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Updated 5:18 AM  |  June 13, 2018
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Veteran leads Burt’s Bees heir in Maine Democratic primary

Maine Democrats appeared ready to nominate legislator and Iraq War veteran Jared Golden in the state’s rural 2nd Congressional District, which had slipped away from the party in 2014 and grown more Republican since.

With 65 percent of precincts reporting, Golden was winning around 50 percent of the vote over Lucas St. Clair, an environmentalist whose family founded the Burt’s Bees skin care company, and a third candidate.

In the state’s new “ranked choice” electoral system, if any candidate fails to secure a majority of the vote, the second preferences of losing candidates will be added to their total. If voting patterns held through the night, just a hundred or so of Democrat Craig Olson’s voters would be needed to push Golden over the top — if he did not win outright.

A Golden victory would please national Democrats, who worried that St. Clair would be pigeonholed as a wealthy carpetbagger with loose ties to the district. But the primary had proven to be draining for both candidates, with Golden reporting just $116,125 left in funds last month. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R), who won the seat in 2014 and expanded his winning margin in 2016, has stockpiled nearly $2.4 million for the general election.

Conservatives advance in race to replace Rep. Trey Gowdy

Eight years after Rep. Trey Gowdy upset a moderate Republican congressman to take over South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District, three conservatives were in a fight for the runoff to replace him.

Former state senator Lee Bright, who lost his seat in 2016 after opposing the removal of the Confederate flag from state grounds — and suggesting that transgender people should be required to use bathrooms that aligned with their gender at birth — easily secured a runoff slot with 25.5 percent of the vote.

The race for the second slot was close, with state Sen. William Timmons just a few hundred votes ahead of state Rep. Dan Hamilton. Timmons had been critical of Gowdy for casting doubt when President Trump suggested that his campaign had been spied on by the Obama administration; both Timmons and Hamilton had to fend off attacks that they had been critical of Trump on social media.

Republicans pick perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian in Nevada congressional race

Real estate investor Danny Tarkanian, whose father Jerry coached a legendary University of Las Vegas basketball team, was given a sixth shot at elected office by Republicans in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District. Or a seventh shot, depending how voters count.

Tarkanian, who has never won an election, has been trying to since 2004. In that year, he ran for state senate, lost and successfully sued the victor for libel. In 2006, a bad year for Nevada Republicans, he won the party’s nomination for secretary of state but lost in November.

In 2010, Tarkanian ran third out of three candidates in the primary that picked legislator Sharron Angle to challenge then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In 2012, he lost a race in the state’s 4th district to Democrat Steve Horsford. (On Tuesday, Angle lost a primary in the state’s 2nd district, while Horsford won easily in the third.)

Tarkanian considered a run for Nevada’s university regent board in 2014 but passed, and in 2016 he ran for the nomination in the 3rd Congressional District. He got the Republican nod, but lost to Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.). In 2017, when she began running for U.S. Senate, so did Tarkanian, challenging Sen. Dean Heller (R) in the GOP primary. But after personal pressure from the White House, Tarkanian switched back to the 3rd district, where he will now challenge Democrat Susie Lee — who, in 2016, lost a primary in the 4th district.

Laxalt, Sisolak win party nominations for Nevada governor

A conservative state attorney general and a center-left Clark County commissioner will face off in Nevada’s race for governor, both candidates offering a sharp break from moderate Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

In the Republican race, State Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) for president but was endorsed by President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, defeated state Treasurer Dan Schwartz in a landslide. Democrats, who were shocked when Laxalt won the AG’s office in a 2014 upset, plan to challenge him as an opponent of the Affordable Care Act — a contrast with Sandoval — who has intervened in political matters on behalf of powerful donors.

Democrats, meanwhile, nominated Clark County commissioner Steve Sisolak after a competitive and draining race against fellow commissioner Christina Giunchigliani. Liberal groups and Hillary Clinton both endorsed Giunchigliani, who attacked Sisolak as a tool of real estate developers. But Sisolak, who had led the successful effort to bring an NFL franchise to Las Vegas, won convincingly in Clark County, overwhelming Giunchigliani’s advantage in the rest of the state.

Maine Democrats headed for extra time in gubernatorial race

Maine’s Democrats, hungry for a comeback after eight years of Republican Gov. Paul LePage, are unlikely to know their nominee to replace him until the state’s new “ranked choice” system sorts out the ballots.

With 62 percent of precincts reporting, none of the Democrats’ seven gubernatorial candidates were close to winning an outright majority. Janet Mills, the state’s attorney general, led the field with 33.6 percent of the vote, while businessman Adam Cote trailed with 28.2 percent.

But the state’s new voting system is likely to require several more counts. For the first time, voters were given ballots where they ranked the candidates from their first choice to their last. Starting tomorrow, election officers will count the ballots again, removing the candidate who get the fewest first-preference votes and assigning votes to their second choices. The process will repeat until one candidate wins an outright majority.

Republicans opposed the system, and LePage even suggested that he would not certify the results of an election held under it. (The election will be certified even if he objects.) But an effort to undo the system looked set to fall short Tuesday, running 8.4 points behind for most of the night.

UPDATE: Republicans avoided the complicated preference count. Shawn Moody, a businessman who ran as an independent for governor in 2010, beat out Republicans with experience serving in the state legislature.

Live primary results: South Carolina, Virginia, Maine, North Dakota and Nevada

Voters in five states will pick their nominees in House, Senate and gubernatorial races Tuesday, although some of the nominees in November’s most closely watched races are expecting little drama. For that, the parties are nervously monitoring primaries in a half-dozen House seats, with highly touted challengers, once-safe incumbents and ideological insurgents fighting to change what their parties stand for.

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