About Last Night…

Horse Race Reporting: Comin’ round the bend…

Honestly, we forgot that there were elections going on, we were so enveloped in the shenanigans at Merde-a-Lardo. Luckily for us, our pals over at Electoral-Vote were steadfast, and they tell us the results:

  • Connecticut: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) avoided the toughest of his three possible opponents, as Themis Klarides (R)—a moderate who became the first woman to lead the GOP caucus in the state house—was outpaced by the very Trumpy Leora Levy (R). No Republican has won statewide in Connecticut since 2006, and someone as far right as Levy isn’t going to buck the trend.

    In the secretary of state race, Republican voters went with Trumpy election denier Dominic Rapini while Democrats picked Stephanie Thomas, the establishment choice to replace the retiring Denise Merrill (D). Same dynamic as with the U.S. Senate race; Republicans don’t win statewide in Connecticut these days, particularly far-right Republicans.

  • Minnesota: There’s a gubernatorial race in the Gopher State this year, and it may be close. However, there was no drama yesterday, as both parties’ nominees faced no real competition. Gov. Tim Walz (DFL-MN) took 96.5% of the vote on his side of the primary while Scott Jensen (R) took 89.3% of the vote on his side. Polls suggest that Walz enters the general with about a 4-point advantage; it may also be useful to note that Democrats cast more than 100,000 more votes in the primary than Republicans did (432,000 to 323,000).

    While the gubernatorial race was a bit of a snooze, there was a bit of drama in a couple of the House races. In MN-01, which was left open by the death of Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), Brad Finstad (R) won the jungle election to finish off Hagedorn’s term and he also won nomination for a term in his full right. In both cases, he collected more votes than Jeff Ettinger (D) despite being greatly outspent by Ettinger. Democrats have hopes of flipping this seat, which has a Republican lean. Thus far, there’s no reason to believe they will be able to do it.

    The big drama of the night, meanwhile, was over in MN-05. It’s one of the bluest districts in the country, so all that really matters is who wins the Democratic primary. As an incumbent, Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN) was an overwhelming favorite and ran her campaign based around “defund the police.” That was not the shrewdest plan; she’ll keep her seat, but she was very nearly toppled by moderate challenger Don Samuels, 50.3% to 48.2%. This would seem to indicate, as if we did not already know this, that “defund the police” is a loser… everywhere, and that the time has come for progressives to retire it from their toolkit.

  • Vermont: This is another state where there might be something to see at the top of the ticket in November, but not so much last night. Gov. Phil Scott (R) was easily renominated, with 69.2% of the vote, while his opponent, political newcomer and small business owner Brenda Siegel (D), was unopposed. For the U.S. Senate, Rep. Peter Welch (D) got 87.5% in his bid to replace the retiring Sen. Pat Leahy (D); his opponent will be U.S. Army vet Gerald Malloy (R). Truth be told, Siegel and Malloy almost certainly won’t make it interesting in November, but a political junkie can always hope.

    The only really interesting race last night was for the at-large House seat that Welch is vacating. The winner there, in what proved to be a landslide (60.6%), was the Bernie Sanders-backed progressive Becca Balint (D). She will dispatch Liam Madden (R), and will give the Hill another Squad member, and will also give Vermont its first female and first openly LGBTQ+ member of Congress.

  • Wisconsin: And finally we get to a little top-of-ticket drama. There was no doubt, of course, that Mandela Barnes (D) would win the right to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson (R), and that did indeed come to pass. There was similarly no doubt that Gov. Tony Evers (D) would be renominated, especially since he was unopposed. However, the identity of Evers’ opponent was definitely in the air, and came down to the Trump-backed Tim Michels (R) or the slightly less Trumpy (but definitely still Trumpy) former lieutenant governor Rebecca Kleefisch. The former president was successful in elevating his candidate, as tends to happen in close three-way races; Michels took 47.2% of the vote to Kleefisch’s 42.0%.

    On the other hand, Trump was not able to bring down Speaker of the State Assembly Robin Vos (R) in a head-to-head contest. Vos angered Trump by refusing to object to the 2020 election results. However, he will keep his job, as he beat the Trump-backed Adam Steen, 51.3% to 48.7%.

    Finally, Wisconsin has two competitive (but Republican-leaning) House seats left. In WI-01, Ann Roe (D) will face Rep. Bryan Steil (R); no surprise, since both were unopposed. In WI-03, the Democratic establishment got its candidate in Brad Pfaff, whose 39.0% of the vote was easily enough to outpace Scandinavian home goods store owner Becca Cooke (31.1%) and former CIA officer Deb McGrath (19.1%). Pfaff will face off against Derrick Van Orden, a perennial candidate who participated in the 1/6 insurrection. We’ll see how that plays in the Badger State.

So going back to our betting window: the MPS House swept the elections:

  • Connecticut – we said it won’t matter which Republican gets the nomination for Senate because Democratic Senator Blumenthal will win in the general. ✅
  • Minnesota – Similar story, we said that popular Democratic Governor will win in the general election, but noted that “former state senator Scott Jensen— is very MAGA” ✅
  • Vermont – we said that a Democratic woman will win the nomination (heh, two women were running!) and the landslide winner was a woman! The Sandes-Warren candidate Becca Balint will win in the general, too. ✅
  • Wisconsin – as RoJo was not being primaried, and as the other candidates dropped out of the race, we got this one right, too! ✅
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