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Midterms: Whitman in the lead

ARKANSAS: The Washington Post profiles the upcoming Lincoln-Halter Senate Democratic primary. "Backed by national labor unions and Democratic activists, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is attacking Lincoln from the left as an uncertain senator who too often tilts right on major issues, including Wall Street, health care and the environment... Lincoln counters that Halter, who returned to Arkansas to run for office after 20 years in government and business, misunderstands the Arkansas electorate. Touting moderation as a virtue, she calls herself 'the rope in the tug of war.'" 

CALIFORNIA: An L.A. Times/USC poll has Meg Whitman leading Steve Poizner by 40 points and Democrat Jerry Brown 44%-41%. "In the Republican Senate contest, former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell held a slim lead over one-time Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina, 29% to 25%. Coming in a distant third was Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, at 9%." And: "At this early stage of the campaign, Boxer has a comfortable cushion over a generic Republican, 48% to 34%, as she seeks her fourth term."
 
Also: "In the four months since the last Times/USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences poll was taken, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's job approval ratings have fallen 8 points, to a record low 25%. During the same time, Boxer's approval dipped only three points, to 40%, and fellow Sen. Dianne Feinstein's by two points, to 46% -- drops that were statistically insignificant."  
 
"By a margin of 46% to 29%, California voters surveyed said they would be more likely to vote for a politician who had supported the health bill," The L.A. Times writes. "And just over half the voters polled said they believed the country would be better off because of the bill." 

COLORADO: The Washington Post's Dan Balz parachutes into Colorado to see how Rep. Betsy Markey's (D) vote for the health-care legislation might play out in November. "In the days since [the vote], Markey has been both praised and vilified. The National Republican Congressional Committee taunted her with an e-mail release proclaiming, 'Bye Bye, Betsy.' She made former Alaska governor Sarah Palin's list of targeted Democrats. But they were only ratifying the obvious. In November, the race in Colorado's 4th District will be crucial to Republican hopes to take over the House." 

In Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett's new campaign ad, the incumbent contrasts Washington D.C., with Washington County, Colorado. The ad "kicks off with him appearing outside the Capitol, clad in a business suit and saying, 'In this Washington, they spend money they don't have.' The ad then cuts to Bennet pointing to a road sign in Washington County, wearing a light-colored jacket: 'In this Washington, families are looking for ways to get by,' he says."

FLORIDA: Stu Rothenberg says, "There is plenty of reason for Crist to consider an Independent bid for Senate… Though everyone acknowledges that the GOP primary is still almost five months away and that Crist has resources and ammunition to use against Rubio, Crist and his loyal supporters seem to be the only ones who believe that a comeback is realistic." But: "Insiders seem to agree that a Crist Independent bid would damage the governor's credibility and rob him of much of the Republican and Democratic support he currently has in hypothetical ballot tests, certainly putting him at great risk of a third-place finish. Running as an Independent would confirm the line of attack that Crist's critics have leveled at him -- that he is an opportunist who will do or say anything that he needs to in order to further his personal goals."

INDIANA: Roll Call profiles John Hostettler's long-shot bid to get back to Washington via the race to replace Evan Bayh in the U.S. Senate.

KENTUCKY: Senate candidate Rand Paul's latest ad, "Machine," paints his opponent Trey Grayson as a Washington insider and himself as the anti-establishment choice. 

MICHIGAN: Roll Call gets into MI-7: "For political junkies and those who follow Congressional races closely, the GOP primary in Michigan's 7th district presents perhaps one of the most intriguing matchups of the 2010 cycle: a former Member of Congress versus the brother of a current Member. Former Rep. Tim Walberg (R), who was ousted by Rep. Mark Schauer (D) in 2008, is hoping for a rematch this November, but first he must get past attorney Brian Rooney, a Marine Corps veteran and recent district transplant. Rooney is the younger brother of freshman Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) and the grandson of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney."  
 
NEVADA: The Las Vegas Review-Journal profiles Sue Lowden as part of a backgrounder on the top five GOP Senate candidates, citing her record as a casino owner as one of her weaknesses: "[Sue's husband] Paul Lowden, as Archon chief executive officer, was paid $200,000 in bonuses in 2004 and again last year when the Archon-run Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall in Laughlin dropped 106 employees and stopped matching employee contributions to 401k accounts."    
 
Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian "paid $5,575 to cover a disputed [$5,000] check and prosecution fees before Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis approved withdrawing felony theft and bad check charges, court officials said," according to the AP.   

PENNSYLVANIA: The Hill profiles Sen. Arlen Specter: "Despite vowing independence when he switched parties on April 28th of last year, Specter has become a model Democratic senator. During Specter's 29-year career as a Senate Republican, he voted with Democrats 35 percent of the time. Since switching parties in 2009, he has cast more than 95 out of 100 votes with Democratic leaders."