The Morning Line: Primary Day
Voters head to the polls in Michigan, Missouri and Kansas for primary elections Tuesday that will help shape the November playing field.
The nail-biter race of the day is the marquee contest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Michigan. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., Attorney General Mike Cox and former Gateway CEO Rick Snyder are battling for the chance to succeed the unpopular Democratic incumbent, Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Recent polls have shown a tight three-way race.
The Democratic primary has been a far lower profile affair, in large part because of the battered economy Democrats find themselves in, coupled with Granholm’s drag on the party. House Speaker Andy Dillon and Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero are squaring off on the ballot Tuesday.
Eyes will also be on Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick’s 13th congressional district to see if her son’s woes (he’s imprisoned former mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick) rub off on her in significant enough fashion to deny her the nomination for a seat she has held for the last 14 years.
In Kansas, we will once again get to test Sarah Palin’s electoral strength. Two Republican congressmen are running to replace Sen. Sam Brownback. The Republican primary serves as the de facto general election since Democrats have taken a pass on this race in a ruby red state. Rep. Jerry Moran enters primary day as the favorite, but Rep. Todd Tiahrt has energized the conservative grassroots, who may make up a huge swath of the electorate today. Gov. Palin has backed Tiahrt despite Moran’s consistent lead in the polls.
Rep. Roy Blunt and Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan are expected to waltz to their parties’ nominations in their battle to replace the retiring Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo.
The more significant contest on the Missouri ballot may prove to be the ballot measure aimed at nullifying the federal health care reform law signed by President Obama this year. The measure is non-binding, so it will serve more as a symbol of discontent with the health care law rather than having any practical impact.
CLAPPER PUT ON HOLD
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has placed a hold on President Obama’s nominee for director of national intelligence, retired Air Force Gen. James Clapper.
McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan told various news outlets Monday that the Arizona Republican had requested a specific report from Clapper, and “until that report is provided, Senator McCain will continue to hold his nomination.”
The move puts in doubt the likelihood Clapper will be confirmed prior to the Senate’s August recess, which is slated to begin this weekend.
The Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously approved Clapper’s nomination last Thursday.
If confirmed by the full Senate, Clapper would be the fourth DNI since the position was created five years ago to coordinate U.S. intelligence operations in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He would replace retired Adm. Dennis Blair, who resigned in May after drawing criticism for his handling of the airliner bombing attempt over Detroit last Christmas.
Republican Meg Whitman reported Monday that her campaign has spent more than $99 million in her bid to become the next governor of California.
The former eBay chief spent nearly $20 million in the six weeks before June 30, which spanned the end of the GOP primary campaign against state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and the start of the general election race against Democratic rival Jerry Brown.
Whitman’s campaign said she spent $71 million to defeat Poizner. Much of the money she’s drawn on has come from personal funds, to the tune of $91 million so far. Whitman has said previously she would spend upwards of $150 million on her gubernatorial effort.
That means her $10.3 million cash on hand will almost certainly get a boost in the not-too-distant future.
Brown, meanwhile, has $23 million in the bank and has spent just $450,000 on his campaign to this point, helped by not having a serious primary challenger.
Despite the disparity in campaign cash spent, a poll released last week by the Public Policy Institute of California showed Brown and Whitman running about even among likely voters.