2010 elections: Another incumbent falls in primary

Three states had primaries for the 2010 elections Tuesday. An incumbent lost her seat, the 'tea party' split its vote, and health-care reform took a beating.

Paul Sancya/AP
Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D) of Michigan delivers a concession speech after losing the Democratic primary to state Sen. Hansen Clarke. Kilpatrick is the sixth incumbent to lose in a primary in this election cycle.

Yet another congressional incumbent has lost in the primaries – the sixth so far this season – and the conservative “tea party” movement lost in key races Tuesday.

The common denominator is that anti-Washington, anti-insider sentiment is rampant, but among Republicans, it does not always redound to the tea party’s benefit. As in some previous races, conservatives split their votes in Michigan’s GOP gubernatorial primary Tuesday, allowing the less conservative competitor to rise to the top. The same is expected to happen in Tennessee’s GOP multi-candidate gubernatorial primary on Thursday.

Here’s the rundown on Tuesday’s votes:


In an upset, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D) – the mother of disgraced ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick - failed to win the Democratic nomination for an eighth term. The victor, state Sen. Hansen Clarke (D), dealt the final blow to the Kilpatrick family dynasty by highlighting ex-Mayor Kilpatrick’s legal problems. He resigned in 2008 after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice.

In the GOP gubernatorial primary, a wealthy former CEO and political newbie, Rick Snyder of Gateway computers, beat his more conservative and politically experienced competitors: Rep. Peter Hoekstra, state Attorney General Mike Cox, and Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard. The three also-rans had attracted the support of various tea party groups, allowing Mr. Snyder to shoot to the top with a 36 percent plurality. Snyder donated generously to his own campaign, and charmed voters – including some Democrats -- with his “one tough nerd” campaign slogan.

In what promises to be a lively general election, Snyder will face Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D), dubbed “the angry mayor.” Republicans are touting Snyder as a rising star, but “it’s early, no one should underestimate Bernero,” says Bernie Porn, president of nonpartisan Epic/MRA polling in Lansing. Still, he says, Mayor Bernero faces a tough task getting Democrats energized.


Rep. Jerry Moran defeated Rep. Todd Tiahrt in their bitter GOP nomination battle for the state’s open Senate seat. Congressman Tiahrt was the tea party favorite, and he had the support of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Bush White House adviser Karl Rove, and Fox News host Sean Hannity. Congressman Moran reached out to moderates as well as conservatives, and also had a geographic advantage: His home turf had more registered Republicans than Tiahrt’s. Moran is heavily favored to win in the general.


A referendum against aspects of the new federal health-care reform passed easily, 71 percent to 29 percent. The approval of Proposal C, the first statewide referendum on the reform in the country, rejected the government requirement to buy health insurance and the penalties that go with disobeying the law. The referendum is largely symbolic, as courts will determine the future of mandates, but the lopsided vote sent a warning shot at Democrats. Voter turnout in Missouri skewed heavily Republican, as voters selected their parties’ nominees for the open Senate race. The beneficiary of that enthusiasm in November is likely to be Rep. Roy Blunt (R), who will face Democrat Robin Carnahan.


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