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Monday's campaign round-up

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan GrimesAssociated Press

Today's installment of campaign-related news items that won't necessarily generate a post of their own, but may be of interest to political observers:

* Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his likely Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, appeared at Kentucky's Fancy Farms picnic over the weekend, effectively marking the beginning of the state's campaign season -- 15 months before Election Day. My favorite quote from the event. "Let's tell it like it is," Grimes said. "If the doctors told Sen. McConnell he had a kidney stone, he wouldn't pass it."

* On a related note, while PPP shows Grimes leading McConnell by one point, a poll from the Mellman Group shows Grimes up by two, 44% to 42%.

* And speaking of McConnell, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) were each asked separately last week whether they support the Senate Minority Leader's re-election. All three of the far-right senators dodged the question. Hmm.

* Environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer has taken a keen interest in Virginia's gubernatorial race and intends to launch television ads on behalf of Terry McAuliffe (D). If Steyer's name sounds familiar, it's because he also came to Ed Markey's (D) aid in the recent U.S. Senate special election in Massachusetts.

* The news isn't all good for McAuliffe, however -- the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating an electric-car company the Virginia businessman helped create.

* In South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) hoped to avoid a primary challenger, but over the weekend, he ended up with one anyway -- Nancy Mace, a small business owner and the first female graduate of The Citadel, kicked off her GOP bid. [Update: businessman Richard Cash is also in the primary field, and state Sen. Lee Bright is also reportedly interested.]

* And in New Jersey, Rep. Rush Holt (D) is launching a $350,000 ad buy, hoping to narrow Newark Mayor Cory Booker's lead in the Democratic primary for the upcoming U.S. Senate special election.