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PW logo Internal Poll Shows Critz Leading Burns in Special Election Fisher Wins Ohio Senate Nomination
Democrats Head to Run Off in North Carolina Coats Wins Indiana Senate Primary
Extra Bonus Quote of the Day Goode Joins Constitution Party

News from the Votemaster            

Fisher Wins Democratic Senatorial Primary in Ohio     Permalink

Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, the establishment candidate, defeated Ohio Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, in the Democratic senatorial primary yesterday by a margin of 55% to 45%. Fisher will face former Bush budget director Rob Portman (R) in the general election for the seat left open by the retirement of Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH).

The primary was messy and expensive and Fisher is now essentially broke whereas Portman has $7 million in the bank. Still, the primary gave Fisher a lot of much-needed exposure and Portman's former job as director of OMB in 2006 and 2007 is going to allow Fisher to attack Portman as the guy who caused the recession. It's a big exaggeration, of course, but it is doubtful that Portman will want to take credit for the Bush economy. In addition, Portman was U.S. Trade Representative before he was budget director, for which he will be attacked as "the guy who exported your job." Portman will emphasize his 12 years in the House representing OH-02 from 1993 to 2005, but most of the attention will likely be on his two executive positions in the Bush administration rather than his earlier career. Ohio (along with Missouri) are the Democrats' best shots at picking up Senate seats.

Coats Wins Republican Senatorial Primary in Indiana     Permalink

Former senator Dan Coats beat a field of aspiring senators in the Republican senatorial primary yesterday in an attempt to get his old job back. He got 39% of the vote.

Coats was appointed to the seat of Dan Quayle when Quayle was elected Vice President in 1988 and then won a full term on his own before retiring in 1998. He was Ambassador to Germany for 5 years after that and then became a lobbyist for the banking industry. Like Portman, Coats is going to emphasize his earlier jobs while his opponent, Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN), is no doubt going to harp on his lobbying for the banks at a time when the banks are not wildly popular.

Although Indiana narrowly went for Obama in 2008 and the retiring senator, Evan Bayh, is a Democrat, Indiana remains a fairly red state so Coats probably has the edge here. Nevertheless, Ellsworth is a very conservative Blue Dog and it will be difficult for Coats to paint Ellsworth as a liberal when he frequently voted against the Democrats on major bills, including allowing the government to negotiate with drug companies over drug prices for Medicare recipients, raising the minimum wage, withdrawing troops from Iraq, and the original stimulus bill. He did vote for the compromise stimulus bill and the final version of the health-insurance bill though, so Coats does have some ammunition.

Polling has been scarce in this race, but will no doubt pick up soon. The most recent nonpartisan poll, by Research 2000 in February, put Coats ahead of Ellsworth 37% to 36%, but Coats will get a bump now since he is the actual nominee instead of one of many potential nominees.

North Carolina Democrats Face Runoff in June     Permalink

North Carolina's four-term Secretary of State, Elaine Marshall, got more votes (36%) than state senator Cal Cunningham (27%) in a multiway senatorial primary yesterday, but state law requires 40% to get the nomination, so there will be a runoff on June 22. Cunningham was backed by the Democratic establishment, but Marshall is a quirky and feisty opponent who put together a strong grass-roots campaign. The winner of the runoff will face Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) for the state's famous "cursed seat." No senator holding this seat has won reelection in nearly 40 years. It has flipped parties five times in a row and the Democrats hope to continue this pattern. With recent polling on Burr running at 26% for "deserves reelection" and 44% for "give a new person a chance" Burr will certainly have a big fight on his hands come November, no matter who wins the runoff.

Big Primary Day May 18     Permalink

Next week will be relatively quiet with only Nebraska and West Virginia holding primaries, but May 18 will have lots of fireworks, with four very contested primaries on tap. The most exciting state of all is Kentucky, with two bitter senatorial primaries finally coming to an end. The Republican primary was not supposed to happen since Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who personally runs Republican politics in Kentucky, anointed Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R) as the successor to Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), who he forced out of the Senate by telling all his donors not to give him any money. Only a funny thing happened on the way to the coronation. The son of former presidential candidate and always gadfly Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), opthamologist Rand Paul (R), decided to get into the race and has raised buckets of money from his father's fans. Sarah Palin got into the fray by endorsing Paul along with James Dobson and Dick Armey. The Republican establishment, headed by McConnell, has all lined up behind Grayson. This race is being made out as "Tea Party" vs. "Republican Party" and will no doubt reverberate for quite a while no matter who wins.

Kentucky also features a senatorial primary for the Democrats. Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (D-KY), who came within a whisker of beating Bunning in 2004, is running again. Like Paul, Mongiardo is a physician, so if both of them win their respective primaries, we could have the unusual sight of two doctors opposing each other in the general election. Mongiardo's primary opponent is Attorney General Jack Conway (D). Conway is the more liberal of the two, but polls show the race to be very close.

Two other states are holding bitterly contested primaries on May 18 as well. In Pennsylvania, former Republican and current Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter is in the fight of his life against Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), a retired Rear Admiral and the highest ranking military officer ever to serve in Congress. Specter has the backing of the entire Democratic Party establishment whereas Sestak is supported by the lefty blogosphere. After switching parties, Specter has been a totally reliable vote for the Democrats on all bills in the Senate, but many people wonder if that pattern will continue after the primary. The Republican candidate for senator is former representative Pat Toomey (R).

The final battleground May 18 is in Arkansas, where Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) is in the fight of her life for reelection. The polls show her being clobbered by any Republican, so the state's lieutenant governor, Bill Halter, decided to primary her in an attempt to save the seat. Lincoln has angered many on the left in her party by often siding with the Republicans on policy matters although as chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, she pushed through a tough bill for regulating derivatives.

Here is the complete list of upcoming primaries.

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