Former Miss America Comes Up Short in GOP Primary

Image: Former Miss America Comes Up Short in GOP Primary

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 12:00 AM

By Todd Beamon

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Former Miss America Erika Harold lost her longshot bid on Tuesday to unseat first-term Rep. Rodney Davis as Illinois primary voters cast their ballots.

In the Senate race, state Sen. Jim Oberweis' victory over Doug Truax sends him on to a November matchup with Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the upper chamber.

In their House battle, Davis received 55 percent of the vote to Harold's 41 percent in the downstate district. Another candidate, Michael Firsching, a veterinarian who lost in a 2012 race, won 4 percent.

Davis, 44, declared victory about 10:45 p.m. He won the 2012 race by slightly more than 1,000 votes — and he is seen as vulnerable by Democrats this fall.

Harold, 33, who was Miss America 2003, is an attorney and a Harvard Law School graduate whose battle to unseat Davis was seen as uphill from the outset of her announcement in June.

She was bidding to become the first black Republican woman to serve in Congress.

Political analyst and pollster Doug Schoen explained Davis' victory this way to Newsmax: "It is very rare, absent a big issue, for an incumbent to lose a primary.

He said Harold has been involved in politics for less than a House term. "And she came close," he added. "It indicates that Davis didn't consolidate his position, but I don't think he was ever in any risk of losing.

"He'll be re-elected comfortably" in November, Schoen said. Davis' Democratic opponent will be former judge Ann Callis who won her party's primary in a three-way contest.

In other GOP House primary races in the Land of Lincoln, two-term incumbent Rep. Adam Kinzinger handily defeated conservative activist David Hale Jr., 78 percent to 22 percent in the 16th District — and state Rep. Darlene Senger bested three challengers to win in the 11th district with 40 percent of the vote.

Senger's closest finisher was businessman Chris Balkema, who finished with 34 percent of the vote. She faces an uphill battle against Democrat Rep. Bill Foster in November.

Meanwhile, Oberweis won the Senate primary with 56 percent of the vote to Truax's 44 percent.

Oberweis, 67, a dairy farmer, was elected to the Illinois Senate in 2012 and had made unsuccessful runs for U.S. Senate and governor. Truax, 43, is a Chicago businessman.
Oberweis had been criticized during the campaign for some of his political ads, including one before a previous election in which he said the number of immigrants entering the U.S. illegally each week could fill Soldier Field, the home of the NFL's Chicago Bears.

Truax, despite never having held political office, had received support from former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Even though Oberweis won, he has little chance of defeating Durbin in November, Schoen told Newsmax. Durbin, 69, is seeking his fourth term. "Dick Durbin will be re-elected," he said. "Durbin is an institution

"If Durbin loses, which I don't think he will, Republicans will almost have filibuster-proof majority in the Senate," Schoen added, referring to possibility of the GOP winning the six seats needed to take back the upper chamber this fall. "I don’t think that's going to happen."

In the only other primary of the night, Democrat Dennis Anderson won the right to fight against incumbent Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren in November.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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