Good News for Obama and Democrats in Last Night's Election Results
This post first appeared on Washington Monthly.UPDATE -- Editor's note: In the Georgia Gubernatorial race, Secretary of State Karen Handel conceded today -- Rep. Nathan Deal is the winner.
Yesterday was arguably the biggest primary day in months, with key contests, up and down the ballot, in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, and Minnesota. As the dust settles, and yesterday's results become clearer, it looks like the White House and Democratic Party campaign committees have reason to smile.
President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, who have been starved for good news through much of 2010, finally received a generous helping Tuesday night.
Republicans, meanwhile, were left with several new reasons to wonder whether all the favorable national trends showing up in polls are enough to overcome local candidates who are inspiring little confidence about their readiness for the general election twelve weeks from now.
In each of the four states that held primaries Tuesday, the GOP either nominated or gave an overnight lead to candidates tarnished by scandal, gaffes or some other significant vulnerability.
Let's take the states one at a time.
In what was arguably yesterday's marquee matchup, appointed Sen. Michael Bennet faced off against former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff in a heated Democratic primary. Bennett enjoyed the support of President Obama and the party establishment, while Romanoff touted support from President Clinton and many progressive activists. Bennet came out on top, exceeding expectations in his first-ever race, winning by 8.4%. He'll face right-wing county prosecutor Ken Buck, who narrowly defeated former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, the choice of the party leadership, in a Republican primary.
In the gubernatorial race, anti-bicycle neophyte Dan Maes somehow managed to beat former Rep. Scott McInnis in a Republican primary. He'll face Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (D), and in all likelihood, former Rep. Tom Tancredo (I) in November.
Former Rep. Rob Simmons' off-again/on-again Senate campaign came to an end last night when he lost to former wrestling company executive Linda McMahon in a Republican primary. That suits Democrats just fine, since they were far more afraid of Simmons in November. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is the Democratic nominee.
In the gubernatorial primaries, former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy scored a surprising 15-point win over Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary, and he'll face George W. Bush's Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, who narrowly beat Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele in a Republican primary. Again, Dems preferred to face Foley, who's not only burdened by allegations stemming from a messy divorce, but by a wildly exaggerated record about his work with Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority.
In a Republican gubernatorial run-off that generated the interest of likely GOP presidential candidates, the results are still too close to call. Rep. Nathan Deal has the narrowest of leads over Secretary of State Karen Handel, but neither is claiming victory just yet, and neither is conceding. The winner will take on former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) in November.
In a very competitive Democratic (technically, DFL) gubernatorial primary, former Sen. Mark Dayton appears to have narrowly defeated state House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, though the latter has not yet conceded. Right-wing state Rep. Tom Emmer is the GOP nominee.
Overall, I imagine the Tea Party crowd is rather pleased this morning, with many of its preferred candidates faring well yesterday, but their satisfaction is no doubt cold comfort to the Republican establishment. Indeed, looking ahead, Democratic leaders feel reasonably confident about nearly all of the statewide contests set up by yesterday's results.