Welcome! The biggest primary day of the 2010 midterm elections so far kicks off tonight. Polls close in all of Indiana by 7:00pm ET (some areas have already seen the polls close), and at 7:30pm ET, the polls will close in Ohio and North Carolina.
US Senate seats are up for grabs in two of the three states, and in North Carolina, Republican Richard Burr is seen as vulnerable.
In Ohio, George Voinovich is retiring from the Senate. Rob Portman, George Bush’s former budget director, will be the Republican nominee. On the Democratic side, Lt. Governor Lee Fisher has been pulling away from Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in recent weeks, thanks to a cash advantage and more advertising. The DSCC reportedly spent money on Fisher’s side, though that has not been corroborated. Brunner, reflecting the testy primary, vowed not to campaign for Fisher if she loses. The general election is seen as a toss-up.
In Indiana, Evan Bayh left the race before any replacement could get into the primary, and party leaders are widely expected to choose Rep. Brad Ellsworth as the nominee for November. Among Republicans, former Senator Dan Coats does not have majority support, but a split on the more conservative side of the ledger looks to give him a victory. Coats would start the general election with a pretty robust lead over Ellsworth.
In North Carolina, there are three major candidates attempting to knock off Richard Burr. The DSCC made their preference known a while back with former state Senator and Iraq war vet Cal Cunningham, but Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is better-known, and she has been expanding her lead in the closing days. However, a law in North Carolina says that the primary winner must hit 40% to avoid a runoff, so it’s plausible, if not likely, that we’ll see one between Cunningham and Marshall.
There are some scattered House elections with primaries as well, including Larry Kissell facing a progressive challenger in North Carolina.
UPDATE 1: We have some very early numbers out of Indiana, but Marlin Stutzman seems to be performing well.
Coats will probably survive given the conservative split, but Stutzman has outperformed the polls thus far. However, it’s extremely early.
UPDATE 2: With 7% of the precincts in, Coats is more comfortably in front:
Still early, but with his name ID, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Coats win easily here.
One surprise in the House races: Mark Souder, the incumbent in IN-03, is in a dogfight against auto dealer Bob Thomas. Souder leads by about 400 votes with 5% of the precincts reporting.
UPDATE 3: Dan Coats is starting to put enough distance between him and the field to win, up 43-30 on Marlin Stutzman with 16% in. Mark Souder has pushed in front of Bob Thomas 47-35 with half the vote in. Some thought Rep. Dan Burton (R) would be in trouble in IN-05, but he looks OK for now. In IN-09, former Rep. Mike Sodrel was thought to be a lock to face Rep. Baron Hill (D) for the fifth straight time, but right now, Todd Young leads 43-40 with 14% of the vote in. Voters may have finally gotten tired of Sodrel.
The North Carolina and Ohio polls close in minutes.
…IN-08 is a surprise as well on the Republican side. In the open seat to replace Brad Ellsworth, who’s running for Senate, tea party activist Kristi Risk is basically tied with the establishment choice, Larry Buschon. Risk is up 11 votes with 30% in.
UPDATE 4: Extremely early, but Elaine Marshall is over 40% right now, leading Cal Cunningham by 42-30, with Ken Lewis at 17%. I do believe someone will end up over 40% and avoid a runoff tonight, and Marhsall is looking good so far. Still early though, with only 3% in.
Dan Coats still looks in solid shape to face Brad Ellsworth in IN-Sen.
The upsets in IN-08 and IN-09 continue on the Republican side. Kristi Risk leads Larry Bucshon by about 100 votes with 35% in, and Todd Young leads Mike Sodrel by about 700 votes with 23% in.
Lee Fisher is up 60-40 on Jennifer Brunner in extremely early polling in OH-Sen.
UPDATE 5: There are two races in North Carolina where Blue Dogs are targeted by more progressive challengers. In early returns, both are faring pretty well. Nancy Shakir is only down 54-45 to Larry Kissell in NC-08, and Aixa Wilson trails Heath Shuler 59-40 in NC-11. Kissell and Shuler are probably safe, but the grassroots is registering their anger.
It’s now a 42-23 lead for Elaine Marshall over Cal Cunningham, with Ken Lewis in third with 11.7%. Marshall is hanging over that 40% threshold.
Still early in Ohio, but Jennifer Brunner is so far competitive, basically tied with Lee Fisher 50.3%-49.7%. I think this represents early or absentee voters.
…Boy, if conservatives has coalesced around one candidate in Indiana, they would have beaten Dan Coats. He’s taking just 41% of the Republican primary vote. But Marlin Stutzman has 31% with Hostettler holding 19%.
UPDATE 6: The race in IN-03 has been called for Rep. Mark Souder (R), so he survives. But Dan Burton (R) is in trouble in IN-05: he’s only up 32-30 over Luke Messer with 41% reporting. With this race, Todd Young still leading Mike Sodrel in IN-09, and “red-blooded American wife” Kristi Risk leading Larry Bucshon in IN-08, the teabaggers are having a fine night in Indiana.
This could cost Republicans a seat in IN-08. State Rep. Trent Van Haaften will face the GOP winner there, and that’s a swing seat, unsuited for a hard-right teabagger. I mean, Kristi Risk apparently thinks the earth is 6,000 years old (check the comments).
…I just checked Kristi Risk’s website, and I actually think that assertion that she believes the Earth is 6,000 years old is wrong. She thinks “traditional marriage” is 6,000 years old. But seriously, check the website. And realize she’s running in a swing seat.
…OK, I’m moving to a new thread.