Peters, Clay turn back fellow Congress members in primaries

at 12:20 AM ET, 08/08/2012

Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) defeated freshman Democratic Rep. Hansen Clarke in Michigan’s 14th District primary on Tuesday. Peters, who will be heavily favored to win in November, is now almost certain to join Rep.  Steve Cohen  (D-Tenn.) as just the second white member of the House to represent a majority-black district.

With 81 percent of precincts reporting, the Associated Press had called the race for Peters, who led Clarke 45 percent to 37 percent. Race was an undercurrent in the multiple-candidate contest, which included Peters, who is white, and Clarke, who is half-black and half-Bangladeshi. During the campaign, Clarke expressed his displeasure about tactics he said were designed to “split up the black vote.” 

Peters won on Tuesday by firming up support in the parts of the district he has represented and securing the backing of organized labor. Peters defeated Clarke and three other Democrats.

Clarke’s tenure in the House would be short-lived, as he would have to leave after one term.

The contest between Peters and Clarke was one of two member-vs.-member primaries on Tuesday. In Missouri’s 1st District, Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. defeated Rep. Russ Carnahan.

Carnahan’s congressional career will wrap up at the end of his third term in the House.

The decennial redistricting process left Carnahan without a district and led him to challenge Clay in the new St. Louis-based 1st District, which was mostly new territory for the 3rd District representative.

Clay is virtually assured another term in Congress, as he is running in a district that gave President Obama 80 percent of the vote in 2008. Clay was first elected in 2000.

Carnahan, the son of the late Democratic senator Mel Carnahan, will be sent home after eight years of service in the House. His loss comes two years after his sister, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D), lost an open Senate race to now-Sen. Roy Blunt (R).

Meanwhile, Kerry Bentivolio, a reindeer farmer and teacher, won the Republican primary in the race to replace Thaddeus McCotter in Michigan’s 11th District. Bentivolio’s victory will raise Democrats’ hopes of competing for the seat in November.

Bentivolio, a outside-the-mainstream Republican, was the only candidate who made it into the GOP ballot after McCotter surprisingly failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify earlier this year. Local Republican leaders attempted to rally around the candidacy of Nancy Cassis , who was one of three candidates to wage a write-in bid for the GOP nomination. None of the write-in candidates were able to pick up enough momentum to defeat Bentivolio.

Bentivolio has attracted attention for having acted in a low-budget Sept. 11 “truther” movie that mocks former president George W. Bush. Cassis had said that if Bentivolio wins, she will not endorse him.

On the Democratic side, physician Syed Taj, the choice of establishment Democrats in the state, including Sen. Debbie Stabenow, won the primary. He gives his party a chance in a district Obama carried with about 51 percent of the vote in 2008.

Elsewhere in Michigan, Republican Rep. Fred Upton turned back a challenge from Jack Hoogendyk, whom he also defeated in 2010. Upton is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. won his multiple candidate primary in the 13th District and is set to run in the general eleciton for a 24th term.

Updated at 1:32 a.m.

 

 

 
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