Kansas, Michigan and Missouri (USA) Primaries 2010

After an unfortunate hiatus in coverage of American primary elections in the run-up to the November midterm elections, primary coverage returns with three primaries held yesterday, August 3, in Kansas, Michigan and Missouri.

Kansas

The general election for Senate and Governor in the Midwestern state of Kansas won’t provide much excitement, so the primary ballot was the big happening in Kansas.

A rare species was elected Governor of Kansas in 2002 – a Democrat, Kathleen Sebelius, who won easy re-election in 2006 but was named to President Obama’s cabinet in 2009 and was replaced by her Lt. Governor, Mark Parkinson, also a Democrat. However, Parkinson isn’t running for re-election and the top contender is Republican Senator Sam Brownback, a strong social conservative. Brownback, the overwhelming favourite come November, easily trounced a challenge from the far-right nutjobs, trouncing scary lady Joan Heffington with 82.2% to 17.8% yesterday. Democratic State Senator Tom Holland was unopposed for the Democratic sacrificial lamb nomination. The last poll showed Senator Brownback leading Tom Holland 59-31.

The big contest last night was a closely-watched Republican Senate primary, the winner of which will most certainly become Senator in November. In a four-person field, the top two contenders were Representative Jerry Moran (KS-01) and Representative Todd Tiahrt (KS-04). Moran, who has enjoyed a large lead in polls since the race kicked off, is the establishment’s favourite and somewhat wrongly considered the most ‘moderate’ contender. Indeed, he’s been endorsed by John McCain but also hardcore conservatives like Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn or John Thune. Tiahrt, who is even more right-wing than Moran, especially on social issues, is the “maverick” choice chosen by Sarah Palin, Karl Rove and James Inhofe. Tiahrt, maybe as a result of Palin’s endorsement, catched up with Moran in polls in the last few days and gave Moran a close race.

On the Democratic side, there was a surprisingly large field of people contending to lose by a landslide in November. The top one was Lisa Johnston, a university administrator, followed by Charles Schollenberger, retired communications exec and David Haley, a State Senator from Kansas City. Here are the results:

Jerry Moran (R) 49.7%
Todd Tiahrt (R) 44.6%
Tom Little (R) 3.1%
Bob Londerholm (R) 2.5%

Lisa Johnston (D) 31%
Charles Schollenberger (D) 23.5%
David Haley (D) 19.4%
Patrick Wiesner (D) 16.3%
Robert Conroy (D) 9.8%

Tiahrt did surprisingly well given how large his deficit in polls was prior to the vote, and played especially well in his congressional district, the 4th, covering southeastern Kansas but also played surprisingly well in and around Kansas City. Moran, on the other hand, owned in his old district, the 1st, covering sparsely populated western Kansas. I can’t make heads or tails about the result in Decatur County.

In House races, State Senator Tim Huelskamp will replace Jerry Moran in Kansas’ 1st, after narrowly beating fellow State Senator Jim Barnett. The Democrats are facing a tough race to retain their sole remaining seat in Kansas, the small urban 3rd, covering Kansas City and its inner suburbs, especially after the retirement of incumbent Dennis Moore. However, they may be helped in their attempts at holding the seat by Moore’s wife, Stephene Moore, who defeated token primary opposition for the Democratic nomination. She’ll face State Rep Kevin Yoder, who won a divided Republican primary. In Tiahrt’s old seat, Mike Pompeo rather easily won the Republican nomination and he enters as the favourite over a surprisingly strong fundraiser, Democrat State Rep. Raj Goyle (a rare non-white guy in rural Kansas). Goyle has raised over a million bucks so far, but the Republicans should ward off the challenge easily come November.

Michigan

An economically troubled state known for its struggling auto industry, Michigan’s big race is a gubernatorial contest where incumbent Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm is term-limited. Local Democrats seem to be in bad terms with voters who hold them accountable for the state’s economic mess, giving the Republicans an edge in a traditionally safe Democratic state.

After Lt. Governor John Cherry, likely too associated with unpopular Governor Granholm to be a good candidate, bowed out; the centrist Democratic Speaker of the state House Andy Dillon became the favourite, but his anti-union rhetoric and conservative positions on issues such as abortion have made him unpopular with liberals and union backers, who have rallied behind young populist Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. Bernero caught up with Dillon late in the campaign and got the crucial last-days momentum.

On the Republican side, there was an heavy primary. Rick Snyder, a businessman, got the momentum late in the race as the earlier favourite, Representative Pete Hoekstra saw his momentum slip away in Snyder’s favour. Hoekstra, who represents the heavily conservative Dutch-populated parts of western Michigan in the House, was a tough social conservative but that didn’t preclude a challenge to his right by Attorney General Mike Cox, who saw his late advantage disappear after allegations that he attended a house party hosted by former embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The 2006 Republican Senatorial nominee Mike Bouchard, a sheriff, was trailing in a distant fourth place. Here are the results:

Rick Snyder (R) 36.4%
Pete Hoekstra (R) 26.8%
Mike Cox (R) 23%
Mike Bouchard (R) 12.2%
Tom George (R) 1.6%

Virg Bernero (D) 58.6%
Andy Dillon (D) 41.4%

On the Democratic side, Bernero won a large victory, helped by big margins in and around emblematic struggling towns like Flint. He did more poorly in Detroit and the Upper Peninsula, but his margin remained surprisingly large over former favourite Andy Dillon. Another establishment favourite defeated?

