Michigan chooses candidates for governor; Missouri Senate race shapes up
Self-financed businessman Rick Snyder (R) will face Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero (D) in the Michigan gubernatorial race in November after both won competitive primaries Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Rep. Roy Blunt (R) and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) will meet in Missouri's election for an open Senate seat in November after winning their respective primaries.
Three states held primaries Tuesday, with key statewide races in each.
Bernero, who was backed by labor, won the Democratic nomination over state House Speaker Andy Dillon, while the political newcomer Snyder beat Rep. Peter Hoekstra and state Attorney General Mike Cox for the GOP nod in the seat being left open by outgoing Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm (D).
Snyder ran under the slogan "One tough nerd" and spent millions of his own dollars on the contest. Republicans have high hopes in the race, given the problems the state has faced under Granholm.
"As Michigan continues to suffer through one of the worst state economies in the nation, the people are looking for fresh ideas and new leadership," said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, responded: "The race will be difficult, but we have faith that Virg has the right vision and message for Michigan families."
Blunt led state Sen. Chuck Purgason by a wide margin in early returns, and the Associated Press called the race with the congressman garnering more than two-thirds of the vote. Carnahan faced nominal opposition on the Democratic side and won easily.
Blunt will attempt to hold the seat of Republican Sen. Christopher S. Bond, who announced early last year that he will retire at the end of his term.
Carnahan, the daughter of former governor Mel Carnahan (D) and sister of Rep. Russ Carnahan (D), represents a top hope for a Democratic pickup in what is mostly a defensive year for her party.
In Kansas, Sen. Sam Brownback (R) is favored to become the next governor after easily winning his primary. He will face state Sen. Tom Holland (D) in November, but Democrats haven't signaled much willingness to contest the race in dark-red Kansas.
In the race to replace Brownback, Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt were competing for the Republican nomination, with the winner being a heavy favorite to succeed the senator. Moran led 48 percent to Tiahrt's 46 percent, with 82 percent of precincts reporting.
As of press time, Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) was fighting for her political life. The mother of embattled former Detroit mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick (D) trailed state Sen. Hansen Clarke by 10 percentage points with more than half of precincts reporting in the Democratic primary in her metropolitan district.