Primary Returns Show Mixed Bag

Wednesday, 11 August 2010 13:37 By Yana Kunichoff, t r u t h o u t | Report | name.

Primary Returns Show Mixed Bag
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). (Photo: Center for American Progress / Flickr)

The predicted anti-incumbent rage in the midterm elections has proved more complex on the ground, as some victories of established legislatures are won with ease and others continue to fight the wrath of the American voter.

Colorado's primary race was considered the biggest test of the strength of the anti-establishment mood in this cycle of returns, and saw Democrats backing the national party's candidate while Republicans picked the outlier.

Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who has tied his fortunes to President Obama, survived a bitter primary challenge from former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, supported by former President Bill Clinton.

The Democratic contest is the first time the appointed Sen. Michael Bennet's name appears on a ballot, but Bennet was given a close run by Romanoff's campaign to tie him to DC and Wall Street.

Romanoff, who declined to take political action committee contributions, was outspent by more than $4 million. However, this allowed him to highlight more than $1 million in campaign contributions Bennet received from special interest groups.

Bennet won by an 8 percent margin.

In Colorado's Republican primary, Weld County prosecutor Ken Buck has defeated former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton.

Buck, a Tea Party-backed insurgent, used a grassroots campaign to tar Norton as the favorite of the party establishment.

In the gubernatorial race, first-time candidate Dan Maes defeated former GOP Rep. Scott McInnis by a slim margin. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Maes had barely a half-percentage point lead over McInnis. He will face Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper in November.

Despite a particularly unsavory set of choices in the primaries, which NPR characterized as containing "Plagiarism? Check. Gender politics? Check. Charges of Wall Street coziness? Check. Competing presidential endorsements? Check. Bicycle-sharing as a United Nations plot? Check. Selling house for campaign cash? Check," voter turnout surged in this set of primaries.

On Monday, nearly 598,000 ballots had already arrived in the offices of county clerks and recorders around the state, compared to the 488,000 votes cast in the 2008 primary.

Despite Colorado's high turnout, most polls predict that the young, enthusiastic Obama voters are unlikely to play a significant role in the midterm elections.

A mid-July CNN poll found older voters were more enthusiastic about voting than their under-35 counterparts. Four in ten people aged 65 or older rated themselves extremely or very enthusiastic about voting, while only a quarter of those under 35 felt the same.

Older voters are also more likely to say the country is on the wrong track and to disapprove of both Congress and President Obama's performance, a New York Times/CBS News poll found this summer.

In other races to watch, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has won the Democrat primary for Senate. He will be facing Linda McMahon, the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment, to decide who replaces Sen. Christopher Dodd.

McMahon won a bitter three-way feud, which included the airing of an image of McMahon repeatedly kicking a man between the legs, courtesy of her opponent Peter Schiff.

The race for governor of Connecticut will be between the Democrat's pick of former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy and former Ambassador Tom Foley on the other side of the aisle.

Minnesota's Democratic gubernatorial primary was won by former Sen. Mark Dayton, who will be facing State Rep. Tom Emmer, the Republican winner.

Georgia's republican primary was initially too close to Call Wednesday, with about 2,500 votes separating the two candidates. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Nathan Deal and Karen Handel each claimed 50 percent of the vote - Handel then conceded.

Deal is facing questions following an Office of Congressional Ethics report in March showing he supported a Georgia program, which generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for his family's auto business. Handel, meanwhile, struggled with criticism that she was not conservative enough.

Deal will face Roy Barnes (D) in November.

The Senate race ratings so far, according to The New York Times, are 46 continuing or solid Democratic seats, 36 continuing or solid Republican seats and 18 seats in play. Of the 18 seats in play, Colorado is one of eight tossups, while Connecticut is one of five seats in play leaning Democrat.

Yana Kunichoff

Yana Kunichoff is an assistant editor at Truthout.

Last modified on Thursday, 12 August 2010 09:37