EASTON, Mass. – Tonight’s little-noticed primaries will (how many times do you need to hear this?) pit a number of establishment Republicans against conservative challengers. In all but a few cases, it won’t much matter – gerrymandering has birthed many safe seats. But here’s what to watch, anyway.
Connecticut: Late last week I took a snapshot of the U.S. Senate primary between Rep. Chris Shays and WWE founder Linda McMahon. It’s the mogul’s second consecutive run, her second consecutive de-throning of a moderate Republican who was ousted from his congressional seat by a Democrat. She should win.
Florida: A bipartisan redistricting deal, forced upon the state by meddlesome voters, gave the Sunshine state a new, more competitive map. (How uncompetitive was the old map? A state that voted for Barack Obama had a 2-1 Republican-Democrat delegation.) In FL-03, Rep. Cliff Stearns – who chairs the Energy subcommittee that’s investigated Solyndra – is facing off against a number of conservatives, led by veternarian Ted Yoho. In FL-07, Transportation committee chairman Rep. John Mica is defending himself against Rep. Sandy Adams, a veteran with the endorsements of several Tea Party groups. (Mica’s responded by running to the right, of course.) In FL-09, four also-rans are fighting for the right to challenge former Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, in a district drawn favorably for Grayson’s party.
Minnesota: The convention-nominated Republican candidate in MN-01 is Alan Quist, a former legislator who (it can be fairly said) mentored Michele Bachmann. We’ll hear more about him if he wins.
Wisconsin: Watch the U.S. Senate primary for the last chaos-riven, Tea Party-against-Tea Party race of the year. Former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, governor of this state for most of a generation, was supposed to win easy. Former Rep. Mark Neumann, out of elected office since he lost a race to Russ Feingold 14 years ago, jumped in and tried to unite social conservatives and anti-Thompson Tea Partiers. Hedge fund manager Eric Hovde jumped in, sold himself as a new citizen legislator, and spent from his own pocket to drive into a three-way tie. And State Senate President Jeff Fitzgerald, who played a vital legal role in passing the Budget Repair Bill… is also running.
8:30: The surprise of the night so far: The possible defeat by Stearns by Ted Yoho. This is a real Ted Yoho ad.
I am told that one of the “politicians” is played by WWE star Golddust.
9:00: Todd Young, who’s making his third run at a central Florida seat, has defeated the GOP’s preferred FL-09 candidate, Joseph Quinones. Why? One reason: Alan Grayson bought ads attacking Quinones from the right, hoping to sour low-information Republicans on their best hope. It worked.