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:

* The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s chief lobbying organization, “will start directly backing political candidates in the second quarter of this year. API, whose membership includes oil giants like Exxon-Mobil and Chevron, already spends tens of millions of dollars every year on lobbying, advertisements and Astroturf campaigns to support the oil industry agenda.”

* On Montana, the latest Northern News Network poll shows next year’s U.S. Senate race looking very competitive. Both incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) have approval ratings above 50%, but in a head-to-head match-up, Rehberg leads by three, 47% to 44%.

* In Pennsylvania, a new Municipoll survey shows Sen. Bob Casey (D) with double-digit leads over all of his potential Republican challengers next year. Pollster Ed Haggerty said, “Maybe Bob Casey isn’t unbeatable but he’s looking pretty darn good for a Democrat in a swing state.”

* Speaking of Keystone State, voters in Pennsylvania weren’t fond of former Sen. Rick Santorum (R) when they ran him out of office five years ago, and they have no interest in supporting his presidential campaign now.

* Conservatives in upstate New York continue to splinter over the upcoming special election in the 26th congressional district. Local GOP county chairs unanimously selected Assemblywoman Jane Corwin as the Republican nominee, but right-wing activists insist she’s not radical enough. It won’t help that she contributed $1,000 to Dede Scozzafava’s 2009 special election campaign

* In Florida, Republican Mike Haridopolos, president of the state Senate, is gearing up for a U.S. Senate campaign against Sen. Bill Nelson (D) next year. But first, Haridopolos was admonished by a state ethics panel for failing to accurately disclose his finances.

* Indiana Democrats aren’t interested in taking on Sen. Richard Lugar (R) next year, under the assumption that he’s all but unbeatable. But with Lugar suddenly vulnerable to a right-wing primary challenger, Dems are giving the race another look. Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), for example, is reportedly reevaluating his interest in a possible Senate bid.

* With Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) noting her support for collective bargaining rights for public-sector workers, her GOP challengers — Sarah Steelman and Ed Martin — announced that they oppose those rights. Expect more of this throughout 2012.