National Republicans get their candidates

The Republican Party got the results it wanted from Tuesday's primaries — for the most part.

Its first big wins of the night came in South Carolina, where gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and congressional candidate Tim Scott won their respective runoffs easily.

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Both candidates were favorites of the national party and had backing from prominent national Republicans. Haley and Scott also provide the party with racial diversity on the November ballot. Haley will be the state's first female governor if she wins the general election, while Scott would be the first black Republican in Congress in nine years.

"South Carolinians made history today when they nominated Nikki Haley as the state's first woman and Indian-American nominee for governor," said Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in a statement. "And when he is victorious in November, Tim Scott will be the first African-American Republican congressman to represent the Palmetto State in a century."


Republicans also got the candidate they wanted to face first-term Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), a top GOP target this cycle. Former TV sports anchor Harold Johnson won the runoff and had the backing of the entire GOP congressional delegation from the state.

Johnson will have to recover from a particularly nasty runoff that featured plenty of personal attacks between him and Tim D'Annunzio.

Republicans are also happy with the results of a Democratic race in North Carolina — that state’s Senate primary runoff. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D) is now set to face Sen. Richard Burr (R) in November.

"There will be a clear contrast for North Carolina voters in November," National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said in a statement. "Marshall has demonstrated that she will simply serve as another rubber-stamp for President Obama and Harry Reid's deeply unpopular, out-of-control spending agenda in Washington, which North Carolinians have soundly rejected."

But it may not be smooth sailing for the GOP. Public Policy Polling analyst Tom Jensen noted that “Marshall has polled closer to Burr” than Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham has in every poll the firm has conducted since August.

And Republicans didn't emerge from Tuesday unscathed.

As expected, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) lost his runoff against challenger Trey Gowdy in what essentially became a referendum on Inglis's vote in favor of the bank bailout.

National Democrats quickly pounced on the loss.

"Like Parker Griffith in Alabama or countless Boehner-Cantor-backed Young Gun candidates across the country, it's increasingly clear that even Republican primary voters reject the brand Republicans have built for themselves," Jesse Ferguson, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Southern regional press secretary, said in a statement.

In Utah, Tea Party favorite Mike Lee defeated Tim Bridgewater in the Republican Senate primary. The NRSC was officially neutral in that race, but the committee had initially backed Sen. Bob Bennett (R), who was ousted at the state party convention in May.

The primary turned into an establishment-versus-activist battle, with Sen. Bennett endorsing Bridgewater and groups like the Tea Party Express and FreedomWorks lining up behind Lee.

In a statement early Wednesday morning, the Tea Party Express said it now plans to "devote its full attention ... and resources" to Alaska, where the group is backing attorney Joe Miller's primary challenge to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R).