Today, important primaries are taking place in Michigan, Kansas and Missouri. FDL Elections will be live blogging the results as they come in this evening.
Governor–Perhaps the biggest action tonight will be Governor’s race here. Both parties feature competitive primaries. The latest polling shows a legitimate three-way race on the Republican side among Attorney General Mike Cox, Rep. Pete Hoekstra and businessman Rick Snyder. Snyder owns a very small lead and millions of his personal wealth to spend on the race. On the Democratic side, it’s a battle between State Speaker of the House Andy Dillon and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. Bernero was endorsed by the AFL-CIO, which is important in this labor-heavy state. He currently has a modest lead in the polls.
MI-01—Democrat Bart Stupak’s retirement from this fairly conservative district has Republicans viewing it as a possible pick-up. The two big Republicans running for the seat are Dan Benishek and Jason Allen. A poll from a few weeks ago had them effectively tied. Benishek banked a lot of national donations when he entered the race right after Stupak’s health care vote. Democrat Gary McDowell is unopposed.
MI-02–Conservative Pete Hoekstra is retiring from this right-wing district to run for Governor. Seven Republicans are fighting to succeed him. Given the district’s leanings and the election climate, the winner of this crowded primary will likely end up in Congress. A “Grand Rapids Press” poll gives former pro football player Jay Riemersma the lead with only 22 percent. Bill Huizenga and Bill Cooper are tied at 15 percent. With such a huge field and even spread in the poll, almost any of them could win tonight.
MI-03–Another Republican-leaning district with a retiring Republican has produced a GOP feeding frenzy. The fight is among Justin Amash, Bill Hardiman and Steve Heacock. The latest poll gives Amash a six-point lead with 28 percent to Hardiman’s 23 and Heacock’s 17. An endorsement from the Club for Growth is benefiting Amash.
MI-07–Freshman Dem Mark Schauer is in a swing district, and his race is rated a “Democratic Toss Up” by the Cook Political Report. This could be a pick-up opportunity for Republicans; their primary is between Brian Rooney and former Rep. Tim Walberg. Schauer beat then-incumbent Walberg in 2008. The only reference to any public polling I have seen on this race indicates Walberg has a significant lead.
MI-09–Freshman Dem Gary Peters is in better shape. His district is more blue and his race is rated “Likely Democratic.” But with a big GOP wave, it is possible he could lose. Four Republicans want the right to take him on, but the real fight is between Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski and Paul Welday.
MI-13–Longtime incumbent Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick is in serious trouble. Her son, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, was forced out of office in disgrace after pleading guilty to several crimes, and he now faces trial on federal charges. The fallout from that is clearly hurting his mother. While several Democrats are challenging her, the most prominent opponent is Hansen Clarke. A poll from last month had Clarke beating Kilpatrick, 44-31. (cont’d.)
Senator–With Sen. Sam Brownback stepping down to run for Governor, the big fight is the Republican primary between Rep. Jerry Moran and Rep. Todd Tiahrt. The latest SurveyUSA poll has Moran with a 10-point lead over Tiahrt, 49-39. The winner is likely to be a huge favorite over whichever Democrat emerges from that party’s primary.
KS-01–Moran’s retirement opened up a safe Republican seat, with hungry GOP politicians leaping. Tracey Mann, Jim Barnett and Tim Huelskamp are all tied at 24 percent each in a recent SurveyUSA poll.
KS-03–This swing district has been held by Dem Dennis Moore, who decided to retire and have his wife run for the seat instead. Rated a “Lean Republican” by Cook, this is one of the Republican Party’s best pick-up opportunities this cycle. In the crowded Republican field, Kevin Yoder holds a huge fundraising advantage over all others. His only real competition is Patricia Lightner, but Yoder should win easily tonight.
KS-04–Tiahrt leaving this red seat open has set off a competitive primary. According to a SurveyUSA poll Mike Pompeo, Jean Schodorf and Wink Hartman all have a chance of winning, with Pompeo holding a small lead. Pompeo has also benefited from the endorsement of the Club for Growth.
I suspect Club for Growth’s power comes less from their willingness to challenge incumbents, which they do, and more from how they play strategically in these low-key primaries to replace retiring members. These contests provide a very high bang for your buck when it comes to electing individuals who are aligned with you or owe you a favor.
On the Democratic side, Raj Goyle holds a huge lead over Robert Tillman but will likely be an underdog in the general.
Insurance Commissioner–Two-term Republican insurance commissioner Sandy Praeger is being challenge by ultra-conservative David Powell. Powell is the Tea Party favorite and is running on a platform of using the position to “migrate the impact” of the new health care law until it is repealed. While he’s not expected to win, it will be interesting to see how well he does. As a health care policy expert, one of my many fears about the new law is that it leaves enforcement and implementation up to state officials who can be downright hostile to it, almost assuring failure. In another low note for democracy, no one from any other party is running for this office, so the winner of the GOP primary is guaranteed to fill the position.
Senator: Rep. Roy Blunt is getting challenged by a slew of Republicans including the hard-right Chuck Purgason, but according to recent polling, he should win easily tonight. On the Democratic side, Robin Carnahan should also easily secure the nomination.
MO-04–Dem Ike Skelton has managed to hold on to this absurdly red district for a long time, but Republicans are hoping this will be the year his luck runs out. Cook has the race ranked “Lean Democratic.” Vicky Hartzler and Bill Stouffer have spent big in their fight to see who gets to be the Republican to take on Skelton.
MO-07–Roy Blunt gave up this extremely red seat to run for Senate. Whoever wins the Republican primary is almost assured to win the general. Billy Long, Gary Nodler and Jack Goodman are all competing for the GOP nomination.
Proposition C–Also on the ballot today is Proposition C: Missouri Health Care Freedom. It is an anti-individual- mandate ballot measure that is meant to block the government requirement to buy health insurance. The state legislature placed it on the ballot. This is the first of potentially several anti-individual-mandate ballot measures to be voted on this cycle.