- 1 Senate & 21 House incumbents on the ballot last night, all 22 win.
- Game on as big U.S. Senate races in ND, NV & VA are now set.
- Potential U.S. Senate King-maker is so popular, he’s not even on the primary ballot.
- AZ-8 Special Election to replace Rep. Gabrielle Giffords goes as expected.
- Nevada is as exciting as any state this fall.
State in the spotlight – Nevada
Nevada is one of the most interesting states to follow this election cycle. The state gains a seat due to reapportionment, is competitive at the presidential level, has a competitive U.S. Senate race to become the Junior Senator to Harry Reid (D), Democrats control the state senate by just one seat (11 to 10), one of the three Hispanics in the country elected statewide in 2010 calls Nevada home (Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval), and at 11.7%, Nevada has the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. Blue collar construction industry workers and Hispanics will be key voting groups to track as many have left the state in the economic downturn.
The U.S. Senate contest will be one of the most competitive this fall where incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R) will face Rep. Shelley Berkley (D). Both received over 80% of the vote in their primaries where they each faced four opponents. Heller was appointed to the seat by Gov. Sandoval following the resignation of Sen. John Ensign making this the first Senate contest for Heller, but not his first run statewide (Heller won three terms as Secretary of State).
In a redrawn NV-1 that is an open seat due to Berkley running for the Senate, Dina Titus (D) was the lone Democrat candidate and the likely winner in a district that President Obama won with 64.5% in 2008. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV2) finds himself in an evenly split district (neither Obama nor McCain hit 50% in 2008) and will face Samuel Koepnick (D) in the General Election.
In one of the most interesting races of the night, Danny Tarkanian (R) won the GOP nomination over eight other candidates with 32% and will face state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D). Tarkanian has lost an election in three of the last four election cycles and, along with other members of his well-known family, have recently been ordered by a federal judge to pay $17 million to a developer where they personally guaranteed a bank loan. This is also in a district that Obama carried by 15 points over McCain in 2008, so Tarkanian has an uphill fight on his hands.
The AZ-8 Special Election to replace Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) garnered additional attention in the last few weeks as it appeared the race had tightened between the two main candidates. In the end, with a highly visible endorsement from Rep. Giffords, Ron Barber (D) was able to defeat Jesse Kelly (R) by a 53% to 45% margin. In a competitive contest in 2010, Giffords defeated Kelly by just 4,156 votes and Kelly kept the popular Giffords under 50% of the vote.
Due to redistricting, Barber will run for re-election in a re-numbered District 2 in the General Election. While the district has been slightly improved for a Democrat candidate, it is still a competitive seat and many Republicans were hoping for a Kelly defeat so the GOP could field a stronger candidate in the fall
Two Congressional runoff elections to determine the Democrat nominee were held, however both seats will likely result in Republican victories in November. In AR-1, prosecuting attorney Scott Ellington (D) will face Rep. Rick Crawford (R), while state Sen. Gene Jeffress (D) won his runoff election and will face GOP nominee Tom Cotton in AR-4. Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR4) is not running for reelection. With a win by Cotton, all four members of the Arkansas delegation will Republican.
If the GOP falls short in their attempt to capture the majority in the U.S. Senate, many will reflect back on the day that popular moderate Senator Olympia Snowe (R) announced her retirement as the day the GOP hopes began to unravel. Although the Republicans nominated their candidate (Secretary of State Charles Summers) and Democrats nominated their candidate (state Sen. Cynthia Dill), the likely winner wasn’t even on the ballot yesterday. The popular former Governor Angus King, an Independent, is expected to take the seat in November and with partisan control up in the air, King’s role in the next U.S. Senate could be one that serves as the deciding vote on many issues.
Both incumbent Democrat House members are clear favorites to win their fall contests.
Duane Sand (R) raised over $900,000 in the open U.S. Senate contest, but was defeated by Rep. Rick Berg (R) by nearly a two-to-one margin (66% to 34%). Berg will face a tough fall contest against the former Attorney General and breast cancer survivor Heidi Heitkamp (D). In a state with the lowest unemployment rate in the country (3.0%), their views on the rapidly growing energy industry will be key. This contest will play a pivotal role in determining partisan control of the next U.S. Senate.
In the North Dakota At-Large contest, the Republican Party backed candidate was defeated by the candidate who went completely outside the normal party convention process and won the GOP nomination. Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer (R) defeated fellow Public Service Commissioner and Republican Party endorsed candidate Brian Kalk (R) 55% to 45%. Cramer will face former state Rep. Pam Gulleson (D) in November.
South Carolina gained one seat through reapportionment and the new 7th district is based around Myrtle Beach. Many in the Democrat Party quickly switched their support away from state Rep. Ted Vick following some serious issues (read the article because I can’t make this kind of stuff up). Even though Vick withdraw from the race, his name was still on the ballot. Once the Vick votes were discounted, former Georgia state Rep. Gloria Bromell Tinubu (D) carried just enough votes to avoid a runoff by hitting 52%. She will face the winner of the GOP runoff.
Last night was the calm before the storm. Virginia is at the crossroads in determining who will win the race for the White House and for control of the U.S. Senate. With all of the U.S. House races and the U.S. Senate contest essentially set, the only guessing game was what percentage of the four-way GOP primary vote would George Allen (R) receive. With a considerable advantage in name identification, money and grassroots support the outcome was never in doubt. Regardless of the result (Allen received 65% of the vote to 23% for Tea Party candidate Jamie Radtke), Republicans were going to claim victory and that the GOP is unified behind Allen and primed to defeat Tim Kaine (D) in the fall. Democrats were going to talk up the credentials of Kaine and how fractured the GOP is. Ignore them both.
This will likely be the most consistently competitive U.S. Senate race this cycle. Neither candidate is likely to open up a lead of more than a couple points. Two factors to pay attention to: 1) will voters be voting for Tim Kaine, the popular former governor that matched Virginians well on issues or will voters vote against the Tim Kaine that served as the Democrat National Committee Chairman that supported President Obama on many issues that Virginians disagree with? 2) Over 10% of the Virginia economy comes from defense related production. Which candidates (U.S. Senate and President) will military and voters employed by defense related firms support?
All four House incumbents facing a primary candidate received at least two-thirds of the vote. All 11 House incumbents are running for re-election and all will be clear favorites in the General Election.
Notable items from the elections on June 12:
- With the AZ-8 Special Election concluded, the U.S. House now stands at 242 GOP, 191 DEM with 2 vacancies. For Democrats to reclaim the majority, they would need to hold the two vacant seats plus win 25 seats from the GOP in November.
- 9 of 10 U.S. Senate incumbents have won their primary in 2012.
- 211 of 214 (98.6%) U.S. House incumbents have advanced to the General Election (not counting the incumbent vs. incumbent contests).