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Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico primaries: What to Watch For

Voters are voting in Alabama, Mississippi and New Mexico today!

Since polls don't close in Alabama and Mississippi until 8 pm eastern -- and in New Mexico at 9 pm eastern -- you'll need some of that good political stuff to chew on between now and then.

Without further ado, we give you five story lines to keep an eye on in today's voting.

* Artur Davis tries to make history: Alabama Rep. Artur Davis' (D) resume is not unlike that of another famous African American politician. He, like President Barack Obama attended Harvard Law School. And, like Obama, Davis -- in 2000 -- challenged a longtime black Member of Congress in a majority-minority district and lost. Two years later Davis came back and won the 7th district and now, eight years later, he is trying to become the first African American governor in Alabama history.

What once looked like a primary cakewalk for Davis, however, has turned into a real race as the Congressman has moved to the middle -- casting a vote against the President's health care bill -- while also choosing to bypass the courtship of traditional centers of African American political power in the state.

Davis' decision not to seek the support of groups like the Alabama Democratic Conference and the New South Coalition -- he has long been at odds with the leaders of those organizations -- led them to throw their endorsements behind state Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who is white, in the primary. (And, yes, the office Sparks is vacating is the one that Dale "don't give a rip" Peterson is seeking today.)

Davis' primary math is largely dependent on the fact that roughly six in ten voters are expected to be black and he will win a large swath of them. But, the divide between Davis and the unelected black leaders in the state complicate that calculus. Keep an eye on counties like Barbour, Bullock and Macon -- all of which are heavily African American -- to see how Davis is performing with this critical voting bloc.

* Can Parker Griffith do what Arlen Specter couldn't?: There were two party-switchers last year, and both earned themselves difficult primaries because of it. Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter (R to D) lost his intraparty fight two weeks ago to Rep. Joe Sestak and now it looks like Rep. Parker Griffith (D to R) might be forced into a runoff today if he can't clear the 50 percent barrier in the primary.

The likeliest runoff opponent for Griffith is Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks, who was endorsed by 2008 GOP 5th district nominee Wayne Parker. Les Phillip, who has been endorsed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, is also in the race and recently made a splash with an ad suggesting he, as a black man, would be a more effective critic of President Obama.

A July 13 runoff could be a dangerous thing for Griffith as it would almost certainly be cast as a referendum on his Republican bona fides. While the national party would go all out to save Griffith, it's not clear whether that sort of intervention would help.

* TARP (again): Reps. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), both of whom supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), face nominal GOP challengers whom they are expected to beat.

The question is whether they are held to around 60 percent of the vote -- as some other bailout-supporting Republicans have. TARP is not AT ALL popular with the GOP base and any number of Republicans (Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Utah Sen. Bob Bennett to name two) have seen their political ambitions stifled by their late 2008 votes to bail out Wall Street.

(Another TARP-related casualty could well come next week when Rep. Gresham Barrett who has spent most of his bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in South Carolina defending his vote for the program is on the ballot.)

Bachus and Bonner have faced next-to-no opposition since winning their heavily Republican seats in 1992 and 2002, respectively. And, regardless of what percentage they take tonight -- assuming it's over 50 percent, of course -- both will be safe this fall as John McCain won 77 percent in Bachus' 6th district and 61 percent in Bonner's 1st.

* In the New Mexico Republican gubernatorial primary, Doña Ana County District Attorney Susana Martinez seems headed to a win over former state GOP chairman Allen Weh with the main drama now in how big her margin will be.

For the answer to that question, keep an eye on Bernalillo County (home to Albuquerque), which is expected to deliver about one-third of the vote in today's primary.

Bernalillo is also likely to be a central battleground in the fall between Martinez and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish who faces no challenge in the Democratic primary today.

It is located within the 1st congressional district -- for years one of the most competitive House seats in the country. Although President Obama won it with 60 percent in 2008, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) carried it by less than 9,000 votes in 2004 and then Vice President Al Gore won it by less than 3,000 votes four years before that.

Other counties to keep an eye on tonight -- with an eye toward a Martinez-Denish race this fall -- include the "Little Texas" counties (Chaves, Curry, De Baca, Eddy, Lea, and Roosevelt) in the eastern part of the state.

