A brothel owner, an admitted spousal abuser and a supporter of Confederate flag symbols all won their primaries Tuesday night, suggesting that voters on both sides of the aisle just didn't prioritize morals the way they might have in the past.

Here's what happened Tuesday and our best guess at why:

Democrat Archie Parnell won his primary for Congress in South Carolina, despite the fact he admitted to beating his ex-wife decades ago. He refused to drop out of the race after the Charleston Post and Courier reported the abuse allegations from the ’70s, which were serious enough for his ex-wife to say she feared for her life when he used a tire iron to break a glass door at 2 a.m. and start hitting her.

Parnell's staff quit en masse after the revelation of the abuse, which other journalists corroborated.

Unlike failed Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama, who faced sexual misconduct allegations of women decades his junior, Parnell acknowledged what happened. And he tried to run with it.

“Look at who I am today,” he said after winning the primary. “I acknowledge what I did 45 years ago was wrong, and I have to face that. The issues are just too important for us to ignore.”


Archie Parnell, left, campaigns in 2017 for a congressional seat he will try again to win in November, despite acknowledging he beat his ex-wife. (The Washington Post)

One reason he won anyway: Parnell benefited from name recognition in the four-way primary. Before his past was revealed, he came within a few percentage points a year ago of winning the seat in a special election to replace a Trump Cabinet pick. Nonpartisan analysts still rate the district, which borders North Carolina, as solidly Republican.

In Nevada, a brothel owner won the Republican primary for a state legislative seat. Dennis Hof is one of the state's best-known pimps: He owns half a dozen legal brothels in the state, and regularly welcomes TV and documentary cameras into his establishments.

He's also a frequent political candidate, and on Tuesday it paid off. He ousted the current state assemblyman in the Republican primary.


Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof. (Lisa J. Tolda/Reno Gazette Journal/AP)

One reason he won anyway: Hof thinks President Trump had something to do with it, presumably the president's ability to win over socially conservative voters despite his playboy reputation.

“It's all because Donald Trump was the Christopher Columbus for me,” Hof told the Associated Press. “He found the way, and I jumped on it.”

Another reason he may have won: Anti-incumbency fervor is strong right now, especially among hardcore Republican voters, who probably made up the vast majority of primary voters. The lawmaker Hof ousted had represented the rural Nevada district for three terms. In past attempts to run for office, Hof has had support from the official Libertarian Party, and Nevada has a notable libertarian streak.

In Virginia, a supporter of Confederate symbols is Republicans' nominee for U.S. Senate. A number of establishment Republicans had hoped they had seen the end of Corey Stewart, who ran for governor last year. He lost the GOP primary then, but on Tuesday he won his party's nomination to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D) in November.


Corey Stewart, left, will lead the Republican ballot in Virginia in November after winning the nomination for Senate. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post/AP)

Stewart also gained notoriety in last year's governor's race for vowing to protect Confederate monuments even after a self-professed neo-Nazi killed a counterprotester in Charlottesville during dueling protests over Confederate monuments. Stewart notably didn't condemn the white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville and refers to Virginia's slave-owning past as the state's heritage.

That's a problem for the Republican Party. Stewart willingly molds himself after Trump in a state that thoroughly rejected Trump in last year's state elections. At his victory party, Stewart supporters chanted “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall.”

One reason he won anyway: Trump. As The Post's Gregory S. Schneider reports, Virginia's primary electorate on Tuesday was particularly small, which means that only the party's most devout members turned out. And those people, as we're seeing in races across the country, love Trump.