Michele Bachmann took a shot at Mitt Romney, Ken Blackwell is not running for Senate, Tim Pawlenty is going up on Christian radio and Chris Christie has a major victory.

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* Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) took a swipe at former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney over his past support for abortion rights today, saying at a National Right-to Life conference that now is “not the time for Republicans to put up a candidate who is weak on this issue and has a history of flip-flopping on this issue.” Romney says he began opposing abortion rights in 2004, but he has refused to sign an anti-abortion rights pledge that he argues is too vague.

* Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R) will not run for Senate, he told the Daily Caller today. Despite leading in early polling, Blackwell decided that he did not want to “make ‘nice’ with folks with whom I would rather not.” He also hinted at some animosity with the Republican establishment, saying that “the GOP establishment has never been able to grasp” the depth of Blackwell’s support. Blackwell’s departure is good news for state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R), a 33-year-old Iraq War veteran who is hoping to take on Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) next year.

* Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) has signed an aggressive redistricting plan that experts compared to Texas’ infamous 2003 map. “I have carefully reviewed the congressional redistricting map,” Quinn said in a statement. “This map is fair, maintains competitiveness within congressional districts, and protects the voting rights of minority communities.” The overhaul could wipe out as many as six of the state’s 11 Republicans by drawing ten of them into districts with other lawmakers.

* New Jersey’s Democratic-controlled. legislature has passed deep cuts in benefits for 750,000 state workers, a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie (R). While most Democratic lawmakers opposed the measures, the Democratic leadership supported the rollback. Thousands of protesters filled the state Capitol and vowed electoral revenge, but the vote showed Christie’s success in dividing the other party — a weakness that could hurt Democrats in 2012.

* Kwame Kilpatrick is getting out of prison. A Michigan parole board voted today to release the former Detroit mayor, who was jailed in May for violating his probation after being convicted of lying under oath about an affair with his chief of staff. In a recent magazine interview, Kilpatrick said that he plans to return to Detroit and work on criminal justice issues. He expressed regret over his flashy style and some of his actions.


* Continuing his intense focus on Iowa, former Minnesota Tim Pawlenty (R) bought $14,000 worth of Christian and news radio time in the Des Moines market. Earlier this week, he dropped $50,000 on cable television ads in the state.

* “The Undefeated,” a sympathetic movie about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R), will premiere in the Pella Opera House in Pella, Iowa next Tuesday. The film will then screen at AMC Theatres in ten cities the week of July 15th. No word on whether Palin herself will attend, but her associates have reportedly been inquiring about historic Iowa locations. President Obama will be in the state the same day, for an event in Bettendorf.

* Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is warning his fellow Republicans that if they vote to raise the debt ceiling without first passing bills to balance the budget and drastically cut spending, they will be swept out of office. “It would be the most toxic vote,” said DeMint, who emerged as an influential force in the 2010 elections. “I can tell you if you look at the polls, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, they do not think we should increase the debt limit.”

* The billionaire libertarian Koch brothers, a powerful force in the 2010 elections through the group Americans for Prosperity, are holding a seminar in Vail, Colo., this weekend. Word of the event got out when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) announced that he was attending. Local liberal activists are now planning to protest the event.


RIP, Peter Falk:

With Rachel Weiner and Aaron Blake