UPDATE – 9:58 PM: Looks like Haley will come up just shy of the 50% +1 needed for a runoff. I assume Gresham Barrett (2nd place finisher) has said he wants the runoff because the AP is reporting it will take place (6-22).
Today is an exciting day in American politics, especially for politicos and political junkies like you and me. 12 states hold primaries or runoffs today to decide on nominees for various political offices on local, state, and national levels going into the fall elections. Many of them have been very contentious, with so-called “establishment” types battling it out against “Tea Party” favorites. Judging from recent primaries/special elections, there is a distinct “anti-incumbent” smell in the air, and longtime politicos are especially nervous about what their respective political futures hold as voters who are fed up with the Obama agenda and politics as usual demand real change.
The WSJ has a good rundown (click on the link for descriptions of each primary/runoff listed below):
In Arkansas, Sen. Blanche Lincoln is scrambling to avoid becoming the third incumbent senator this season to be defeated by her own party. Six-term Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina may be forced into a runoff. In Nevada, Republican voters may reject a mainstream GOP candidate and instead back a conservative firebrand to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But in sprawling California, two corporate executives tapped by Republican leaders to launch high-profile races have solidified their positions.
Below are some of the highlights of the busiest primary election day so far.
Republican Primary for Senate – Carly Fiorina vs. Tom Campbell vs. Chuck DeVore
Republican Primary for Governor – Meg Whitman vs. Steve Poizner
Republican Primary for Senate – Sue Lowden vs. Sharron Angle vs. Danny Tarkanian and others
Republican Primary for Governor – Gresham Barrett vs. Nikki Haley vs. Henry McMaster vs. Andre Bauer
Republican Primary, 4th Congressional District – Rep. Bob Inglis vs. Trey Gowdy and others
Democratic Primary Runoff for Senate – Blanche Lincoln vs. Bill Halter
Republican Primaries for the House
MORE RACES TO WATCH:
—Rep. Jane Harman (D., Calif.), a longtime House veteran, is facing a challenge from peace activist Marcy Winograd, who declares that she will vote for “jobs, not wars.” Ms. Harman, recognizing the power of the anti-incumbent mood, has hit back with an ad mocking Ms. Winograd and declaring, “Marcy Winograd lives in a bubble.”
—Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, a Republican, has been trailing in his bid to fight off a primary challenge from former federal Judge Brian Sandoval. Mr. Gibbons, whose tenure has been marked by turmoil and personal drama, faces dramatically low approval ratings. During his tenure, he underwent a high-profile divorce from first lady Dawn Gibbons.
—Georgia voters go to the polls for a runoff in a special election to fill the seat of GOP Rep. Nathan Deal, who is running for governor. On May 11, former state Rep. Tom Graves and former state Sen. Lee Hawkins emerged as the top vote-getters in an eight-candidate race, with Mr. Graves supported by tea-party activists. The winner will serve out the rest of Mr. Deal’s term in a strongly GOP district.
—Richard Pombo, a California Republican, was ousted from the House in the 2006 Democratic surge. He has moved to a more conservative, neighboring district to try to claim a new seat in Congress.
—Nine Republicans are scrambling to succeed Rep. Henry Brown (R., S.C.) in South Carolina’s coastal First District. The headliners are Paul Thurmond, the 34-year-old son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, and Carroll “Tumpy” Campbell III, son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell. But Tim Scott, former chairman of the Charleston County Council, may eclipse them both in his bid to be the first black Republican in Congress since Rep. J.C. Watts (R., Okla.) retired in 2003.
Lincoln’s runoff will be the one to watch for Democrats as they are hoping to hold on to her seat in the face a heavy duty challenge from the more liberal Halter. The DNC has sent in the big guns to Ark., including Bubba himself, to try and convince voters there that she should be allowed to remain in the Senate. Halter has some big union backers, and – in a surprise move – Bubba actually pulled a mini-Chris Christie on the strong attacks Halter-supporting union members have launched against Lincoln. Lincoln’s basically trying to come across as the “true liberal” in the race without sounding too far to the left because she doesn’t want to alienate moderate Ark. voters. Here’s a link you can use for runoff returns tonight after polls close at 8:30 pm ET.
Here in the Carolinas, our eyes will be on the SC gubernatorial primary on the GOP side, which has, unfortunately, gained national attention in recent weeks due to a wave of attacks launched against Palin-endorsed frontrunner Nikki Haley by opposition forces, including cheap shot 3rd party unsubstantiated allegations and whisper campaigns from associates of Lt. Gov. Andre “I passed a lie detector” Bauer, one of her rivals in the primary – who is trailing badly.
At this point in that race, it’s between Haley and the Cheney-endorsed Gresham Barrett, and party insiders are not expecting either one to get to the 50% needed to avoid a costly runoff. In fact, according to the grapevine, some Bauer supporters are defecting to Barrett in order to hurt Haley’s bid.
