Top of the ballot

Democrats have been pointing and laughing much of the cycle, as conservative primary challengers have launched campaigns against GOP establishment favorites around the country. But now they may have their own primaries to worry about. A couple of healthcare ‘no’ votes – Reps. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) -- are being threatened by challengers from the left, and Reps. Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.), Mike McMahon (D-N.Y.) and Zack Space (D-Ohio) appear to be next. Altmire faces a potential matchup with Allegheny County Labor Council President Jack Shea, while Lynch faces activist Harmony Wu. Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) also launched some robocalls explaining his vote (he has faced a primary challenge from state Sen. Al Lawson for months). As with all primary challenges, though, these should be taken with grains of salt until the challengers show some real potential. Just like on the GOP side, these things rarely pan out. And perhaps the one primary that could have had an instant impact – former top Obama aide Steve Hildebrand vs. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) – predictably fell apart yesterday when Hildebrand opted not to run. In these situations, labor leaders and activists tend to try to make an example of one member. The rest of them are probably safe.

Mommy warbucks

Meg Whitman is putting Jon Corzine to shame and appears to be heading into Bloomberg territory. Whitman (R) has now spent (i.e. money out the door) nearly $40 million of her own money on her governor bid in California, including more than $27 million in the past 11 weeks. Her pace has already trumped Corzine (D), who spent $25 million on his unsuccessful 2009 reelection campaign, and starting to look more like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), who spent $100 million his 2009 reelect. And it’s worked for her. Recent polls have shown her with a near-50 point lead on another big-time self-funder, Steve Poizner, in the primary. She also appears to be well-positioned in general election, showing a small lead there as well.

Kentucky two-step

As we continue to sort out the health care arguments, an interesting situation is shaping up in the Kentucky Democratic Senate primary. State Attorney General Jack Conway continues to hammer away at Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo for not supporting the healthcare bill that passed in the House on Sunday. Mongiardo’s response was, in essence, ‘You’re wrong, but you might be right.’ In an odd release, Mongiardo’s campaign says Conway’s claim that Mongiardo opposed the bill is not true, but it also admits that he would have voted against the bill Sunday without major assurances from President Obama. “Without those assurances, I would vote no because in and and (sic) of itself, this bill will not fundamentally address our healthcare challenges – and could undermine the laudable goals of reform.” Conway needs to make up some ground, according to recent polls. Is this his opening? And is Mongiardo confident enough to start shifting toward the general election?

A special Deal

The nonpartisan special election for former Rep. Nathan Deal’s (R-Ga.) seat has been set for April 27, with a possible runoff set for May 25. Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) made the announcement Tuesday. The seat is not expected to be a Democratic pickup opportunity.