3 Big Primary Races Today

It hasn’t been getting a lot of play around the blogosphere for some reason, but there are three big primary races today including:

1) Lincoln Chafee (R) vs. Steve Laffey (R) (Rhode Island): Mediocre RINO Lincoln Chafee is widely disliked — with good reason, by many Republicans. Unfortunately, his opponent, Steven Laffey, whose biggest positive quality is not being Lincoln Chafee, can’t win in the general election.

Because of that, we’ve been treated to the one of the sorriest spectacles in American politics this year: the Republican Party pulling out all the stops to help a candidate who didn’t even vote for Bush in 2004, beat another Republican in a primary.

Who’s going to win? The polls have been all over the place (There have been 30 point spreads between some of these poll numbers) and since it’s an open primary, Democrats can vote as well, which makes it very difficult to predict.

The Consequences: If Chafee wins, the Rhode Island race becomes a toss-up. If Laffey wins, the GOP loses the seat, but we also get rid of the only left-of-center Republican in the Senate. So, it’s a mixed bag, no matter who wins.

2) Randy Graf (R) vs. Steve Huffman (R) (AZ-08): The retiring Republican in this district, Jim Kolbe, is a RINO. But, it is a Republican district. Bush won it by 4 points in 2000 and 7 points in 2004.

That’s why the Republican Party’s heavy involvement in the primary is so puzzling. The GOP has spent over $200,000 pushing a RINO, Steve Huffman. Ostensibly, this is because Huffman would have a better chance against Gabrielle Giffords, the Democrat in the race. However, the latest polling data shows Giffords up by 10 points on Graf and up by 3 points on Huffman. How much of that 7 point difference between Huffman and Graf’s numbers can be attributed to the GOP making it clear that they don’t want Graf as a candidate and spending $200,000 on Huffman’s behalf? Probably a good bit of it. Had the GOP simply waited for the primary to play out and spent the same $200,000 pushing Graf, it’s entirely possible that he could have had better numbers than Huffman has today after the money was spent.

Who’s going to win? There are 5 Republican candidates duking it out and the GOP has spent an enormous amount pushing Huffman at the last moment, so it’s hard to say at this point, although Graf has been leading in the polls.

The Consequences: This is Republican Party bungling at its worst and it’s a prime example of why the GOP shouldn’t be getting involved in a primary. The hard feelings and vicious attacks launched back and forth as a result of the GOP interference in this race have probably reduced the chances that the GOP will hold the seat although either Graf or Huffman are still capable of pulling it out.

3) Ben Cardin (D) vs. Kweisi Mfume (D) (Maryland): The winner of this race goes toe to toe with Michael Steele.

Who’s going to win? Cardin and Mfume have been neck and neck in the polls and there are several smaller candidates in the race that will peel off a few points each. So, it’s hard to say who is going to win this one.

The Consequences: Cardin is definitely the stronger candidate and has been consistently outpolling Steele by a few points. On the other hand, Mfume is running a trainwreck of a campaign and has been polling even or a little behind Steele. So, if Cardin wins, Steele will have an uphill climb. But, if Mfume wins, Steele might even be a slight favorite in a race against Mfume.

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