The Day The Polling Booth Stood Still
Today's the biggest day of the year for political primaries, with plenty of results that could hint at Democratic strength or weakness for the fall and test the solvency of the GOP turnout machine. Here's the rundown:
Rhode Island: The big one. Pun intended. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, by some distance the most liberal Republican in the Senate, is facing a Club for Growth-backed challenge from conservative Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey. The Club has a nearly spotless record this year, but Republicans claim if Laffey loses they'll abandon the race and cede it to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse (who'll beat primary challenger Carl Sheeler and his slogan "Be Patriotic: Impeach Bush!"). There are moderately interesting races in both House districts; pro-life Democrat faces liberal college professor Jennifer Lawless, and two unimpressive Republicans are battling for the right to take on Patrick Kennedy.
Arizona: Another conservative insurgent, Randy Graf, has the backing of anti-immigration groups to win the Republican nomination for the open 8th district, which has an enormous border with Mexico. Democrats are rooting for Graf, too, and feel they can whip him if he's the nominee. Republicans are selecting a sacrificial lamb to run against Dem Gov. Janet Napolitano; the leading candidate is Don "Barry's nephew" Goldwater.
Maryland: Interesting because it'll witness the death of at least one legendary politician's career. Rep. Ben Cardin is facing former NAACP head Kweisi Mfume (and a bunch of spoilers) for the right to face Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the black Republican with the best chance of getting elected this year. In the all-important state Comptroller race, former Gov. and Baltimore Mayor Don Schaeffer will probably be retired after making countless sexist and senile comments (he's 84) about female employees and dowdy opponent Janet Owens.
New York: Another looming career-ender; former Nader Raider Mark Green will probably be forced out of politics by a loss to lightweight Attorney General candidate Andrew "son of Mario" Cuomo. That's the closest thing to a competitive race here—Eliot Spitzer will slaughter ego-driven Long Islander Tom Suozzi for the Democratic governor's nomination, Hillary Clinton will walk all over anti-war activist Jonathan Tasini, and former Yonkers mayor John Spencer will best lunatic Senate candidate Katherine McFarland for the right to challenge Hillary.
Minnesota: The big races are more or less set, but no one knows if former black radical Keith Ellison will win the Democratic nomination for Congress in the Minneapolis-based 5th district. Conservative blogs have been tearing Ellison apart, curiously, as an Ellison win today is the only event that could make the November election anything like competitive.
Vermont: Republicans have endeavored to field serious candidates in this state which gave George W. Bush his weakest vote total in 2004. Multi-millionare Rich Tarrant will probably beat pilot Greg Parkes, who has copious funding from former Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and then Tarrant will lose by 20 points or so to Rep. Bernie Sanders. National Guard Adjutant General Martha Rainville will probably win the GOP nomination for the state's House seat, but she's a first-time candidate not favored against the Democrats' State Senate leader Peter Welch.
Wisconsin: Democrats and Republicans will choose a county executive (Nancy Nusbaum) and the state Assembly speaker (John Gard) to run for the state's lone kinda-competitive House seat.
Washington, DC: A competitive mayor's race is ending, with city councilman Adrian Fenty probably edging out city council chairwoman Linda Cropp for the right to make people long for the days of Tony Williams.
New Hampshire and Delaware: There are pitched battles for House and Senate nominations here, but none of the insurgent candidates are expected to win.