Tuesday Primaries: Races to Follow
Four states will hold primaries on Tuesday, with a handful of significant races happening. Here's your guide to the big ones.
- Utah Republican Senate primary: Mike Lee vs. Tim Bridgewater. The two conservative candidates who bounced incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett from the GOP ticket in his own reelection race now face each other in a runoff. Bennett's loss at the Utah GOP convention in May signified the national rise of Tea Party-style conservatism, and whoever wins this primary will most like become Utah's next senator and the next star in the fiscal-conservative firmament (joining Sharron Angle and Rand Paul). Lee has the backing of FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Express; Bridgewater placed first in final balloting at the Utah state convention.
- North Carolina Democratic Senate primary: Cal Cuningham vs. Elaine Marshall. This runoff will determine which Democrat gets to challenge Republican Sen. Richard Burr in the fall. Marshall placed first in a three-way primary on May 4, besting Cunningham by 10 percentage points; Chapel Hill attorney Ken Lewis, meanwhile, pulled in 17%, meaning there's room for movement depending on where those votes go. Cunningham has the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but national Democrats might not be much better off if he wins: the latest major poll in this race, a Public Policy Polling survey, shows Marshall trailing Burr by 7 percentage points while Cunningham trails by 11. North Carolina saw big victories for Democrats in 2008 as the party expanded its electoral map into southern, GOP-held territory: the state voted for President Obama and elected Sen. Kay Hagan over Republican incumbent Elizabeth Dole. Democrats will try to keep that success going in 2010.
- North Carolina 8th District Republican House primary: Tim D'Annunzio vs. Harold Johnson. This is by far the most interesting race happening tomorrow night, though it's probably not the most significant. It features Johnson, a local sportscaster, running against D'Annunzio, a self-described religious zealot who once called the U.S. government the Antichrist and told his wife he discovered the Ark of the Covenant (according to court documents dug up by the Charlotte Observer). The GOP establishment does not want D'Annunzio to win, and the state GOP chairman called him "unfit" to hold office. D'Annunzio won the multi-way May 4 primary by 1,000 votes but now admits it would take a "miracle" to pull off a win in the runoff. The winner will challenge vulnerable freshman Democrat Larry Kissell (who voted against the health care bill); Democrats are most likely hoping for D'Annunzio.
- South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary: Nikki Haley vs. Gresham Barrett. Haley is expected to win this runoff after collecting just under 50% of the vote in the June 8 multi-way primary, besting Congressman Gresham Barrett by 27 percentage points. Haley has faces allegations of affairs from two different men, and it's widely accepted that Barrett's campaign had pushed those stories. If Haley wins (and if the affair business doesn't wind up dragging her down afterward), she'll have a strong change to become South Carolina's next governor and a rising star in the Republican Party nationally.