Top of the ballot

Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is leading the news this morning, after saying on his campaign website that he will challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) in a primary. Lincoln was already in enough trouble; she didn’t need Halter to complicate things for her. But it is interesting if for no other reason than that it’s another established political figure going after an incumbent senator in a primary. Lincoln is the fourth Democrat, along with two Republicans, to face such a challenge. And nothing is more indicative of the anti-Washington mantra that these challengers will go with than Halter’s announcement video (below). You’ve got to wonder if Halter has watched the fates of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) and thought, “This is a good time.”

Heading for the exits

Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s (D-Hawaii) last day in Congress was Sunday, and Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) may also be on his way out today to focus on his run for governor. The Peach Pundit blog reports that Deal will end his congressional tenure – a move which has the added bonus of getting the House Ethics Committee off his back. It also paves the way for a special election. Deal has announced a press conference at 9 a.m. in his district. The district is one of the most conservative in the country, and should come down to a GOP battle between state Sen. Lee Hawkins, state Rep. Tom Graves and Dr. Chris Cates, among other candidates.

Deep in the heart

We are about 24 hours away from polls opening in Texas, where the marquee matchup is Gov. Rick Perry’s GOP primary with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. The Hutchison post-mortems are already being written, even though the race might not be over for another six weeks. Perry’s team is pushing hard to break 50 percent and avoid a runoff, because waiting in the wings is a Democratic candidate that Texas Republicans take very seriously – Houston Mayor Bill White. And in spite of that fact that Hutchison has tanked in her primary, Democrats thought she would be the tougher general election matchup. Their dream is that she has a stronger-than-expected primary showing and uses that to create a bloody and expensive runoff.

UPDATE: This post had incorrectly described Cates as a dentist. He is a cardiologist.