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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

No Wows in Final Primary Wrap-Up

Ed Kilgore has the best wrap-up of the latest primary, which is also the last of 2014. There were no major surprises, but there were some interesting outcomes, as Kilgore explains at his Talking Points Memo post, “Rebuke, Rebirth, Rejection, Rematch: The Last Primary Night of 2014“:

The rebuke was to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who despite a vast advantage in money, name ID, and institutional support, struggled to win 60 percent in a low-turnout primary competition with progressive activist Zephyr Teachout. He barely ran ahead of his little-known running mate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul. Since the benchmark for an “embarrassment” of Cuomo among most cognoscenti going into the primary was Teachout reaching 30 percent of the vote, her 35 percent performance (with 88 percent of precincts reporting) certainly qualifies. And it verifies the strong progressive opposition to any presidential campaign by Cuomo — who is reliably reported to have seen a future president of the United States in his bathroom mirror each morning for many years — in the near future, thanks to his conservative fiscal policies, coziness with Wall Street, and perceived indifference to the New York Democratic Party.
The rebirth was of the political career of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who famously and astonishingly blew a special Senate election in 2010 to former Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) that nearly derailed enactment of the Affordable Care Act, and caused legislative shortcuts that are still causing legal problems for the ACA. She won the Massachusetts gubernatorial primary last night, though not with many votes to spare, and will be strongly favored over Republican Charlie Baker in November unless she is truly accursed.
The rematch will be in the first congressional district of New Hampshire, where former Manchester mayor Frank Guinta won the Republican nomination for the third straight time, having beaten Democrat Carol Shea-Porter in 2010 and lost to her in 2012. This will presumably be the rubber match.
The rejection was of Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), whose ensnarement in his wife’s legal problems nearly took him down in 2012 and almost certainly led to his primary loss to Seth Moulton. Tierney was the fourth House incumbent but the first Democrat to lose a primary this year, the three Republicans being the over-the-hill Ralph Hall of Texas, the “accidental” Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan, and the hubristic Mr. Cantor.

Looking at the primary season as a whole, Kilgore observes “Despite many efforts to impose a national “narrative” on the primaries, none really stuck. Some observers have insisted on a “Republican Establishment Defeats Tea Party” meme. But Eric Cantor’s loss, some ideologically ambiguous Senate winners, and a notable lurch to the Right by many “Establishment” candidates, make this claim questionable, and perhaps if true rather meaningless.”
Kilgore cites seven major factors favoring Republicans moving toward November 4, though some pundits believe they are underperforming in polls thus far, despite these advantages. When all of the votes are tallied, he reminds us that “we will have fully entered a presidential cycle…with many arrows immediately shifting to an opposite direction. So the true legacy of this cycle will only be determined when its influence over the next one is fully absorbed.”
The new cycle will lift a lot of Democratic spirits. Until then the challenge for Dems over the next eight weeks is do ‘better than expected’ and to put the Democratic party and 2016 candidates in the best possible position.

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