To decode the above:
Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller held a steady lead throughout the night and with two-thirds of the vote counted was beating Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) by about 2200 votes. He was unknown but he backers weren’t. If final tallies match the preliminary results, Murkowski will be the third senator denied renomination, and there will be at least 15 new faces in the 112th Senate.
In the Republican runoff in OK-5, James Lankford used his Christian camp connections to win 65% of the vote over Ken Calvey, former legislator and candidate of Club for Growth. In the primary, Lankford placed ahead of the field that included influential legislators backed by Oklahoma City’s business leaders. Never underestimate young volunteers motivated by a person/cause – ask Hillary.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was forced to campaign like any other vulnerable incumbent to woo various flanks within the Arizona Republican party. Accused of flipping and emphasizing issues he would never touch, McCain beat former Representative J. D. Hayworth to win the primary for a fifth term. Letterman’s monologue last night called this the biggest comeback for a senior citizen since Brett Favre’s return to the Vikings.
Governor Charlie Crist (nee R, Ind) ducked out of the Florida Senate primary with Marco Rubio, who was so popular that over a million voters turned out to back him in a primary he was certain to win.
Crist unintentionally set in motion what would have been an upset had we not already been conditioned for the unanticipated. His departure as a one-term governor opened that post. Republicans might have anticipated a primary given the concern that attorney general Bill McCollum was weak, after losing two statewide races. Known figures were reluctant, acting as if McCollum was the anointed one, but health care mogul Rick Scott was undaunted. Fresh off his big spending ads against Obama care, Scott didn’t mind the heat, or the questions about his business reputation. He ran an ad campaign funded by personal dollars. Pundits will say it was a win for anti-Obamacare as a message, business executives as an occupation, tv as a tactic, and money as an ingredient, yet at the root of his so-called upset was doubt about McCollum. He couldn’t shake the image of a career pol aiming at a job he might have been able to secure two decades ago. Anyone thought about House managers these days when Bill Clinton is the equivalent of Rambo brought in to rescue moribund Democratic campaigns.
Of all the extraneous issues that find space in a year when it is the economy everywhere, nobody would expect alleged blogging under an assumed name about hot chicks in Scottsdale to enter the dialogue in a safe Republican seat. Yes, the AZ-3 Republican primary was turned on its head when Ben Quayle, son of Dan, was supposedly unmasked as the writer of what passes for purple prose.
In other developments and what to expect in the remaining weeks before the general election:
- Levi Johnston filed for mayor of Wasilla, and he was on Jimmy Kimmel last night, a repeat show but still a sign of the apocalypse.
- Governor: Sarah Palin’s replacement, Governor Sean Parnell (R) held a steady lead all night with about 50% in a seven-person primary. The nearest competitor was ex-Valdez mayor Bill Walker.
- Senate: No love lost between the Palin and Murkowski clan. What started as a low-key thing became more intense as tea party activists followed the Palins (Todd and Sarah) into the campaign for Joe Miller, an attorney from Fairbanks, over incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski (R). She is the daughter of the former governor Frank, who was beaten by and continues to be chastised by Palin. An underlying problem for Lisa is the suspicion among the state’s pro-life forces that she is pro-choice. Before there was Sarah dividing Republicans in Alaska, there was the pro-life movement creating tension in Republican primaries. A parental consent measure was on the primary ballot, and turnout for this issue hurt Murkowski. With two-thirds counted, Murkowski was falling further behind and had 48% to Miller’s 52%. With a reported 16,000 absentee ballots that won’t to be counted until August 31, this may not be decided until atleast the end of this month.
- Governor: Governor Jan Brewer (R) found a way to change the subject from sales taxes to immigration, and her political fortunes shifted. Primary opponents, both potential and real, dropped aside and she emerged with almost 90% of the vote. Attorney general Terry Goddard (D) joined this race when Brewer was the weak ascender to the throne in 2009, but he now looks like a decided underdog.
- Senate: ‘Build the dang fence,’ one of the more memorable slogans of the 2010 cycle. That’s what McCain uttered in an oft-running commercial, where he walked the border with a worried sheriff. Tell me you predicted this would be his reelection theme two years ago when McCain was still to appear before the GOP convention to accept the party’s nomination as a maverick. Challenger J. D. Hayworth barely cracked 30% of the Republican primary vote when prominent conservatives, in Arizona and elsewhere, rallied to McCain, who then maneuvered to the right. We’re told McCain is so hip he tweets about Snookie. You should be embarrassed to know who that is.
- House: State legislators did poorly in Republican primaries in districts held by women Democrats, who would have to lose for the Republicans to win the 39 seats required to retake control of the House. Must have been the shift in overall tone, but insurgent renegades were strong, hardly the profile one would expect to latch onto McCain’s coattails. In AZ-1, former majority leader Rusty Bowers ran fourth, with dentist/tea favorite Paul Gosar in first place in the Republican primary. Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D) had no primary opposition. The border district AZ-8 had a contested Republican primary as well. Former legislator/party favorite Jonathan Paton placed a weak second behind Iraq veteran/tea favorite Jesse Kelly who had a fast close and was near 50%. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D) won this Republican open seat in 2006. In AZ-3, Quayle with 23% was five points ahead of anyone else in this ten-person Republican primary.
- Governor: The matchup between Alex Sink (D) and Rick Scott (R) will feature conversations between two people who know how to read a balance sheet and will stress their business credentials. Watch for independents to be confused and for traditional Republican donors to be split. Sink will be able to expand her base beyond Democrats. The Republican unity rally originally planned for Wednesday after the primary was postponed due to logistics – or so it was reported. Not a great year for Republican regulars in Florida, and the disintegration of the McCollum campaign found lots of folks on the losing side putting their capital behind someone who was the wrong image for the year of change.
- Senate: If his primary victory doesn’t lift Representative Kendrick Meek (D-17) into the mid-20′s right after Labor Day, he will have a hard time getting national support. Crist has been the de facto Democratic nominee in the absence of a clear primary winner, but Meek performed better in dispatching a big spender than McCollum did. Rubio’s million-plus votes is a sign that he has magic, an ingredient not to be discounted in this climate. Meek’s rise would pull votes from Crist.
- House: Representative Allen Boyd (D-2) won his primary with 51%, another indication that incumbents can survive trouble if they campaign to their strengths. In FL 8, Republicans nominated Daniel Webster with 40%, a large margin over six other contenders. The seat is held by freshman Representative Alan Grayson (D). Webster is the type who isn’t supposed to win this year: longtime state legislator, close to party establishment, indecisive about making this race, challenged by more contemporary conservatives. He was 17 points ahead of his nearest competitor. Meek’s open congressional seat was won by state senator Frederica Wilson with 34%, more than twice the support earned by her nearest competitor in a nine-person Democratic primary. With 99% counted, state legislator/former sheriff Sandra Adams was 560 votes ahead of former Winter Park councilmember Karen Diebel, who in turn was 1,070 votes ahead of restaurant owner Craig Miller. In the closing days, Miller attacked Diebel, but this was never a happy-go-lucky group of candidates.
- Governor: Four-term Republican James Douglas is not running again. Republicans had only one candidate file, lt. governor Brian Dubie. The five-way Democratic primary was close throughout the night. Two state senators were within 121 votes of each other with 25% each in a field of five. Peter Shumlin was first and Doug Racine was second in a lead that can shift with absentee ballots and review of tallies.