Last night’s primaries had a theme, it was a theme of victory for conservative candidates. It was also a night in which establishment endorsements and old party names were no help.
- In Utah, Mike Lee narrowly won the GOP nomination for Senate after a campaign marked by acrimony and dirty tricks. Lee had the backing of conservative Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.
- Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., who had sought compromise legislation on global warming and voted to censure fellow South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., was defeated by prosecutor Trey Gowdy.
- Tim Scott, R, who was backed by the Club for Growth, crushed the son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond in last night’s runoff to get the GOP nomination in the state’s coastal first district. He stands to become the first black Republican in Congress since 2002.
- Jeff Duncan, R, another Club for Growth candidate, won the runoff and the nomination in the third district that had been vacated by Rep. Gresham Barrett, R.
- Barrett, meanwhile, lost his primary for governor against state Rep. Nikki Haley, R, who, like all the other winners mentioned above, is now a prohibitive favorite for the fall.
There was one high-profile Democratic contest last night. In North Carolina, national Democrats’ favored candidate, Cal Cunningham, lost to Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, D. Marshall will face Sen. Richard Burr, R, this fall. By the time it was over, the DSCC and national Democrats had put $200,000 behind the loser.
Also in North Carolina, one establishment choice prevailed on the Republican side. Former sportscaster Harold Johnson defeated Tim D’Annunzio for the nomination to face vulnerable Rep. Larry Kissell, D. GOP leaders feared that D’Annunzio, best known for his “Machine Gun Social Fundraisers,” was too outspoken and controversial in his tone to win.