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Few Surprises in Tuesday’s Primary Results

Incumbents and “establishment” candidates got an expected run for their money during Tuesday’s primaries, but for the most part, challengers did not manage to deny them the nomination.

Indiana

Former Sen. Dan Coats (R) won his party’s nomination in the race for the seat of retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (D), but not without a fight against a bevy of challengers and with far less than a majority of votes — 39 percent. State Sen. Marlin Stutzman and former Rep. John Hostettler each ran at least 10 percentage points behind Coats. Rep. Brad Ellsworth is likely to become the Democratic nominee when the state party selects their candidate later this month.

Reps. Dan Burton (R) and Mark Souder (R) both won renomination following bruising campaigns. Burton’s victory was particularly close, as he only received two percentage points more of the vote than former state party Executive Director Luke Messer. Souder defeated his main rival, car dealer Bob Thomas, by about 14 points. Former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R) will not be able to challenge Rep. Baron Hill (D) for a fifth time, however, as he lost his party’s nod to attorney Todd Young.

North Carolina

Four North Carolina primary races will have to be decided in a June 22 runoff vote, including the Democratic Senate nomination fight between former state Sen. Cal Cunningham and Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.

Though Marshall ran nine points ahead of Cunningham, who had the national party’s backing, she did not get the 40 percent minimum needed to win her party’s nomination. The winner will face Sen. Richard Burr (R), who easily won renomination.

Republican challengers to Reps. Larry Kissell (D), Brad Miller (D) and Mel Watt (D) will also face runoff elections. Kissell and Rep. Heath Shuler (D) both faced difficult primary challenges. Though both won renomination, each received less than 63 percent of the vote against a single challenger.

Ohio

There were few surprises in Ohio, particularly in the race to replace retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R).

Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher easily won the Democratic Senate nomination against Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, as expected, besting her by 10 percentage points. Former Rep. Rob Portman (R) ran unchallenged for his party’s nomination.

There was little drama in the House primaries, as all of the incumbents and most challengers won by hefty margins. The exception was “The Apprentice” contestant Surya Yalamanchili, who won the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep Jean Schmidt (R) less than a week after a media firestorm erupted over allegations that his main challenger, David Krikorian, had made racist statements about him during campaign events. Krikorian led balloting for much of Tuesday evening, but Yalamanchili ended up with a three-point victory. The close result is unlikely to end Krikorian’s claims that the “liberal media” conspired to defeat him.

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