Surprises In La., W.Va. Primaries? Not So Much

After a roller coaster of a primary ride last Tuesday in several states, there were no surprises in Saturday's contests in Louisiana and West Virginia.

LOUISIANA:  Sen. David Vitter, the first Republican elected to the Senate since Reconstruction, easily won renomination to a second term and, expected, his Democratic opponent in November will be Rep. Charlie Melancon.

Vitter's political future was in question following the revelation in July 2007 that his phone number was found among the records of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called "D.C. Madam."  Elected to the Senate in 2004 on a pro-family platform, Vitter admitted his "sin" and said his involvement in a prostitution ring occurred years before he was elected to the Senate.

But he seemed to weather the scandal, with Louisiana Republicans rallying behind him.

More recently, he was on the defensive over the news that a longtime aide had attacked his former girlfriend, an aide who was involved in women's issues for the senator.

Nonetheless, in Saturday's primary, Vitter clobbered his leading opponent, former state Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor, by an 88 to 7 percent margin.

On the Democratic side, Melancon won his party's primary with 68 percent.

In other Pelican State news, state Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is African-American, will be the Democratic nominee in the majority black 2nd Congressional District and will face freshman Rep. Joseph Cao (R) in November.  Cao, the nation's first Vietnamese-American congressman, won the seat two years ago in an upset, following the indictment of Rep. William Jefferson (D), who was later convicted on corruption charges.  In the 3rd CD, which Melancon is vacating and which Republicans are expected to win in the fall, it looks like the GOP nomination won't be settled until an Oct. 2 runoff.  The Democratic nominee is Ravi Sangisetty.

WEST VIRGINIA:  In a special primary necessitated by the death of longtime Sen. Robert Byrd (D), Gov. Joe Manchin easily won the Democratic primary and is favored to hold the seat for the party in November.  He crushed a field of Democrats that included 95-year old former Rep. Ken Hechler.  The GOP nomination went to millionaire businessman John Raese, who lost a close Senate contest to Jay Rockefeller (D) in 1984 and got thrashed by Byrd in 2006.

Carte Goodwin, Manchin's former chief counsel and the person the governor appointed to the post as a caretaker following Byrd's death in June, is not running for the seat.

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