FIRST BIG HINT OF THE NIGHT… No surprise that CNN is calling Democratic challenger Brad Ellsworth–the big handsome sherriff–the winner against Republican incumbent John Hostettler in Indiana’s 8th. That’s the Democrat’s first pickup of the night, but an expected one.

The real news, says Mark Nickolas over at Showdown ’06, is Kentucky’s 3rd, where, with 80 percent of the vote counted, Decomcratic challenger John Yarmuth leads GOP Rep. Anne Northup 50-48. “A reminder: a few weeks ago, NRCC chairman Tom Reynolds told reporters that he expected Northup to win,” say Nickolas, “but that he would be in for a long night if she lost.”

Update: Yarmouth declared the winner.

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Paul Glastris is the editor in chief of the Washington Monthly. A former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, he is writing a book on America’s involvement in the Greek War of Independence.