CNN's John King and other top political reporters empty out their notebooks each Sunday on "Inside Politics" to reveal five things that will be in the headlines in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Washington (CNN) – Lessons from our trip around the "Inside Politics" table this Sunday: new challenges for two governors who also happen to be 2016 presidential prospects, a California court case that could reverberate in your school district and a Tennessee tea party test.
1. Christie’s New Hampshire 2016 message
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is sending more signals he wants to test his 2016 appeal even as he awaits the findings of two investigations into what is now known in shorthand as Bridgegate.
The GOP governor was already on the books to visit New Hampshire later this week. And I’m told by good GOP sources in the Granite State that there are conversations about a return visit in July.
The official reason: Republican Governors Association fund-raising and help for the RGA’s favored candidate in the New Hampshire governor’s race, businessman Walt Havenstein.
But the conversations about trying to schedule a return visit so soon – the gubernatorial primary isn’t until September – have NH GOPers thinking Christie is also looking to send a message about 2016.
2. Will Alexander’s primary be more like Graham’s win or Cantor’s loss?
Back when he was Tennessee governor, Lamar Alexander was known for walking the state in a trademark red plaid shirt. And when he ran for president in 1996, he donned the shirt for neighborhood walks in early primary states.
He didn’t win, but I still have one of those shirts among my campaign keepsakes.
Now, Jonathan Martin of the New York Times suggests a back to the future moment for Senator Alexander.
The GOP senator has a tea party challenger, and while the polls look good, Jonathan reports Alexander is taking nothing for granted in the wake of Eric Cantor’s loss in last week’s Virginia primary.
“His reaction, I'm told, watching Cantor's loss was: ‘my race is going be more like Lindsey Graham's win than Eric Cantor's loss,’” said Martin. “One metric he talks about a lot in Tennessee is he's spent over half his nights each year sleeping in Tennessee, not in Washington, DC.”
3. Look to your left, Governor Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo is heavily favored to win a second term as New York governor this year. That fact alone (and the famous name doesn’t hurt) gets him mentions when folks build lists of Democrats not named Clinton who might consider running for president in 2016.
But Politico’s Maggie Haberman shared reporting suggesting Gov. Cuomo, who has been running into liberal headwinds in his own state, might have a short term Democratic family issue to resolve before he can spend quality time debating the pros and cons of joining the 2016 field.
Zephyr Teachout – who had hoped to be the candidate of the labor-based Working Families Party - is circulating petitions to challenge Cuomo for the Democratic nomination.
“She has almost no chance of winning but the amount of earned media she will get, because people will be looking for this fight, will be uncomfortable for Cuomo,” said Haberman.
4. Look both ways, Gov. Walker
David Maraniss of The Washington Post loves returning home to Wisconsin, and brings back fresh nuggets from a very competitive governor’s race that also could have 2016 ramifications.
Republican Scott Walker is the incumbent in that race, and at the moment faces a stiff challenge from Democrat Mary Burke.
The state’s ban on same-sex marriages was recently declared unconstitutional. Walker was a big proponent of the ban in his last race, but David reported his tone is different now, perhaps in a bid not to alienate more moderate voters.
“He's now caught in this vise because of the ruling last week on gay marriage in Wisconsin - where in Wisconsin, being against gay marriage is not going to help him as a wedge issue,” said Maraniss. “So he's tried to waffle it and say that his opinion isn't important.”
Walker also has faced recent fire from the right – namely from the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, for suggesting he was perhaps open to some settlement with prosecutors trying to determine if conservative groups improperly coordinated during 2012 recall elections.
Walker talking a local Wisconsin reporter about the gay marriage ruling:
5. California copycats in tenure battle?
NPR’s Juana Summers laid out the stakes now that a California court has ruled unconstitutional tenure policies that protect sub par teachers, saying that they were depriving students of their right to a good education.
“What's really fascinating to me is if you dig into this ruling, the judge actually made allusions to Brown v. the Board of Education, which turned 60 years old last month,” said Summers. “So this is a really big deal.”
Look for copycat lawsuits on teacher tenure and other educational issues in states like Colorado and New Mexico, Juana suggests, as those who view strict tenure rules and teachers unions as obstacles to education reforms try to build momentum from the California ruling.