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Posted at 4:58 PM ET, 02/18/2011

Afternoon Fix: Bingaman retiring, Napolitano not running

By Chris Cillizza

Jeff Bingaman isn't running next year and neither is Janet Napolitano, Pawlenty is on the cover of the National Review, a Palin aide's "tell-all" has been leaked, and Bernie Sanders could have a challenger soon.

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Why Tim Kaine matters
Why the birther issue won't die
Jeff Bingaman to retire
Fast Fix: Where are the 2012 candidates?
The Jeb Bush primary


Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) will retire next year, turning a relatively safe Democratic Senate seat into a toss-up. Democratic strategists, while disappointed in Bingaman's decision, cast it as part of a broader strategy put in place by Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.) to force members on the fence to make their intentions clear early on.


* The Democratic National Committee raised $7.2M in January, has $9.1M on hand and saw its debt rise from $16M to $16.8M. That debt is about $6M less debt than that held by the Republican National Committee.

* Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano won't run for Senate in Arizona next year, a spokesperson told reporters. " Napolitano was a popular governor, but her subsequent work in the Obama administration would have been fodder for Republican attacks.

* EMILY's List, the powerful PAC behind many pro-choice Democratic women, is endorsing Secretary of State Natalie Tennant for governor in West Virginia. Tennant is one of many Democrats in the special election primary, including Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

* The National Republican Senatorial Committee outraised the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in January by about $200,000. But when you adjust for debt and cash-on-hand, the two committees are close to equal.

* A manuscript for an upcoming "tell-all" book about Sarah Palin, written by a former aide, has been leaked to the media. The author, Frank Bailey, worked for Gov. Palin in Alaska but was placed on leave in the midst of the "Troopergate" scandal.

* Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is out with a statement supporting Scott Walker, the new Republican governor of neighboring Wisconsin. "Stand strong, Scott -- average taxpayers everywhere are rooting for you," Pawlenty says in response to a week of protests at the state capitol.


* Obama is headed to Florida next month to fundraise for vulnerable Sen. Bill Nelson (D). A recent Mason-Dixon poll found Nelson below 50 percent against a number of potential GOP challengers.

*Vermont State Auditor Tom Salmon (R) will announce on March 4 or March 5 whether he intends to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) in 2012. Salmon would face a tough race, and his talk about being "an authentic self-utilizing power along the lines of excellence" probably doesn't help.

* Pawlenty is raising his profile: He's featured on the cover of next week's National Review, for a story calling him a "strong 2012 contender." He'll also headline a Tea Party Patriots summit in Arizona at the end of the month.

* Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' wife is still not sure she wants her husband to vie for the Republican nomination in 2012. She told reporters her family must consider how a presidential campaign might affect them over the next four to eight years and the impact it could have on the rest of their lives.


A barbershop quartet made of clones!

With Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake

By Chris Cillizza  | February 18, 2011; 4:58 PM ET
Categories:  Afternoon Fix  
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Next: Worst Week in Washington: The President's debt commission

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