Morning Must Reads

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–As if Blanche Lincoln’s re-election effort wasn’t hard enough already, it just got worse for the Senator. Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, a fellow Democrat, just threw his hat into the ring for a primary challenge.

–Jim DeMint continues to seek a role as conservative king-maker in Republican Senate primaries, setting up an unavoidable tension with Jon Cornyn and the establishment’s NRSC. Though his influence — and the amount of money he has to throw around — shouldn’t be overstated, his successes or failures in this year’s contests could shape both the ideological composition of the Senate and the overall direction of the party.

Clive Crook puzzles over Obama and comes up with this: “Sadly for the president, the left objects to his pragmatism more than it applauds his ambitions, and the centre [sic] and right object to his ambitions more than they welcome his pragmatism.”

–Stu Rothenberg gives four examples of political stories you should read with a healthy dose of skepticism.

–Krugman sees financial reform fading and writes no bill is preferable to “watered-down” legislation. His thinking: Small tweaks create complacency and leave America ultimately unprepared for future crisis, while doing nothing at least keeps Washington on its toes.

–As Michael mentioned, Pelosi was on the Sunday shows yesterday talking health care process. A few takeaways: 1) She implied the Senate would have to move first — meaning she expects them to “fix” their bill before she tries to pass it in the House. Greg Sargent is still wondering if this is possible. 2) She tried out a new line on bipartisanship that sums up the case Democrats will likely make when they announce the reconciliation push this week: “The bill can be bipartisan even though the votes might not be.” 3) It’s not yet clear if she has the votes, but I agree with Karen — it’s hard to bet against a Speaker who spent the last year batting 1.000 on her party’s major legislation.

–Taegan Goddard points out Democrats’ House math on health care may get one vote easier if Republican Rep. Nathan Deal resigns today. (He’s running for governor in Georgia.) But if you count Rep. Abercrombie’s Sunday departure, it’s a wash. (He’s running for governor in Hawaii.)

–Texas holds its primaries tomorrow and Rick Perry looks likely to emerge victorious from his slugfest with Kay Bailey Hutchison in the Republican gubernatorial contest. Former Houston Mayor and prohibitive Democratic favorite Bill White hopes to take advantage of Perry’s primary wounds and, I imagine, would love to see the GOPers further bloodied by a runoff .

–Mark Halperin writes a resurgence of Republican governors could make big ripples in 2012.

–And Jake Tapper calls the hurdles remaining for health reform “SuperMario-esque.”

What did I miss?

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