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Off to the races: Stockman challenges Cornyn

Politico: “Republicans are using House Democrats’ own words against them in a new set of radio ads that tie the lawmakers to the bungled Obamacare rollout. Specifically, the National Republican Congressional Committee’s ads, which launch Tuesday, focus on President Barack Obama’s “broken promise” that people could keep their old insurance plans under the new health law. Republicans spent weeks digging through old clips and statements from Democrats in hopes of catching them making the same pledge.”

If you couldn’t get enough Ted Cruz this Christmas, his life is featured in a coloring book for kids for the low, low price of $4.99 called, “U.S. Senator ‘Ted’ Cruz to the Future.” There’s even a YouTube video to go along with it!

Stu Rothenberg doles out his "end-of-the-year awards. It’s been a weird year, but face it: Weird is the new normal in politics." 

"The odds might be in their favor this time — at least if recent history is any indication." Roll Call lists "the top 10 former members who could come back in 2014, "Democratic opposition research group American Bridge is out with a fake 1950s-style PSA/tutorial video mocking GOP efforts to tutor Republican candidates on how to run against women. 

ARKANSAS:Nathan Gonzales: “Pryor Clings to Guns, Religion in Tough Re-Election Race.”

MASSACHUSETTS: Boston Globe: "Democratic congressional candidate Katherine M. Clark, facing three little-known opponents in a special election Tuesday, has all but disappeared from the campaign trail and has already been contacted by the US House clerk about a swearing-in Thursday. Clark held one event Sunday and none Monday, as her campaign banked on her operation and the state’s Democratic machine turning out supporters for her Tuesday, when she is favored to win the seat that Edward J. Markey vacated this summer, when he was elected to the US Senate."

NEBRASKA: “Democrats suffered a blow on Monday as Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen abandoned his bid to unseat GOP Rep. Lee Terry,” Politico writes.

Roll Call: "Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen, a Democrat, has dropped his bid to challenge Republican Rep. Lee Terry in Nebraska’s 2nd District, according to a national Democratic source. Festersen served as the poster child for House Democrats’ candidate recruitment spree during the government shutdown in October. The source said he is leaving the race for personal reasons, but also noted that Festersen’s fundraising and campaign did not meet expectations."

NEW HAMPSHIRE: The Boston Globe: “They won’t get caught napping again. At least, they say they won’t. Democrats understandably uncertain about former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown’s political intentions have ratcheted up their defensive mechanisms as Brown has fed speculation he could run for Senate again – this time in New Hampshire.” 

NEW JERSEY: Chris Christie has a 65% approval rating in a new Monmouth/Asbury Park Press poll

OREGON: Portland Oregonian: Democratic "Gov. John Kitzhaber announced at a news conference Monday morning that he'll run for re-election in 2014, seeking an unprecedented fourth term....Kitzhaber acknowledged that the troubled rollout of Cover Oregon, the state's health care exchange would be used against him in the coming campaign." 

SOUTH DAKOTA: Politico: "The National Republican Senatorial Committee will highlight a Democratic divide over the South Dakota Senate race in releases hitting 2014 Senate contenders on Tuesday. The NRSC has seized on a fundraiser invitation for South Dakota Senate hopeful Rick Weiland, an event hosted by a slew of powerful Democrats — but not Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who told Politico in May that Weiland is “not my choice.”

TEXAS: Houston Chronicle: "Rep. Steve Stockman, a conservative firebrand who has been dogged by ethical questions and campaign debt, withdrew as a candidate for re-election Monday and instead filed as a Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. The filing gives Cornyn the Tea Party challenge in the Texas Republican primary that he long sought to avoid in a state where the GOP electorate has moved increasingly to the right." 

Jessica Taylor: “Stockman is a Republican firebrand who’s called for President Obama’s impeachment over gun control and is a staunch opponent of immigration reform. Many observers thought Cornyn would escape a serious primary challenge. But conservative groups who had been praying for a challenger to Cornyn, the minority whip and former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, welcomed Stockman’s change of heart. … Cornyn has almost $7 million in the bank while Stockman had just over $32,000 in his House campaign coffers and carried $163,000 in debt. He’s been plagued by campaign finance problems. Several other lesser-known challengers have also filed, but Stockman brings the biggest name in what may devolve into a nasty mess for the GOP.” The primary is March 4 with a run off March 27, if necessary.

'“We haven’t decided yet whether we will endorse Steve Stockman, but we’re excited about the potential here,” Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins told msnbc.com in an email. Stockman’s entrance adds another name to the growing list of more than a half dozen tea party-vs.-establishment GOP primaries in 2014. “Texas deserves two conservative fighters in the Senate, not just one,” Hoskins wrote."