year, she has the support to be quite competitive. Public Policy Polling found the recently-defeated lawmaker narrowly leading Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) in a potential rematch, 46% to 45%.