One sign of the off-year election malaise: The vote with the greatest national significance all year long might be a summertime presidential straw poll in Iowa.
The Chicago mayoral race
Can former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel come home again? The trash-talking, hard-charging Democrat is the favorite to replace Mayor Daley, but he can't afford to take anything for granted. The diverse field includes former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, Rep. Danny Davis, former Board of Education president Gery Chico and City Clerk Miguel del Valle.
Davis has already pulled out and called for African-American voters to support Moseley Braun against the Rahminator.
The Iowa Republican presidential straw poll
The most important vote in 2011 isn't even a real election. It's the Republican Party of Iowa's 2011 Iowa Straw Poll, set for Aug. 14 at the Iowa State Center in Ames. This is an early test of White House wannabes' organizational skills — and an early chance for presidential campaign "spinners" to practice their craft.
Iowa is Huckabee territory. He'll win this beauty contest, and I'll join others in predicting that the Huckster becomes the eventual 2012 Republick nominee.
Dunham's less intriguing picks are here. The only other item worth noting is that Dallas mayor Tom Leppert may step into a GOP primary for the US Senate in 2012. That would be against the enigmatic Kay Bailey, should she deign to stand again for re-election (I predict she will not). He'll be the only non-Teabagger in that race if he does, which means he'll get slaughtered. As far as that primary goes, pay attention only to those who prostrate themselves before the Tea Pees, such as the Williams twins ... Roger and Michael.
Jockeying for Houston city council positions has barely begun, as several incumbent Democrats in both the statehouse and the courtrooms hit the unemployment line with the changing of the calendar. Some decisions will wait to be made until the redistricting maps for the four new 2012 Congressional seats are known, sometime this spring. Recently retired Sylvia Garcia would be at the top of anyone's list, to be sure.
My favorite municipal elections rumor du jour has former state representative Ellen Cohen considering a run for the 'C' seat being vacated by term-limited Anne
Update III: Kuffner links to Houston Community News, which has more on this development.
Then there's good ol' Bill King, who's busy giving everybody on both sides "tips". Campos likes him, so he's not entirely friendless.
For those of you plugged in to the local rumor mill, what are you hearing? Let me know in the comments. Who -- besides Aaron Pena in the RGV, of course -- wants to run for Congress in 2012? And/or city council or mayor in 2011?
Update: Kuffner, as always, has more.
In addition to former police chief and current City Council Member C.O. Bradford, one potential candidate that has warranted frequent mention is former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt.
The "Taxman," as he often refers to himself, has grown into a foil for Parker on water rate increases and the city's upcoming fight to pass a drainage fee after it was mandated by Proposition 1, a referendum voters narrowly approved in November.
Parker didn't have much to say about a potential Bettencourt candidacy, except a dig or two:
"One can only hope," she said at her Wednesday press conference, laughing loudly.