* Establishment in Trouble?: One week removed from Iraq war veteran Vaughn Ward's loss in a Republican primary in Idaho's 1st district, two other GOP candidates who have been touted by the national party face their own political fates today.

In the southern Alabama's 2nd district, Montgomery City Councilman Martha Roby is the handpicked candidate of the National Republican Congressional Committee. She hasn't wowed on the fundraising front -- $178,000 on hand through May 12 -- but faces far less well-financed primary challengers including tea party activist Rick Barber.

Meanwhile, two hundred miles to the west in Mississippi's 1st district, state Sen. Alan Nunnelee faces a primary fight from -- among others -- former Fox News Channel commentator Angela McGlowan.

National Republicans have made clear they believe Nunnelee, who hails from Tupelo, is their best chance at beating Rep. Travis Childers (D) who won the northern Mississippi district in a May 2008 special election.

Neither Roby nor Nunnelee have run nearly as poor a campaign as Ward did -- few candidates can lay claim to that sort of disastrous performance -- and both are favored to win today. But, a loss -- or even a close win -- will raise further doubts about the power of the national party to pick their preferred candidates in an electoral environment of anger and volatility.

With Aaron Blake and Felicia Sonmez

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 1, 2010; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Governors , House  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: The electability argument and the California Senate race
Next: Primary prediction contest!

Comments

A Republican candidate can do well in Bernalillo county. In spite of a majority of voters being registered as Democrats, the Republicans held the 1st Congressional from 1968 to 2008.

Last October Albuquerque just elected a Republican mayor and majority city council for the first time in about 20 years.

Posted by: archdukeofguacamole | June 1, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

"

Watch out when Breitbart's latest expose is finally covered by the Post.

While posing as a Census worker, an undercover reporter films Department of the Census supervisors encouraging Census workers to fake their time sheets.

I don't think that stressed taxpayers can take much more fraud in government.

November will be interesting.

Posted by: tacheronb"

It's James O'Keefe. The guy who doctored videos of ACORN and tried to wiretap a Federal office building.

He set his sights a bit lower this time. He apparently got paid for 19 hours of work when he only performed 16.

Posted by: DDAWD | June 1, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Watch out when Breitbart's latest expose is finally covered by the Post.

While posing as a Census worker, an undercover reporter films Department of the Census supervisors encouraging Census workers to fake their time sheets.

I don't think that stressed taxpayers can take much more fraud in government.

November will be interesting.

Posted by: tacheronb | June 1, 2010 5:48 PM
------

Must be former Acorn workers.

Posted by: Brigade | June 1, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

Alabama and Mississippi candidates better get on television and provide their people of what they will do when the oil hits their shores.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | June 1, 2010 2:42 PM
-------

Or what they would have done if Obama and his bozos had made a good faith effort to keep the oil away from their shores.

Posted by: Brigade | June 1, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

What to look for in today's primaries?

Oil

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | June 1, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

gee, we keep chris' blog really on topic don't we?

Boy oh boy, what a day. Alabama and Mississippi has more than primaries to worry about.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | June 1, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Since when is casting a vote against healthcare or even healthcare reform moving "to the middle?" The middle of what? Nowhere? This is a great example of how relentless Banana Republican twaddle has totally convoluted political discourse in this country over the past 30 years.

Posted by: CopyKinetics | June 1, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Watch out when Breitbart's latest expose is finally covered by the Post.

While posing as a Census worker, an undercover reporter films Department of the Census supervisors encouraging Census workers to fake their time sheets.

I don't think that stressed taxpayers can take much more fraud in government.

November will be interesting.

Posted by: tacheronb | June 1, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

The democrats have to be honest here - the OIL SPILL IN THE GULF IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO OBAMA COZING UP TO SPECIAL INTERESTS.


Obama took almost a MILLION dollars from BP


Obama ALLOWED THE SITUATION AT THE MINERALS MANAGEMENT SERVICE TO CONTINUE - IN THE FAVOR OF THE SPECIAL INTERESTS.


