Leading Off:• IL-Sen: As expected, Rep. Tammy Duckworth formally kicked off her campaign against GOP Sen. Mark Kirk on Monday, making her the first Democrat to enter the race. (She’s posted a welcome video here.) Duckworth comes in to the contest with a reputation as a strong fundraiser who’s well-connected to the political establishment, and she also has a singular biography as an Iraq War veteran who lost both legs in service to her country. However, she represents just a small slice of the Chicagoland area and still has to introduce herself to most of the state.
She might also still face a contested primary, though at least one potential rival is sounding less interested. Following Duckworth’s announcement, Rep. Cheri Bustos told Roll Call she was “unlikely” to run (that’s the paper’s phrasing) and offered kind words for her House colleague, though she was careful to say she was not making a formal endorsement. On the other hand, an aide to Rep. Robin Kelly says she’s still “considering” and will decide “soon.” But we still haven’t heard from Rep. Bill Foster as to whether his calculus has now changed.
• FL-Sen: On Monday, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio said that he will announce on April 13 whether he will run for president or for a second term in the U.S. Senate, with most signs pointing to option A. Assuming Rubio departs, it’ll likely set off a fiercely contested Republican primary to succeed him, as several big names are considering the race. Democrats, meanwhile, have largely united around just one candidate so far, Rep. Patrick Murphy, who picked up his third endorsement from a fellow member of Florida’s delegation Monday, Rep. Lois Frankel. Interestingly, Murphy and Frankel spent most of 2011 competing against each other for the right to take on then-Republican Rep. Allan West, but redistricting led them to successfully run for two different seats.
• NC-Sen, Gov: Most Democrats looking for a challenge to two-term Republican Sen. Richard Burr have ex-Sen. Kay Hagan at the top of their wish list, but we haven’t gotten a clear sign from Hagan that she’s doing moving toward the race. The News & Observer checks in with some of the second-tier options for the Dems, but none of them sound terribly interested (at least for now). Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker says he’s considering a run for statewide office, but not against Burr. Back in 2013, Meeker talked about taking on Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in next year’s contest, but he’s been very quiet about his plans since then, and he may not be willing to oppose Attorney General Roy Cooper for the Democratic nod.
State Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue has “no immediate plans,” and is more focused on trying to win back control of the state Senate, while state Sen. Jeff Jackson says hasn’t “even considered it.” Ex-Rep. Brad Miller, currently working for a New York-based law firm, says he has “no desperate need to return to electoral politics.” Finally, Treasurer Janet Cowell continues to say nothing about her plans, though Roll Call recently told us that she’s met with the DSCC.
• KY-Gov: When you make an initial splash as a candidate who’s against something, it’s hard to reimagine yourself as a candidate who’s for something when that thing that you’re against is no longer relevant. That’s the takeaway from a new piece by National Journal‘s Karyn Bruggeman about tea-partying businessman Matt Bevin, who got a lot of attention for his GOP primary challenge to Mitch McConnell in 2014’s Senate race, but hasn’t been able to parlay the name recognition from that run into much traction in the GOP gubernatorial primary.
National groups that backed him last year aren’t interested this time (largely because they ordinarily don’t play in state races), and the main thing he seems to be accomplishing is splitting the tea party lane with Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, which is letting former Louisville Councilor Hal Heiner — the sole occupant of the establishment lane — pull ahead. Like Heiner, Bevin is capable of self-funding, and says he’ll put “some” of his money into this run, but he’s mum on how much….