Interesting Larry Sabato tweet: Crist win depends upon D base defecting to him in late Oct. But will blacks leave Meek? Doubtful. Nat'l Dems must help Meek. Plus 4 Rubio?
Kendrick Meek is being declared winner of the Fla. Dem primary for the U.S. Senate seat. At one point Meek looked like he might lose to challenger Jeff Greene, who spent millions in the race. But in recent weeks Meek made a dramatic comebak. He won 55 to 32 percent at the time he was declared winner.
With 34 percent of the vote in, Rick Scott is holding a 2 point lead on Bill McCollum in the GOP Fla. governor's race, 46 to 44.
Dem. Alex Sink is being called as the winner of the Fla. Gov. Dem primary: again no surprise. Sink had no formidable challengers.
Marco Rubio has been declared winner of the Fla. GOP Senate primary -- not a major surprise since Gov. Charlie Crist dropped out to run as an independent when polls show Rubio with a huge lead.
GOP unity rallies have been scrapped in Florida, a troubling sign, according to CNN:
"The Republican Party of Florida has scrapped plans for a pair of unity rallies intended to heal some of the wounds inflicted during the divisive gubernatorial primary between state Attorney General Bill McCollum and former health care executive Rick Scott.
The party had been plotting two such events for Wednesday, one in Orlando and another in Jacksonville, but those plans fell apart due to logistical reasons, RPOF spokeswoman Katie Betta told CNN. Scheduling became an issue because candidates up and down the ballot are scattered across the state, Betta said.
"We are hopeful we will be able to have some kind of event to capitalize on momentum coming out of the primaries, but at this point we are a little gun shy to try and figure out what the structure of the event would look like," Betta said.
The rallies were also scheduled to have a big ticket draw: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and a possible 2012 presidential candidate.
It's now unclear if Barbour will visit Florida to campaign with the eventual gubernatorial nominee, though he is slated to headline the party's annual Victory Dinner in Orlando on Sept. 10.
Betta also suggested the Scott campaign was hesitant to commit to the unity events because of their well-documented suspicions that the state party was backing McCollum in the primary, a charge Betta denied.
Betta added that the Scott campaign may have been bothered by McCollum's statement Monday that he would be reluctant to back Scott as the GOP nominee."
8:05: With some 20 percent of precincts reporting, the close race in Florida was shaping up to be the contest between Rick Scott and Bill McCollum in the GOP Gov. Race. Right now, Scott lead McCollum 46 to 43 percent. Kendrick Meek, meanwhile, is well ahead of challenger Jeff Greene in the other highly contested race, the Dem. Senate battle.
The key for candidates Tuesday in the Florida primaries will be turnout; a strong turnout could help Rick Scott, an insurgent challenger facing Attorney Gen. Bill McCollum for the Florida governor.
Late Tuesday, reports of turnout differed throughout the state. From the Palm Beach Post:
With the polls closed, candidates gave mixed reports of voter turnout in today's primary election.
State Rep. Carl Domino said he saw a lackluster turnout after visiting precincts in Palm Beach and Broward counties today.
"My feeling right now is very anxious. I tend to think it's going to be close,"Domino said.
Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, who plans to watch the returns at the Sonoma Cafe & Bistro in Delray Beach, called the turnout "steady."
"So far so good," she said. "Lots of thumbs up. We're feeling pretty good."
Rick Scott leads Bill McCollum in the Florida Republican gubernatorial race statewide. With 6 percent of vote counted, he's ahead 48 to 42 percent. Alex Sink is easily ahead in the Democratic race.
In Florida Dem. Senate, Kendrik Meek leading Jeff Greene, 51 to 36 percent.
Money can't buy you love, but it can buy votes. And Tuesday's primaries, which feature well-heeled candidates in several states who have heavily outspent their rivals, will reveal whether they can buy enough.
That's not the only interesting story line emerging from Tuesday's big primaries in Florida, Arizona, Alaska, and Vermont, however.
It looks as if veteran politicos, who have taken a drubbing this political season for being insiders, may be ready to make a comeback.
Some pundits are calling it the election of the "Four M's," because Sen. John McCain in Arizona, Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, Attorney Gen. Bill McCollum in Florida, and Democrat Kendrick Meek in Florida are all favored in the polls to win their respective races. None of them is positioned as an outsider.
In fact, Tuesday's headlines could read "The Insiders Strike Back," owing to those candidates' role as part of the political establishment. If nothing else, they show that savvy political veterans can still find ways to win elections, despite the anti-incumbent animus that appears to be sweeping the nation.
