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Winners and losers: Michigan, Missouri and Kansas primaries

By Felicia Sonmez and Aaron Blake

It was a late night for The Fix -- and not because we were tossing and turning over the fate of Bristol and Levi's romance, Brett Favre's future with the NFL, or Shark Week.

No, we were up watching the returns come in from three states -- Michigan, Missouri and Kansas -- and now, after crunching the numbers, parsing the polls and surveying the insiders, we bring to you our list of the winners and losers of last night's primaries.

Spot anyone we missed? Disagree with one of our picks? The (new-and-improved) comments section awaits!


Republican Governors Association: The RGA got probably its best candidate out of the three frontrunners in Michigan, with self-funding businessman Rick Snyder beating state Attorney General Mike Cox and Rep. Pete Hoekstra. Democrats, meanwhile, got a candidate they view as a liability in Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero. Snyder can really lay claim to outsider status, and unlike other wealthy candidates like Jeff Greene (D) and Rick Scott (R) in Florida and Linda McMahon (R) in Connecticut, he doesn't have any glaring baggage stemming from his business record. Bernero, meanwhile, was both the more liberal candidate and the poorer fundraiser in the Democratic primary. Democrats might not even put up a fight to keep this one in their column.

State legislators: Say what you want about an anti-establishment mood, plenty of state legislators are making the leap. State Sen. Hansen Clarke (D) made Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D) the fourth House incumbent to lose a primary, former Missouri state Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R) will face Rep. Ike Skelton (D), and state Reps. Kevin Yoder (R) and Justin Amash (R) and state Sen. Tim Huelskamp (R) won in key open-seat races in Kansas and Michigan.

Club for Growth: Three of the Club's endorsed candidates won in competitive open-seat races last night. Amash won in Michigan's 3rd district, while Huelskamp and businessman Mike Pompeo (R) prevailed in Kansas' 1st and 4th districts. The Club noted in a release that it spent nearly $500,000 to support all three candidates and can now claim a 9-0 record in the contested races it's entered this cycle.

Fred Davis: With Snyder's win, the media guru can add one more name to his list of successful clients this cycle. Former eBay CEO Carly Fiorina (R) won her June primary with the help of Davis' "demon sheep" and "Boxer blimp;" former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) currently leads former Rep. Nathan Deal (R) in the Georgia gubernatorial primary runoff thanks to Davis' "lipstick" ad; and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is also on track to win his primary this month. Not all of Davis' clients have met with success, but his ubiquitous "one tough nerd" ads appear to have given a major boost to Snyder's bid.


Sarah Palin: It's getting harder to call Palin a loser the day after a primary, because in a lot of states, she simply doesn't seem to care that she's backing losing candidates (see: today's endorsement of Maryland governor candidate Brian Murphy). But Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) was significantly behind Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) when Palin backed Tiahrt in the state's Senate race, and he still lost - albeit in a somewhat close race.

The Kilpatrick legacy: Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (D) continues to face legal trouble, and now his mother has paid the price for it. Of course, it seemed only a matter of time for Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, who only survived last cycle because two reputable primary opponents split the anti-Kilpatrick vote.

Representatives with higher ambitions: Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) last night became the latest congressman to fall short in his bid for higher office, joining Reps. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) and Artur Davis (D-Ala.). (Worth noting: one former congressman, Tim Walberg, was successful last night and will go on to fight against Rep. Mark Schauer (D) for his old seat in Michigan's 7th district this fall.)

Jay Riemersma: The former NFL tight end spent $650,000 in Michigan's 2nd district race for the seat of Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), and although he has yet to officially concede, it appears that he's come up short against former state Rep. Bill Huizenga (R) -- a reminder that while it was a good night for the free-spending Snyder, self-funding doesn't always guarantee a win.

Health care overhaul: Missourians rejected it overwhelmingly with their ballot initiative, Proposition C, which was supported by about 71 percent of voters yesterday. Granted, the end result was likely boosted by the fact that Republicans had a greater number of competitive races on the ballot than Democrats did; on top of that, the measure is largely a symbolic one with no real ability to affect the federal law. Still, coupled with President Obama's dismal 34 percent approval rating in the state, it's one more data point that indicates Democrats have an uphill battle in Missouri this fall.

By Felicia Sonmez  |  August 4, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Winners and Losers  
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