• AR-Sen: That didn't take long; Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is already hitting the TV airwaves in his freshly-launched primary challenge to Blanche Lincoln. Now, you may be wondering how he's paying for that, considering that he's starting almost from scratch. Turns out he's coming into this with promises of huge financial backing from organized labor; three unions under the AFL-CIO umbrella are committing $3 million to independent expenditures in the race, which in the cheap Arkansas media markets will allow him to get on a solid footing against Lincoln's $5 mil. That's on top of $600K that poured in from the netroots (from MoveOn and the PCCC). See what happens when you piss off your base?
Rasmussen also snapped into action, putting out some further Arkansas numbers, and oddly, they aren't anywhere near as catastrophic for Lincoln as last month. They still don't have her in salvageable shape, though: Lincoln loses to Rep. John Boozman 48-39 (compared with 54-35 last month), state Sen. Gilbert Baker 45-40 (compared with 52-33 last month), state Sen. Jim Holt 45-38, state Sen. Kim Hendren 43-38, and businessman Curtis Coleman 43-41. This is Rasmussen's first time testing Bill Halter, and for now, he's performing about the same or somewhat worse than Lincoln. Halter trails Boozman 52-33, Baker 44-37, Holt 42-38, Hendren 42-35, and Coleman 38-35.
• CA-Sen: DavidNYC's description of this development pretty much speaks for itself: "The lord taketh away Harold Ford, but may grace us with -- I know it's hard to imagine -- an even BIGGER douchebag." Mickey Kaus, the contrarian, Conservadem blogger, is apparently considering a run for Senate in California, taking out (though not yet filing) the appropriate candidate paperwork. Interestingly, I see no discussion of whether he plans to run in the Democratic primary against Barbara Boxer, or as an indie or a GOPer -- not that he's likely to provide much more than comic relief in any of the three categories.
• GA-Sen: Democrats may be kicking themselves for dropping the recruitment ball this year on a challenger to Johnny Isakson for his first re-election bid to the Senate. Rasmussen found him leading Generic D by a not-overwhelming 49-36 last week, and now PPP finds him with a similar but even less convincing win over Generic D, 46-37. Isakson's approvals are a rather Richard Burr-ish 36/38. However, as seen in North Carolina, Generic D overperforms Real D: in case AG Thurbert Baker was considering jumping over from the gubernatorial race (where he badly lags ex-Gov. Roy Barnes in the primary), he trails Isakson 49-31. Jim Martin, who performed fairly well in the 2008 Senate election, does a little better, losing 47-35.
• KY-Sen: As Jim Bunning keeps up his Bizzaro-world Mr. Smith Goes to Washington impression (filibustering to cut off Boy Scouts' dads' unemployment compensation), he's drawing the attention of two of his would-be successors. Democratic Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo has called for a rally at Bunning's Lexington office to protest Bunning's crazy last stand, while Rand Paul's campaign in now responding with its own counter-rally in support Bunning's efforts. (Paul won't be there himself, and it's not clear if Mongiardo will either.)
• NY-Sen-B: There's speculation that Harold Ford Jr.'s decision to abandon his Senate plans may have a lot to do with the likelihood of a Mort Zuckerman run on the Republican side -- and that a lot of Ford's moneybags donors were telling him they were with Zuckerman instead if he got in. Or, maybe Ford just got wind of his poll numbers in today's Marist poll (pdf), giving him little shot at pulling the upset. In the Dem primary, Ford trailed Kirsten Gillibrand 50-19 (with 3 for Jonathan Tasini). Considering that Ford collapsed from an already-bad 44-27 in late January's Marist poll as he gained notoriety all last month, that seems like plenty of incentive to get out. Gillibrand trails the unlikely-to-run George Pataki in the general 48-45, but demolishes Zuckerman, 59-26, as well as the already-running Bruce Blakeman, 58-28. In the other Senate race, undeclared candidate Larry Kudlow might want to save his money; Charles Schumer leads Kudlow 69-24.