OBAMA CAN'T SAY HE DIDN'T KNOW - IT WAS WELL KNOWN AND PRINTED ON THE FRONT PAGE OF THE WASHINGTON POST.


IT IS ABOUT TIME THAT OBAMA NOT DOING WHAT HE SAID HE WAS GOING TO DO - DIRECTLY LED TO THIS OIL SPILL. OBAMA IS RESPONSIBLE.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | June 1, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Democrat or Republican, a crook is a crook. Both parties should purge their scum bags for the betterment of the country. Why is Charlie Rangel still around? Or Ensign? They need to be removed from office (i.e. impeached) By being supported , it gives the party a blemish that only angers the people.

Posted by: richard36 | June 1, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Concerning the Sestak affair; I thought the original story was that the White House wanted him to remain in the house AND serve on some presidential board at the same time. (I don't think that's supposed to happen, but not sure.) The problem I have with all of this is that there is a certain inconsistency in the stories from the beginning until now. I think they DO need someone independent of the administration to look into it. Just because the WH lawyers SAY it's ok, doesn't mean that it is. They're policing themselves and I don't trust them. Further, all the stonewalling and waffling in addition to the changing stories have the potential to damage Sestak by making him look weak by agreeing with the latest one. It will be interesting to see who my state has as a new senator after the next election.

Posted by: Lilycat1 | June 1, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Chris,
New Mexico First district. You say Gore won it by less than 3,000, Kerry won it by less than 9,000, and Obama won it 60%-40%. That looks like a pretty strong trend line to me.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | June 1, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

TheBabeNemo


There was a Sestak affair - and it needs to be investigated.


There are serious problems and LIES in the report the White House issued last week.

A sitting Congressman can not hold that position - as per the Constitution. So the whole thing doesn't make sense.

In addition, the report seems to AGREE THERE WAS AN OFFER.

An offer is ILLEGAL - and if an OFFER WAS MADE TO BLAGO THROUGH THE UNION OFFICIAL, THAT WOULD BE ILLEGAL TOO.


We need an investigation.

We need an INDEPENDENT PROSECUTOR.


.

Posted by: 37thand0street | June 1, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse


there is no Sestak Affair.

he was offered an unpaid position and he said no. I would too. If you aren't paying me for it, why should I even talk about it.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | June 1, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Let them vote for their unelectable teabagger candidates, koolkat. Better for us.

Posted by: drindl | June 1, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse


Alabama and Mississippi candidates better get on television and provide their people of what they will do when the oil hits their shores.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | June 1, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Politics and politicians are neutered by their own naivety -- and a refusal to believe that extremist evil lurks on America's dark side:

ENDLESS GULF OIL SPILL: PURPOSEFUL 'END OF DAYS' POWER PLAY?

http://nowpublic.com/world/endless-gulf-oil-spill-purposeful-end-days-power-play

Gulf oil spill diverts attention from domestic atrocities against American citizens...

HOMELAND FUSION CENTERS SILENTLY ASSAULT, IMPAIR 'TARGETED' AMERICANS WITH CELL TOWER MICROWAVE RADIO FREQUENCY WEAPON SYSTEM, COMMUNITY VIGILANTISM, FINANCIAL SABOTAGE: VETERAN JOURNALIST

Are political leaders "targets" too?

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-silently-tortures-americans-cell-tower-microwaves

IDEOLOGICAL CENSORSHIP OF THE NET: NOT FOR CHINA ONLY

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-govt-censors-net-political-speech-targeted-americans OR NowPublic.com/scrivener

Posted by: scrivener50 | June 1, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"Republican Establishment in Trouble?:"

The RINOS are in trouble!!

Posted by: OregonStorm | June 1, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"Republican Establishment in Trouble?:"

The RINOS are in trouble!!

Posted by: OregonStorm | June 1, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

We still need an INDEPENDENT PROSECUTOR to investigate the SESTAK AFFAIR - AND TO INVESTIGATE THE BLAGO-JARRETT-UNION OFFICIAL communications.

It is that simple.

Obama's people had contact a union official - and that union official in turn had discussions with Blago - a third party just like Bill Clinton was a third party in the Sestak affair - all these details HAVE TO BE REVIEWED BY AN INDEPENDENT PROSECUTOR.

