Runoffs In Both Carolinas Highlight Primary Day

Enjoy today's primary contests while you can; it's the last primary day until the Alabama runoff July 13!  Here's what's at stake:

NORTH CAROLINA:  Democrats have some unfinished business in their effort to find a nominee to face GOP Sen. Richard Burr in November.  Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who failed to win the required 40 percent of the vote in the initial May 4 primary, meets up with second-place finisher Cal Cunningham, a former state senator and Iraq war veteran.  She finished with 36 percent, to 27 percent for Cunningham.  The third-place finisher, attorney Ken Lewis, has since endorsed Marshall.

Marshall and Cunningham buttons

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The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and other DC Democrats lined up behind Cunningham, feeling he would be a stronger candidate in the general election and "put off," writes the Raleigh News & Observer's Rob Christensen, by Marshall's "lackluster" showing in the 2002 Senate primary, when she lost to Erskine Bowles.

The two candidates have been fighting over which one is the "real" Democrat in the race.  Cunningham, though tapped by Beltway Dems, casts himself as the "outsider," at least compared to Marshall, who has been in office for 16 years.  He's also much younger: 36, compared to Marshall, who is 64.  She is actively seeking the votes of blacks and has the support of progressive groups like MoveOn.org.  Many unions, such as the Teamsters, are behind Cunningham.

Polls close at 7 p.m. EDT.

SOUTH CAROLINA:  Most attention has been focused on the Republican gubernatorial runoff between state Rep. Nikki Haley and Congressman Gresham Barrett.  Haley fell just short of winning the nomination outright in the June 8 primary.  Her campaign has apparently weathered claims by two men that she had an affair; she denied the charges.  Gov. Mark Sanford (R), who had his own memorable sex scandal, is term limited.  Listen to the report that aired this morning by NPR's Don Gonyea on, appropriately, "Morning Edition."

NPR's Don Gonyea On The S.C. Primary Runoff

In the 1st Congressional District, being vacated by retiring Republican Henry Brown, Tim Scott, S.C.'s first and only black Republican state lawmaker, faces Paul Thurmond, the son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, in the runoff.  If elected, Scott would be just the fourth black Republican in the House in the past century.  (See yesterday's Junkie post.)

In the 4th CD, Rep. Bob Inglis (R) has taken positions and votes that many conservatives feel have been out of the mainstream, and he is in serious danger of losing the GOP runoff to former federal prosecutor Trey Gowdy.  (See yesterday's Junkie post.)

Polls close at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Lee and Bridgewater buttons

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UTAH:  Today's primary is almost an afterthought.  The big story came on May 8, when three-term GOP Sen. Bob Bennett, his conservative credentials dismissed by those on the right, failed to get enough support at his party's state convention to make it to the primary.  That's not to dismiss today's primary between attorney and Tea Party favorite Mike Lee and businessman Tim Bridgewater.  Bridgewater has been endorsed by Bennett; Lee, who once clerked for Samuel Alito, has the backing of Sen. Jim DeMint of S.C., a conservative favorite.  A Deseret News poll released on Saturday showed Bridgewater with a nine-point lead but with Lee picking up steam.

The Democratic nominee will be restaurant owner Sam Granato.  No Democrat has won a Senate race in Utah since 1970.

Polls close at 10 p.m. EDT.

There is also a Republican runoff in Mississippi's 2nd CD for the right to take on Rep. Bennie Thompson (D) in November.

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