Four non-Wisconsin takeaways from Tuesday's primaries
California primary produces 50+ one-party races
Testing out the state's new "jungle primary" system, California voters on Tuesday sent the top-two primary winners to the general election this fall -- regardless of their party affiliations. As a result, dozens of contests across the state this fall will feature two candidates from the same party. Nine such races resulted in the House; 25 in the state Senate, and 22 in the state Assembly. Of these one-party match-ups, 42 will be among two Democrats and just six will be among Republicans only.
But in at least one territory widely deemed a "toss-up", Republicans gained the advantage: In California's 31st district, incumbent Republican Rep. Gary Miller will go up against Republican state Sen. Bob Dutton. No Democrat was able to get on the ballot.
California voters divided over smoking tax
In addition to trying out the new primary system Tuesday night, California residents voted on a series of controversial ballot measures - including term limits, pension cuts, and a measure to raise tobacco taxes for the first time in almost twenty years. Voters gave the go-ahead to changing term limits for state lawmakers from 14 years to 12 years, and cutting retirement benefits for workers in two cities, but the fate of the cigarette tax -- once thought to be a sure thing in the state -- is on the edge of defeat.
The measure, Proposition 29, would raise taxes on cigarettes by $1 per pack, and pitted activists like Lance Armstrong, as well as several cancer charities, against the tobacco industry. As of Wednesday morning, Californians were essentially split on the measure, with the opposition holding about a 1-pointage, according to the Associated Press.
Interest groups on both sides spent liberally to push their agenda, but contributions from the tobacco industry eclipsed those on the other side. According to the LA Times, cancer charities raised more than $11 million toward their goal, including half a million from New York's Mayor Bloomberg and $1.5 million from Armstrong's Livestrong Foundation. But tobacco companies spent almost $47 million to defeat the proposition.
16-year-incumbent knocked out in New Jersey congressional primary
A competitive House primary in New Jersey did more than just pit two longtime Democratic lawmakers against each other - it also put two Democratic presidents at odds with one another.
In New Jersey's ninth district, Democratic incumbents Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell went head-to-head for the Democratic nomination as a result of recent redistricting. Both men had served the House for 16 years. President Obama stopped short of a formal endorsement for Rothman, but he recently met with him at the White House, and a spokesman characterized him as a "longtime friend" of the president. Clinton, meanwhile, supported Pascrell.
In the end, it was Pascrell who walked away with the Democratic nod, besting his rival 61 percent to 39 percent. In his concession remarks, 75-year-old Pascrell signaled that Tuesday marked the end of his political career.
"I don't believe I'll be running for public office again," he said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Rick Hill wins Montana's GOP governor nod
After weeks of brutal attack ads, former congressman Rick Hill walked away from Tuesday's Montana gubernatorial primary with the Republican nomination secured. Hill was long considered the frontrunner in the race, but faced tough competition in a field crowded with two other serious candidates, state Sens. Corey Stapleton of Billings and Ken Miller of Laurel.
Now, he'll face off against Montana's Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock, who easily scored the Democratic nomination.
The race to replace outgoing Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, is expected to be one of the most competitive in the country.
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