GOP primaries

GOP primaries

Hatch not taking sides in race to replace Bennett

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) Tuesday would not say which candidate he supports to replace his ousted colleague, Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah).

Delegates at the state GOP convention this weekend did not select the three-term senator to appear on the primary ballot, meaning that political newcomers Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater will vie for the party's nomination.

Observers say Bennett's stunning defeat is a further sign incumbents will be in trouble this fall.

"Either one of them would be a good senator and I have to go by what the population says," Hatch said on MSNBC.

The senior senator said that he too would have trouble winning reelection in this political climate.

"If I would have been up this year, it would be difficult for anybody," he said.

Hatch lamented the loss of his colleague, saying he "felt very badly for Sen. Bennett."

Cross-posted to the Briefing Room


Several more incumbents approaching tough primaries

Reps. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Mark Souder (R-Ind.) emerged from Tuesday’s primaries bruised but unbeaten. Their performances, however, won’t do much to hearten members worried about their own primaries.

So, as we talk about this pervasive anti-incumbent mood, who’s next? In fact, several other members of Congress will learn their primary fates in the coming days and weeks.

The Ballot Box looks at incumbents who could fall in the next month:

Saturday – Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah): The three-term senator has turned into an underdog at his state party convention this weekend, and recent polls suggest he might not even make the final ballot at the convention, which would effectively end his tenure in the Senate.

Tuesday – Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.): Mollohan faces state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who nearly outraised him in the first quarter and led him 41-33 in an internal poll two weeks ago.

May 18 – Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) and Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.): Could two Democratic senators fall on one primary day? They could. Both Lincoln and Specter have seen their leads shrink to single digits. The most vulnerable man that day, though, might be Kanjorski, who faces Lackawanna County Commissioner Corey O’Brien.

June 1 – Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.): Much like Specter, Griffith is dealing with the aftermath of a party switch. He went the other way, to become a Republican, and the GOP primary never cleared. Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks and businessman Les Phillip will battle with Griffith over who is the real conservative Republican in the race.


Renacci gets past stubborn primary opponent, will face Rep. Boccieri

Businessman Jim Renacci, a top GOP recruit, has survived a primary scare and will face Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio) in November.

Renacci faced former Ashland County Commissioner Matt Miller, a meagerly funded candidate who had nonetheless taken 42 percent of the vote in each of the past two primaries in the district. Miller turned in a similar performance this time, but Renacci led him 49-41 with 75 percent of precincts in. The race has been called for Renacci.

Renacci has achieved the second step of the NRCC's Young Guns program for top challengers, and his strong fundraising has made him a candidate the party has heralded as someone who could lead the GOP back to the majority.

Another member of the Young Guns program, Ohio state Sen. Bob Gibbs, was struggling with his primary in the nearby 18th district. Gibbs trailed 2008 nominee Fred Dailey 21.6 percent to 21.2 percent with 93 percent of precincts reporting in Rep. Zack Space's (D-Ohio) district. The primary may require a recount.


GOP gets Young, Bucshon for top Indiana targets

Attorney Todd Young and Dr. Larry Bucshon will be the GOP nominees in a pair of top pickup opportunities in southern Indiana.

Young defeated a field that included former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-Ind.) to win the nod to face Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), while Bucshon survived a scare from a Tea Party candidate an will be the party’s candidate in Rep. Brad Ellsworth’s (R-Ind.) district.

Buschon led 33-29 with 94 percent of precincts, while Young led activist Travis Hankins 34-32 with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Sodrel was third, with 31 percent.

In a cycle that features many former members of Congress running for their old seats, Sodrel was the first to actually face voters.

Sodrel and Young were both part of the NRCC’s Young Guns program for top challengers, but party leaders will be happy to turn the page on Sodrel. In four straight races against Hill, he has lost three times, including by 20 points in 2008.

Bucshon was the only candidate in his district to be part of the Young Guns program. He will face state Rep. Trent Van Haaften, who was unopposed on the Democratic side. Ellsworth is running for Senate.

Both races are widely considered to be toss-ups.


Rep. Burton survives big primary scare, but is under 30 percent

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) won his primary Tuesday, but he took less than 30 percent of vote.

Burton beat former state Rep. Luke Messer 29.7 percent to 27.6 percent, with 99.4 percent of precincts reporting. Three more candidates, including the man who nearly beat Burton in 2008, Dr. John McGoff, split up the rest of the vote.

Most of the candidates were well-funded. They tried at certain points in the race to narrow the field to face Burton, but in the end, nobody would step aside, and Burton benefitted.

Burton’s win was about as tenuous as they come, but his district is a safe one for Republicans.

Burton wasn’t the only incumbent to face a scare in the state Tuesday. Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) won his primary with less than 50 percent of the vote, defeating car dealer Bob Thomas 48-34.


Rokita wins Indiana House primary, likely to replace Buyer

Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita has won the GOP primary in retiring Rep. Steve Buyer’s (R-Ind.) district and will be a strong favorite to replace him in Congress.

Rokita, who turned down a run for Senate earlier this year, led his nearest competitor 43-16 with 77 percent of precincts reporting. The race has been called by AP.

He will likely face Democrat David Sanders in November. Sanders led his primary with just under 50 percent of the vote.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won Buyer's district with 56 percento of the vote in the 2008 presidential race.


Romney backs Perry in Mass. House primary

Mitt Romney is backing state Rep. Jeff Perry in the GOP primary in Rep. Bill Delahunt's (D-Mass.) district.

Delahunt's retirement has led candidates to flood the race, including on the GOP side, where Perry faces a primary with former state Treasurer Joe Malone.

Romney chose Perry over Malone on Monday, citing their work together when Romney was governor in the mid-2000s.

"As Governor, I worked closely with Jeff on initiatives to reduce spending, lower taxes, and reform government," Romney said. "He will be a strong conservative voice against the Washington culture of higher taxes, higher spending, and higher debt.  I am looking forward to the contributions he will make in the U.S. House of Representatives."

Romney's political action committee is donating $2,500 to Perry's campaign, with the funds being devoted to the primary.