.


Posted by: 37thand0street | June 1, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget that Obama took almost a MILLION dollars from BP.


Obama just completed a year-long review of offshore drilling -


And Obama HAD TO REVIEW THE SAFETY STANDARDS AND ENVIRONMENTAL PREPAREDNESS AT THE MINERALS MANAGEMENT SERVICE.


The MMS has been an issue for years - and if OBAMA DID NOT ACT TO MAKE SURE THAT OFFICE WAS OPERATING PROPERLY, IT IS CLEARLY OBAMA'S PERSONAL FAULT.


THAT IS CLEAR - MMS WAS AN ISSUE WHICH WAS MAKING NATIONAL HEADLINES - OBAMA WAS REVIEWING IT FOR A YEAR - OBAMA IS DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS OIL SPILL.

This is far, far different from Katrina with the State and locals primarily responsible for the evacuation and the Feds had to come in behind.

THIS IS SOMETHING OBAMA WAS WORKING ON FOR A YEAR - OBAMA HAD A SPEECH - HE SAID HE KNEW BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE - UNPRECEDENTED NEW POLICY - EXPANDED OFFSHORE DRILLING.


This was Obama-hubris at its worse - and it has BLOWN UP IN HIS FACE.


AND many of Obama's other policies - like health care are - ticking time bombs - health care is a ticking DEFICIT BOMB.

.

Posted by: 37thand0street | June 1, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

The other pants-peeer.

Posted by: drindl | June 1, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

bumblingberry


Great post at 12:18 - there is an UPTICK in terrorism and Obama is trying to play it down -


Obama wants to pretend there isn't a war at all.

If you have the names or the incidents in which the 80 terrorists have been charges, please list them, because people here will fight with you.

Posted by: 37thand0street | June 1, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse


"A fire is slowly building throughout America as Islamic terrorists flood through our porous borders"


Peeing your pants today, aren't you?


A FIRE is building from a FLOOD? Some physics trick!

Posted by: drindl | June 1, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

A fire is slowly building throughout America as Islamic terrorists flood through our porous borders, and even enter legally through our own immigration process. Meanwhile, Obama focuses his attention and squanders his political capital on health care and gays in the military. That fire feeds and grows as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acknowledged in a May 21 memo that we have seen more terror attacks in the past nine months than in any previous twelve month period and that such attacks are growing at an increasing rate. By my count, in 2009 alone, 80 Muslim terrorists (mostly men between the ages of 20 and 40) were charged, convicted, or sentenced on terrorism charges in America. (according to berry, their religion is not a feature)

If the DHS is correct, we can expect that number to grow still higher in 2010. Still, Obama focuses his attention and gaze on the crucial, all-important subject of gays serving openly in the military.

Obama's inattention and disregard for the concerns of the American people (and the nation itself) represents the embodiment of poor leadership. Have a collapsing economy? We'll “reform” health care. Have a gushing oil spill? We'll ensure that homosexuals can serve their country with “honesty.” The presidential disconnect is obvious.

The next election and everything leading up to it will be a refutation of all things Obungler, despite the Dems attempt to whitewash that.

Berry is betting zero for six - NJ, PA, VA, FL, MA, HI in the races he was an aspect and the one race the Libs won, they had to put a guy in who sounded more like a Repub than any repub who won.

Posted by: bumblingberry | June 1, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

You kids need a little help with your copy...

"* Establishment in Trouble?: One week removed from Iraq war veteran Vaughn Ward's loss in a Republican primary in Idaho's 1st district, two other GOP candidates who have been touted by the national party face their own political fates today.

In the southern Alabama's 2nd district, Montgomery City Councilman Martha Roby is the handpicked candidate of the National Republican Congressional Committee. She hasn't wowed on the fundraising front -- $178,000 on hand through May 12 -- but faces far less well-financed primary challengers including tea party activist Rick Barber."

To reflect the content, that should read:

"Republican Establishment in Trouble?:"

And the answer is yes, however painful that may be to you.

Posted by: drindl | June 1, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

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