• Colorado: What looked like a hotly contested race on the Democratic side of the Senate race (thanks to a mixed bag of poll results, including an Andrew Romanoff lead according to SurveyUSA) turned into a fairly comfortable win for Michael Bennet in the end. Propped up by Obama and DSCC help, and weathering a last-minute patented hit job from the New York Times, Bennet won 54-46. Maybe this’ll help put to sleep two memes that are getting very very tiresome: that it’s an “anti-incumbent year,” and that Obama endorsees all lose. Bennet will face off against Ken Buck, who defeated Jane Norton in the GOP primary 52-48. Polls haven’t been conclusive in terms of whether Dems should have wanted to face off against Buck or Norton. Buck gets lumped in with Sharron Angle and Rand Paul because of his teabagger proclivities, but he’s considerably more skilled than they are; nevertheless, he still seems gaffe-prone and irritable, so I’ll take him.
Dan Maes won the GOP gubernatorial nod, 51-49. The only way things could have gone better for Dems in the GOP gubernatorial race would be if Maes’ margin had been small enough to force a recount. The risk here was that irreparably-damaged Scott McInnis would win and then, being a good GOP team player, promptly drop out, allowing a better Republican (Jane Norton?) to take his place, which would then drive Tom Tancredo out of his indie bid. Maes has vowed to fight on, though, and his underwhelming presence is likely to keep Tancredo in the race, meaning not one but two guys not just spewing the crazy, but splitting the crazy vote and ensuring Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Finally, in Colorado, the GOP House primaries were uneventful wins for establishment candidates, with Ryan Frazier beating Lang Sias 64-36 in CO-07 and Scott Tipton beating Bob McConnell (Sarah Palin’s other losing endorsee yesterday) winning 56-44 in CO-03.
• Connecticut: Probably the biggest surprise of the night was the 58-42 victory by former Stamford mayor Dan Malloy over Ned Lamont in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, seeing as how Lamont had led all polls (although polls did capture a late and rapid Malloy surge). The lesson here mostly boils down to one more race where the organizational power of the local political establishment was able to overcome the money of a rich outsider, but there’s one other story here that Dem message-setters will hopefully notice. Judging by when polls saw the race tigthen, the wheels seemed to come off Lamont’s campaign with a late round of attack ads that focused on layoffs at Lamont’s company. Taking not just that but the air war in the PA-12 special in mind (where Mark Critz won in large measure by hammering Tim Burns over outsourcing), it really seems like, despite this year’s overarching CW, voters will go for a “career politician” over a self-described job-creating outsider businessman, once it’s made clear that said businessman’s interest in jobs only extends as far as his own bottom line.
Malloy will face a flawed Tom Foley in November, and based on general election polling recently should be considered a slight favorite. Foley won the GOP primary narrowly over Lt. Governor Michael Fedele and Oz Griebel 42-39-19. Also, for the GOP, Linda McMahon unsurprisingly won the GOP primary in the face of Rob Simmons’ half-assed comeback-type-thing. Simmons and Paulist economist Peter Schiff did keep her under 50% though: 49-28-23. McMahon faces Richard Blumenthal in November, who already launched his first TV ad this morning, shirking a no-doubt-tempting smackdown in favor of… what’s that thing that McMahon doesn’t have… oh, yeah. Dignity. The three GOP House primaries led to expected victories for Janet Peckinpaugh in CT-02 (43-38 over Daria Novak), Dan Debicella in CT-04 (60-24 over Rob Merkle), and Sam Caligiuri in CT-05 (40-32-28 over Justin Bernier and Mark Greenberg).
• Georgia: The main event in Georgia was the GOP gubernatorial runoff, and hoo boy, did it live up to its billing. The two candidates finished in recount territory at 50-50, with Nathan Deal leading Karen Handel by 2,500 votes. Unfortunately, Handel just conceded this morning rather than following through with the recount, so Dem nominee Roy Barnes doesn’t get to spend weeks watching them keep fighting it out. Pundits will no doubt focus on the proxy war aspects of the battle (“Huck beats Palin!”), but the outcome seems to have more to do with Deal consolidating conservative votes outside the Atlanta area, where Handel’s anti-corruption, anti-good-ol’-boyism message may have fallen flat.
We also had outcomes in three GOP House primaries, one to determine the nominee in a Likely Dem race, and the others to determine who’s the next Rep. in dark-red districts. In GA-07, establishment-backed former John Linder CoS Rob Woodall beat teabagging radio talker Jody Hice, 56-44. In GA-09, Rep. Tom Graves won his fourth (and probably final) faceoff against Lee Hawkins, 55-45. And in GA-12, Ray McKinney beat Carl Smith 62-38 for the right to take on Rep. John Barrow. If you want to argue that this year’s crop of Republican candidates is radioactive, you don’t need to look any further than McKinney; he’s a nuclear power plant project manager by day.
• Minnesota: Finally, there was only one race worth watching last night in Minnesota, and it turned out to be a barnburner: the DFL gubernatorial primary. State House speaker (and DFL endorsee) Margaret Anderson Kelliher led most of the night based on her strength in the Twin Cities, but as results trickled in from the rest of the state, ex-Sen. Mark Dayton crept into the lead. In the end, despite having convincing pre-primary poll leads, Dayton won 41-40-18 over Kelliher and Matt Entenza. Dayton pretty clearly benefited not only from his statewide familiarity, but also from picking a running mate from Duluth, where he cleaned up, late in the game. With a 7,000 margin separating them, Kelliher didn’t concede last night… but she did this morning, meaning Dayton faces the increasingly woeful GOP nominee Tom Emmer in November. The most recent spate of polls has given Dayton double-digits advantages in that matchup.