After breathtaking back-to-back months of primaries and runoffs — where we have seen the defeats of two incumbent senators (Specter of Pa. and Bennett of Utah), three House members (Mollohan of W.Va., Griffith of Ala., and Inglis of S.C.) and one governor (Gibbons of Nev.) — we're getting a bit of a break in July. Here's the schedule:
July 13 — Alabama GOP gubernatorial runoff. It took several weeks after the initial June 1 primary to find out which Republican would make it into the runoff with Bradley Byrne, the former community college schools chancellor, who finished first with 28 percent of the vote. Ultimately, state Rep. Robert Bentley beat out businessman Tim James by just 270 votes (ex-state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore finished fourth), and now Bentley is hoping to ride the momentum of his out-of-nowhere strong finish. Bentley has been having some success in getting support from the backers of the other candidates. Whoever wins the runoff faces in November Ron Sparks, the state Agriculture Commissioner, who cruised to the Democratic nomination over Rep. Artur Davis.
July 20 — Georgia primary. Wide open primaries in both parties to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue. On the Republican side, the top candidates are state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, State Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, former Rep. Nathan Deal, and ex-Secretary of State Karen Handel. Oxendine is thought to be leading the pack. Businessman Ray Boyd, who failed to qualify as a GOP primary candidate because he refused to sign a party loyalty oath — and who later considered running as an independent — announced this week he would not be a candidate at all. Democratic voters choose among former Gov. Roy Barnes, state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, and former Secretary of State David Poythress. Barnes, unseated by Perdue in the 2002 election, is considered the strong frontrunner on the Dem side. Runoff: Aug. 10. In the Senate race, GOP incumbent Johnny Isakson will likely face state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond (D) in November.
July 27 — Oklahoma primary. Gov. Brad Henry (D) is term limited. The Democratic primary is between state Attorney General Drew Edmondson and Lt. Gov. Jari Askins. On the GOP side, Mary Fallin, the congresswoman from the 5th CD and a former lt. gov., is favored over state Sen. Randy Brogdon and businessmen Robert Hubbard and Roger Jackson. Brogdon is a favorite of many Tea Party supporters, but Sarah Palin is backin' Fallin. In the Senate race, incumbent Republican Tom Coburn is a clear favorite in November over perennial candidate Jim Rogers (D).