Rep. Clay defeats Rep. Carnahan in MO1
Rep. Peters defeats Rep. Clarke in MI14
Two longest serving members of the House advance
No surprises in Kansas, but state legislature poised to move right
Washington Gubernatorial race is one to watch
Where are the voters?
The Missouri GOP’s path to a November victory over incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) may have just become more difficult by nominating Rep. Todd Akin (R) over two other strong contenders. The first term Senator is one of the toughest campaigners around and has connected well in the past with voters not only around the two major metropolitan cores, but also in the more rural parts of the state. Of the three leading Republicans, Akin was clearly the most conservative of the group and polling showed he would be the weaker challenger against McCaskill. Despite this, Akin will be a slight favorite to move this Missouri Senate seat to the Republican column.
While Akin was not ignored in the primary (unlike Deb Fischer in Nebraska), much of the harder hitting messages were focused between John Brunner (R) and Sarah Steelman (R). Brunner is a successful businessman who spent over eight million of his own money in this contest. Steelman was endorsed by Sara Palin (R) and was strongly supported by trial lawyers for her past support as a state legislator. Akin was able to distance himself from Steelman in the area around his old congressional district by a two-to-one margin and outpaced Brunner in areas outside the major metro areas where Brunner ran a heavy TV ad campaign.
Results for the Missouri Senate GOP nomination (with 99.9% reporting):
Of the six states with an incumbent running for re-election, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) may be the most vulnerable and will face off against Dave Spence, who won the GOP nomination in a four candidate field with nearly 60% of the vote. Missouri is competitive at the Presidential, Gubernatorial and U.S. Senate level and thus is a state to closely watch the rest of this cycle.
December 13, 1955 and January 3, 1965 mark the dates that Rep. John Dingell (D-MI12) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI13) began their service in the U.S. House respectively. The two longest serving members of the House easily survived their contests despite many rumblings following redistricting that they were now vulnerable. Both will be heavy favorites to return for another term.
In the other member versus member contest of the night, Rep. Gary Peters (D) defeated Rep. Hansen Clarke (D) by over 10,000 votes. Peters, who is white, will likely be joining Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN9) as the only white members of congress representing a majority black district (Detroit).
Following his short and unsuccessful presidential bid, Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI11) committed one of the bigger “oops” moments this year when he failed to submit enough valid signatures to be placed on the ballot and was forced to drop out of his re-election race, thus creating an open seat that is potentially winnable by Democrats. The Democrat nominee will be physician Syed Taj (D) and the Republican nominee will be reindeer rancher Kerry Bentivolio (R). Bentivolio, supported by the Tea Party, defeated write-in candidate and state senator Nancy Cassis setting this matchup to be much more competitive than anyone would have imagined just a few weeks ago.
Normally the Senate contest deserves top billing, especially this election cycle when so much of the goal is to “fix” the Senate. Two-term incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) will face off against Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), who won the GOP nomination with 54.2%. Hoekstra has been heavily criticized for running some of the most racially insensitive and offensive TV ads this cycle, thus alienating much of the necessary middle ground needed to be competitive in Michigan . Stabenow is favored to return for a third term.
Kansas is not competitive at the presidential level (McCain won with 57% in 2008), does not have a U.S. Senate seat up in 2012 and its state legislature is overwhelmingly Republican. All four of the House seats are held by Republicans and all four were uncontested in the primary with two members (Huelskamp in the 1st district and Yoder in the 3rd district) running unopposed in the fall.
However, there is always a story to be told on election night and Kansas has a good one. Kansas was the last state to complete redistricting as a result of a feud between moderate and conservative Republicans. With new lines and support from Gov. Sam Brownback (R), conservatives defeated a number of moderate Republicans and will likely have enough numbers in the next state legislature to move Kansas significantly to the political right. It also appears that the unofficial leader of the state’s moderates was defeated in his primary.
Washington is one of three states to hold a top two open primary where all the candidates, regardless of party, are placed on the ballot and the two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the General Election. California and Louisiana are the other two states with a similar process. Unlike California where a number of contests resulted in two members of the same party advancing to the General Election, all November races in Washington at the congressional and statewide levels will feature a Democrat versus a Republican.
Without question, the top contest in Washington is the open seat contest for Governor. In a state where the Republican brand is generally terrible, Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) is a good match to the average Washington voter and is seen as likable and is not out of touch on issues that Republicans often are in this state. Former Rep. Jay Inslee (D) advanced as well and with just over 51% of the ballots counted (the remaining will arrive by mail in the next few days) lead all nine candidates representing four parties with nearly 47%. In the cycle where there is only eleven gubernatorial contests, this race is one of the top ones to keep an eye on in November.
The congressional district that is most likely to be competitive in the fall is the open seat contest for the First District that Rep. Inslee stepped away from to run for Governor. Since Inslee resigned his seat, two elections will be held in WA1 – one to fill out the remaining term to the 112the Congress and the second for the election to the 113th Congress beginning in January. Essentially the winner gets a two month advantage on seniority for the next Congress. Both contests will feature previous candidate John Koster (R) against Suzan DelBene (D), who dropped considerable resources of her own to finance her primary campaign. On the ballot to serve in the 113th Congress, Koster was the only Republican and leads the way over six other candidates with 44%. In 2008, GOP candidate for Governor Dino Rossi won this district with 50.3% while Obama carried with 56.3%.