Both funding and experience are in play in Arizona's knock-down, drag-out Senate contest between McCain and his GOP challenger J.D. Hayworth.
Hayworth, whose initial tea party support appears to have softened, was in a statistical deadlock with McCain in the polls as recently as November.
But Hayworth has stumbled badly on the campaign trail, in part because of a video he made for the National Grants Conference in 2006 about how people could secure government grants.
"It's not free money. It's your money," Hayworth advised in the video. "It's money you've already surrendered to the government in terms of taxation, but the government has the chance — and you have the chance to make an investment in yourself. It's something you should take advantage of."
That message of how to capitalize on government largess, coming from avowed fiscal conservative Hayworth, may help explain the dramatic shift in the polls: A July Rasmussen poll showed McCain opening a stunning 20-point lead, 54 percent to 34 percent. Even worse was a July Rocky Mountain poll that found McCain ahead by a staggering 64 percent to 19 percent.
How to explain the turnaround? Aside from Hayworth's miscues, McCain has outspent his opponent by about a 3-to-1 margin. By one estimate, McCain poured $20 million into the primary, unleashing a barrage of ads that kept Hayworth on the defensive.
Hayworth, a former congressman, doesn't deny that McCain's campaign money has been spent effectively.
"They subjected me to a withering assault, a multi-million dollar smear campaign. It certainly has had an effect," he told the AP.
But more than just big bucks vaulted McCain into such a commanding position: He used one campaign stop Tuesday to stump for state Sen. Jonathon Paton, who faces a challenge from Iraq-war veteran and tea-party favorite Jesse Kelly in Arizona's 8th Congressional District.
He tacked hard to the right politically, opposing repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and avoiding the climate-change debate. He also forged an alliance on Arizona's controversial immigration law with Gov. Jan Brewer, whose candidacy he endorsed. Now, it looks like both Brewer and McCain are poised for big wins.
Other high-profile races expected to receive a lot of attention Tuesday:
Florida Attorney Gen. Bill McCollum vs. businessman Rick Scott. In the GOP primary race for governor of the Sunshine State, McCollum has spent the waning days of the race asking voters why Scott appears to have ducked venues where both were scheduled to speak from the same dais. Scott, when he hasn't been out on the campaign trail, probably has been busy writing checks. The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports that Scott will spend a whopping $50 million on the race. By some reports, more than$10 million of that fortune is being spent to blanket Florida's airwaves with advertising in the last week of the primary. Scott is betting that his ad campaign will drive voters to the polls who ordinarily might not vote. A Mason-Dixon poll released Sunday shows the political veteran McCollum holding a commanding 9-point lead over the outsider Scott. But with an unprecedented amount of money pouring into the election, it would be difficult indeed to predict the outcome.
Rep. Kendrick Meek vs. Jeff Greene. This is another contest between a political insider, Meek, and a political newcomer with extremely deep pockets. Greene has spent a small fortune in the race that will determine who gets the right to compete against Gov. Charlie Crist and Republican Mario Rubio to represent Florida in the U.S. Senate. So far, it doesn't appear Greene's spending spree is earning its hoped for return on investment, however. The real estate developer is trailing Meek by 12 points, according to the latest Mason-Dixon poll. "Political rookies have a steep learning curve" in Florida, observed Mason-Dixon Managing Director Brad Coker.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski vs. Joe Miller. As an incumbent U.S. senator from Alaska, Murkowski was expected to win this race in a runaway. But Murkowski is no friend of influential former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who accused her of being "part of the big government problem in Washington." Palin's endorsement of Fairbanks attorney Miller gave him a serious boost. The Wall Street Journal's John Fund reports Murkowski has outspent Miller 20-to-1. Miller won the endorsement of the Tea Party Express. Internal polls reportedly show Miller narrowing Murkowski's edge to 47 percent to 35 percent. With a 12-point lead, Murkowski would have to be favored, but Fund says her support is "below the level of support where an incumbent can be considered safe."
Five Democrats Running for Governor in Vermont – In a state where Ben & Jerry's proved that people like a lot of choices, there are five Democratic rivals champing for the right to try to move into Vermont's statehouse. They are: Google executive Matt Dunne, Secretary of State Deb Markowitz, State Sen. Susan Bartlett, Sen. Doug Racine, and Senate Pro Tem President Peter Shumlin. The outcome is considered a tossup. The winner will face Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie and a host of independent candidates in November. Also in Vermont, incumbent Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who's spent nearly 36 years in the U.S. Senate, faces a primary challenge from Wilmington's Daniel Freilich. Leahy appears to be taking the primary seriously.
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