The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Why This Week May Not Be So Bad for Lindsey Graham and Eric Cantor


A busy morning with a busy Morning Jolt. I’m scheduled to appear on The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd on MSNBC today, discussing the book, and chat with WLS-AM in Chicago at about 8:15 or so. Today’s Jolt includes warnings about how amnesty/”comprehensive immigration reform” could derail the GOP’s midterm hopes, Leon Panetta’s thoughts on the Bergdahl deal, what it’s like to appear on Real Time with Bill Maher, and then this look ahead to Tuesday . . . 

Looking Ahead to Tuesday’s Primaries

Tomorrow is primary day in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia.

In South Carolina, incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham faces his primary challengers — Nancy Mace, Lee Bright, and Richard Cash among them. Graham needs 50 percent to avoid a runoff, and a recent Clemson poll put him at 49 percent. Bright is the leading challenger . . . at 9 percent.

Turnout is expected to be low.

So it’s likely that Tuesday night, Graham either avoids a primary or enters a runoff with a gargantuan lead over his runoff opponent. The anti-Graham Republicans have pledged to unite behind any challenger in a runoff, but . . . we’ve seen conservative factions fail to unite before.

In a sign that South Carolina Democrats aren’t paying attention, that same poll found 74 percent of Democrats were undecided between their primary candidates, state senator Brad Hutto and Columbia’s Jay Stamper.

Virginia Republicans won’t be picking their Senate nominee with a primary; Ed Gillespie won the nomination, as expected, this weekend at the GOP party convention. As much as I’m a fan of Ed, and his victory was never really in doubt, I think Virginia Republicans would be wise to shift to primaries, allowing more Republicans to be involved in selecting the party’s nominee.

Still, I have to give Virginia Republicans credit on other fronts; BiasedGirl called my attention to this maneuvering:

Republicans appear to have outmaneuvered Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a state budget standoff by persuading a Democratic senator to resign his seat, at least temporarily giving the GOP control of the chamber and possibly dooming the governor’s push to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) will announce his resignation Monday, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission, three people familiar with the plan said Sunday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

The news prompted outrage among Democrats — and accusations that Republicans were trying to buy the Senate with job offers in order to thwart McAuliffe’s proposal to expand health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians.

In Virginia’s seventh congressional district, GOP challenger Dave Brat has run heavily on the immigration issue against incumbent and House majority leader Eric Cantor. The Daily Caller commissioned a poll and found Cantor up, 52 percent to 38 percent. (The Caller characterized this as Cantor “struggling.”) If Brat finishes in that neighborhood, he can claim credit for a solid performance against a long-time, well-funded incumbent, but chances are Cantor will be celebrating a win Tuesday night.

One other hitch:

Former congressman Ben Jones (D-Ga.), better known as “Cooter” from Dukes of Hazzard, has a plan to knock Eric Cantor out of the House. He’s urging his fellow Democrats to cross over and vote for a tea party-backed candidate in Virginia’s primary election.

Cooter, who ran against Cantor in 2002, has penned an open letter calling upon Democrats in his former Virginia district to vote in the open primary next Tuesday for tea party opponent Dave Brat in order to defeat U.S. House Majority Leader Cantor.

In Virginia’s eighth congressional district, Democrats complete their scrum in the race to replace Jim Moran. Micah Edmond is the GOP candidate.

Tags: Lindsey Graham , Eric Cantor


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