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Moments from June 8 Primary Night

by Jordan Green

Preview for NC runoff on June 22

The June 22 runoff election will settle the grudge match between Elaine Marshall and Cal Cunningham, determining which candidate will represent the Democrats against Republican incumbent Richard Burr in the November general election. In the meantime, a string of primaries across the nation on June 8 resolved some interparty battles and set the stage for Nov. 2.

The next Governor of South Carolina?

How to even begin to digest the phenomenon that is Nikki Haley, who led balloting in the Republican primary for governor in South Carolina on June 8? Endorsed by the likes of Sarah Palin and Jenny Sanford, Hailey goes into a runoff with US Rep. Gresham Barrett. First, a conservative blogger and then a lobbyist who had worked for opponent Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer claimed they had sexual affairs with Haley. Then SC Sen. Jake Knotts, a Bauer supporter, went on a tirade against Haley, calling her a “f#cking raghead,” alleging she was a secret Sikh hiding her true religion and was programmed to run for governor by outside forces from foreign countries.” As reported by the Columbia Free Times, Knotts assailed Haley, by saying, “We’re at war over there,” referring to India — the homeland of Haley’s parents — and then clarified that the United States is at war with foreign countries.

Restoring the Palmetto State’s honor

My friend Tony Macias, a South Carolina native, says on Facebook: “There are cool people in SC, too, they’re just not in charge in most cases.” Richard Harpootlian, former chairman of the SC Democratic Party, put things in perspective for “All Things Considered” host Melissa Block on June 10: “It’s like a bad soap opera. It’s funny in some ways but very sad because all of this distracts from the realization and the reality that we face in South Carolina every day, which is we’re 50 th in education, we’re 50 th in every measure of healthcare, we’re 50 th in quality of life. And that’s not going to change until our political leadership changes, and with this kind of frivolity and shenanigans, it never will.”

SC’s Democratic Senate nominee

Actually, what Harpootlian was talking about is the recent electoral victory of Alvin Greene, a political unknown who defeated former state legislator Vic Rawl in the contest to decide which Democrat will challenge incumbent Republican Jim DeMint for his US Senate seat in the fall. Greene was considered such a long shot that neither his opponent nor the media bothered to check his background — which would have revealed that the party’s new standard-bearer was arrested and charged last November for showing obscene internet photos to a college student.

First black republican vs. son of a seg

Tim Scott led balloting in the Republican primary for South Carolina’s 1 st Congressional District, but failed to obtain the requisite percentage of the vote to avoid a runoff. According to Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie himself, Scott would be the first black Republican from the Deep South to serve in Congress since Reconstruction if he wins. In this heavily Republican district, the only person standing in his way is Paul Thurmond. You guessed it: He’s the son of Strom Thurmond, the legendary segregationist who ran for president on the Dixiecrat ticket in 1948. Scott and Thurmond share a limited government, low-tax governing philosophy, so their differences are more symbolic than substantive.

Harry Reid’s unwelcome tea party guest

Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle swamped Sue Lowden — considered the more mainstream candidate — in the Republican primary for Nevada’s US Senate race. Conventional wisdom says Senate Majority Leader and Democratic candidate Harry Reid likes that matchup because he has a better shot at appealing to the middle. Make no mistake, though — it’s war, at least in the over heated rhetoric of Minuteman PAC Honorary Chairman Chris Simcox, who wrote in an e-mailed fundraising appeal last week: “I know firsthand how corrupt Harry Reid and his union-thug operation is. So, believe me when I tell you that they will stop at nothing to destroy Sharron Angle.”

Silver State instability

It’s fair to say that Nevada has an interesting political culture. The sitting Republican governor, Jim Gibbons, lost his party’s primary on June 22 to Brian Sandoval. The Democratic nominee? That would be Rory Reid, chairman of the Clark County Commission — which encompasses Las Vegas – and son of that ultraleftist, Harry Reid. Rory Reid beat out the inaptly named Frederick L. Conquest, who garnered 16,775 votes. Conquest came within a thousand votes shy of a more popular choice — “None of These Candidates.”

Labor’s Arkansas showdown

The labor-left coalition, comprised of the unions and Moveon.org, decided to pile all of its chips in Arkansas, backing Lt. Gov. Bill Halter against incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln, who made the left flank of her party unhappy by opposing both the public option in healthcare and the Employee Free Choice Act, or “card check.” Native son Bill Clinton campaigned for Lincoln, and the White House let its unhappiness be known with the unions after the dust settled with Lincoln’s victories. Apparently, the Democratic establishment sees a centrist as being more viable in the coming general election matchup with Republican John Boozman.

California women mixing business and politics

Two businesswomen are in the running for top political jobs in California. Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, will face Democratic nominee and former governor Jerry Brown in November. Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and Republican candidate, is seeking to oust super-liberal Democrat Barbara Boxer from her seat in the US Senate.

Palin power

The footloose former governor of Alaska and vice-presidential running mate in the defeated McCain-Palin ticket of 2008 has been ubiquitous in this election season, popping up in South Carolina to endorse Nikki Haley, Carly Fiorina for Senate in California and Terry Branstad for governor in Iowa. Pundit Chris Matthews, among others, predicts she’s positioning herself for a presidential run in 2012: “Here’s the calendar: She wins the Iowa caucuses outright, triumphing among Christian evangelicals, benefiting from the goodwill of Gov. Terry Branstad. She heads to New Hampshire, finishing second place or a strong third. Then first place in South Carolina, where Gov. Nikki Haley does the job for her.”

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