Tuesday, primary elections were held in Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia. You can find the results of all the main races here:
A few takeaways from the results: The biggest news was in West Virginia, where Attorney General Patrick Morrisey easily won the GOP Senate primary. That race got a lot of national attention because of mining executive Don Blankenship, who was running as a Trump-style disruptive outsider. He had been under fire for using allegedly racist language and for serving a prison term for conspiracy to violate mine safety standards, resulting in a disaster that killed 29 miners.
For once, President Trump agreed with the GOP establishment, arguing that nominating Blankenship would turn a likely win into a Roy Moore/Alabama-like loss. But at least with Blankenship, voters could see the problems in advance; it wouldn’t be a post-primary media mugging. That race got a ton of media attention, with overheated predictions of a Blankenship win; I suspect because many reporters relished painting GOP primary voters as dumb, racist rubes. But they overplayed their hand: when the votes were counted, Blankenship didn’t even crack 20%. Morrisey will face Democrat Joe Manchin, which could turn West Virginia into a must-needed Republican pick-up seat.
Meanwhile, in Ohio, Rep. Jim Renacci will take on Democratic incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown. But it wasn’t a total wash-out for anti-establishment candidates. In Indiana, wealthy, self-financed auto parts distributor and Harvard MBA Mike Braun beat two current Congress members, Luke Messer and Todd Rokita, for the chance to challenge vulnerable Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly. That GOP primary race was called one of the nastiest and most expensive in the country. Braun ran on a platform of bringing private sector business smarts to DC, but he’s not a complete political neophyte: he served one term in the state legislature and was a member of his local school board. Scoff if you want, but that gives him more political experience than many people in Washington have private sector experience.
Fun fact about this race: Braun carried around cardboard cutouts of his two Congress member rivals and challenged voters to tell them apart. That’s not really fair, since many people couldn’t pick their Congress member out of a police lineup – even though that situation does occasionally arise.
Another interesting race was in Indiana, where Vice President Mike Pence’s older brother Greg Pence won the GOP primary to run for the US House seat left open when Luke Messer launched his unsuccessful run for the Senate nomination. That’s considered a safe Republican seat; Trump won it by 40 points in 2016, so the “blue wave” would have to be a tidal wave to win that.
Finally, speaking of the much-ballyhooed “blue wave,” there wasn’t much evidence of it Tuesday. Democratic turnout was strong, which Republicans should take as a warning for November. But in most polling places, it was reported that voting was slow and steady, with a slightly-higher-than-normal turnout of 20% or so; but no waves of humanity wearing anatomically-correct hats.
The Democrats did win bragging rights in one place, though: their turnout exceeded the Republicans’ by about 900 votes in Hamilton County, Ohio, home of Cincinnati. It was a tiny margin, but a big uptick historically for the Democrats. The last time they outnumbered Republicans there in an off-year election was 1982, when Jerry Springer ran for Governor as a Democrat. Apparently, back then, many Democrats thought it was a good idea to elect a reality TV star famous for saying outrageous things. Now, they just run around shouting and throwing chairs.
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