• OK-Sen: Rasmussen keeps polling everything that's pollable, and today that includes the Oklahoma Senate race. No Democrat of note has stepped up to challenge Tom Coburn, and that may be just as well, as the Dems' best possible candidate, the state's popular, termed-out Democratic Governor Brad Henry, still finds himself losing a hypothetical battle to Coburn, 52-40.
• TX-Sen: Kay Bailey Hutchison is still insisting that she's going to resign from the Senate at some point this year, despite the very very very very high likelihood of not winning the Texas gubernatorial primary which looked like hers for the taking a year ago. She still isn't sure about a date, although it's pegged to the legislative calendar, as before resigning she plans to, in her words, "stay and fight health care." PPP's Tom Jensen sees some interesting possible winners in Hutchison's fall: Robin Carnahan and Lee Fisher. The scope of Hutchison's loss tonight may give some insight into just how much this year's discontent is an anti-Beltway insider, rather than anti-Democratic, bubble. The former, of course, would be a boost to statehouse vets Carnahan and Fisher (ahem, or Jennifer Brunner) as they fight DC hacks Roy Blunt and Rob Portman.
• CA-Gov: Apparently, after having spent months meditating away whatever bad vibes he may have felt about the role thrust upon his shoulders as the only man who can save California, Jerry Brown has emerged from his Fortress of Solitude and officially declared his candidacy for Governor. Unfortunately, while he was away, Ursa and Non have had uncontested months to rampage around the city destroying things... although thanks to Brown's super-powers of bafflement and misdirection, they've gotten bamboozled into slugging it out viciously with each other instead. (Meanwhile, General Zod has already left town for the more interesting Senate race.)
• GA-Gov: Insider Advantage has polls of both primaries in the Georgia gubernatorial race, although no general election head-to-heads. No surprises on either side: on the Dem side, Roy Barnes is cruising at 36, followed by Thurbert Baker at 7, DuBose Porter at 3, and David Poythress at 2. On the GOP side, John Oxendine leads at 27, followed by Karen Handel at 13, Nathan Deal at 9, Eric Johnson at 7, and Other at 8. While Nathan Deal's resignation is being spun as allowing him to focus full-time on his seemingly tractionless bid, there's a darker side to it, too: TPM reports on how he was getting out one step ahead of the Ethics Committee, which was starting to look into allegations of Deal pressuring state officials to intervene on behalf of an auto inspection business that Deal co-owns. With Deal out of the House, the case is closed, at least at the federal level.
• MI-Gov: May the Schwarz be with us! It may be the only way we can salvage the Michigan gubernatorial race. Joe Schwarz, the ticked-off moderate ex-Rep. from MI-07 (who got teabagged by Tim Walberg in a GOP primary before getting teabagged was fashionable), is launching an exploratory committee for a gubernatorial run as an independent. This could be a big break for Dems in the gubernatorial race -- especially if obnoxious Rep. Peter Hoekstra is the GOP nominee, as Schwarz seems poised to soak up a fair number of moderate votes unenthused by Hoekstra's right-wing grandstanding. Schwarz seems more likely to be Chris Daggett than Jesse Ventura, though, and if things get really scrambled -- for instance, an all-centrist three-way between Andy Dillon, Rick Snyder, and Schwarz -- he could potentially harm the Dems as much as the GOP.
• NY-Gov (pdf): Marist also takes a look at the Governor's race. Seeing as how this is their first poll after David Paterson's announcement that he wouldn't run for re-election, it's also the first poll in a long time to contain any good news for Paterson: only 28% of respondents want him to resign, as opposed to 66% who say finish his term. And only 18% think Paterson has done anything illegal, as opposed to a mere 40% who think he merely did something unethical, not illegal. (The bad news: his approval is down to 23/71, which has to be a new low.) With the participants in November's election now pretty much locked in, they find AG Andrew Cuomo beating ex-Rep. Rick Lazio 64-28. Cuomo's halo may be shining even brighter as his office begins investigating Paterson; Cuomo's approval is 67/28.
