Last night was another one of those sleeper election nights that are only followed by political junkies, yet there were some important outcomes.
First the good news, Madison endorsee, Ron DeSantis, easily won his primary for the open seat in FL-6 – the Daytona Beach region. He should be a shoo-in to win in the general election and will augment the ranks of the small but vocal group of principled intellectual conservatives on the Hill. We’re looking for him to become a rising star and are glad to support him.
The biggest shocker of the night, perhaps the biggest upset of the year, occurred in FL-3 where Rep. Cliff Stearns looks like he’ll lose to political novice Ted Yoho. As of early this morning, Yoho was leading by about 800 votes with all the precincts reporting. I’ve heard of Yoho before, but am honestly shocked that he was able to pull off this upset with just over $100,000. He had the advantage of redistricting, which challenged Stearns with new territory. Also, he had the element of surprise on his side, so Stearns was not able to run negative ads against Yoho as most embattled incumbents tend to do.
I must admit that Stearns is not that bad (he had a slight underperforming score, -4.5, from the Madison Performance Index), and we have bigger fish to fry, but if Yoho is truly a Tea Party candidate, this will turn out to be a pleasant surprise and a net gain. We’ll be studying the dynamics of this race to see if we can pull off more similar upsets next cycle. It’s also important to note that Stearns was a high-ranking member of the all-important Energy and Commerce Committee. This will afford us another opportunity to place a conservative on the committee to fill the vacancy.
The most disappointing news was in Wisconsin where Tommy Thompson pulled out a victory with just 34% of the vote. This is a real heartbreaker. Democrats have nominated a radical cook in Tammy Baldwin, providing us with an easy opportunity to flip a seat with a DeMint conservative. Instead we are stuck with a milquetoast Bush-era Republican who originally supported elements of Obamacare. This is yet another example of conservatives splitting the vote amongst multiple candidates, allowing the moderate to win with a simple plurality. There is no doubt that any of the 3 conservative alternatives could have defeated Thompson mano-a-mano. When are we going to learn the lesson?
One other overlooked piece of news last night is the turnout in Florida’s primary. While it’s hard to read the tea leaves for the general election simply based on the primary turnout, it is heartwarming to see that the Republican turnout was higher in the most important state in the country. The Republican vote in the Senate race was 1.124 million; the Democrat vote was 874,370. I know that Nelson had no serious challenger, but Connie Mack also pretty much had a free ride. Total turnout was 2.3 million, so there are a few hundred thousand voters that cast ballots in house races that did not vote in the Senate race. However, the number of competitive House races was evenly divided among the two parties, so there’s no discernible reason why Republicans should have had better turnout other than more enthusiasm.
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