Election 2014

Tuesday Primaries Mostly Good News for Establishment Candidates

In Mississippi, the six-term Republican incumbent and a Tea Party challenger finished in a virtual tie, setting up a run-off for later this month


Primary elections were held in eight states around the country yesterday, with voters deciding on candidates for both houses of Congress as well as numerous state races. Here are some of the results and what they mean for 2014.


The race to replace retiring Rep. Spencer Bacchus (R) is down to Paul De Marco, a state legislator, and Gary Palmer, a co-founder of the Alabama Policy Institute who is expected to receive the support of a number of national tea party groups. He was not their first choice.


Gov. Jerry Brown (D) easily won his primary. The 76-year-old is running for a fourth term. He previously served two terms in the 1970s. On the Republican side, Neel Kashkari, a Bush Treasury Department official took top honors.

The race to replace Rep. Henry Waxman (D) will be between Republican attorney Elen Carr and state Sen. Ted Lieu (District 28), a Democrat. They were the top two vote getters in yesterdays open, interparty primary. Nine Democrats, three Republicans, and six candidates from other parties vied for the spots. That system can lead to November races between two members of the same party. In Silicon Valley, for example, Rep. Mike Honda (D), who was backed by President Obama and big labor, will face former Obama Commerce official Ro Khanna.

In the 52nd Congressional District, in San Diego County, Democrat incumbent Rep. Scott Peters finished first and openly gay Republican Carl De Maio finished second and will face Peters in November. (DeMaio is an independent contractor for the Reason Foundation research division's pension reform project.)

California voters also approved Proposition 42, which requires local governments to comply with the state's open records law.


Republican state legislator Joni Ernst (District 12) cleared the 35 percent threshold to avoid a run-off in her bid to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D). Ernst claimed to be supported by the tea party and establishment Republicans, winning the endorsement of both Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Ernst will face off against Bruce Braley, a Democrat state legislator who ran unopposed in his primary.


The Republican Senate primary remained too close to call overnight. In the end, it was a virtual tie, with neither six-term incumbent Thad Cochrane nor tea party challenger Chris McDaniel crossing the 50 percent threshold required to avoid a run-off. Democrats are excited about the prospect of a McDaniel win, surmising he would be easier for their candidate, "Blue Dog Democrat" Rep. Travis Childers, to pull off an upset against.


The Senate election in November will be between incumbent Democrat John Walsh, who was nominated to replace Max Baucus after the latter was appointed U.S. Ambassador to China, Rep. Steve Daines (R), Montana's only congressman, and Libertarian Roger Roots, who ran unopposed for his party's nomination. The race to replace Daines, meanwhile, will be between former Republican state legislator Ryan Zinke, criticized by his opponents as hiding a moderate voting record behind conservative rhetoric, Democrat John Lewis, a former Baucus aide, and Libertarian Mike Fellows.

New Jersey:

Former Ronald Reagan speechwriter Jeff Bell won a tight Republican Senate primary and will challenge incumbent Democrat Cory Booker in November. Bell previously defeated incumbent Sen. Clifford Case in 1972 but lost in the general election to Bill Bradley. Case was New Jersey's last popularly elected Republican senator.

New Mexico:

Former state Republican chair Allen Weh roundly defeated the more libertarian-leaning Las Cruces attorney David Clements in the Senate primary, and will face first-term incumbent Democrat Tom Udall in November. Clements accused Weh of avoiding debates (there were none during the primary campaign). Democrat Attorney General Gary King, meanwhile, will face incumbent Republican Susana Martinez in the race for governor.

South Dakota:

Former Gov. Mike Rounds (R) received 58 percent of the vote in a five-way race and will face Democrat Rick Weiland in the Senate election in November. The two are running to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat. Both Republicans and Democrats consider the seat a likely pick up for the GOP.