Afternoon Fix: Bachmann and Santorum sign pledge opposing gay marriage, pornography

at 04:57 PM ET, 07/08/2011

Don Bivens is in the Arizona Senate race, Bachmann and Santorum sign a pledge, Haley Barbour says the field is wide open, Mitt Romney might do a straw poll after all and Rick Perry thinks Rick Scott is a stud.

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FIRST ON THE FIX:

* Don Bivens, former Arizona Democratic party chairman, has formed an exploratory committee for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jon Kyl (R). He's brought on veteran Democratic pollster Fred Yang and hired Chicago-based consulting firm Adelstein Liston.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) have both signed a pledge put out by a conservative Christian group that opposes pornography, along with gay marriage and Sharia law. The pledge comes from Family Leader, a group run by powerful Iowa conservative Bob Vander Plaats, an unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate in the past three elections. Vander Plaats was also the Iowa state chair of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign. He says he won’t endorse any candidate who does not sign the pledge.

* Former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) is still avoiding Medicare questions on the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as she campaigns for Senate in New Mexico. “I’m not in the House of Representatives,” she told Politico today. “This is not something that I have to vote on.” But she did say that “there are a lot of things in there that cause some concern.”

* Ryan argued with a woman at a Capitol Hill restaurant last night after she spotted him dining with two conservative economists over $350 bottles of wine. Susan Feinberg, an associate business professor at Rutgers, confronted Ryan to ask “how he could live with himself”drinking such high-priced alcohol while advocating cuts to programs for seniors and the poor. Ryan told Talking Points Memo the woman was “crazy” and possibly drunk, but he agreed that “it's stupid to pick up that much for a bottle of wine under any circumstance.”

* In a CNBC interview today, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), who dropped out of the presidential race after only a few months, called this “the most open nomination in my career for a Republican nomination.” He added, “It actually seems kind of like a Democrat nomination, where there are a whole lot of candidates, and somebody like Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton can come from near the back of the pack and win.”

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Bachmann has hired two top fundraisers who were, until recently, with former House speaker Newt Gingrich. Mary Heitman has run the finance operations of both Republican National Committee and Republican Governors Association. Jody Thomas used to work for former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.). Both quit Gingrich’s campaign in late June. Bachmann is known for her vast network of small donors; now she’s ramping up her major donor operation.

* Democratic Army veteran and military consultant Brendan Mullen will run for Indiana’s open 2nd district, he’s told party officials. Goshen lawyer Andrew Straw in already in the primary to replace Rep. Joe Donnelly (D), who is running for Senate — but Democrats say Mullen is the stronger candidate. The way Republicans have redrawn this district, it will be hard for any Democrat to win. Former state Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) is running again after nearly beating Donnelly in 2010.

* City Year co-founder Alan Khazei raised $920,000 in the second quarter in hopes of taking on Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) — one of the most impressive hauls in the country. Khazei doesn’t get a lot of attention, because he flamed out in the 2009 primary for the same seat. But senior advisor Michael Meehan tells Hotline that he hopes the big take will force the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to take him more seriously.

* After saying he would not participate in any straw polls, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is maybe changing his mind. According to Florida Republican Party Chairman Dave Bitner, Romney is “rethinking” his decision when it comes to that state’s poll. Also noteworthy: according to Bitner, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) called Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) “a stud.”

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