Tonight’s Primary Preview

Only the first in a month chock-full of primaries.


  • KS-Sen (R): The main event in Kansas is the GOP Senate primary; with underfunded Democratic opposition (and Kansas’s many decades of sending only Republicans to the Senate), this basically determines its next Senator. It’s a geographical and ideological battle between two of Kansas’s four Representatives: Jerry Moran, who represents KS-01 across the state’s empty western two-thirds, and Todd Tiahrt, from the Wichita-area KS-04. Moran, while no one’s idea of a “moderate,” doesn’t have a hard-right reputation; yet, he’s the preferred choice of many on the right (like Jim DeMint) because of his fiscal hawkishness and Tiahrt’s role ladling out pork on Appropriations. Tiahrt is the favorite of the social conservatives, and boasts a Sarah Palin endorsement. Moran has led all polling, ranging by anywhere from 3 to 20 points, with Moran leading by 10 in SurveyUSA‘s final poll released yesterday. (C)
  • KS-Sen (D): Democrats have a primary here too, for the privilege of being a speed bump for Moran or Tiahrt in November. Retired newspaper publisher Charles Schollenberger was originally expected to be the nominee, then state Sen. David Haley showed up. However, professor Lisa Johnston has led the few polls of the race. (C)
  • KS-01 (R): In a CD that gave Barack Obama a mere 30% of its vote in 2008 (a high-water mark for Dems, considering Gore and Kerry languished in the 20s here), the only party with a keg and a boom box is on the Republican side of the fence — and everyone’s jumpin’. In a crowded field, the GOP primary for Moran’s open seat is coming down to state Sen. Jim Barnett, realtor Tracey Mann, and Club For Growth favorite state Sen. Tim Huelskamp. SUSA’s most recent poll had the trio tied at exactly 24% each — a true three-way tossup. Barnett’s probably the most “moderate” of the three, but the most at stake here is the difference between Very Conservative and Ultra Douchey Wingnut Conservative. (JL)
  • KS-03 (R): State Rep. Kevin Yoder has been labeled a moderate by the national press, which is curious due to his allegiance with the conservative factions of the Kansas state legislature. Whatever the case, it looks like he has a solid grip on the Republican nomination for the seat of retiring Dem Rep. Dennis Moore. As of mid-July, he’s out-raised his conservative primary challenger, ex-state Rep. Patricia Lightner, by an 8-to-1 margin. The winner will square off against Stephene Moore, Dennis Moore’s wife, this fall. (JL)
  • KS-04 (D): Will state Rep. Raj Goyle, a fundraising machine, get VicRawl’d? For a brief while, it looked like Goyle, one of the DCCC’s few bright lights this cycle, was in serious danger of losing to Some Dude Robert Tillman, a retiree who has not filed a fundraising report with the FEC. It looks like Goyle successfully turned up the volume on his campaign, though, as SUSA’s final poll of the primary gave Goyle a commanding 63-19 lead. (JL)

  • KS-04 (R): In the scramble to replace dry rub-flavored wingnut Todd Tiahrt, the most recent SUSA poll has given RNC committee member Mike Pompeo a 31-24 lead over state Sen. Jean Schodorf (who was actually endorsed by Planned Parenthood), with 21% going to carpetbagging businessman Wink Hartman, who has invested over $1.5 million of his own funds into his campaign. That represents something of a slide for Hartman and a surge for Schodorf, but there may not have been enough time left on the clock for Schodorf to steal this one. (JL)


