Today’s installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* Former Sen. Al Franken’s (D-Minn.) last day on Capitol Hill was yesterday, and former Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) will be sworn in as his successor any minute now. Vice President Mike Pence will do the honors.
* On a related note, Alabama’s Doug Jones (D) will also be sworn in this afternoon, though in a break with tradition, he’s asked former Vice President Joe Biden to be his escort for the event. Usually, a new senator is accompanied by his or her home state’s other senator.
* On a related note, Jones, who relied heavily on support from African-American voters on his victory last month, has hired Dana Gresham, a former congressional aide and former Department of Transportation staffer, to serve as his chief of staff. Jones will become the only Senate Dem with a black chief of staff.
* As Rachel noted on the show last night, Mitt Romney appears to be getting ready for a U.S. Senate campaign in Utah, and changed his location status on his Twitter account.
* House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) announced yesterday that he’s retiring at the end of this session. Shuster, who’s been in Congress for 16 years, represents one of Pennsylvania’s reddest districts.
* Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) told right-wing pastor Jim Bakker she’s “had people contact me and urge me to run” for the Senate later this year. Bachmann added that she’s seeking guidance from God about whether to enter the race.
* In Michigan, state Republicans had high hopes about former state Supreme Court Justice Bob Young’s Senate candidacy, but Young quit the race this morning, citing insufficient financial backing.
* And in Alabama, remember when Kayla Moore, Roy Moore’s wife pointed to her Jewish lawyer as proof that her husband isn’t anti-Semitic? It turns out, that lawyer, Richard Jaffe, voted for Doug Jones.