These down-ballot races are worth noting
As it is in every election cycle, there are lower-tier races that are on no one’s radar screen. This situation is especially common in a presidential year. But, those lower-tier races are inevitably important to conservatives—if not immediately, in the long run. Here are some of them:
Morrissey Wins AG in W. Va.
In one of the few bright moments for Republicans anywhere on Tuesday, Republican Pat Morrissey pulled off a close-but-decisive upset in the Mountaineer State, unseating 20-year Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
A former state supreme court justice who had overseen the state’s tobacco settlement, McGraw had held the top legal office so long he was dubbed the “eternal general.” Morrissey, who spent just under $150,000, said that the Democrat had spent too much time on consumer issues and not enough time in fighting the Obama administration’s war on coal.
Morrissey also slammed McGraw for not joining the suit of state attorneys general against President Obama’s health care law.
One Cheer for Connecticut
That’s about the only way one could characterize the returns from the Nutmeg State.
With the defeats of former World Wrestling Federation head Linda McMahon in the race to succeed retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman and the narrow loss of moderate State Sen. Andrew Roraback for Congress in the open 5th District, there was little to cheer about.
What conservatives did talk about was the re-election of State Sen. Joe Markley in his Southington Waterbury seat. First elected in the Reagan wave of 1984, Markley compiled a conservative record and was swept out in 1986. In 2010, he connected with the area tea party movement and won back what was essentially his old seat.
“And it took Joe 28 years, but he finally figured out how to be re-elected,” former State Republican Party Chairman Dick Foley told us.
Kinder Wins Lt. GOV. in Missouri
Although Rep. Todd Akin ended up losing one of the nation’s most-watched U.S. Senate races and businessman David Spence was beaten by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon,
Republicans in Missouri did have some things to cheer about. Lt. Governor Peter Kinder was re-elected to a third term with 57 percent of the vote, defeating Democratic opponent and former State Auditor Susan Montee.
However, that was the only bright spot statewide for Missouri Republicans. Democratic State Rep. Jason Kander defeated Republican State Rep. Shane Schoeller by only a few thousand votes.
State Rep. Cole McNary, son of former St. Louis County Executive and 1980 GOP Senate nominee Gene McNary, lost to Democratic incumbent Clint Zweifel in the race for state treasurer, 50 percent to 45 percent.
A Sweep in North Carolina
Having taken control of both houses of the state legislature in 2010, North Carolina Republicans got retook the governor’s mansion.
Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who lost a close race for the governorship in 2008, finally won the top job in the Tarheel State, defeating Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton by a margin of 55 percent to 43 percent. McCrory ends a 20-year Democratic hold on the governor’s mansion.
Meanwhile, conservative businessman Dan Forest, son of retiring Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) is ready for a recount in the race for lieutenant governor. Democratic challenger Linda Coleman trails Forest by 11,000 votes as of press time.
Dems Rebound in Pennsylvania
Two years after Republicans swept every statewide office on the ballot and won control of both houses of the legislature as well as five new U.S. House seats, Pennsylvania Democrats appeared on the rebound Tuesday.
Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kane easily became the Keystone State’s first-ever Democratic attorney general.
Kane, who won a contested primary with the endorsement of former President Bill Clinton, defeated Cumberland County District Attorney and conservative Republican David Freed.
Throughout the race, Kane repeatedly hammered at Republican Gov. Tom Corbett for what she charged was inaction in the scandal involving disgraced Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Kane is already talked of as a Democratic opponent to Corbett in two years. Democrats also won the races for state treasurer and auditor general.
Amid the sensational revelation of a ten-year-old recording of a conversation with a girlfriend urging her to get an abortion, freshman Rep. Scott DesJarlais nonetheless won re-election in Tennessee’s 4th District.
DesJarlais, physician and tea party favorite, got about 60 per cent of the vote against State Sen. Eric Stewart, considered a less-than-stellar Democratic opponent.
However, the scandal that surrounds him is likely to increase calls for the embattled lawmaker not to run again in 2014.
Already, there is talk among conservatives of four conservative candidates for DesJarlais’s seat: State Sen. Jim Tracy, who lost a primary in the neighboring district two years ago to present Rep. Diane Black; millionaire businessman Shane Reeves; State Rep. Donna Barrett, whose husband Ronnie is heir to the Barrett rifle fortune; and former Rep. (1994-2002) Van Hilleary.