[bumped - Barbara Morrill]
While the precincts are still rolling in, let's take this opportunity before the East Coast heads off to slumber to take a look at where things stand on what has proven to be a much more interesting than expected primary night in Alabama, Mississippi, and New Mexico:
- Contrary to many expectations on Election Eve, it looks like the headline tonight won't be the gubernatorial primaries in Alabama. In the northern tier of the state (AL-05), turncoat Democrat-turned-Republican Parker Griffith is finding that he is not receiving a warm welcome in his new party. As things stand at this moment (with 82% of precincts reporting), Mo Brooks will win the Republican primary, and narrowly avoid a runoff. Griffith might be able to squeak back into the runoff, but with just 33% of the vote to his name right now, his prospects for nomination are pretty damned close to nil. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Steven Raby is leading by a wider-than-expected margin, and the AP just declared him the winner, without a runoff.
- Meanwhile, in the aforementioned race for AL-Gov, the Democratic primary has also yielded a surprise. While it is still somewhat early (just over half of the precincts have been tallied), Ron Sparks looks well on his way to a landslide win over Artur Davis (65-35). Working against Davis: he is underperforming badly in his own 7th Congressional District. Perhaps that HCR vote was his undoing--this might be a heavily black district, but it is also a liberal one. Voting with the GOP on health care might have been a fatal political error. On the GOP side, on the other hand, a runoff seems certain at this point. The only question is which two of the frontrunners will sneak into that runoff. We could be well into the night before that particular question is answered. As of last check, less than 2000 votes separated first from third place in the Republican primary. Surprisingly, perhaps, "10 Commandments Judge" Roy Moore is not among the trio. He trails well behind the leaders with just 20% of the vote.
- Also on the menu in Alabama: sad news for parody fans. Republican Ag Commissioner hopeful Dale Peterson is currently running 3rd (out of 3) in his bid for the job. Personally, it would only seem right to pin the blame for his pending defeat on thugs and criminals.
- In other battles to determine the Fall roster in the battle for control of the House of Representatives, we have a mild surprise in AL-02, where NRCC recruit Martha Roby could be headed for a runoff. She leads teabagger opponent Rick Barber, but is under the magic 50% threshold (45-30). Democratic incumbent Bobby Bright is unopposed. In AL-06, Spencer Bachus looks to have survived a teabagger threat in this, one of the most conservative districts in America. He leads with 69% of the vote at last check. Meanwhile, in the heavily Democratic 7th district, runoffs appear certain on both sides. On the Democratic side, Sheila Smoot and Terri Sewell look likely to make it into the runoff, with Earl Hilliard Jr. (son of the longtime former Congressman from the 7th) trailing well behind. As you'll see when we get to New Mexico, it is not a good night for legacy candidates.
- Meanwhile, in Mississippi, there are only two races getting attention, and both have gone according to form. In MS-01, with about 90% of the vote counted, NRCC fave and state senator Alan Nunnelee appears on the verge of just avoiding a runoff. He leads teabagger opponent Henry Ross by a 51-33 margin. The best news from the 1st: the golden touch of Sarah Palin continues unabated. Much hyped Fox News contributor Angela McGlowan (endorsed today, for those scoring at home, by Palin) was a non-factor, notching 16% of the vote. Down on the other side of the state in MS-04, longtime Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor is seeing his first legit Republican challenge in well over a decade. State legislator Steven Palazzo took the primary, defeating Joe Tegerdine 58-42.
- They are also getting after it in the Land of Enchantment, and the story there is Dona Ana County D.A. Susana Martinez. Expected to be locked into a tight battle with self-financing former state party chairman Allen Weh, Martinez has pulled out to a pretty commanding 50-30 lead over Weh. The secondary "big story" is what a total non-factor Pete Domenici Jr. wound up becoming. He is currently a distant fourth place, with just 7% of the vote. In the one House primary worth exploring (NM-03), standard issue GOPer Tom Mullins is hammering Paul-ite Adam Kokesh right now (75-25), but only about a quarter of the precincts are in.
UPDATE #1 (8:09 PM PT): The AP has called the Democratic primary for Alabama Governor for Ron Sparks.
UPDATE #2 (8:16 PM PT): And, minutes later, the AP has now called the Republican primary for New Mexico Governor for Susana Martinez.
UPDATE #3 (8:26 PM PT): Parker Griffith is on his last legs. With over 90% of precincts reporting, he still cannot coax Brooks back under 50%. Brooks is still sitting at 51%. Worse yet for the newly minted Republican, almost all of the precincts remaining are in Madison County, where Griffith has absolutely gotten obliterated tonight (58-24) by Brooks.
FINAL UPDATE (9:00 PM PT): Only two precincts remain in AL-05, and it is safe to say that Parker Griffith's congressional career is about to end. He needs to make up over 1000 votes in two precincts, which simply is not gonna happen. Terri Sewell used a huge lead in her home turf to move into the undisputed lead in AL-07, while Sheila Smoot is now reasonably close to Hilliard for the final transfer spot. That GOP primary for Alabama Governor will be decided well in the future, as the three frontrunners keep swapping the lead. In MS-01, bad news for Democratic incumbent Travis Childers, as Alan Nunnelee has officially avoided a runoff. Meanwhile, Dale Peterson continues to bring up the rear for Ag Commish, proving that voters simply don't give a rip about Alabama...