Downballot Derby: Pa. Voters Pick House Candidates

The attention last night was on Hillary Clinton's win over Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary, but that was not the only contest to be decided in the Keystone State. Voters across Pennsylvania also voted in primaries for House candidates to run in the fall.

Of the state's 19 congressional districts, there were competitive primaries in four. The closest was the Republican primary in District 10, where businessman Chris Hackett beat businessman Dan Meuser 52 percent to 48 percent.

Hackett won in the Northeastern Pennsylvania district despite being heavily outspent by Meuser. Both candidates used their personal wealth in the campaign, totaling $2.6 million.

Hackett will face freshmen Democratic Rep. Chris Carney in November. In 2006, Carney became the first Democrat in four decades to be elected to Congress from the district when he beat scandal-ridden former Rep. Don Sherwood. Republicans will now be counting on Hackett to put the seat back in the Republican column.

Elsewhere in the state, Centre County GOP chairman Glenn Thompson won a nine-way race for the Republican nomination in the state's 5th district in Central Pennsylvania with 19 percent of the vote. Thompson will face off against Democratic primary winner Clearfield County Commissioner Mark McCracken. Thompson will be heavily favored in the race to succeed retiring Republican Rep. John Peterson.

Also, businessman Steve O'Donnell won the Democratic primary in the 18th district outside Pittsburgh for the chance to run against Republican Rep. Tim Murphy. And Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper, the director of the Lake Erie Arboretum, won the right to challenge Republican Rep. Phil English in the 3rd district in northwest Pennsylvania.

Mississippi Special Election: Northern Mississippi voters will soon go to the polls for the fourth time in 2 months to pick a representative to replace former 1st District Republican Roger Wicker who is now serving in the Senate. Since no candidate won 50 percent in yesterday's special election to fill the seat, Democrat Travis Childers and Republican Greg Davis will face off again on May 13. Childers got 49.4 percent -- just narrowly missing a majority which would have been a major boon for Democrats in a district that President Bush won by 35 points (Davis got 46.3 percent). But no matter who wins the run-off in three weeks, both candidates will battle again in the fall for the right to serve a full term -- they each won their parties' primary run-off elections three weeks ago.

Alaska Senate: Democratic Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich has announced that he will challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, who has been in the Senate since 1968. The announcement puts the seat in play and could be the toughest challenge the 84-year-old Stevens has ever faced.

Though he was called "Alaskan of the Century" and is known for bringing millions in federal dollars to his home state, Democrats think Stevens is vulnerable since FBI and IRS agents raided his home last year as part of a larger probe into corruption in Alaska politics.

"Alaska has a small population and is a long way from Washington. Seniority and experience have never meant more than they do today. I believe that I am best able to provide the leadership, and I believe that Alaskans know that," Stevens said in a statement, responding to the announcement.

Indiana 2nd District: A Republican candidate is causing a stir for a speech he gave on Sunday to a group celebrating the anniversary of Adolf Hitler's birth. Tony Zirkle defended the speech in Chicago to the American National Socialist Workers Party, saying according to the Associated Press, that he did not know much about the group and that "I'll speak before any group that invites me."

"Some people are going to impute motives and say things that I mean, but many of these people have never even talked to me. So their ability to say what I intended is not very credible," Zirkle said.

Local Republicans in the Northern Indiana district reacted harshly to the appearance. "I cannot believe that in 2008 anyone could think so backward," said Luke Puckett, another candidate in the primary said in a written response. In an interview with CBS affiliate WSBT-TV, Chris Riley, chairman of the St. Joseph County Republican Party, said "The 'R' next to Tony Zirkle's name does not stand for Republican. It stands for 'repulsive.'"

Riley also told the South Bend Tribune that the party does not accept Zirkle as a member and that he plans to take steps to not allow Zirkle is not allowed to associate with the party.

Zerkle, who received 30 percent of the vote in the 2006 primary, added that winning the election is not his main goal. "My primary purpose is to educate and inform," he said. He said the point of the speech was his anti-pornography message.

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