Tuesday marks the second-to-last primary day of the 2014 calendar, and voters are heading to the polls in Florida, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Vermont. Here’s what you need to know and how to read the day’s results.
1. In Florida, it’s not what, but how much. Former Governor Charlie Crist won the Democratic gubernatorial primary handily, nabbing 75% of the vote.
Tuesday’s race is the first time Democratic voters have had the chance to decide whether to support the former Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat. Crist’s primary opponent, former Democratic leader in the state Senate Nan Rich, garnered 25% of the vote after trying to cast herself as the real Democrat in the field. Crist has largely ignored and refused to debate her.
Tuesday’s margins indicate how hard Crist will have to work to bring Democrats to the polls in November, when he faces off against incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Crist and Scott are virtually tied in polls in the presidential swing state, arguably making this the most important and fiercely contested governor’s race of 2014.
The race has been marked by so far by overwhelming negativity, intense grassroots operations on both sides, and outside money – and the general election promises to bring more of the same.
2. The next Jan Brewer? The dust from a crowded, six-way Republican gubernatorial primary in Arizona settled on Tuesday, with Ted Cruz-endorsed state treasurer Doug Ducey beating former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who was backed by retiring Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. With 17% of precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race for Ducey, who earned 37% of the vote compared to Smith, who had 23%.
Brewer endorsed Smith to be her successor, and he’s more moderate than others in the GOP field. Democrats were hoping Republican voters would veer further to the right and select the Sarah Palin- and Ted Cruz-endorsed Ducey, who founded the Cold Stone Creamery ice cream chain. Ducey’s win could help give Democrat Fred DuVal a better shot in the general election. A third candidate, GoDaddy executive Christine Jones, made a late in the race surge with a burst of TV ads attacking Ducey, largely funded by the GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons.
3. Late night up north in Vermont. Fewer than one in 10 registered voters in the Green Mountain State went out to vote on Wednesday, but write-in candidates complicated the race.
Three Republicans and one Libertarian faced off for their party’s nomination to try and unseat Democratic incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin; Republican Scott Milne had the party’s support and swept, winning 85% of the vote.
The Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor—the only race with any real excitement for Vermont—dropped out in June after failing to garner enough support to qualify for public financing to challenge Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, a well-liked moderate Republican. The Progressive Party’s Dean Corren hoped get 250 write-in votes from Democrats—enough to get his name on the ticket on their behalf. As of 9:30 p.m., the Associated Press reported that there were 3,200 Democratic ballots cast for the lieutenant governor, signaling that Corren was likely on track to win the party’s nomination.
The only potential wrench in his plans? Some Democrats are gunning for Scott to keep his job, pressing Democrats to write his name in. If either or both manage to get 250 or more write-ins, they’ll appear with a “D” next to their name on November. The final counts haven’t yet been reported.
4. In Oklahoma, a tale of two run-offs. Voters in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District settled two contentious run-offs on Tuesday to position candidates for the general election in November.
Republican state Sen. Steve Russell beat State Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas for the GOP nomination to replace Rep. James Lankford, who is running to replace retiring Republican Sen. Tom Coburn. Russell won more votes in the June primary, but his margin of fewer than 1,000 votes in the crowded, six-way primary race triggered a run-off. The pair spent their campaign feuding back and forth over who has Lankford’s support.
Democratic Al McAffrey won his run-off against Tom Guild after their crowded June primary that kept the party from picking a clear winner. It will be an uphill fight for Democrats: former Gov. Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain, both Republicans, won the district by 19 points in the last two presidential elections.