Fringe candidates for both Republican and Democratic parties suffered defeat in Tuesday’s primary elections gearing up for November’s Midterms, as voters stuck with mainstream choices on their ballots in Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina.
Top Republicans – including President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.) breathed sighs of relief as the strongest GOP candidates beat their conservative challengers to face off in key Senate races in November against Democratic Senators in states the president won in 2016.
Preparing for November fight night
Attorney General Pat Morrisey (R-W.Va.) took 47,774 Republican votes (34.7 percent) in West Virginia Tuesday, and will have his hands full in this fall’s Senate race against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who won 110,888 Democratic votes (69.9 percent), according to NBC News.
With 208,451 Republican votes (41.2 percent), Indiana businessman Mike Braun will face off against Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), who took in 287,325 uncontested Democratic votes (100 percent).
In a less-celebrated race in Ohio, Trump-supported Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) beat out his Republican challengers to go head-to-head with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in several months’ time.
After key gubernatorial contests in Ohio Tuesday, a close November battle is anticipated between Mike DeWine – who drew in 494,991 Republican votes (59.8 percent) – and Ricard Cordray, with his 423,424 Democratic votes (62.3 percent).
Other notable contests
Vice President Mike Pence’s older brother, Greg Pence, beat out four others Tuesday in the 6th District race of Indiana’s Republican primary for a congressional seat that his younger brother held for a dozen years.
The Marine veteran and owner of two antique malls overcame his critical rival, Muncie businessman, Jonathan Lamb.
“[Lamb] argued that Greg Pence merely relied on his prominent name and dodged debates,” The Associated Press (AP) reported. “Pence raised nearly $1.2 million for his campaign – thanks largely to the support of his brother, pro-Trump groups and top Republicans, [whereas] Lamb has loaned himself $800,000.”
In a notable Republican primary race in the Tar Heel State, Baptist pastor Rev. Mark Harris beat out Rep. Robert Pittenger for his seat – and the incumbent narrowly beat the reverend back in 2016.
“Both Pittinger and Harris campaigned as evangelical Christians who would outdo the other to support President Donald Trump, who did not endorse either candidate,” AP noted. “Harris won Tuesday among GOP voters and now must take on Democrat Dan McCready, a Marine veteran who has raised almost $2 million to compete in the 9th district, where Trump’s victory was narrower than elsewhere in North Carolina.”
The big picture
After all the votes were tallied, it became evident that Tuesday voters from both sides of the partisan divide gravitated toward more moderate candidates – instead of fringe candidates on the far right and left, who were generally overlooked on the ballot.
“Tuesday’s GOP primary results showed both Republicans and Democrats moving toward the center as voters look ahead to this fall’s midterm elections,” Fox News pointed out. “Republicans are looking to increase the party’s Senate majority and maintain control of the House, while Democrats snubbed progressive candidates in favor of moderates – including one who backed Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
Following the Senate race in the Mountain State, Trump and McConnell were relieved that the Republican Party will not have the same fate it had in December when initial favorite Roy Moore lost his Alabama Senate race in a deep red state that had not given up its Republican seat – ultimately claimed by Doug Jones – to a Democrat in decades.
Trump appealed to his 50-million-plus Twitter followers to make sure that Blankenship was not an obstacle to the Republican Party’s success, come November.
“To the great people of West Virginia, we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference,” Trump tweeted Monday. “Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey.”
McConnell took to Twitter in the early morning hours after the primary election to express his joy over Morrisey’s defeat of his political foe, Blankenship.
“Thanks for playing, Don,” the McConnell team tweeted Wednesday, which read as a caption under a photo of McConnell smiling.
The Senate majority leader was more than glad he would not have to contend with his contentious foe in the Senate.
“Tuesday’s results … seemed to vindicate Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the subject of multiple personal attacks during the primaries,” Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis explained. “Blankenship branded McConnell ‘Cocaine Mitch’ and referring to his Asian-American in-laws as ‘his China family.’”
Blankenship had some adversity of his own to overcome before the election, as well.
“Blankenship, who was convicted in 2015 of conspiring to violate mine standards, was released from custody just a year ago,” Townhall recounted. “After a 2010 mining explosion killed 29 people, Blankenship’s company was found to have violated federal safety regulations.”
Earlier this spring, McConnell forecasted rough waters with Blankenship and other adversaries.
“This is going to be a challenging election year,” McConnell told McConnell told Kentucky Today in April. “We know the wind is going to be in our face. We don’t know whether it’s going to be a Category 3, 4 or 5.”
Other Republicans, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), Sebastian Gorka and Tea Party President Jenny Beth Martin endorsed Morrisey for U.S. Senate and were happy he pulled off a victory against the contentious Blankenship, with Paul arguing that only a true conservative can rally both parties to beat Manchin in November.
“I think it’s always more important to be a conservative than the Republican party label – even in West Virginia there are conservative Democrats,” Paul told Breitbart News. “In my home state, I cannot win without conservative Democrats. Manchin may go home and say one thing, but the problem is that he votes for Chuck Schumer on day one and he votes for an agenda that’s so liberal that the Democrat party has strayed so far away from the Democrats in West Virginia. I think Patrick can get the conservative Democrats in West Virginia, people that go to church, who have families and care about their families, will vote for Patrick given the choice.”
Even though the Democrat Donnelly and 80,000 more ballots marked with his name and took 100 percent of his party’s votes – compared to Braun only grabbing 41 percent of the Republican votes – the conservative Indiana businessman is sitting pretty for the Senate race, come November.
“The incumbent Democratic senator from Indiana, Joe Donnelly, is widely viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators running for reelection this year,” Vox.com pointed out. “The moderate, anti-abortion senator won his first term in 2012 by defeating far-right GOP nominee Richard Mourdock, who blundered his way to defeat by claiming pregnancy from rape was something ‘God intended.’”
After the loss, GOP leaders considered the Donnelly’s victory a fluke – especially with the Hoosier State turning a deeper shade of red over the years, but the Republicans did a bit of damage to each other leading up to Tuesday’s contest.
“Indiana has moved sharply to the right in recent years,” Vox.com’s Andrew Prokopandrew noted. “Obama narrowly won the state in 2008 – he lost it by about 10 points in 2012 – and Hillary Clinton lost it by 19 points in 2016. So, when the GOP nomination fight to face him devolved into a remarkably vicious and negative contest, Donnelly and his team were naturally thrilled.”
However, financing is believed to be on Braun’s side, which should pay off in November.
“But the eventual GOP winner – business owner Mike Braun – has some real strengths,” Prokopandrew added. “He’s rich and can self-fund his campaign against Donnelly. Furthermore, unlike his two rivals, Rokita and Messer, Braun can’t be attacked as a creature of the unpopular Republican-controlled Congress.”
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.