  • MI-Gov (D): Pugnacious populist vs. smooth centrist. That’s the easy alliterative description of the choice Democratic voters have, between Lansing mayor Virg Bernero and state House speaker Andy Dillon, in the gubernatorial primary. Bernero caught the eye of many on the left with his strong advocacy for government assistance to the automakers and has AFL-CIO backing (which includes the UAW), while the pro-life and business-friendly Dillon has had often strained relations with labor (although he does have some labor backing of his own, including the Teamsters). Dillon has led most polls thanks to better name rec in the Detroit area, but Bernero seems to have caught a late bounce and led this weekend’s EPIC-MRA poll. (C)
  • MI-Gov (R): There are potentially four different candidates who could win the Republican gubernatorial primary. Rick Snyder, the former CEO of Gateway Computers who made a name for himself with his “one tough nerd” ad campaign, had a tiny lead in this weekend’s EPIC-MRA poll, and may have a path to victory in that he basically has the moderate vote to himself (and is relying on crossover votes from indies in the open primary), while the others are all fighting over the conservative share. Rep. Peter Hoekstra and AG Mike Cox have traded polling leads back-and-forth throughout most of the campaign (with Hoekstra having a built-in advantage as the only western Michigan candidate), with Oakland Co. Sheriff Mike Bouchard always hanging back within striking distance. Michigan doesn’t use runoffs, so whoever wins will be doing so with only about 30%. (C)
  • MI-01 (R): This race spent last year on no one’s radar screen, but with Rep. Bart Stupak’s surprise retirement, it attracted some additional Republican interest. Physician Dan Benishek was the only Republican running for the spot before Stupak’s announcement. State Sen. Jason Allen got in afterwards, but Benishek stayed in. Allen has the “establishment” mantle here, but may be geographically hampered by being from the Traverse City area, not the Upper Peninsula. Benishek is opting for the “true conservative” route, pointing to Allen’s insufficient hatred of labor. The lone poll of the primary found Allen and Benishek tied. (C)
  • MI-02 (R): The race to replace retiring Rep. Peter Hoekstra will no doubt find the torch being passed to another ultra-conservative Dutch-American, which should be no surprise, given the district’s profile. The frontrunner appears to be former NFL tight end and Family Research Council executive Jay Riemersma, who raised more than twice the money of any other candidate and also a lead in the lone poll. He faces state Sen. Wayne Kuipers and former state Rep. Bill Huizenga. One potential wild card is businessman Bill Cooper, who’s been reaching out to the Tea Partiers and who has a base in the Muskegon area, unlike the others, all from the district’s population center of Ottawa County. (C)
  • MI-03 (R): Republican voters in the 3rd are choosing between three options to replace retiring Rep. Vern Ehlers: brash young state Rep. Justin Amash (who’s the Tea Party fave, but also the protege of the DeVos family, the Republican power behind the throne in Michigan), termed-out state Sen. Bill Hardiman, and former Kent Co. Commissioner Steve Heacock. Amash had raised the most money, and has a narrow lead in the one poll of the race. Heacock is the most moderate in the field and has the backing of Ehlers and a number of other local politicians. (C)
  • MI-07 (R): Former Rep. Tim Walberg is attempting to make a comeback after his defeat at the hands of now Rep. Mark Schauer, but he’ll have to get through attorney Brian (and grandson of Steelers owner Art) Rooney. Walberg is playing the social conservative angle as always, but has some surprising endorsements, including one Rudolph Giuliani. Rooney’s playing the moderate angle somewhat, having garnered the endorsement of former Rep. Joe Schwarz, who Walberg primaried out in 2006; the Detroit Free Press has opted as well for Rooney. Walberg is no doubt out there, but he is winning the money race and this is a district that’s booted a moderate at least once. (JMD)
  • MI-09 (R): Republicans sense an opportunity to knock off freshman Dem Gary Peters, with four candidates having jumped into the fray. The two frontrunners – former Farmington Hills State Rep. Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski and former 9th CD Rep. Joe Knollenberg’s former Chief of Staff Paul Welday (what a mouthful) – have gone after each other, trying to out-conservative the other. Raczkowski put out a poll in May giving him a 26-15 lead, but that was ages, a Detroit Free Press endorsement for Rocky, and at least $100k in TV ads ago; this race remains quite the tossup. (JMD)
  • MI-12 (D): What happens when you implement term limits? Politicians start playing musical chairs, of course. Term-limited state Senator Mickey Switalski of suburban Macomb County is challenging 14-term incumbent Sander (and older brother of US Senator Carl) Levin. Switalski – who’s challenged his party in the state Senate – is hitting Levin from the right, emphasizing the deficit (eye roll) and “bipartisanship” (double eye roll). An ancient poll in March, which had Levin leading 62-14, and Switalski’s $32k in cycle-to-date expenditures make it hard to imagine that he’s getting much traction in this quixotic challenge. (JMD)
  • MI-13 (D): Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick stumbled across the finish line two years ago with 39% against two opponents who split the anti-Kilpatrick vote, and she’s drawn five opponents this year. However, things seem to be a little different, with one of her challengers – State Senator Hansen Clarke, who represents a section of the city of Detroit, presenting himself as the clear not-Kilpatrick. While Cheeks Kilpatrick might take solace that her scandal-plagued son – former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick – is out of the news (and in state prison, no less), she ought to be worried that she’s up against only one credible challenger. With several recent polls and the Detroit Free Press having given Clarke sizeable leads and an endorsement respectively, Cheeks Kilpatrick may very well find her name next to Alan Mollohan’s and Parker Griffith’s on the list of incumbents bounced in this year’s primaries. (JMD)


