Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Outsider Candidates and Oddballs Shine in Tuesday Primaries

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown - June 24, 2020 at 09:46AM
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Kentucky, New York, and Virginia held primary elections yesterday. Overall, it was a good day for weirdos, newcomers, and idealists that lean outside Washington establishment lines.

  • Kentucky Republican voters handed a hefty win to libertarian-leaning Rep. Thomas Massie, despite calls from President Donald Trump to vote him out. "By early evening, Massie had wracked up 88 percent of the unofficial vote against Todd McMurtry, a lawyer who represented Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann in his lawsuit against media outlets," Reason's Christian Britschgi noted last night. Official results for Kentucky aren't slated to be released until June 30, due to the high number of absentee ballots being cast.
  • In New York's 14th Congressional District, which represents parts of Queens and the Bronx, socialist-leaning Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez beat three Democratic primary challengers, including the more moderate centrist CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. The area's ample absentee ballots mean final results won't be known for days, but Ocasio-Cortez commands 72.6 percent of the vote and Caruso-Cabrera just 19.4 percent with 100 percent of in-person voter precincts reporting.
  • In New York's 16th Congressional District, which represents part of the Bronx along with wealthy suburban areas in Westchester County, incumbent Democrat and longtime politician Eliot Engel is losing to more progressive newcomer Jamaal Bowman. With 92 percent of precincts reporting, Bowman had 60.9 percent of the vote and Engel just 35.6 percent.
  • Just north of New York City, in the state's 17th Congressional District, Democratic candidate Mondaire Joneswhom The New York Times describes as "a favorite of the activist left"is whooping the deep-pocketed former federal prosecutor Adam Schleifer (who spent $4 million of his own cash on his campaign), with 44.8 percent of the vote to Schleifer's 20.9 percent (with 96 percent of precincts reporting). Jones is also beating former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas and state Senator David Carlucci.
  • In the 15th Congressional District, state Assemblyman Michael Blakewho was endorsed by the likes of black leaders such as Rev. Jesse Jackson and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (D–S.C.)is losing to New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres, a gay black Latino man who was arrested in April for protesting federal housing funding cuts. Torres is also beating out fellow city councilmember and former state Senator Rubén Díaz Sr., a Pentecostal minister and conservative-leaning Democrat.
  • In the 12th Congressional District, which represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, veteran Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney, age 74, is just barely beating 36-year-old challenger Suraj Patel, with Maloney currently garnering 41.5 percent and Patel 40 percent.

"Even though Tuesday night ended without final calls in many of the biggest primaries, the results clearly showed some incumbents in serious trouble and major trends shaking both parties right now," writes Politico's Steven Shepard.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez looks set to get some new progressive backup in New York's congressional delegation next year. President Donald Trump's iron-fisted grip over the Republican Party appears to be slipping. And Senate hopefuls Charles Booker and Amy McGrath are locked in a tight battle for that Kentucky Senate nomination that belies McGrath's huge cash advantage and support from Washington powerbrokers. […]

When The Associated Press ended its vote count late Tuesday night, McGrath — the national party-endorsed candidate and fundraising juggernaut who's raised more than $40 million so far — had a 9-point lead over Booker with about 58,000 votes reported.

But McGrath's lead is far from secure. The exact number of votes left to count isn't clear, but the 58,000 tallied in early returns doesn't include anything from the state's two largest and most Democratic counties

Tuesday also saw runoff elections in several states, including North Carolina, where "Trump's pick to succeed former Rep. Mark Meadows in a solidly Republican House district in Western North Carolina, Lynda Bennett, fell flat on Tuesday," notes Shepard.

Bennett lost to 24-year-old Madison Cawthorn, who received nearly two-thirds of the vote.


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