• RI-Gov: One more Rasmussen poll to add to the pile, and they're seeing more or less what Brown Univ. saw last week, regarding the Rhode Island gubernatorial race. Independent ex-Sen. Lincoln Chafee is definitely in the driver's seat, although Dem state Treasurer Frank Caprio polls better against him than does AG Patrick Lynch. Only difference here: Rasmussen sees Republican John Robitaille performing much better, although he's still deep in third place. Chafee wins the Caprio race 37-27-19, while he wins the Lynch race 38-24-22.
• GA-07: One of the guys considered a heavyweight in the GOP field in this newly-opened-up seat in the R+16 7th has decided against a run. State Sen. David Shafer announced he'll take a pass. Fellow state Sen. Don Balfour is already in the running, with state Rep. Clay Cox and Gwinnett Co. Commissioner Mike Beaudreau also expected to join him soon.
• MA-10: Maybe I spoke too soon in thinking that Joe Kennedy III's decision not to run next year was an indication of another term of William Delahunt. It turns out Delahunt has been on a bit of a grotesque spending spree, burning through $560K of his campaign cash last year (including campaign staff salaries for a number of family members). This cuts his war chest in half, and he only raised $42K last year -- all actions of a man eyeing the exits. If Delahunt needs something to do with his money, I can think of a certain "DCCC" that could really use help right now, probably much more so than his family members. (H/t Adam B.)
• MI-03: State Sen. Bill Hardiman (termed-out from his current job) announced that he'll run for the open seat in the 3rd, left behind by retiring Vern Ehlers. Hardiman faces state Rep. Justin Amash, already coronated as frontrunner by western Michigan GOP power brokers Dick and Betsy DeVos. If the former Kentwood mayor survives his primary, he's on his way to returning the Republicans back to having at least one African-American in Congress.
• NY-St. Sen.: Give Hiram Monserrate credit for persistence, I guess. Having become the first sitting New York state Senator to get expelled in decades after an assault conviction, Monserrate promptly picked himself up, dusted himself off, and began running in the special election to replace himself. This time, Monserrate is running as an independent, against Democratic Assemblyman Jose Peralta. Peralta has the advantage of the support of the entire Democratic establishment, but Monserrate has one thing on his side: name recognition (not necessarily for good PR, but still...).
• Ads: 501(c)(4) League of American Voters is running anti-health care reform TV ads against a whole slew of swing-district Democrats, hoping to sway a few wobblies in the run-up to the next House vote: Mike Arcuri, Dan Maffei, Chris Carney, Paul Kanjorski, Kathy Dahlkemper, Baron Hill, Steve Kagen, Alan Mollohan, Nick Rahall, Tom Perriello, Mark Schauer, Zach Space, and Harry Teague.
• Special elections: And you thought the Texas primary was all that was on tap tonight? No, there are two special elections for state Houses, both of which look pretty competitive. The Dems are trying to hold a seat in Virginia in HD-41 in a swingy part of Fairfax County, recently vacated by Dave Marsden's promotion to the state Senate. The Democratic candidate, Eileen Filler-Corn, may have the edge, in that she has a 3-to-1 fundraising edge over Kerry Bolognese, and the district went for Obama with 57%. On the other hand, Bolognese came within 50-49 of Marsden last fall, and Bob McDonnell won the district with 55%. (Both candidates, unappealingly enough, are lobbyists by day.) The GOP has the edge in the House of Delegates, 59-38-2. And in Connecticut, Democrats are gunning for a pickup in the Stratford-based HD-120, which was vacated by Republican John Harkins becoming Stratford mayor. Democrat Janice Anderson lost against Republican state Sen. Dan Debicella in 2008, although she beat Debicella in the portion of that district that comprises the 120th. She faces off against GOPer Laura Hoydick; the stakes are a little lower here, as the Dems control the state House 114-36.