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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Mixed Signals

It’s ludicrous to lump together Democratic and Republican primary voters from five states in four time zones and expect them to deliver some sort of “message,” but since that’s how lots of media folk tend to look at elections, let’s consider the “signals” sent last night.
In FL, in a mild upset, Rick Scott defeated Bill McCollum for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Scott, as you may recall, is the guy who decided to spend his golden parachute from the HCA-Columbia for-profit hospital chain becoming a right-wing anti-“ObamaCare” celebrity, and then governor of his adopted state. Between himself and his wife, he’s spent about $50 million on this race so far, and it was just enough to hand the ultimate Party Stalwart McCollum his third loss in a major statewide race. McCollum did take some serious bark off Scott’s hide, particularly in terms of reminding Floridians of the gigantic Medicare fraud fines paid by HCA-Columbia, which will save Democrat Alex Sink a great deal of time and money during the general election.
Meanwhile, Scott’s doppelganger, billionaire Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene, did not fare so well, losing to congressman Kendrick Meek by a 57-31 margin.
The other major upset, or at least potential upset, is way out in Alaska, where former judge Joe Miller, who benefitted from a late push by Sarah Palin, may be in the process of running Lisa Murkowsi right out of the Senate. Miller’s up by three percentage points with a lot of absentee ballots left, so we may not know who has won the nomination for a couple of weeks. It appears Miller got a lot of help from the presence on the ballot of an anti-abortion initiative, which attracted a bit turnout from social conservatives, who’ve never much cared for the pro-choice Murkowski.
In non-upset news from Arizona, John McCain had little problem beating J.D. Hayworth, certainly not after he repudiated much of his own “maverick” legacy during the primary campaign. Another “Establishment” figure, Ben Quayle, survived the embarassment of association with an off-color internet site where he used to post using the name of a porn star from Boogie Nights, and won the GOP nomination for Congress in Arizona’s 3d congressional district.
In Oklahoma, a church camp counseler demolished the Club for Growth’s candidate in a Republican congressional runoff after the latter tried to paint the former as soft on Muslims.
And in my favorite primary up in Vermont, as Democrats gear up for a “unity rally” at Noon today, it’s still not clear whether Peter Shumlin or Doug Racine is the party’s gubernatorial nominee; with 17 precincts still unreported, Shumlin has a lead of just over 200 votes. For those of us who applauded the unusually civil tone of this highly competitive five-way primary, it was good to know that turnout greatly exceeded expectations. Knavery in politics is not invariably rewarded, nor is virtue always punished. It just seems that way sometimes.

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