  • MO-Sen (R): Back in the early days of teabagger ferment, when it seemed like those plucky little nutbars could take on the entire GOP empire themselves, it was at least plausible to imagine state Sen. Chuck Purgason giving Rep. Roy Blunt a run for his money. Alas, as we’ve learned, that’s still the one thing you need in this world, even if you are fueled by the paranoid fury of a million mouthbreathers: money. And Purgason has none of it. Blunt has outspent him literally 100-to-1, and Purgason doesn’t even have enough cash left over to treat his staff to Starbucks. Blunt may be a despised creature of the establishment, but like Mark Kirk, he should have no problem kicking teabagger ass. (D)
  • MO-04 (R): While something like a dozen Republicans signed up in the primary to face longtime Dem Rep. Ike Skelton, only two have raised money above the “surely you must be joking” level: state Sen. Bill Stouffer ($450K) and former state Rep. Vicky Hartzler ($500K). Both candidates are on the NRCC’s Young Guns list, but the local establishment, apparently preferring Stouffer, tried to talk Hartzler out of the race back in March. That obviously didn’t work, and in the last couple of weeks, both candidates have taken to the airwaves, with each accusing the other of raising taxes. This is definitely anybody’s race. Hartzler’s stronghold should be Cass County (the site of her old district), in CD 4’s northwest corner. Stouffer hails from Saline County in the north-central part of the district, and his state senate district also covers Ray and Lafayette counties in the 4th. (D)
  • MO-07 (R): The primary in this dark-red district in southwestern Missouri is principally a three-way affair between self-funding auctioneer Billy Long and two state senators, Jack Goodman and Gary Nodler. Long has tried to wear the “true conservative” mantle (he’s been endorsed by Mike Huckabee), but he’s also been attacked by the shadowy Americans for Job Security as an earmark-happy member of a local airport’s board of directors. Long fired back with an ad of his own, accusing both of his opponents of the same sin. There have actually been a bunch of internal polls of this race, but they mostly just show the top three candidates jumbled together somewhere around 20 points, plus or minus a few. Nodler hails from Jasper County on the Kansas border, while Goodman lives in adjacent Lawrence County, just to the east. Long, meanwhile, is from Springfield, MO, which is in the next county over, Greene. (D)

33 thoughts on “Tonight’s Primary Preview”

  1. I’m glad I don’t live there anymore. I don’t think I could take deal with Brownback and the far-right of the Kansas GOP running the whole show. I was born in what is now KS-03 (Kansas had 5 districts back then), grew up in KS-01, and later lived in KS-04 for a few years.  Being a Dem, I’m pulling for Moran and Barnett. It’s amazing who passes for a moderate Republican nowadays.  

  2.    Since the Netherlands is one of the more liberal European countries and Dutch-Americans are one of the more conservative ethnic groups maybe they should have a different name. In South Africa people of Dutch ancestry are Afrikaners so maybe North Americans of Netherlands background should be called Amerikaners.  

  3. Who is the stronger Republican in each race? I see no difference in MO-04, except that Hartzler has raised about 50k more. Is there some big geographic difference that makes one stronger than the other?

    In MI-01, Allen is more moderate. However, he may also face carpetbagger charges that I think would hurt him in this district. Benishek has also been a stronger fundraiser, with an ability to use some personal funds. Benishek also has strong grassroots support and can run as an outsider.  

  4. You’re saying that less conservative Moran is from KS-01 while lunatic Tiahrt is from KS-04?  How well did Obama do in KS-04?  I could’ve sworn that KS’s results were very similar to NE’s:  Obama did well in the Eastern high population density districts (Didn’t he win in Kansas City, KS?) but was blown away in the sparse West.

  5. MI-07 – I expect Tim Walberg to win (and probably win big) here– he’s got the name recognition, he’s got the ex-congressman factor, he’s managed to paint Rooney as a carpetbagger, and Rooney’s been taking a lot of heat for some negative mailings he’s sent out. I don’t know who would be easier to beat, but I expect Walberg to be back. It may also spur me to re-launch…

    What I’ll be most interested to see, though, is the geographic distribution of the vote, or if there’s any discernable pattern. If Rooney is strongest in Calhoun County or even the city of Jackson, that says to me that Joe Schwarz’s endorsement still has some power with the local Republicans, and everyone hasn’t gone all-out Tea Party. Not that Rooney isn’t awfully crazy, but with Schwarz’s endorsement, he’s the “moderate” Tea Party alternative to Tim Walberg.

