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Michigan, Kansas, Missouri Go to the Polls

Quick primary update: Michigan, Kansas, and Missouri all go to the polls today to select a slew of candidates. All three are states where Republicans hope to either hold steady or make big gains.

Michigan has the most races of interest, including a governor’s seat that Republicans hope to recapture when term-limited Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) steps down. Vying for the chance to do so today are three candidates – businessman Rick Snyder, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and state Attorney General Mike Cox — all of whom are still in the chase. According to Chris Cillizza, turnout will be key to the candidates’ chances:

The critical counties in the Republican race will be Kent (Grand Rapids), Oakland (Pontiac), Macomb and Wayne (Detroit); the four counties accounted for about 40 percent of the vote in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary. But turnout in Ottawa County on the western side of the state will be key for Hoekstra — it sits in his 2nd district base and is one of the most reliably Republican counties in the state.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, GOP voters will likely select the state’s next senator, as a Republican is virtually assured to win retiring Sen. Sam Brownback’s (R-Kans.) seat. The race between Kansas Republican Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt will be another test of Sarah Palin’s sway, as Tiahrt has been out-fundraised and out-polled by Moran but is banking on enthusiasm generated by the endorsements of Palin and of most tea party groups in the state.

The race has long been ugly, and in a state like Kansas both candidates have long focused on outflanking the other on the right, while discrediting their opponent’s conservative passion:

The biggest blow to either campaign came at the close of July when Moran’s ex-campaign manager called out his former boss on social issues, accusing him of having “winced” at being aggressive with his pro-life stance (pro-life groups largely back Tiahrt). Tiahrt’s camp used that in a TV ad to continue its relentless attack on Moran — he went negative from the start before introducing himself with a positive spot to east KS voters — and reinforce the idea that Moran may vote correctly but is not a leader on causes most dear to conservative activists within the party.

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