Wednesday’s campaign round-up

WEDNESDAY’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:

* Making the 2012 cycle that much more difficult for Democrats, Sen. Jim Webb (D) announced this morning that he will not seek re-election in Virginia. Former Sen. George Allen (R) shifts to frontrunner status, unless Dems convince former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) to give up his DNC chairmanship and run for the seat.

* Responding to right-wing criticism over New START, Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) chided Tea Party activists in his state yesterday, telling them to “get real.” He’s right, but the comment probably won’t go over well.

* The Dems’ decision to reject all corporate financing for the 2012 Democratic National Committee is drawing praise from reform-minded organizations. Fred Wertheimer, founder of Democracy 21, said yesterday, “This is the first time anyone has made any kind of effort to address the problem of unlimited money being used to finance our presidential conventions. It will be interesting to see if Republicans are prepared to do anything similar.”

* A new Quinnipiac poll out of New Jersey shows Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D) approval rating on the rise, up six points since December. President Obama’s approval rating in the state stands at 55%. Both will be on the ballot in 2012.

* In case there were any lingering questions, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said again yesterday that he’s not running for president in 2012.

* Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) hasn’t officially said whether he’s seeking re-election, but the fact that he’s hired a campaign manager seems like a big hint.

* Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said he’s not running for president, but could he be encouraged to jump in? “I don’t want to suggest that I’m waiting for any kind of draft,” he said this week. “It’s really not what I want to do…. I’m not ruling anything out, but it’s not something I want to do.”

* Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) narrowly defeated Ilario Pantano (R) last year, but the controversial retired Marine is gearing up for a rematch.

* Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) has heard whispers about Republican presidential candidates skipping the Iowa caucuses, and he doesn’t like it.