Afternoon Fix: Huntsman camp calls Romney’s record ‘abysmal’

Jon Huntsman has gone negative, there’s another Senate candidate in Florida, Heller and Berkley are in a money dead heat and Rick Perry met with Pervez Musharraf.

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WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

* Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman is starting to go negative after pledging to run a clean campaign. Referencing an L.A. Times article that called Mitt Romney’s job-creation record “shaky,” Huntsman said: “When you look at the absolute increases in job creation, Utah led the way in the United States in terms of job creation. That, compared and contrasted with certain other states like Massachusetts, which I will just pull out randomly, not first, but 47th.” Spokesman Tim Miller followed up, calling Romney’s record “abysmal.”

* There’s a new candidate in Florida’s crowded GOP Senate primary — Craig Miller, former CEO of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, launched his campaign today. Miller ran for the House in 2010 but came in third in a GOP primary won by then-state Rep. Sandy Adams, who went on to defeat Suzanne Kosmas (D). He spent nearly $560,000 of his own money on that race, but Miller says his Senate campaign will not be self-financed. He’ll face state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, former Sen. George LeMieux, and former state Rep. Adam Hasner in the primary to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson (D). Miller launched his campaign with a plane tour of the state.

* A first-term Arizona state lawmaker who pointed a loaded gun at a reporter in a recent interview now says that it was writer Richard Ruelas who sat down in front of her laser sight. An Arizona Republic article on Sen. Lori Klein (R-Anthem) and her gun-carrying mentioned that she took out the gun (which, she explained later, has no safety) and pointed it at Ruelas. “It happened a month ago, so understandable that [she] has a different recollection of the incident than I do,” he wrote on Twitter last night. He said the interview was amiable.

* Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) met with former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf today, posting a picture of their lunch on his Twitter account. Musharraf has been critical of the White House’s decision to suspend $800 million in aid to the Pakistani military. The governor did not directly criticize President Obama, but he said that “all of us are concerned ... any time there's conflict between these historic friends.” Musharraf requested the meeting to “exchange notes” on economic policy.

WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T MISS:

* Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) are neck-and-neck in the money race this quarter as they prepare for the 2012 Senate race. Berkley has raised about $1.2 million in the three months since she declared her candidacy and has about $2.5 million on hand. Heller took in about $1.05 million and has $2.3 million on hand. Byron Georgiou, a businessman challenging Berkley in the Democratic primary, loaned his campaign another $500,000 to give himself $1.5 million on hand.

* As he promised to months ago, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is blocking President Obama’s nominee for Commerce Secretary, calling John Bryson’s confirmation “a recipe for disaster for our economy.” Inhofe considers the Natural Resources Defense Council, which Bryson co-founded, a “radical... left-wing environmentalist organization” that wants to drive up energy prices. Bryson, also the former president of Edison International, is expectedto ultimately be confirmed.

* Huntsman has picked up the support of the family of former South Carolina governor Carroll Campbell. The influential state leader died in 2005 and his family name still carries weight, although both his sons have tried and failed to win elected office in recent years. Also noteworthy is that Campbell’s one-time chief of staff, Bob McAlister, has signed on with the former Utah governor’s campaign.

* Rep. Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-La.), facing a likely primary challenge, announced today that he has over a million dollars on hand after raising $473,902 in the second quarter. Thanks to redistricting and Louisiana losing a House seat, fellow freshman Rep. Jeff Landry (R) will probably challenge Boustany next year. Landry has yet to post his second quarter numbers, but at the end of March he had $172,000 in cash on hand.

There are Democratic primaries tonight to take on six Republican state senators in Wisconsin, the first actual elections in the recall fight. Most likely all the Democratic candidates will win, but there’s a chance that given low turnout, open primaries Republican “protest” candidates could pick up a few votes. Polls close at 9 P.M. E.T.; we’ll have results soon after.

THE FIX MIX:

Don’t watch this. Just don’t.

With Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.

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