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:

* In a surprise move, Rep. Trent Franks (R) of Arizona announced that he will not run for the Senate, just a few days after his staff said he would. The move is great news for Rep. Jeff Flake, who now has a clear shot at the Republican nomination, and saw Franks as a tough primary opponent.

* In New Mexico, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D) officially kicked off his Senate campaign over the weekend, hoping to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D). Heinrich, a two-term House member, is expected to be a top-tier competitor.

* CNN reported yesterday that former governor and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine will launch a U.S. Senate bid in Virginia, with an announcement likely within the next two weeks. The seat is currently held by the retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D).

* In the latest evidence that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) won’t run for president in 2012, several top aides from his 2008 effort are signing on with other candidates. For example, Wes Enos, who served as Huckabee’s Iowa political director three years ago, has now joined Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) team.

* Speaking of Bachmann, the crazed Minnesotan raised $2.2 million in the first quarter, much of it for her political action committee. She managed to do slightly better than Mitt Romney over the same period.

* Sen. Rand Paul (R) of Kentucky, not quite three months into his only term in public office, is now talking openly about a possible presidential campaign. Paul was in Iowa over the weekend.

* A cash-strapped Republican National Committee wants the 2012 GOP candidates to agree to participate in monthly debates, organized exclusively by the national party, as a way to help the RNC dig out of its deep debt. Candidates aren’t fond of the idea.

* Though most Floridians probably couldn’t pick him out a line-up, George LeMieux (R) served as an appointed U.S. senator for a couple of years, before his term ended in 2010. Now, the Republican wants to rejoin the chamber, challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

* And in Wisconsin voters will elect a state Supreme Court justice tomorrow, which may prove significant given the legal challenges to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) anti-union crusade. Sarah Palin has weighed in, backing the Republican incumbent, David Prosser, though given her unpopularity, it’s unclear if the endorsement will help or hurt.