On Tuesday, voters in Missouri, Michigan, Washington and Kansas chose their candidates for the House and Senate.
Before the races, Politico identified a number of issues to watch out for, including: the continued power of Palin’s endorsements, whether Detroit could soon be without “black representation,” what will happen to Rep. Thad McCotter’s seat, and the “rematch” between state Rep. Jack Hoogendy and Michigan GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan. The New York Times, meanwhile, was more focused on who the contentious democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri will be facing in the general election.
Here’s how it all broke down.
In a surprising upset, voters chose Rep. Todd Akin to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill for a prized Senate seat in Missouri, despite Sarah Palin’s heavy support of candidate Sarah Steelman.
According to the Washington Post: “If the Republican Party is to win the four seats it needs to take the Senate, it will almost certainly need to start by defeating McCaskill, who squeaked into the Senate six years ago in a Democratic wave in a state that has steadily shifted rightward since.”
As a candidate, Akin is known to be socially conservative. He received the support of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and said in his Tuesday night speech: “The choice is clear in November … The big-spending, budget-busting, job-killing liberal, or the less spending, balanced budget, job-creating conservative?”
Not surprisingly, McCaskill called him “extreme.”
“The issue here is not whether you can label him a conservative, but whether or not he is on the fringe — a very extreme candidate. I believe he is,” McCaskill concluded.
Former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra won Michigan’s Republican Senate nomination Tuesday, and will face incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow in the fall.
Tea party favorite Kerry Bentivolio– who the New York Times blog describes as a “libertarian-leaning reindeer farmer and a holiday Santa”– won the primary for the U.S. House seat abandoned by former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, and will face off against Democtatic nomination Syed Taj in November.
Also in Michigan, Democrat Rep. John Conyers (who said he was amazed by people who say: “read the bill” when referring to the health care law), won his primary by a wide margin.
According to The Hill, Conyers has a decent chance of winning the general election, adding: “After a GOP-drawn redistricting map scrambled Detroit’s congressional districts and stretched both into the suburbs some expected Conyers to retire. But he decided to run in the district that he’d represented more of in the past.”
The Huffington Post adds that, in addition to the challenge of redistricting, Conyers also had to overcome the fact that his wife is serving a three-year prison term after pleading guilty for conspiracy to commit bribery, and that he refused to debate his opponents.
But, they write: “His victory means that the state of Michigan will retain at least one African-American legislator in the U.S. House of Representatives.”
In Washington, seven people were running for a seat representing the newly drawn 1st Congressional District. They were Democrats Suzan DelBene, Darcy Burner, state Sen. Steve Hobbs, Laura Ruderman and Darshan Rauniyar; Republican John Koster; and independent Larry Ishmael.
On top of that, The Seattle Times writes: “Democrat Jay Inslee and Republican Rob McKenna easily advanced to the general election in Tuesday’s primary, setting up what promises to be one of the top gubernatorial contests in the country.”
Under the state’s “top two” primary system, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party.
The race could draw tens of millions in spending, according to reports, and senior analyst Jessica Taylor of the Rothenberg Political Report concluded: “Washington has been fundamentally a Democratic state, but I think Republicans got the best challenger they can hope for with McKenna.”
Conservative Republicans who’ve been working to push GOP moderates out of state legislatures in a large section of the country scored big victories in Kansas, according to the Associated Press, where a state Senate that has been an obstacle to fiscal and social policy changes is likely to have a solid majority on the right next year.
Unlike other states, where results for conservatives have been mixed, Tuesday’s primary in Kansas saw voters in GOP races oust seven incumbent moderate senators. An eighth, Senate President Steve Morris, a moderate Hugoton Republican, trailed his conservative opponent, likely marking the end of Morris’ 20-year career as a legislator.
The targeted moderate incumbents outspent their conservative challengers, often by margins of 3-to-1 or more and received financial support from the state’s largest teachers’ union and labor groups normally aligned with Democrats. But conservatives had the backing of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and the anti-tax, small-government group Americans for Prosperity, and the result was hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending by both candidates and political action committees.
Conservatives defeated Sens. Pete Brungardt of Salina, Bob Marshall of Fort Scott, Tim Owens of Overland Park, Roger Reitz of Manhattan, Jean Schodorf of Wichita, Ruth Teichman of Stafford and Dwayne Umbarger of Thayer. Results in Morris’ race showed him losing to state Rep. Larry Powell, a conservative Garden City Republican, who had about 52 percent of the vote.
The only conservative senator to lose a primary was Dick Kelsey of Goddard, but his opponent, Rep. Dan Kerschen of Garden Plain, is also considered conservative.
“I just want to make sure that the conservatives are there,” said Andrea McGee, a 61-year-old retired elementary school teacher from Topeka.
Though conservatives won big in Kansas, Democrats remain confident that they can beat the victorious candidates.
The New York Times wrote: “So, to recap: In a group of primaries Tuesday night, an endangered Senate incumbent [Claire McCaskill] helped pick her Republican opponent [by running ads "lamenting" how conservative he is], a spouse’s imprisonment failed to impede a landslide victory for a veteran House member in Michigan, and a reindeer farmer/Santa impersonator is now the Republican candidate for another seat in that state.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.