In Arkansas, Rep. Tom Cotton's entry into the Senate race has given Republicans a candidate they like, and moves this race to toss up.
It's firmly atop Republicans' 2014 most-wanted list. Cotton will compete in a state that by the numbers has now become strongly Republican at the federal office level, having given strong majorities to John McCain and Mitt Romney the last two presidential cycles.
Cotton will have no trouble raising money and initial reports have his entry drawing praise from a wide range of Republican groups, which means he won't necessarily have to run to the right and risk alienating moderates, as some speculate (it's too early to really say) may happen with intra-party battles for Republicans in other states (Georgia, maybe Iowa.) Incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., has the power of statewide name ID (Cotton, by contrast, represents only one district and won't start with the same statewide footing) but incumbency is a mixed bag for him. He's distanced himself from the national Democrats on some key votes - gun control, for one.
Arkansas is one of a number of places where Democrats need to retain seats in conservative states in order to hold the Senate. The list reads like a lineup well-tailored for the GOP: aiming for Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, and hoping to knock off incumbents in Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina as well.