Top of the ballot

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) threw in the towel early last night, with results in the state’s governors race looking bleak but still the chance of a runoff. No need, though, Hutchison quit early. Now the question is, will she quit the Senate early? Here’s how it breaks down: Hutchison wants to leave Washington, but she has plenty of reasons to stay. No. 1 is her legacy. Quitting now would make it look like she’s defeated, and she would end a solid political career with a loss. No. 2 is her successor. Does she really want a man she has battled for the last year-plus, Gov. Rick Perry, appointing her temporary successor and possibly anointing her permanent replacement with that appointment? And No. 3 is her colleagues, who will do whatever they can to avoid a special election. The format of the special election helps Democrats, with a crowded GOP field and a likely runoff. It’s no surprise that there’s been a steady drumbeat of Hutchison’s colleagues asking her to stay. Hutchison probably hasn’t made up her mind, though, so the soap opera continues.

Special Election Week set for May

Hawaii elections officials have set May 22 as the official special election date to replace Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii). This sets up a big week for campaign junkies, in which Republicans will try to take the late Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.) seat on Tuesday the 18th and then go after Abercrombie’s seat the following Saturday. It’s a big opportunity, but also lots of pressure. If the GOP is to make big gains this year, they will probably want to steal at least one of those seats. Republicans also have a recent history of poor special election performances to deal with, so the stakes will be high in that regard, too. Mark your calendars!

Crist uses Dem attack line

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is now taking on fellow Republican governors who spoke out against the stimulus and then accepted its funding. In his State of the State address last night, Crist continued to tack toward the middle in his GOP primary with former House Speaker Marco Rubio. “A few governors may have rather loudly condemned the stimulus money, but that did not stop them from quietly accepting it,” Crist said, adding: “During these very difficult economic times, we do a disservice to the people who elected us – the people who are counting on us – to elevate ideology over problem-solving.” Crist’s embrace of the stimulus is one thing. Calling out fellow Republicans for hypocrisy on it is another matter entirely.