The Club for Growth was dealt a big loss last night as its candidate Steve Laffey lost the Rhode Island Republican Senate primary to incumbent Lincoln Chafee. The sentiment I got from Club members was that Laffey had the race in the bag two months ago, but he refused to take consultant advice and go negative on the parts of Chafee's record Republicans didn't like—his anti-John Bolton vote, his anti-war vote, his vote against Samuel Alito. That gave Chafee and national Republicans the time to bury Laffey with personalized attack ads, including one where he was seen on video berating a fireman's wife.
The Laffey loss was something of an anomaly last night—good news for Republicans, and an incumbent being sent back to DC. In Maryland, legendary former governor and Baltimore mayor Don Schaefer lost badly, coming in third out of three candidates for comptroller, the office he'd held since 1998. Congressman Al Wynn could narrowly win or narrowly lose his Democratic primary to an underfunded candidate who ran a four-month campaign going at his jugular for his pro-Iraq war vote. In Minneapolis, Democrats rejected outgoing Rep. Martin Sabo's Star-Tribune-endorsed staffer and nominated Keith Ellison, who'll become the first Muslim congressman. (There's a Republican candidate, but the district went for Kerry by around 50 points.)