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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 12/ 6/2010

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says Sarah Palin is "absolutely" electable

By Chris Cillizza

1. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) gave Sarah Palin's national hopes a boost over the weekend, telling Bloomberg's Al Hunt that he believes it's possible for the former Alaska governor to be elected president.

"Oh, absolutely," Jindal said when asked if he thought Palin is electable. "I think it's up to her to make the case to voters. I think we have several -- and, by the way, I am biased towards governors and those that have run organizations and executives who've had to balance budgets, make tough choices."

Jindal was asked about a recent column by "Morning Joe" co-host and former Florida Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, who wrote that "it's time for the GOP to man up" and acknowledge that Palin is unelectable.

"The same leaders who fret that Sarah Palin could devastate their party in 2012 are too scared to say in public what they all complain about in private," Scarborough wrote late last month.

On the one hand, the fact that Jindal -- who is running for a second term as governor in 2011 -- has unequivocally ruled out a bid for president in 2012 makes it easier for him to be generous about a potential Palin bid. In politics it's always better to be magnanimous than petty, and Jindal's "interested observer" role makes it far easier for him to be big rather than small.

On the other hand, some other high-profile Republicans with potential presidential ambitions have made less charitable comments about a Palin White House bid. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for instance, was asked by comedian Jimmy Fallon last month about a Palin bid. Christie's less-than-enthusiastic response: "Well, who knows, Jimmy? It's an amazing world."

One potential reason for that difference: Christie has said (half-jokingly) that he wouldn't even consider running for vice president in 2012. Jindal, however, has left the door open to serving as the eventual nominee's running mate or running for president in 2016.

2. Indiana state Sen. Mike Delph is inching toward a primary challenge to Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).

In a statement posted to his website Friday, Delph directly alluded to a potential run against Lugar, saying he is "increasingly concerned with his actions on my behalf and on behalf of Indiana within the last few years."

Delph went on to speak out against Lugar's support for the DREAM Act, which Delph cast as increasing federal involvement in public schools and supplying amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants.

"I have neither ruled in nor ruled out any future plans," Delph said, citing his recent reelection to the state Senate. "I continue to pray for Senator Lugar, his staff, our state and our nation in the hopes that we turn back to what made this country great: Faith, Freedom, Family, and a Federal government of limited and enumerated power."

Delph said a decision will be made sometime in 2011 on "any federal opportunities."

In an appearance on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Lugar suggested he won't be caught off-guard.

"In the event that someone wants to run, they will at least know that they have a competitor in the field who is well-prepared, both financially, organizationally, and program-wise," he said. "In the past, perhaps, some of our Republican colleagues may have been surprised in the primary."

3. The race to succeed retiring Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is nearing its conclusion, with state Rep. Tom Emmer's (R) camp withdrawing more than 2,500 challenges that were deemed "frivolous" by state election officials.

About 1,000 challenges are expected to be deemed valid by state officials, who will begin reviewing the challenges Wednesday.

But as the number of ballot challenges dwindles, former Sen. Mark Dayton (D) is increasingly looking like a winner. Dayton led by 8,770 votes in the Election Day tally, a number that's expected to change only slightly in the final ballot count.

The state will certify a winner on Dec. 14. Emmer can still file an election contest once the final count is determined, a move that he has not ruled out.

"We're not going away," he told the state GOP central committee over the weekend.

4. Utah Republican Party Chairman Dave Hansen resigned his post on Saturday, and will be heading up what could be a tough re-election bid for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Hatch is thought to be vulnerable to a potential primary challenge from Rep. Jason Chaffetz or another tea party candidate, and Hansen's departure signals that the senator is taking no chances.

The state has an unusual nominating process in which an incumbent can win or lose at the state party convention -- a process driven by the more conservative, activist base. That process claimed Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) earlier this year, and Hatch has been in the crosshairs ever since.

"It's certainly not going to be a cakewalk, and (Hatch) knows that. We all know that," Hansen told the Salt Lake Tribune. "But he's been a good U.S. senator and there's ample reasons to have him continue."

Hansen will leave his post in January. He also managed Hatch's 2004 campaign.

5. Republican David Harmer has conceded defeat to Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney in California's 11th District, a month after Election Day and more than a week after the Associated Press called the race in McNerney's favor.

Harmer called McNerney late last week to congratulate him on his win. The final tally showed McNerney taking 115,361 votes to Harmer's 112,439, giving the Democrat a 48 percent to 46.9 percent victory.

"It's hard not to feel as though you have let people down," Harmer told the Contra Costa Times. "But disappointment is different from regret. You never regret playing the game just because you lost." He added that he "has no plans to run for public office again."

The lone House race that remains unresolved is in New York's 1st District where Rep. Tim Bishop (D) was leading Republican Randy Altschuler by about 271 votes late last week as a judge reviewed uncounted ballots.

With Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake

By Chris Cillizza  | December 6, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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