TPM News

There could be a significant delay before any Democratic candidates declare for the Senate seat of Republican Whip Jon Kyl, who has announced his retirement. As TPMDC has learned, for some time one of the top possible Dem candidates for the seat has been Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is in physical therapy after she was shot in the head during a constituent event last month.

A Democratic source in Arizona told us that possible candidates for the seat include Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, former Reps. Harry Mitchell and Ann Kirkpatrick (who were defeated in the 2010 Republican wave), and 2010 candidate for attorney general Felecia Rotellini. Interestingly, the source said there had not been indications that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was previously the state's two-term governor, might run.

However, the source said, Giffords had long been viewed as a top-tier candidate to either challenge Kyl or run for an open seat, before the events in January. "In our view, she ought to have the right of first refusal," the source said, "and hopefully others will allow her the space and time to recover and make that decision."

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The Obama administration announced on Tuesday a six-year, $53-billion-dollar project to expand high-speed rail service in the United States -- promising trains reaching 250mph. The budget request is in addition to $8 billion already allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Even so, those billions are a drop in the bucket compared to the investment European and Asian countries have been making to their rail networks for decades.

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Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) has officially announced that he is retiring at the 2012 election, after three six-year terms in the Senate and four two-year terms in the House of Representatives -- a total of 26 years in Washington.

Kyl, who will be 70 years old at the time of the 2012 election, told a press conference in Phoenix that when he was first elected to the Senate in 1994, he had anticipated that he would serve only two terms. But when 2006 came around, and Republicans were not performing well politically, the party's chances of holding the seat had been a factor in his decision to run again.

"But there comes a time when you have to consider other things," said Kyl. "In the Bible it says, of course, that there is a time for every thing."

Republican sources have told TPMDC that among the likely candidates for the seat is Rep. Jeff Flake. Others could possibly run from the Arizona House delegation, such as Rep. Trent Franks or the recently-retired former Rep. John Shadegg.

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Sarah Palin appeared last night on Sean Hannity's TV show, where she was asked about Rick Santorum's comments that she was not going to CPAC for the reasons of financial opportunities and the responsibilities of motherhood. And while she almost let the whole thing go, she didn't hold back from tweaking her potential rival for the Republican presidential nomination.

Earlier this week, Santorum speculated about the reasons for Palin's absence from CPAC. "I have a feeling she has some demands on her time, and a lot of them have financial benefit attached to them," he said. "So I'm sure that she's doing what's best for her and her family."

What's more, he added, that unlike himself, she lives all the way in Alaska -- and is "the mother to all these kids." As Mediaite and others have pointed out, the strong social conservative Santorum is a father of seven children, two more than Palin's five.

Hannity reviewed part of Santorum's comments -- at first omitting the section about Palin being the mother of all those children.

"Okay, that's the first that I have actually heard what he had to say. And yeah, I think the reports were much worse than what he really said," said Palin. "I think some things maybe were maybe taken out of context. So I will not call him the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal that perhaps others would want to call him -- I'll let his wife call him that instead.

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Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ) will hold a surprise press conference in Phoenix at 12 p.m. ET (10 a.m. local time), the Arizona Republic reports, to announce whether he will seek re-election.

The Republic notes that Kyl will make his announcement "amid speculation that he may retire." Kyl was first elected to the Senate in an open-seat race in 1994, after eight previous years in the House, and will be 70 years old on Election Day 2012.

So let's see what happens.

Late Update: Politico is reporting that Kyl wil retire.