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Afternoon Fix: Lugar to run for reelection; McConnell flips to supporting earmark ban; Rangel trial begins and ends, minus Rangel

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EARLIER ON THE FIX

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FIRST ON THE FIX

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) will run for reelection in 2012, according to senior advisor Mark Helmke. "Sen. Lugar is running again in 2012," Helmke said. "A vigorous campaign is planned." Lugar, 78, has been the subject of retirement rumors and could also face a tea party-inspired primary challenge. His campaign manager will be former aide Emily Krueger, as the Post's Al Kamen reported last week.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

* Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reversed course and will now support a moratorium on earmarks, delivering a big victory for tea party activists pushing the ban.

* Rep. Charles Rangel's (D-N.Y.) ethics trial has concluded. Rangel asked for a delay this morning, was denied, and failed to appear to dispute any of the charges against him, citing his inability to pay for an attorney. The ethics panel will now deliberate on the 13 counts being brought against him.

* Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will take on a new leadership role in charge of the Democratic message and rapid response operation, with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) as his vice chairwoman. Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) will lead the Steering and Outreach Committee, the No. 5 post. Still unfilled: the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

* Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has stepped down from her leadership position at the tea party-aligned group Liberty Central.

* Former Connecticut Democratic Party Chairman John Droney, a close ally of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), is urging the senator to run in the Republican primary. Meanwhile, former Rep. Rob Simmons (R-Conn.) won't rule out a second straight Senate campaign.

* Businessman Steve Daines, who ran for lieutenant governor on an unsuccessful GOP ticket in 2008, becomes the first major challenger to Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

* Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D-Ill.) has filed nominating petitions to run for mayor of Chicago. She joins former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), City Clerk Miguel Del Valle and Gery Chico, the former chief of staff to retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley. State Rep. James Meeks is expected to file later this week.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN'T MISS

* Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sits down with Kate Couric on tonight's CBS Evening News.

* Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) defends potential 2012 presidential primary opponent and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's role in crafting that state's health care law, which has been compared to the recent federal bill. Is Gingrich mitigating a major Romney vulnerability?

* Former Houston Mayor Bill White (D), who is coming off a loss to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), says he won't run for Senate in 2012. Can Democrats run a viable candidate, especially given the state of flux on the Republican side?

* Prospective 2012 presidential/governor candidate Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) will hold a fundraising luncheon with Oliver North on Dec. 8 at the Capitol Hill Club, per a fundraising invitation obtained by The Fix.

* Sarah Palin's new reality series, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," grabbed nearly five million viewers for its debut Sunday night. Can it maintain that audience?

THE FIX MIX

It's funny - The Fix gets the same way when he hears Justin Bieber.

With Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake

By Chris Cillizza  | November 15, 2010; 5:11 PM ET
Categories:  Afternoon Fix  
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