Top of the ballot

It’s primary day in Texas, where the magic number is 50-plus-one for Gov. Rick Perry (R). That’s what he needs if he wants to save the time, trouble and money of a six-week runoff with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R). Either way, it’s hard to see Perry losing this primary, but it’s going to be interesting to see how much of a fight Hutchison puts up. After that, get ready for the continuation of the will-she-or-won’t-she soap opera about whether or not Hutchison will resign her Senate seat. She has said her pledge to resign remains intact, but many, including admittedly the Ballot Box, are dubious. The GOP doesn’t need to risk losing another seat, just as some pundits are starting to talk about them regaining the majority in the Senate, and the pressure will be on for Hutchison. What’s more, if she resigns, she’d be giving the man who beat her, Perry, the right to replace her with a temporary appointment. That wouldn’t sit well with her.

Be sure to check back at the Ballot Box tonight, where we will be live-blogging the results from Texas. The GOP primaries to face Reps. Chet Edwards (D-Texas) and Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) are also on the ballot.

Specter surge or outlier alert?

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) inexplicably took the lead over former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in the latest Quinnipiac poll on the race. It’s hard to see what might have caused Specter, who has trailed by double digits in other recent polls, to surge to a 49-42 lead over Toomey. It also shows Specter with a net-positive (48-45) job approval rating, which is widely different than other polling – Franklin and Marshall recently showed Specter’s job numbers at 30-62, with him trailing Toomey 44-34. The one area where it does echo other polls is the primary, which shows Specter leading Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) 53-29. At this point, though, the poll has to be considered an outlier. 

Have you driven a Ford (out of the race) lately?

We shouldn’t be terribly surprised that former Rep. Harold Ford Jr.’s (D-Tenn.) primary against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) was so quickly aborted. Ford’s launch was about as rough as they come, and his past issue positions made him a tough sell in a blue state so soon after his last campaign. The good thing for Gillibrand is that this threat, moreso than the others before it, really seems to have swung her campaign into high gear. If Mort Zuckerman or former Gov. George Pataki are really serious about taking a shot at her, they now know what they will be dealing with. And despite some lukewarm job approval numbers for Gillibrand, she’s shown she can more than hold her own in a statewide contest.