A top Iowa conservative activist is up for grabs, Rep. Lujan is not running for Senate, Rand Paul likely not running for president, and Newt Gingrich took money from the ethanol industry.

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* Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has tangled with conservatives over his support for ethanol subsidies, got $300,000 from the ethanol lobbying group Growth Energy in 2009. He was described by the group as someone who would offer advice on “strategy and communication issues” and “speak positively on ethanol-related topics to media.” He did not get any money from the organization in 2010. A spokesperson for Gingrich responded to National Review about the story, saying the likely presidential candidate “supports an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy.

* Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) is not running for Senate next year, meaning the primary will likely be a race between Rep. Martin Heinrich and state Auditor Hector Balderas. Lujan might have split the Hispanic vote with Balderas; he’s the vice-chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. But there’s speculation that Lujan will endorse Heinrich and give him a boost with Hispanic voters.

* Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is not likely to run for president, his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) told “The View” this morning. The younger Paul has said repeatedly that he would not run against his dad. “There is a little bit of discipline in the family," Rep. Paul joked. Meanwhile, Robert Paul, another son, says he’s probably not running for Senate in Texas. Rep. Paul is making an announcement in Iowa tomorrow, which could be the launch of his 2012 campaign.

* Iowans for Tax Relief’s Ed Failor Jr. is leaving the influential conservative group he has led for the past 16 years. The group held forums for aspiring presidential candidates in the past three cycles, and Failor was a well-known player in the Iowa caucuses. Minnpost.com’s Derek Wallbank reports that both former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) have courted him for their campaigns.


* Debbie Smith (D), speaker pro tempore of the Nevada state Assembly, will not run for Rep. Dean Heller’s (R) House seat should the Republican lawmaker be appointed to the Senate. That means state Treasurer Kate Marshall is the most likely Democratic candidate in the expected special election.

* Former Wisconsin state senator Pat Kreitlow is running against Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) next year. The former “Real World” star is in a Democratic-leaning district, but Republicans will do their best to shore him up in redistricting. Kreitlow, a former local news anchor, lost his state legislative seat in 2010 to Republican Terry Moulton (as Republicans are pointing out today).

* Former Senate candidate Ovide Lamontagne’s Granite Oath PAC is hosting a house party with Hermain Cain on Wednesday night, part of a presidential series organized by the New Hampshire Republican. The first event was held with former senator Rick Santorum in January, and the second with Pawlenty in March.

* Famed George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove will be on the University of Wiconsin-Milwaukee campus tonight for a speech to the College Republicans. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) will introduce him. The event is sold out.


Finally, D.C. is a disgusting, sweaty swamp again!

With Aaron Blake