On the Republican side, Snyder also won by a surprisingly large margin and dominated throughout most of the state. Hoekstra did well in his district – the heavily Dutch and conservative parts of the state, while Cox did well in the Upper Peninsula and other random counties in the Lower Peninsula.

Snyder is the early favourite in the race, with a June 10 Rasmussen poll showing him 12 points ahead of Bernero, but that’s an old poll and the race has probably tightened up since then.

In big House races, the major primary was a Republican primary in the 1st district, held by retiring Democrat Bart Stupak, of health care legislation fame. The district, which covers the UP and the northern Lower Peninsula, is socially conservative but pro-union, and a top GOP target. On early results, Tea Party favourite Dan Benishek has edged out establishment candidate State Sen. Jason Allen by a mere 14 votes in a primary which will go to a recount – but not to a runoff (Michigan has no runoffs). Only time will tell if the likely nomination of the tea party’s candidate will help or hurt State Rep. Gary McDowell (D), who, like Stupak, is conservative on social issues. In the 2nd’s Republican Dutch-American contest, it seems like State Rep. Bill Huizenga, with a mere 25.4%, has edged out second-place former football player Jay Riemersma who got 24.8%. State Sen. Wayne Kuipers trailed in third with 21.8%. Huizenga will easily defeat 2008 Democratic nominee Fred Johnson, who won again, in November. In a Republican primary battle in the GOP-held 6th, incumbent Rep. Fred Upton defeated another Dutchman (and also a big conservative-libertarian), former Rep. Jack Hoodgendyk but garnered a relatively paltry 57.1% against the 2008 Senate nominee’s 42.9%. In the 7th, held by freshman Democrat Mark Schauer, ex-Rep. Tim Walberg (R), defeated by Schauer in 2008, has won the right to a rematch by beating conservative attorney Brian Rooney 58-32. Another Democratic freshman, Gary Peters in the suburban 9th, probably faces an easier race in November against a former State Rep, Rocky Raczkowski, another failed Senate nominee back in 2002. The other big race was, ironically, in inner city Detroit, on the Democratic side, between incumbent Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, mother of embattled former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and State Sen. Hansen Clarke. Clarke won 47-41 over the incumbent, who becomes the fourth incumbent Rep to lose re-nomination. Needless to say, Clarke will trounce opposition in November.

Missouri

The old bellwether swing state of Missouri has gotten more Republican in recent years, most notably by breaking its decades-long streak of choosing presidential winners in 2008 by narrowly placing McCain ahead of Obama. Yet, Democrats are hopeful that they can go against the tide in Missouri and pickup retiring Republican Kit Bond’s Senate seat. The Democratic nominee for Senate is Robin Carnahan, incumbent Sec. of State but whose main claim to fame is being the daughter of Jean Carnahan, who served in the Senate between 2001 and 2002 replacing her late husband, Mel Carnahan, also a former Governor, who was elected – posthumously – to the Senate in 2000 defeating Republican incumbent John Ashcroft. She easily trounced token opposition.

Her Republican rival will be Representative Roy Blunt, father of former Governor Matt Blunt, who also defeated token opposition, notably from State Sen. Chuck Purgason who pulled only 13.1% to Blunt’s 71%.

Polls indicate that while Carnahan had the edge in 2009, Blunt is now the light favourite, leading by 6 points in the last poll by Rasmussen. Remains to be seen if Democrats will pull closer once Carnahan kicks off her campaign.

The only House race which isn’t a slam dunk for either side in November is the 4th, where Republicans are hoping to knock off centrist Democrat Ike Skelton, who has held this conservative seat since 1977. Though he votes with the Democrat’s liberal line on a lot of issues, Ike Skelton’s low-key demeanor has helped him survive in this seat which gave McCain 61% of the vote in 2008 – while at the same time giving Ike Skelton 66%. Skelton defeated a hopeless challenger, and will face Republican State Sen. Bill Stouffer, who beat social conservative State Rep. Vicky Hartzler 41-30 last night.

In Roy Blunt’s open seat deep in the Republican Ozarks, cowboy hat-wearing auctioneer/realtor Billy Long defeated State Sen. Jack Goodman with 36.5% to Goodman’s 29%.

Tennessee will vote tomorrow, August 5. The big race is for Governor, where Democratic incumbent Phil Bredesen is ineligible for re-election. On the Republican side, Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam is the frontrunner while Representative Zach Wamp and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey are fighting it out for what will likely be second place for either. Also noteworthy in this race, of course, is internet star Basil Marceaux, who would notably force people to carry guns and who said he’d need to kill Lindsay Lohan if she murdered someone.

After watching Basil Marceaux’s electoral outing on the 5th, August 10th promises to be a big day with much-watched contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Connecticut. In Colorado, we’ll see if incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet will fall to Andrew Romanoff and which one of Ken Buck or Jane Norton will take on the Democratic nominee. In Minnesota, we’ll see how former Senator Mark Dayton (D) performs in his bid to become Governor. In Connecticut, it’s a big battle on the Republican side between former WWE executive Linda McMahon, the Tea Party’s Peter Schiff and also former Rep. Rob Simmons, a moderate Republican who recently re-entered the race after leaving it in May.

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Posted on August 4, 2010, in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, U.S.A.. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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