Friday’s campaign round-up

FRIDAY’S CAMPAIGN ROUND-UP…. Today’s installment of campaign-related news items that won’t necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:

* Get to know Priorities USA: “Democrats with ties to the Obama White House on Friday are launching a two-pronged fundraising effort aimed at countering deep-pocketed GOP groups in 2012 — and adopting some of the same policies on unlimited, secret donations that President Barack Obama himself has long opposed, the organizers tell POLITICO.”

* In the wake of Rep. Chris Lee (R) resigning in disgrace, a special election is coming up in New York’s 26th congressional district, which is generally a Republican stronghold. For those who aren’t following it, now is probably a good time to start: a new Siena College poll shows Republican Jane Corwin leading Democrat Kathy Hochul by just five points. The election is May 24.

* It wasn’t clear who, if anyone, would show up for the first Republican presidential candidate debate, scheduled for next week in South Carolina, and cosponsored by Fox News. This morning, Tim Pawlenty said he’ll be there.

* On a related note, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) almost certainly won’t participate in the event, since it is limited to candidates who’ve at least formed exploratory committees. A Gingrich spokesperson said it’s unlikely he’ll be there, but this shouldn’t be interpreted as a lack of interest in the race.

* GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum delivered a speech on foreign policy yesterday, and inexplicably forgot to even mention the war in Afghanistan.

* U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman will return from China today, and walk immediately into a presidential campaign operation that’s been waiting for him.

* Sen. Joe Manchin (D) will seek a full term next year, after winning a special election last year, in a hypothetical match-up against Shelley Moore Capito (R), Machin leads by eight, 48% to 40%.

* President Obama continues to struggle in New Hampshire, a state he won in 2008 by nearly 10 points. A new WMUR Granite State poll shows the president’s approval rating in the state down to 44%, and Obama trails Mitt Romney in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up.

* And in North Dakota, Rep. Rick Berg (R), after only four months in Congress, is already planning to run for the U.S. Senate next year. Yesterday, the right-wing Club for Growth said the conservative Berg isn’t quite hysterical enough. It’s an open-seat contest, with Sen. Kent Conrad (D) retiring, though Democrats have so far failed to recruit a credible candidate.