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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Midwestern Primary Gleanings

Yesterday’s primaries in Kansas, Michigan and Missouri didn’t get a whole lot of national attention, but they produced some interesting results.
As I mentioned yesterday, MI gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder ran a campaign very much at odds with the CW that the only way to win a GOP primary is to loudly and repeatedly proclaim one’s fidelity to conservative principles and policy positions. The self-proclaimed “nerd” won handily, with 36% of the vote as compared to 27% for congressman Pete Hoekstra and a very disappointing 23% for Attorney General Mike Cox.
Since Snyder explicitly appealed for crossover votes, political detectives (myself included) will try to figure out if that was a big factor in his victory. It was rather interesting that turnout tilted 2-1 Republican in a state that hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential contest since 1988. Certainly the idea that Democrats got involved in a Republican primary will be a source of consolation to conservatives who are none too happy with the results.
Meanwhile, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate known for “centrism,” House Speaker Andy Dillon, didn’t do so well, losing to labor-backed Lansing mayor Virg Bernero by a 59-41 margin. Bernero edged Dillon in his Detroit-area base and then waxed him in heavily unionized areas elsewhere.
The other big Democratic news from Michigan was the defeat of Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick by state senator Hansen Clarke, a development generally attributed to the disastrous decline and fall of her son, former Detroit mayor and current prison inmate Kwame Kilpatrick.
Elsewhere Republicans made the most news and the CW pretty much held. In KS, in a contest dominated by conflicting claims of superior conservatism, Rep. Jerry Moran defeated Rep. Todd Tiahrt by a 50-45 margin, mainly by running up a bigger vote in his own House district. In terms of national endorsements, it was a win for Jim DeMint and a loss for Sarah Palin and Tom Tancredo.
In House races, the big winner on the night was probably the Club for Growth, which backed winning candidates in three crowded GOP primaries (MI-3, KS-1 and KS-4). In MI-1, Bart Stupak’s district, where a competitive race is expected in November, add another data point to the Every Vote Counts argument, as exactly one vote separated the two leading Republican candidates (a recount is pending).
And offsetting their bad news from the Michigan governor’s race, conservatives today are crowing about the results of a referendum in Missouri over a proposed state law aimed at blocking implementation of federal health reform legislation. Proposition C, which essentially challenges the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause by outlawing mandated health insurance, won by a 71-29 margin, which is very impressive until you realize that primary turnout in Missouri was 2-1 Republican. In any event, the referendum will have no practical effect, but that won’t keep conservatives from bragging about it.

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