Off to the races: Hillary, Christie, and Scott Brown

NBC’s Michael O’Brien: “Hillary Clinton's lofty status as the apparent 2016 Democratic nominee-in-waiting has some allies concerned that the hype might be too much, too soon. This seeming inevitability makes her more sensitive to attacks and risks amplifying any stumble, no matter how minor. And voters may react poorly to a candidate who appears to be waltzing to the nomination with minimal effort.” 

Former Obama White House Press Secretary and Obama adviser Robert Gibbs on Meet the Press: “I, as a strategist, am fairly floored that she has decided to enter the public fray so quickly,” Gibbs said. “She could do the foundation work, she could do issue work, she could build the campaign, she could develop a message without having to be so far out front there. And– and, you know, Chuck [Todd] talks about strong bipartisan approval ratings, those will whittle quite quickly as she steps further and further [into the political scene].”

The Wall Street Journal: “Political allies of Vice President Joe Biden have concluded that he can win the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination—even if Hillary Clinton enters the contest—and are considering steps he could take to prepare for a potential candidacy. While Mr. Biden has made no decision about his future, people familiar with his thinking say, he hasn't ruled out a bid for the White House. If he runs, that could set up a titanic battle between two of the party's most prominent figures.”

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) was in Iowa (!!!) over the weekend, “as part of a four-state Midwestern swing that he said allowed him to road-test his moderate Republican message,” the Boston Globe writes.

“Sen. Mark Pryor likes to tell voters that he always puts Arkansas first, borrowing the campaign slogan associated with his family for decades. In Wyoming, Liz Cheney bets that her famous father’s name will be gold in her Senate race. And in Louisiana, Sen. Mary Landrieu counts on her kin’s New Orleans ties to help lift her to re-election in a tough race,” AP notes. “Family does matter in the runup to next fall’s Senate elections: Candidates are wielding famous political pedigrees in a number of races that could determine whether Democrats maintain control in the 2014 elections. Famous last names mean automatic name recognition and, typically, an easier time raising money. Beyond that, and 15 months before Election Day, it’s unclear whether family ties will translate into votes next fall.”

Rand Paul took another shot at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) Sunday, saying, “There's room for people who believe in bigger government in our party."

Christie has cut spending dramatically in New Jersey, to the point that cities like Trenton have had to eliminate police officers and detectives and has seen a sharp murder and crime rate increase. But he has asked for emergency funding to help rebuild after Hurricane Sandy.

Speaking of Christie, the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin writes, “As Gov. Chris Christie heads for what is expected to be an easy re-election, he is also quietly building a sophisticated political operation that could become the basis for a national campaign. His advisers, while saying the governor is focused on New Jersey, are aiming to run up a huge margin against his Democratic opponent and position Mr. Christie as a formidable figure among Republicans ahead of the next presidential primary.”

Christie “plans to sign a bill Monday barring licensed therapists from trying to make gay minors straight,” Politico writes. “New Jersey will be the second state to ban so-called conversion therapy, along with California.” More: “In a signing note accompanying the bill obtained by The Associated Press that will be made public Monday, Christie says he believes people are born gay and homosexuality is not a sin. That view is inconsistent with his Catholic faith.”

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake points out: “Gay conversion therapy is a controversial practice. It became an issue in the 2012 presidential race when gay rights groups accused Marcus Bachmann — the husband of Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (Minn.), a GOP candidate — of trying to convert gay people at a counseling center he owned. Marcus Bachmann denied that he was involved in such therapy.”

But Christie also “refused to sign three controversial gun control measures, including a version of a weapon ban that he had called for,” the Star Ledger writes, adding, “Christie also agreed to make it easier for severely ill children to participate in New Jersey's medical marijuana program, but said he would not go along with one provision of the measure and sent it back to the state Legislature.

And: Politico reports that Christie will endorse Republican Steve Lonegan in the New Jersey Senate special election on Tuesday. "What makes this less of a dog-bites-man event is the fact that Christie has been expected to do the absolute bare minimum for Lonegan, a former mayor who was his primary opponent in his 2009 gubernatorial run and who is a staunch conservative. It still may end up being minimal involvement. But an in-person endorsement had seemed unlikely."

Also, “Up with Steve Kornacki” yesterday interviewed Walter Mears, Bob Franken and Eleanor Clift on the passing of political reporter/columnist Jack Germond.

CALIFORNIA: The Bob Filner “scandal shows no signs of letting up despite demands by all nine City Council members that Filner step down,” the L.A. Times writes.

NBC San Diego: “The effort to recall embattled Mayor Bob Filner officially kicked into high gear on Sunday with several recall-related events held around San Diego. At around 2:15 p.m., supporters of the campaign to recall Filner gathered at the Civic Center Plaza in downtown San Diego for the ‘Freedom From Filner’ recall rally. … ‘Are you ready to take back our city?’ one organizer asked the enthusiastic crowd of hundreds. ‘Bob Filner, the citizens of San Diego have a message for you: It’s time to resign.’

‘You have brought disgrace upon our city,’ she added.”

ILLINOIS: Washington Post's Dan Balz took a look from Chicago at the brewing Democratic gubernatorial primary. "Incumbent Pat Quinn (D) is one of the most embattled governors in the country. He leads a state with a badly tarnished reputation (the two previous governors were convicted of crimes and sent to prison), the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation and a government with massive fiscal problems due to unfunded pension obligations of roughly $100 billion...Quinn’s Democratic opponent bears one of the most famous names in Chicago politics. Bill Daley was a commerce secretary in the Clinton administration, served as White House chief of staff under President Obama and is the son and brother of two Chicago mayors who combined to lead the city for more than 40 years. The Daley name is a mixed blessing among Illinois voters."

Chicago Tribune: "Cook County’s top Democrats overwhelmingly endorsed incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn for re-election Friday in a repudiation of the primary challenge offered by an absent Bill Daley, the son and brother of two former mayors."

MICHIGAN: Roll Call: "After a brief reconsideration, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., has decided once and for all that he will not seek the Wolverine State’s open Senate seat. 'Over the past few months, I have received a lot of encouragement to run for the United States Senate,' the Ways and Means Committee chairman said in a Friday statement. 'I have greatly appreciated and am deeply humbled by those calls and conversations. After much thought and careful consideration, I have decided not to run for the United States Senate.'"

NEW HAMPSHIRE: "Former Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Smith said he is seriously considering another run for the Senate," the Union Leader writes. "U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is running for reelection, and Smith said several activists from across the Republican Party's philosophical spectrum have approached him. Smith lives in Florida but has a summer home in Tuftonboro."

NEW YORK: New York Daily News: “Mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn’s spouse Kim Catullo reveals death threats as she makes campaign debut.”

The New York Daily News endorsed Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer for City Controller, and this was the cover headline over a photo of Eliot Spitzer: “Liar, criminal, sex cheat, fraudster – and he still wants your trust. SCREW YOU!”