Yes, South Carolina is a traditionally genteel (and beautiful) state – but not always when it comes to politics. Something they have in common with North Carolina, I should note. You can watch the returns as they come in here. Polls close at 7 pm ET.
Nevada’s GOP Senate primary has shaped up to be very interesting as the battle there is underway to try and defeat embattled Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has sagged in the polls for well over a year now. Once the frontrunner, Sue Lowden now not only trails the Tea Party-backed Sharron Angle according to a recent poll, but also Danny Tarkanian:
AContinuing her stunning rise, Sharron Angle has shot into a clear lead in the U.S. Senate Republican primary, according to a new poll for the Las Vegas Review-Journal that shows the Tea Party favorite heading toward likely victory Tuesday.
But the survey also found that if the general election were held today, Danny Tarkanian would have a slightly better chance than Angle to beat Democratic incumbent Harry Reid. Meanwhile, the fortunes of former front-runner and establishment pick Sue Lowden have fallen so far she now is in a statistical tie with Tarkanian and in a dead heat with the Senate majority leader.
Heading into Election Day, the primary remains so volatile that the number of undecided voters has climbed from 8 percent to 13 percent in the past week, according to the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey, meaning the candidate who wins this uncertain group wins the GOP nomination.
“Angle is the favorite at this point, but I wouldn’t say it’s a done deal,” said pollster Brad Coker. “She’s got the momentum, but there’s still 13 percent on the table.”
Tarkanian could still pull off a surprising slim victory, but only if undecided voters come his way in force and potential Lowden voters abandon her sinking campaign ship and join him, Coker said.
The only way Lowden can make a comeback, Coker said, is if she gets her voters to the polls from a pool of 150,000 potential backers her campaign says it has identified.
All GOP candidates have issues that the DNC has already tried to exploit, but even with that said the tide in the last year has run against Harry Reid. The GOP has a real shot at picking up “Pinky” Reid’s seat, and let’s hope whoever wins the primary can carry the anti-incumbent momentum all the way to victory in November. Nevada polls close at 10 pm ET. Track election returns here.
In California, the battle to be the nominee against Babs Boxer has been fierce (“Demon Sheep,” anyone?), but the gender-card playing Carly Fiorina has had momentum on her side the last few weeks with the high-profile endorsements of both Sarah Palin and South Dakota Senator John Thune. Tom Campbell, once the frontrunner just a few months ago, has pulled all ads in a clear indication that he knows he can’t win. Chuck Devore, favored by conservatives, is a long shot. Don’t know if a candidate has to get 40% in California in order to avoid a runoff, but if they do, Fiorina has been polling either near or above 40% for weeks now, so she should win the nomination this evening.
The other big primary contest in CA is the GOP contest for who will be the nominee for Governor to (hopefully) replace Ahhhnold, who can’t run again due to term limits:
(Reuters) – Former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman recovered a wide lead over her rival for the Republican nomination in California’s governor race after the pair stepped up their costly television campaigns accusing each other of being too liberal, a poll showed on Sunday.
With less than two weeks before the June 8 primary, Whitman led state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner by 53 percent to 29 percent, according to a poll organized by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California.
But the intense rivalry between the well-heeled Silicon Valley veterans has helped boost the prospects of the Democrats’ nominee, Jerry Brown.
The 72-year-old former governor, who has stuck to the sidelines savoring the war of attrition, led Whitman by 44 percent to 38 percent. The last L.A. Times/USC survey, in April, gave Whitman a three-point edge over Brown, and a 40-point lead over Poizner.
But other polls earlier in May saw Poizner narrow the gap considerably as he launched a new television offensive depicting Whitman as soft on illegal immigration and beholden to the maligned banking sector.
Whitman replied with ads that, among other things, showed that Poizner supported former Vice President Al Gore. She also broadcast endorsements from former presidential contender Mitt Romney and former California Governor Pete Wilson.
Whitman, a billionaire, has spent about $80 million and Poizner about $25 million, funded mostly by their private bank accounts.
I honestly haven’t paid much attention to that battle, so we’ll have to rely on our left coast residents to fill us in
California polls close at 11 pm ET. Election results can be viewed here.
Since it’s easier to Tweet about the latest developments than have to update a post every couple of minutes, you can follow my Tweets on the primaries tonight here or follow the handy dandy Twitter widget below, which should update without you having to refresh. I’ll try to add hashtags noting what races I’m Tweeting about with each update. Keep in mind sometimes Twitter can be slow or even go down (as it has frequently today), so if you’re unsure as to whether or not it’s updating, trying checking the direct link.
Are you in a state that is voting today? Let us know in the comments how your experience was and your general thoughts about today’s contests.