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NC-Sen, NC-Gov, IN-Gov: As expected, State Sen. Kay Hagan won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, and heads into the general election with some nice momentum after a convincing victory last night.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue handily defeated State Treasurer Richard Moore in the state's primary for Governor, meaning that the state will have two women atop the ticket. If elected, Perdue will be the first female governor in North Carolina history, and Hagan, if elected, would be the first female Democratic Senator (her opponent Elizabeth Dole is the state's first female Senator).

Coupled with the primary victory for Jill Long Thompson in the Indiana governor's race (if elected, she will be the first female Governor of Indiana), yesterday was a good day for women candidates. Hillary Clinton is an obvious exception, but even so, she has been by far the most successful and most popular female presidential candidate in U.S. history up to this point.

Hagan goes into the general election a viable underdog, whose candidacy has been compared to Jim Webb's from last cycle. Senate Guru comments:

Hagan is well-positioned to challenge Dole.  A Research 2000 poll from about a week ago commissioned by Daily Kos sees Dole leading Hagan by only a seven-point margin, 48-41.  Given that Dole is presumably at maximum name ID and that she rarely touches 50% in any approval poll (that isn't commissioned by her campaign or her partisans), she has little room to grow.  On the other hand, Hagan is still expanding her name ID beyond her State Senate district.  And polling indicates that her paid media campaign is incredibly effective.  This won't turn into a Tier 1 race overnight, but every indication is that this is a strong Tier 2 race with much potential.

Perdue's race for NC-Gov should probably be considered "tossup/lean-Dem", as she faces a tough opponent in Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory. I'd consider Jill Long Thompson's race "tossup/lean-R", as she takes on moderately unpopular Governor Mitch Daniels.

KY-Sen: More polling on the Democratic primary sees Greg Fischer slowly inching upwards against opponent Bruce Lunsford. Lunsford now leads 41% to 22%, with other candidates splitting the remainder of the vote. In SUSA's last poll, Lunsford led 43-18, and prior to that he held a 47% to 9% advantage.

Lunsford seems stuck in the 40s, and Fischer is gaining on him, but he has only two weeks until the May 20 primary to make up a 19-point gap.

OR-Sen: Democratic candidate Steve Novick, vying with Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley for the Democratic nod, has posted his April fundraising numbers. He raised $138,000 in April, putting him over the $1 million mark in toto. I don't know if/when Merkley will release April numbers, but I'd be excited to see them. The primary is just two weeks away.

House Races

LA-06: GOP House members are pissed, and they're starting to realize just how doomed they are this fall. So they're turning on their leadership:

Foremost on the minds of most Members at Tuesday’s Conference meeting was the GOP’s loss of former Rep. Richard Baker’s (La.) seat and the prospects that the party could lose another GOP seat in Mississippi on May 13.

After the meeting, many Republicans privately grumbled that NRCC Chairman Tom Cole’s (Okla.) explanation for what happened in Louisiana closely resembled the excuse for why Republicans lost the special election to replace former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) earlier this year: a flawed candidate. Former Louisiana legislator Woody Jenkins (R), like millionaire businessman Jim Oberweis (R) in Illinois, had high negatives. But there are overarching concerns about campaign strategy as well.

"People realize that in Louisiana and Illinois, we had candidates who were flawed, and that was a principal reason for their defeats," said one Republican Member. "But there’s concern, too, about the overall political environment. A lot of Members realize that we need to be drawing sharper contrasts with Democrats."

IN-05, IN-07, NC-03, NC-10: On primary day in North Carolina and Indiana, all the incumbents won their cointested primary races, including Democrat Andre Carson in Indiana's 7th District.

The bad news is that Congress will still be polluted by the likes of the thoroughly unpleasant Patrick McHenry, who won renomination in NC-10, and nutter Dan Burton, who fended off a stiff challenger in Indiana's 5th District and won with 52% of the vote.

The good news, I suppose, is that Republican incumbent Walter Jones won renomination and likely reelection in North Carolina's 3rd District. I'm happy about this for two reasons. First of all, all things considered, I'd rather have a Republican around who opposes the Iraq War, and occasionally sides with Dems on other things, than another party-line lackey. Second, it is proof that even in strongly red territory like Jones' R+15 district, even among Republican primary voters, such a stance on Iraq is perfectly acceptable.

Don’t tell this to Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD 01), who lost his primary bid in Feb., but apparently, GOPers don’t mind if their Rep. is against the Iraq war. Rep. Walter Jones (R), who faced stiff opposition in his conservative CD over his outspoken stance against the war, nonetheless comfortably defeated Onslow Co. Commis. Joe McLaughlin (R) 60-40%.

McLaughlin had the perfect issue in which to attack Jones in the primary, but he never raised enough money to raise his name ID enough to come close to knocking off Jones, whose father was a Democratic Congressman in the state. In the end, Jones’ long ties to the CD, his conservative position on social issues and McLaughlin’s lack of cash, made this a laugher for Jones.

ID-01: Democrat Walt Minnick, running against incumbent Bill "Absolute Idiot" Sali, held a campaign event yesterday in which he sold gasoline for $2.26 a gallon. Roll Call has an article about Minnick's uphill candidacy in this R+18.9  district, where Larry Grant nearly pulled off an incredible upset last year:

But some Republicans are concerned. They point to what happened to the GOP in Illinois’ 14th, represented for many years by former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R), and Louisiana’s 6th, held by the GOP even before former Rep. Richard Baker first won the seat in 1986, as proof that running as a Republican in a conservative district is no longer enough to guarantee victory.

"This is not the kind of environment where Republicans can be operating under the assumption that they can win in a red district simply because they have an R next to their name," said one GOP strategist based in Washington, D.C.

Minnick has actually outraised Sali, and is already on Red To Blue. It's a tough race, but no one is less deserving of a seat in the U.S. House than Bill Sali.

MS-01: Still more money going into this race. The DCCC is going for the kill here, it seems, and the NRCC is pulling out all the stops to stave off defeat.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed May 07, 2008 at 02:12 PM PDT.

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