    Fun fact– this is Tim Walberg’s fourth straight attempt at the same seat, with only one successful outcome so far (2006), and that was only because the Democrats nominated Sharon Renier.

    On that note…

    MI-03 – In some ways, this race reminds me of MI-07 in 2004/2006. Vern Ehlers is a moderate Republican. The guy before him, Paul Henry, was a moderate Republican. The guy before him was Gerald Ford, who looks like a communist compared to today’s GOP. It’s a district that’s never gone all-out right-wing fringe-y, and it’s slowly trending toward the Democrats.

    Nominating someone like Justin Amash could be the same effect as nominating Tim Walberg was in 2006 in MI-07. Amash will have a hard time getting Ehlers’ endorsement– Ehlers had a quote a while ago about the “two really great candidates running to replace him,” with one noticeably left out. He’s way too far to the right for this district, the same way Walberg was for MI-07, and he might have a fractured party the same way the Walberg-Schwarz aftermath was.

    MI-07 had Sharon Renier who, while lovably quirky, couldn’t campaign her way out of a paper bag, and managed to hold Walberg to under 50%. MI-03 will likely have Pat Miles. I don’t know much (read: anything) about him, but from his website, he looks basically legitimate (read: not an organic chicken farmer from Munith). He’s positioning himself as a real moderate (read: hates us hippies) in his largely-ignored primary, but that might be enough to get him an Ehlers’ endorsement, or at least a nudge and wink sort of thing.

    More importantly, he’s got some money behind him– in the last FEC filing, he was beating Heacock and Hardiman in fundraising, and wasn’t too far behind Amash ($379k to $318k) and has the more cash-on-hand ($226k to $112k).

    MI-03 might be a sleeper pick-up opportunity. This is going to be a tough cycle for something like that, but the district has never elected a far-right conservative before. If it’s Amash vs. Miles, I say it’s a toss-up.

  6. Are we doing them today? I am:


    Blunt: 75

    Purgason: 15

    others: 10

    Carnahan: 90

    others: 10


    Hartzler: 49

    Stouffer: 47

    Others: 4


    Long: 35

    Nodler: 30

    Goodman: 27

    others: 8


    Bernero: 54


    Snyder: 28

    Hoekstra: 26

    Cox: 23

    Bouchard: 19

    George: 3

    others: 1


    Benishek: 52

    Allen: 46

    others: 2

    MI-02: Didn’t even know the name of one candidate until last night, so no predictions


    Amash: 36

    Hardiman: 33

    Heacock: 29

    others: 2


    Walberg: 53

    Rooney: 44

    others: 3


    Rocky: 52

    Welday: 48


    Levin: 80

    the other guy: 20


    Clarke: 54

    Kilpatrick: 38

    others: 8

    KS-Sen (R):

    Tiahrt: 50

    Moran: 48

    others: 2

    And thats all that I really care about or know enough about to make a prediction.  

  7. It occurs to me that there’s another primary race tonight that’s of some interest– MI-08 (D).

    The backstory:

    Kande Ngalamulume was the only Democratic candidate on the ballot. He dropped out, but after the filing deadline. He either can’t or won’t (depending on who you listen to) have his name removed from the ballot, but even if he wins his unopposed primary and is the Democratic nominee, he does not plan to run any campaign whatsoever.

    Lance Enderle is a write-in candidate trying to win the primary, basically campaigning on the “Hey, I’ll actually try” platform. By all accounts, he’s a pretty good guy and would be an okay candidate.

    The incumbent is Mike Rogers, a Republican in a district that really should be a lot more competitive than it is. Realistically speaking, neither Ngalamulume nor Enderle would amount to much more than “Some Dude,” but Enderle would provide at least a little bit of support for the ticket and could tie Rogers down in the district for maybe a couple of extra days during the fall campaign.

    And, hey, who knows? If Enderle catches fire as the Democratic nominee, Virg Bernero takes off and magically pulls off a landslide victory, Virg’s Lansing-area coattails might be enough to make this competitive. But I’m getting way ahead of myself.

  8. I know I’ve been in the minority in defending Congresswoman Kilpatrick here over the years, and I understand the objections to her, and sometimes think maybe it would be best for Detroit to be done with the Kilpatrick family.  But I’m still rooting for her, although I think her political career comes to an end tonight.

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