Another Primary Night Sorts Out The Field

Last night's primaries continued the anti-establishment narrative we've seen so far this year, and put both of the statewide offices in Florida in play.

In addition to the Alaska Senate Primary, there were a few other races last night that grabbed national headlines and helped to iron out the playing field for the November elections.

Down in Florida, the only other real upset of the night came when Rick Scott defeated Attorney General, and former seven term Congressman, Bill McCollum, for the Republican nomination for Governor:

Rick Scott pulled off his one-man political revolution Tuesday night, narrowly defeating Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican primary for governor.

With most precincts counted, it became clear that Scott had overcome the might of the Republican establishment, the special interests who dominate the Capitol and a longtime politician determined to tar his character.

Scott’s win bears witness to his personal wealth — he spent at least $50 million of it on the campaign — as well as the thirst for political change in the Republican Party of Florida, which has been rocked by scandal and whose leaders worked to stop him cold.

“This is a man who took on the entire establishment, and what he had was the people,” said Arlene DiBenigno, Scott’s political director. “We didn’t have a traditional campaign. We had a campaign of people who were tired of the traditional establishment. They are tired of the same old thing.”

The race was in doubt as late as 11 p.m., in large part because McCollum was beating Scott by a 2-1 margin in Miami-Dade — the biggest Republican county in the state. But even that advantage wasn’t enough, and with 90% of the statewide vote reported, the Associated Press projected that Scott had enough votes to win.

In what looked like a protest vote against Scott and McCollum, little-known third-party candidate Mike McCalister was receiving one of every 10 votes — far more than any poll had anticipated.

Scott distinguished himself in the final days of the campaign by making an issue out of the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” including coming out with an ad titled “Obama’s Mosque,” though it’s unclear how much that actually played in the race. McCollum seems to have been hurt mostly by the fact that there was low turnout in his stronghold areas in the Miami-Dade area, and by the presence of a spoiler candidate who drew 10% of the vote. Looking ahead to November, another spoiler candidate — Bud Chiles, the son of former Governor Lawton Chiles — looks to be in position to assist the Democrats by drawing away votes, thus denying the Republicans the Governor’s mansion.

The other three-way race in Florida for Mel Martinez’s Senate seat ended up about as expected with Kendrick Meek winning the Democratic nomination over millionaire Jeff Greene, thus setting up what is sure to be the most interesting Senate race of the year. The most recent poll has Rubio up by eight points, the trend shows a much tighter race and there’s a good possibility that Meek’s support, and more importantly his money, will crater once Democrats realize that a vote for Meek  is a vote for Marco Rubio. Anyone who tells you that they know what will happen in this race is either lying, or engaging in wishful thinking.

Heading west to Arizona, and as expected, John McCain handily defeated J.D. Hayworth in the GOP Senate primary:

Sen. John McCain, the former Republican presidential nominee who was once widely seen as potentially vulnerable in the year of the anti-establishment “tea party,” defeated GOP challenger J.D. Hayworth in Tuesday’s closely watched primary election.

As election results rolled in, McCain was handily beating both Hayworth, a former Arizona congressman, and Jim Deakin, a little-known, self-described tea-party activist.

Who McCain will face in the Nov. 2 general election was less clear, although early results showed former Tucson City
Councilman Rodney Glassman pulling ahead of former state Rep. Cathy Eden, former Phoenix New Times reporter John Dougherty and political organizer Randy Parraz in the four-way race for the Democratic nomination.

“I’m happy with the win – we had to do what it takes,” McCain said Tuesday night in an interview with The Arizona Republic. “As you know, this is an anti-incumbency environment and I had to prove to the Republican voters of Arizona that I can be the most effective person for them in these very difficult times.”

Had McCain faced a different challenger, this morning’s story could have been very different for him, but it looks all but certain that John McCain will be heading back to Washington in January.

The final race of national note was the Republican primary in Arizona’s 3rd Congressional District, which saw Ben Quayle, son of the former Vice President, beat out a crowded field despite several mis-steps during the course of the campaign. Considering that retiring Congressman John Shaddegg was re-elected in 2008 by a 30,000 vote margin, Quayle seems well-positioned to win in November.

So, in short, it was a good night for the GOP, for the most part (I think that the Florida Senate seat and the Governor’s Mansion may slip through their hands) and, in some cases, a bad night for establishment candidates.

Sound familiar ?

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, Environment, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    I think I’d put a hundred bucks on Crist in Florida. Meek’s vote will collapse as Democrats vote tactically and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end up with below 10% of the vote. It’s a bit of a horse race but I’d still say Crist was the favorite.

  2. The conventional wisdom is that a Meek win in the primary hurts Crist because he will keep the African-American vote in the Democratic column. Even if that happens, though, I think we’re going to see large segments of the 17-19% that Meek is pulling in the polls drop away once people start paying attention to this race. In addition, the Democratic money seems to be going to Crist.

    Crist is now the Democrats best chance to pick this seat up since it’s pretty clear he’ll caucus with them (unless the GOP somehow gains control of the Senate, in which case I bet we’ll see him support his former party in a leadership fight).

  3. cfpete says:

    Lawton Chiles was a Democrat.
    You have that backwards: Miami Herald

  4. I didn’t say he wasn’t a Democrat

    His son, however, is running as an Indy. And, with him in the race, the polls have Sink beating Scott

  5. Mike Edwards says:

    Same polls that had McCollum surging ahead of Scott?

  6. RW Rogers says:

    The outcome of the GOP contest for attorney general is worth mentioning, I think. Palin endorsed one candidate a week ago, Gingrich another somewhat earlier, and a third was polling just as well as those two up until the weekend before the election. (In fact, the difference between the three was within the margin of error for a poll released 8/20.) The Palin-endorsed candidate appears to have won the nomination quite comfortably.

  7. cfpete says:

    If you drill down into the polls, as flawed as they were, you will see Chiles pulling more Dems from Sink than Reps from Scott.
    Sink should be up even more.
    However, I would say all polling to date is worthless. Scott and McCollum have been beating each other up for months now. Expect Scott to flood the field with $50 – $100 million against Sink.
    I like Sink and may vote for her, honestly though; her campaign has been less than stellar.

  8. Gerry W. says:

    Much to do about nothing. Just big money changing hands and the next person will feed the already broken machine. Owned and paid for by lobbyists and interest groups.

  9. John Burgess says:

    I have to say that Scott was working the bushes more ardently than McCollum, too. While McCollum postponed visits to Sarasota at least three times, Scott made three visits. Sure, it’s only one county, but it seems one person was more eager to win… and he did.