| Programming Note: Barring unforeseen circumstances (i.e. a flood of news), this will be the last roundup of 2012. We'll have open threads and updates on any major events that happen next week, and resume daily roundups on January 2nd.
HI-Sen: In the least shocking news since Booker passing up a race against Christie, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will seek the late Sen. Inouye's seat. Expect her appointment to be announced after Christmas--and for her to be sworn in after Mazie Hirono, who does not want to give up seniority. Apparently, relations between the pair are icier than Snowe-Collins.
MA-Sen: Rep. Stephen Lynch (D) is the first candidate in the race for Kerry's seat. Lynch is the most moderate Democrat in office in Massachusetts, and would need several liberals to split the field to get the nomination. He would be a difficult foe for Scott Brown because their bases overlap.
More MA-Sen: Sen. Brown, meanwhile, would start this race in the same position he started 2012: well-liked and polling around 50% against lesser-known Democrats with plenty undecided. If Brown enters, he'd be a favorite to win narrowly unless the Democratic nominee can excite the base as Warren did, or if he faces Lynch and loses the conservaDems. (One more tidbit: St. Sen. Ben Downing of the Berkshires is interested. And has no shot.)
Even More MA-Sen: Ben Affleck won't rule out a bid. (No word on Matt Damon.) Also, Barney Frank reiterated his interest in the race, odd since his best chance at a Senate seat just passed him by--twice.
KY-Sen: Um, Mitch? The only time it's OK to release an internal showing you up by only 4 points is in the waning days of a close race--not 22 months beforehand, and definitely not when your prospective opponent is Ashley Judd. Sen. McConnell's lead expands to 20 on the infamous "informed ballot," which includes some crazy Judd statements.
NJ-Sen: Sen. Frank Lautenberg's reaction registered much closer to "whimper" than "bang" on the Retire-o-Meter. Harry Reid, however, immediately endorsed the 88-year-old for another term.
IL-02: The CBC is becoming increasingly concerned that ex-Rep. Debbie Halvorson, the lone white Democrat in a large field of qualified black politicians, will win Jesse Jackson Jr.'s seat. She took 24% against Jackson this year; that might be just enough to squeak through in 2013.
NV-01: The Ethics Committee found that Shelley Berkley violated House rules, but didn't move to punish her with only two weeks left in her term.
NY-05: Ethics also wrapped up its investigation of Greg Meeks without a finding. This is more relevant, as Meeks is coming back for another term and could potentially face a strong primary challenge in 2014.
AR-Gov: Departing Rep. Mike Ross (D) has "received a lot of calls" about running for governor in the wake of the McDaniel affair, but doesn't sound interested in pulling the trigger--at least not now. Ross recently came out in favor of a gun control measure. Also, Bill Halter may be interested, but Talk Business reports, "he is on a Disney Cruise with his family." (Don't worry Bill. When you get back, you'll still have a year to decide!)
NRSC: Jerry Moran tapped Rob Collins as executive director. Collins, a former Cantor aide who has helmed the American Action Network, is tasked with picking up 6 seats, and will first have to focus on recruitment and the Massachusetts special.
SCF: Jim DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund will continue under civilian leadership and will not appoint another Senator to replace him.
DCCC: After he and Nancy Pelosi spent most of the 2012 cycle insisting the House was in play, Steve Israel wouldn't even say if the House could flip in 2014. Dems did a good job of picking up the low-hanging fruit this year, but the path to 17 runs through red territory.
NYC-Mayor: Bill Thompson is looking more like the biggest obstacle between Christine Quinn and the Mayor's office. Veteran hack Hank Sheinkopf, who worked on Bloomberg's campaign against Thompson in 2009, will work for the former Comptroller this time.