• Former Commerce Secretary Keith Cricso, a Democrat running for the 2nd Congressional District nomination against Clay Aiken, releases his first campaign ad. Note the subtle dig at Aiken’s celebrity (and sexual preference?).


• Don’t miss Dan Way’s Carolina Journal Online report about the final day of candidate filing and the number of uncontested races in the General Assembly and Congress.

• Along those lines, Roll Call notes that, primarily because of retirements, none of the five House “races to watch” it identified last year will be contested this year. One is in North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District, where nine-term Democrat Mike McIntyre retired, leaving the seat almost certainly to the winner of the May Republican primary between David Rouzer and Woody White. Democrats Jonathan Barfield and Walter Martin have filed for the 7th District, which went heavily for Mitt Romney in 2012.

• On the flip side, the tally for now, in the U.S. Senate race to battle freshman Democrat Kay Hagan has reached 13 contenders — eight Republicans, three Democrats (including Hagan), and two Libertarians. Meantime, in the battle to succeed retiring 6th District GOP Rep. Howard Coble, nine Republicans and two Democrats have filed. In the 12th Congressional District, seven Democrats and two Republicans hope to succeed Democratic Rep. Mel Watt, who resigned to take over a federal housing agency.