More voters went to the polls Tuesday in eight states than any other primary this season and it was a very late night for politics all over the country.
The Mississippi GOP Senate brawl is still pending, a familiar face has made it to a California state senate general election, a spiritual guru with celebrity backing lost in that state, but there was a surprising win in that same race and much more.
Here are five things that happened in politics while you were sleeping.
1. MISSISSIPPI SQUEAKER: The dirtiest primary of the year, the Mississippi GOP Senate primary, looks headed for a runoff, but it’s still not definite with only 99.7% of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.
Tea Party challenger State Sen. Chris McDaniel leads six term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran 49.5% to 48.9% with a spread of less than 2,000 votes. The runoff will be June 24. With the tea party fervor on McDaniel’s side, establishment Republicans need to decide how hard to go after McDaniel. The Club for Growth this morning called on Cochran to drop out of the runoff and in a race where outside groups have already spent over $7 million at least one tea party group, FreedomWorks, has pledged to “double down” on their efforts in the runoff. They have already spent $350,000 in the race and say they plan to spend a “few hundred thousand more.”
There is concern the extended primary could even boost the Democratic Senate nominee, former Congressman Travis Childers. Despite Mississippi’s red-state political heritage, some political commentators have speculated a McDaniel win could mean a more contentious general election.
Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef told ABC News it’s the bruising battle-which will now continue-that will make the general election more competitive, not who ends up on top.
“We are assuming that after this primary the general election is going to be much tougher and we’re going to dedicate much more resources that we ever thought we would need to,” Nosef said.
2. GOP GETS THEIR GUY IN CALIFORNIA: California Gov. Jerry Brown easily cruised to the number one spot in the “jungle primary” for California governor, but the Republican Party got the guy they wanted: former U.S. Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari.
Kashkari is a socially moderate former Goldman Sachs investment banker and this is his first run for office. He is most well-known for leading the federal government’s bailout of the U.S. banking system. There was concern among establishment Republicans that state assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a tea party favorite and a former leader of the Minuteman volunteer border patrol group would win and he would be too conservative for the blue state.
The Republican Governors Association congratulated Kashkari saying in a statement, “It’s time for serious change in California, and Neel Kashkari is the one who can make it happen…Given the opportunity to put his conservative message to work, Kashkari’s leadership would play a pivotal role in a true California comeback.” But, it won’t be easy and the numbers last night reflect what a huge uphill battle Kashkari has.
According to the Associated Press, with 100% of precincts reporting Brown came in first with 54.5% of the vote and Kashkari came in second with only 19%.
3. REPUBLICAN GETS TOP SPOT IN 90210 PRIMARY: There is no official AP call yet, but in California’s 33rd congressional district Democrats look like they have split the vote.
In a surprise win, the Republican in the race, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and Iraq war veteran Elan Carr, has taken the top spot and will advance to the November general election. With 100% of precincts reporting, Carr has 21.5% of the vote and State Senator and lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserves Ted Lieu came in second with 19%. Former City Controller Wendy Greuel, backed by Emily’s List, came in third, another loss for the failed 2013 mayoral candidate.
The district is one of the wealthiest in the entire country and the race to succeed the retiring Henry Waxman, who represented the district for 40 years, was a multi-candidate celeb-filled brawl. The district includes part of the San Fernando Valley and the poshest parts of the state including Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Malibu. Spiritual advisor and best-selling author Marianne Williamson only made it to the fourth spot, but she was backed by Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Alanis Morissette and more stars, dominating the national headlines leading up to the race
4. SANDRA FLUKE — FROM ACTIVIST TO POLITICIAN: There is also no official call in this race either, but it looks like Sandra Fluke — made famous thanks to a graphic insult from Rush Limbaugh — has made it to the general election in a Los Angeles-area state senate district.
According to returns on the California Secretary of State’s website, with 100% of precincts reporting Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education member Ben Allen came in first with 21.8% of the vote and Fluke came in second with 19.7%. It was the most contested of any of the 20 California state senate primaries held yesterday. The two will now face off in the November general election.
Fluke, 33, first made a name for herself in February 2012 when as a third-year law student at Georgetown University she testified in front of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee in favor of requiring religiously affiliated institutions to cover birth control in health insurance plans. This was Fluke’s first foray into elected office.
5.THE FIGHT FOR THE SENATE: In South Dakota and Montana, Senate primaries last night set up two contentious general election fights that will be ones to watch. John Walsh, the current senator in Montana, won the Democratic nomination, according to the Associated Press. He was appointed by the governor to serve out the remainder of Democrat Sen. Max Baucus’ term when he resigned to become the ambassador to China, but was challenged by Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger. Walsh mostly focused his fire on Republican Rep. Steve Daines, who also won his GOP primary and has tea party support. This will be a fierce fight as Republicans would love to take this seat.
In South Dakota, a former governor of the state Mike Rounds easily won the GOP nomination, according to the Associated Press. Thanks to the retirement of Democrat Sen. Tim Johnson, this is the first open Senate seat in South Dakota since 1978. South Dakota is a red state, but has elected Democrats like Johnson in the past. Rounds, who served as governor for eight years until 2011, will face his Democratic opponent businessman Rick Weiland, as well as two independent candidates: former congressman Larry Pressler and former state Sen. Gordon Howie, in November. The GOP needs six seats to get the majority in the Senate.
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