Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Chafee, Cardin Prevail in Busy Primary Day

Ultimately the power of the incumbency was too difficult for conservative challenger Stephen Laffey to overcome, as moderate Lincoln Chafee handily captured the Rhode Island Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, with 54 percent to Laffey's 46 percent. Congressman Ben Cardin won the Maryland Democratic primary and earned the right to face Republican Michael Steele for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes.

Despite Chafee going against them on such critical issues as the Iraq war and tax cuts, national Republicans knew that a Chafee victory was vital because a hard-right conservative like Laffey prevailing would have almost assured victory for Democratic nominee Sheldon Whitehouse in a solidly-blue state like Rhode Island. This will be a close race to watch in the next eight weeks.

In Maryland, Cardin defeated former Congressman Kweisi Mfume, 46 percent to 38 percent, with 93 percent of precincts reporting, in a crowded field that fragmented the vote.

In other Senatorial primaries:
  • Arizona: Incumbent Republican Jon Kyl and Democratic challenger Jim Pederson were both unopposed in the primary and will now face off in the November 7 general election.
  • Delaware: Democratic incumbent Thomas Carper is a fixture in Delaware politics and easily won the nomination. He will face -- and easily defeat -- Temple University law professor Jan C. Ting, who won a narrow victory in the Republican Senate primary.
  • Minnesota: We already knew that this one would end up being Democrat Amy Klobuchar against Republican Mark Kennedy, with both of them getting over 90 percent of their party's primary vote.
  • New York: There was zero drama in New York as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton trounced her opposition to become the Democratic nominee and will face Yonkers Mayor John Spencer in what will be a snoozer of a general election in November.
  • Vermont: As expected, it will be Independent Bernie Sanders against wealthy businessman Richard Tarrant, who got the Republican nomination. In an odd twist, Democrats had placed Sanders on the Democratic ballot -- to ensure against a spoiler candidate who might hurt Sanders' results -- even though Sanders made it clear he would reject the nomination and run as a full-fledged Independent. While that means there will be no Democratic candidate in the race, Sanders is very liberal and will caucus -- and vote -- with Democrats when he wins in November.
  • Wisconsin: Incumbent Democrat Herb Kohl rolled in with 86 percent of the primary vote and will face Republican Robert Lorge in November.
The next Senate primaries will be in Massachusetts and Washington on September 19.