Monday’s campaign round-up

MONDAY’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:

* Disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) was supposed to launch a presidential exploratory committee late last week, but balked at the last minute. Now he believes it will take “a number of weeks — maybe six or seven” before he formally announces his intentions.

* Florida state Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R), a top-tier U.S. Senate candidate in 2012, has yet another ethics problem. He not only accepted $152,000 from a community college for a book that was never published, but Haridopolos then steered millions of dollars in state funding to his former employer.

* In Michigan, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) has her first Republican challenger, with former juvenile court judge Randy Hekman launching a campaign late last week. He’s expected to be part of a larger GOP primary field.

* There’s been some right-wing grumbling about former Sen. George Allen’s (R) comeback bid in Virginia, but the latest survey from Public Policy Polling shows Allen dominating the GOP field in the commonwealth. In a five-way race, Allen is the Republican frontrunner with 67% support.

* Speaking of Virginia, we don’t yet know if former Gov. and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine intends to run for the Senate — expect word no later than next week — but we do know that Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) isn’t interested in the race.

* In Rhode Island, former Gov. Don Carcieri (R) is the top choice among Republican primary voters to take on Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) next year, but in hypothetical match-ups, Whitehouse is the clear favorite.

* Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), one of Congress’ more radical members, has been in office for just two months, but he’s already open to a vice presidential nomination, should one be offered.

* And it’s probably just a publicity stunt anyway, but Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) threw cold water on television personality Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions yesterday. “I mean, he’s famous for being famous. He may be good in business but he’s not going to be president,” Alexander said.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.