Daily Trends Now
Daily Trends Now

Outsiders, Revolutions, and the Same Old Faces in Tuesday's Big Primaries

Of the dozens of Republican elected officials who have decided not to run for another term this fall, most are in agreement, tacit or otherwise, that the election of Donald Trump to the presidency has been a disaster for the party of which he is ostensibly the leader.

But the Republican primary there turned into a toxic battle between Blankenship, a wealthy coal boss who proclaimed himself "Trumpier than Trump", and rivals backed by the party's Washington establishment who feared Blankenship would be too damaged a candidate to oust Manchin. Rep. Jim Renacci, who Trump endorsed, walked away with a decisive victory in the Ohio Senate Republican primary, winning by over 16 percentage points.

In Indiana, state Rep. Mike Braun, a self-funding businessman and former Democrat, triumphed over two would-be anti-establishment Republican congressmen so generic that in one hilarious television ad he invited voters to decide whether a pair of cardboard cut-outs represented the same or different figures (reader: I could not tell myself) and pilloried them for their support of free trade.

Trump took the unusual step of interceding in the West Virginia Republican contest and evoked last year's special election for the Senate in Alabama, in which a Democrat defeated a highly controversial Republican candidate.

The biggest Republican loser of the night was actually on the House side: Rep. Robert Pittenger was ousted in a primary by pastor Mark Harris in North Carolina's 9th District, which stretches southeast of Charlotte. The two men have circled each other in OH politics for decades, and have run against each other before, in the state's 2010 race for attorney general.

Tuesday's win by the former consumer watchdog under President Barack Obama buoys Democratic hopes of reclaiming control of a critical battleground state, where Republican Gov. John Kasich is term-limited.

With Blankenship's loss and wins in other states, the GOP may be poised to gain a few seats in the Senate.

The last two polls of the race that weren't sponsored by either candidate (one of which was conducted for Fox News and one by the Republican GOPAC by National Research) had Morrisey and Evan Jenkins neck and neck with Blankenship in third, though close enough to potentially win given the past predictiveness of primary polling. "Problem is, Don Blankenship, now running for Senate, can't win the General Election in your State", he said.

Shortly after being called as the victor, Morrisey pivoted and turned his attention toward Manchin, whose race against progressive newcomer Paula Jean Swerengin was called early Tuesday evening. Sherrod Brown had more than $12 million in campaign cash entering the primary.

He will face Democrat Dan McCready in November in a race that Democrats have targeted. "I don't get into the details of politics, but I just think that he should not be involved in the state at all", he said. But losing Mr. Trump's confidence, as Blankenship did, can be costly.

"I want to say one thing very clearly", Manchin told reporters who huddled around him in the basement of the Capitol. The head of the Senate Republican campaign arm highlighted Blankenship's criminal history. Blankenship said McConnell has created jobs for "China people" and that his "China family" has given him millions of dollars. I don't know what to call it don't vote for Tom tweed.

Blankenship is a former coal executive who spent time in prison in 2010 following a mine explosion that killed 29 miners.

Blankenship retired eight months later, was sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to break mine safety laws, a misdemeanor, and served a year in a California prison. He then blamed Trump for spreading fake news against him. Tomorrow, I may be in Aruba before sunset.


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