Quick GOP '12 Updates

A couple of updates to my most recent rankings of the GOP's top contenders for the 2012 Presidential nomination:

--Mike Pence (#2) has declined to run for Senate against Evan Bayh, which to me suggests that the whole thing was a ploy to get more public attention among conservatives for his 2012 Presidential ambitions.

--Jim DeMint (#3) has hired conservative media superstarlet Amanda Carpenter; I don't think he needs her for his Senate re-election campaign.

--DeMint got left off this ABC News take on 12 GOP '12 contenders, as did Rick Perry (#4); John Thune (#5), by contrast, continues to get a ton of speculative ink these days.

--Did you know that Texans contributed $183 million to 2008 campaigns, with nearly two-thirds of it going to Republicans? Tim Pawlenty (#1) knows, and he's making his third trip to the Lone Star State since November.

--Some people have been telling me that Scott Brown should go on my next rankings, and I would agree -- I've said there's room for an emerging-star candidate to come out of the 2010 cycle -- except that Brown owes his political success to Mitt Romney (#6) and there's no way Brown runs against him.

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