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The Campaign Spot

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

Primary Night Wrap-Up: Looks Like He Picked the Wrong Year to Switch Parties



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This morning, I asked, “does Democrat-turned-Republican Parker Griffith survive his first GOP primary in Alabama’s 5th congressional district?” At this late hour, it’s not looking good for him. With 82 percent of precincts reporting, Mo Brooks has 51.6 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff.

Two members of Congress switched parties in this cycle; if this result holds, both Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Parker Griffith lost their primaries in their new parties. Lesson: If you and your old party have enough bad blood that you’re ready to switch sides, the new party may not find you all that warm and cuddly, either. Maybe the issue lies with you, after all.

I also asked, “Does early NRCC favorite Martha Roby win the GOP primary in Alabama’s 2nd congressional district?” Answer: Yes and no. With 57 percent of precincts reporting, she’s at 45.6 percent in a four-way race. Respectable, but probably not enough to avoid a runoff with Rick Barber.

Alabama governor’s race brought a surprise on each side. For Republicans, the three leading candidates are awfully close to a three-way tie at this hour. With 56 percent of precincts reporting, Tim James, son of former governor Fob James, is at 26.5 percent; former state senator Bradley Byrne is at 25.6 percent and state representative Robert Bentley is at 25.5 percent. Somebody’s going to end up third by a small margin and be awfully frustrated. Former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore’s share of the vote in fourth, 19.8 percent, isn’t that far behind.

The Democratic primary made clear that the state’s Democratic voters don’t want the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against the health-care bill to be their next governor. State agricultural commissioner Ron Sparks appears to be thumping Rep. Artur Davis, 64.9 percent to 35.1 percent. Surprisingly, Davis appears to have lost some heavily black communities by a wide margin.

Finally, in Alabama, the fate of Dale Peterson’s bid to be the Republican nominee for state agriculture commissioner is now clear. Apparently quite a few voters don’t give a rip about Alabama; Peterson will ride his horse into the sunset, it seems. (The leading GOP candidate, John McMillan, seems to know his guns, too. Betcha didn’t know that.)

In Mississippi’s 1st congressional district, state senator Alan Nunnelee appears to have a good shot at avoiding a runoff, with 51.1 percent of the vote, 89 percent of precincts reporting. Apparently the high profile of a Fox News commentator does not help get votes in this district; Angela McGlowan is at only 15.5 percent at this hour.

In the 4th congressional district, state representative Steven Palazzo beat Joe Tegerdine for the GOP nomination. He’ll try to knock off Gene Taylor, a southern conservative Democrat who’s been around forever.

In New Mexico, district attorney Susana Martinez has just won the GOP gubernatorial nomination; she will take on the current Democratic lieutenant governor, Diane Denish. Martinez polls best against Denish; a couple of folks on Twitter are noting that the Republican candidate for governor, one state over from Arizona, is a native-born Hispanic woman.

UPDATE: A Campaign Spot reader in Alabama adds two notes:

How can you miss an incumbent GOP Attorney General [Troy King] going down by a 20 point margin in a primary [to Luther Strange]? . . . P.S.: Dale Peterson had a great ad, but many folks in this state love McMillan. He is a stand up guy as well.


Tags: Artur Davis , Martha Roby , Mo Brooks , Parker Griffith , Susana Martinez


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