• MA-Sen: Taking advantage of a slow news day on Thursday, Rep. Ed Markey became the first prominent Democrat to declare for the special election to replace Sen. John Kerry, which is likely to take place in June (assuming Kerry is confirmed as Secretary of State). Markey's been in the House an incredibly long time: His 36-year tenure in the lower chamber would be the longest of any member of congress who ascended to the Senate. (The current record-holder is Republican Frederick Gillet, who served 32 years in the House, including several years as Speaker, before winning a Senate seat in 1924—interestingly, also in Massachusetts.) Markey has a reputation as a strong progressive and came out swinging in his announcement:
"With Senator Kerry's departure, Massachusetts voters will decide once again whether we want a Senator who will fight for all our families or one who supports a Republican agenda that benefits only the powerful and well-connected. I refuse to allow the Tea Party-dominated Republican Party to lead us off the fiscal cliff and into recession. I won't allow the NRA to obstruct an assault weapons ban yet again. I will not sit back and allow oil and coal industry lobbyists to thwart our clean energy future or extremists to restrict women's rights and health care."Markey's not likely to have the field to himself, as a number of other prominent Democrats are still considering the race—as is outgoing GOP Sen. Scott Brown. Markey hasn't faced a competitive election since his first primary all the way back in 1976, but he enters the race with at least one serious advantage: He's got over $3.1 million stashed away in his campaign account, considerably more than the six-figure sums that fellow Reps. Stephen Lynch and Mike Capuano (who are also weighing the race) have on hand. And given his reputation and voting record, liberal groups may rally around him as their standard-bearer. For now, though, game officially on.
• HI-Gov: An unnamed source "close to" Rep. Colleen Hanabusa tells The Hill's Cameron Joseph that the congresswoman is "upset" that Gov. Neil Abercrombie didn't tap her to replace the late Sen. Dan Inouye and that she's receiving "a lot of pressure" to run against Abercrombie in the Democratic primary in 2014. Based on the quotes Joseph provides, it almost sounds like this source is trying to add to this supposed pressure—or perhaps create some him or herself. Alternately, Hanabusa could be trying to test the waters and lay the groundwork for a possible primary challenge.
• IA-Gov: Former Democratic Gov. Chet Culver confirms in his own words what his former communications director said a few weeks ago: that he's looking at a possible rematch against Gov. Terry Branstad, the guy who turned him out of office in 2010. However, it sounds like Culver plans to take his time before deciding. Meanwhile, two Democratic state legislators say they are also considering the race: state Sen. Rob Hogg and state Rep. Tyler Olson. Olson sounds more likely to enter the contest (even Hogg says he'd be a "phenomenal candidate), though he says he'll wait until after the 2013 legislative session, which concludes in May, to make up his mind.
• NJ-Gov: As expected, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has resigned her post, though she hasn't announced any future plans. Back in July, DGA executive director Colm O'Comartun took the somewhat unusual step of publicly touting Jackson as a potential challenger to GOP Gov. Chris Christie, but it doesn't sound like that's on her mind. She may head back to Jersey, though: Jackson is reportedly being considered for the presidency of Princeton University.
• RI-Gov: Independent Gov. Lincoln Chafee looks like he's running for re-election, but he has rather low approval ratings and, maybe more importantly, he's a man without a party, hampering him in terms of fundraising and institutional support. With that in mind, the Providence Phoenix looks at the many potential challengers he might face.
On the Dem side, state Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence mayor Angel Taveras are the big names. The real question may be who labor decides to back, and, intriguingly, Chafee may be in a better position with unions than either of the actual Dems, and he might further improve his standing by opting to run in the Democratic primary in '14. In fact, the article poses the question of whether Raimondo, apparently more centrist than the current version of Chafee, might be the one running under the indie banner, though a spokesperson confirms that she wouldn't consider that. (There's not much talk of potential Republicans here, though Cranston mayor Allan Fung seems to get top billing.) (David Jarman)
• Minneapolis Mayor: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak announced on Thursday that he won't run for a fourth term in 2013, after 12 years as mayor. The link mentions a number of city councilors interested in succeeding him, but I'm more curious about Rybak's next plans, which aren't discussed. He's long been considered one of the top options on Minnesota's Democratic bench, but if he's interested in running for something in 2014, I'm not sure what it'd be; assuming Gov. Mark Dayton and Sen. Al Franken opt for re-election, he's boxed out of a promotion. (David Jarman)
• Recalls: After Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's victory in the June recall election, you might have figured the steam went out of the recall movement in general. But Joshua Spivak of the laser-focused Recall Elections Blog is once again out with his year-end catalog of recalls nationwide, and he finds that the number of recalls actually went up in 2012 compared to 2011. This year, there were at least 168 recalls in 93 different jurisdictions, versus 151 last year, though Spivak notes his canvass, while thorough, can't be considered perfect, so it's likely there were more in both years. What's more, the success rate was very high: 82 officials were kicked out while 26 resigned rather than face recall. Spivak expects that recalls will remain popular, and indeed, several have already been scheduled for 2013. For now, though, you can click through for his full roundup.