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:

* In April fundraising, the Democratic National Committee took in more than double the Republican National Committee, $12.4 million to $6.1 million. For the year to date, the DNC has raised about $33 million, which is nearly $10 million more than the RNC’s $23.7 million.

* In the special election in California’s 36th, Secretary of State Debra Bowen conceded late yesterday, setting up a runoff pitting Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D) and Craig Huey (R).

* Nevada Republicans got a little good news yesterday when a state judge ruled that the upcoming special election in the 2nd district shouldn’t be a free-for-all contest, and parties should be allowed to nominate their own candidates.

* Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will end the exploratory-committee phase and formally launch his presidential campaign at an event in Iowa on Monday.

* Speaking of Pawlenty, his Republican predecessor in Minnesota trashed his fiscal record as governor. “I don’t think any governor has left behind a worse financial mess than he has,” Arne Carlson said of Pawlenty.

* Rep. Mazie Hirono (D) announced yesterday that she’ll run for Hawaii’s open U.S. Senate seat next year. She’ll face Ed Case, among others, in a Democratic primary.

* In case anyone’s forgotten about her, former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) told Fox News last night she still has the “fire in my belly” to run for president.

* Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) approval rating is down to just 31% after four difficult months in office.

* And entertainer Willie Nelson endorsed Republican presidential hopeful Gary Johnson last week, only to announce yesterday that he’s changed his mind.

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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.