Voters in seven states cast ballots on Tuesday, one of the busiest days (and nights) of the entire 2014 primary season.
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Thad Cochran's amazing win dominated the national news coverage but there were all sorts of fascinating storylines playing out across the country from Colorado to Oklahoma to New York. In a post-primary Fix tradition, I offer up some of the (hopefully) less obvious winners and losers from the night that was. Who did I miss? The comments section awaits.
* The Barbours: Yes, Cochran won. But, talk to any Republican -- in either Mississippi or DC -- and they will tell you that without the Barbours, Cochran wouldn't have even come close to victory. Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was, functionally, the campaign manager for the campaign. Austin Barbour, Haley's nephew, ran the communications operation for Cochran. Henry Barbour, Austin's brother, ran the main super PAC supporting Cochran, which wound up raising almost $3 million.
* Black Mississippians: Cochran won for a variety of reasons but the big one seems to be the number of African American votes he collected. With black voters making the difference between Cochran winning and losing, they now, presumably, have a chit to call in with the incumbent sometime down the line.
* Colorado Republicans: Former Rep. Bob Beauprez, who won the state's Republican gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, probably isn't going to beat Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) this fall. But, by beating controversial former Rep. Tom Tancredo in the primary, Beauprez robs Democrats of the chance to turn not only the governor's race but also the state's very competitive Senate race into a referendum on Tancredo's views on immigration. Rep. Cory Gardner, the party's nominee for Senate, should send Beauprez a nice fruit basket -- do people still do that? -- today.
*James Lankford: Remember how people thought that the Republican primary race between Lankford, a two-term Congressman, and state House Speaker T.W. Shannon was something close to a toss up? Um, no. Lankford absolutely crushed Shannon -- winning 57 percent of the vote in a three-way primary and, in so doing, virtually ensuring he will be the next Senator from the Sooner State.
* Charlie Rangel: He did it, again. Rangel, the 22-term New York Democratic Congressman, appears to have beaten back his third straight serious primary challenge. (The Associated Press has yet to call the race although 100 percent of precincts are reporting and Rangel is ahead of his main challenger by a little under 2,00o votes.) If Rangel wins, he'll end his career on his own terms -- retiring before the 2016 election.
* Mitt Romney: Dude is now 10-0 in contested primaries in 2014. The 2012 Republican presidential nominee backed Beauprez in Colorado and Elise Stefanik, a former Congressional aide, who won a contested Republican primary for a competitive open seat in New York. Ten wins, zero losses. Not too shabby.
* Chamber of Commerce/National Association of Realtors: Both groups spent heavily for Cochran in the primary and didn't let up in the runoff even when things looked dire in the immediate aftermath of the June 3 vote. That investment, against all odds, paid off on Tuesday night.
* Stuart Stevens/Russ Schriefer: The media consultants for Romney's presidential campaign in 2012 had a very good night. They did the ads for Cochran as well as for Larry Hogan, who won a contested Republican gubernatorial primary in Maryland, as well as Stefanik.
* Mississippi Secretary of State: The national spotlight shone brightly on the Magnolia State on Tuesday and the election returns process ran smoothly and, relatively, quickly -- particularly given how close the race wound up being. Kudos.
* Travis Childers: The former Democratic Congressman's entire path to victory was premised on the idea that McDaniel was going to be the Republican nominee. Whoops! Now Childers is stuck in a race for the next five months against a many-time elected incumbent in a state that strongly favors Republicans. Even worse for Childers? The key to Cochran's primary victory appears to be reliably Democratic African American voters, who crossed over to support the Republican incumbent. Gut punch.
* Chris McDaniel: Yes, McDaniel is an obvious loser because, well, he got less votes than Cochran. But, what really earned him a spot on the loser list was his bizarre and decidedly ungracious "concession" speech on Tuesday night. Anyone can be gracious when you win; true character is revealed by being gracious when you lose.
* National Republicans: No one would say it publicly but national Republican leaders would have loved to see Shannon make it through the GOP primary in Oklahoma, adding a second African-American Republican to the Senate. (South Carolina's Sen. Tim Scott is the only black Republican in the Senate at the moment.) For a party badly in need of non-white faces, Shannon's convincing defeat is a missed opportunity.
* Doug Gansler: Gansler, the Maryland attorney general, had been plotting a run for governor for years. But, his campaign effectively ended last fall when he was shown at a Delaware beach party in which there appeared to be significant underage drinking. He got 24 percent of the vote in Tuesday Democratic primary, less than half of what winner Anthony Brown, the state's lieutenant governor, received.
* South Carolina political dynasties: Sally Awater, the wife of the late legendary political consultant Lee Atwater, lost a Republican runoff for State Superintendent of Education while Mike Campbell, the son of iconic former Gov. Carroll Campbell, lost a GOP runoff for lieutenant governor. Not a good night for dynasty building in the Palmetto State.
* Me: I wrote repeatedly how it seemed impossible for Cochran to win a runoff after getting less votes than McDaniel in the primary. I should have remembered the first rule of politics (and the main reason I love it): Surprises happen. Noted.