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September 13, 2006
Primaries Offer Few Surprises

The final series of primaries swept through several states last night, and unlike in previous years, they featured interesting and competitive races in many places. None of them produced any big surprises, however, as the frontrunners won across the board.

In Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee kept his re-election bid on track by holding off a surprisingly strong bid by Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey. The final margin of victory appears to have been around eight points, indicating a tough race for Chafee in November. Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse has kept a thin lead over Chafee in polling over the last few months, but his margin has narrowed in the last few weeks. Laffey has promised to support Chafee and endorsed him last night in his concession speech, but that may not be enough to get Republicans who have tired of Chafee's voting record to come to the polls.

I had endorsed Laffey early in the race, and am disappointed in his primary loss. I'd prefer Chafee over Whitehouse, and would encourage Republicans to ensure that they support Chafee's caucusing, if nothing else.

In Maryland, Democrats chose Benjamin Cardin over Kweisi Mfume to face Michael Steele in the race to fill Paul Sarbanes' open Senate seat. Democratic money went to Cardin early in the race while Mfume stalled at the starting blocks, dealing with minor personal scandals. By the time Mfume got his act together, Cardin had established an insurmountable lead -- but Mfume made it close enough that no one called the win until early this morning. The margin turned out to be eleven points, but Cardin could not win a majority of Democrats in a multiple-candidate field, indicating some vulnerability.

Cardin has polled better against Steele than Mfume, but that may soon change. The Democratic Party's shunning of Mfume's candidacy has not played well with black voters there, and even if they don't vote for Steele, they may not bother voting for Cardin. Steele has picked up some endorsements with hefty political clout, including entertainment mogul Russell Simmons, and he has an opportunity to score big in the Democrats' last demographic bastion. If he does, Cardin will lose in November.

Meanwhile, here in Minnesota, the evening went as predicted. All of the major candidates won, and won convincingly. In this state the party endorsement does not guarantee a place on the ballot in the general election, because we have both a caucus and a primary, and endorsements have a spotty record of success in our primaries. Last night, however, they proved accurate. Keith Ellison, vying to replace Martin Sabo as Congressman in MN-05, took over forty percent of the vote in a crowded field.

Given the record of the vote in MN-05, Ellison will almost certainly win the general election -- but he has a lot of baggage. The Strib mentions that Ellison would be the first Muslim to serve in Congress, but that tells only part of the story. Ellison isn't just a Muslim, he was an official in Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. Power Line has done a magnificent job in uncovering these ties to the notoriously anti-Semitic Nation in a series of devastating posts, as well as numerous unpaid parking tickets and failures to pay taxes. In a rational district, Republican moderate Alan Fine would win an a walk, but this is MN-05, so that seems unlikely.

All of the preliminaries have finally come to an end, and now we can look forward to the general election with greater clarity.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 13, 2006 5:35 AM

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» Steele Cage Match from Big Lizards
Oddly, this wasn't carried on the AP, Reuters, or New York Times RSS feeds I follow, and I didn't see it in any of the blogs I read except Captain's Quarters; but Benjamin Cardin (95%) beat Kweisi Mfume (and a... [Read More]

Tracked on September 13, 2006 10:07 AM


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