Election results: Sen. John McCain survives 'tough, hard-fought primary'
Primaries and runoffs in five states Tuesday highlighted dominant themes of this unpredictable election year, including anti-establishment...
Senate: Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski trailed tea-party favorite and Sarah Palin-backed Joe Miller.
Senate: GOP Sen. John McCain routed tea-party candidate J.D. Hayworth; four candidates vied for the Democratic nod.
House: The seat being vacated by retiring Republican Rep. John Shadegg attracted 10 GOP hopefuls, including Ben Quayle, son of former Vice President Dan Quayle.
Governor: Republican Gov. Jan Brewer easily won; Democrat Terry Goddard was unopposed.
Senate: Democrat Kendrick Meek and Republican Marco Rubio won their primaries, face independent Charlie Crist in November.
House: Five Democrats and two Republicans who faced challenges to their seats secured nominations or were on the verge of it.
Governor: Political novice Rick Scott upset Republican veteran Bill McCollum; Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, sailed to the Democratic nomination.
Senate: Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy easily won.
Governor: Three Democratic candidates were within 0.2 percent of each other.
Seattle Times news services
Primaries and runoffs in five states Tuesday highlighted dominant themes of this unpredictable election year, including anti-establishment anger and tea-party challenges from the right. Yet, if there was a single pattern, it was the lack of one.
Veteran Arizona Sen. John McCain sailed to the Republican nomination, beating a challenger with tea-party support, while political novice Rick Scott pushed past an experienced insider to win Florida's Republican gubernatorial primary. In other big-name races, Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek secured the Senate Democratic nomination over billionaire outsider Jeff Greene and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski trailed.
No race on the ballot drew more attention than McCain's primary challenge. The 2008 Republican presidential nominee was seen as potentially endangered a few months ago, after victories by tea-party candidates in Kentucky and Utah.
J.D. Hayworth, who served six terms in the House, sought to capture that energy of grass-roots conservatives and tea-party supporters.
So McCain took nothing for granted in his bid for a fifth term. He called in Sarah Palin to extol his courage and conservatism, courted conservative groups and made border security, rather than comprehensive changes, the centerpiece of his immigration message.
McCain outspent Hayworth by an 8-to-1 ratio and in a television commercial attacked him as a huckster for having appeared in an infomercial promoting a company that touted free government grants to individuals.
It worked. McCain, who never has lost a statewide race, comfortably won the GOP nod in his home state and enters the general election as the heavy favorite.
"This was a tough, hard-fought primary," McCain said at a victory party — and he quickly looked to the fall campaign. "I promise you, I take nothing for granted and will fight with every ounce of strength and conviction I possess to make the case for my continued service in the Senate."
In Florida — the Barnum & Bailey of U.S. politics — storms seemed to keep some voters away from an election defined by two major battles between the fabulously rich and the hauntingly familiar.
Scott pulled off his one-man political revolution, narrowly defeating Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican primary for governor.
With most precincts counted, it became clear that Scott had overcome the might of the Republican establishment, the special interests who dominate the Capitol and a longtime politician determined to tar his character.
Scott's win bears witness to his personal wealth — he spent at least $50 million of it on the campaign — as well as the thirst for political change in the state's scandal-scarred Republican Party.
Scott, a smiling figure on television who rarely answers reporters' questions, repeatedly accused McCollum of lying about tax or fee increases that he supported and about his stance on tough immigration enforcement. In one television spot, Scott's campaign advised voters to toss out McCollum like a dirty diaper.
Scott, in turn, was attacked by McCollum and his allies for his role as chief executive of Columbia/HCA, a hospital chain that paid $1.7 billion in fines for fraudulently billing the federal government. Scott also has come under fire for refusing to release a deposition he gave days before he entered the governor's race in a lawsuit against Solantic, a chain of medical clinics that he founded.
"This is a man who took on the entire establishment, and what he had was the people," said Arlene DiBenigno, Scott's political director. "We didn't have a traditional campaign. We had a campaign of people who were tired of the traditional establishment. They are tired of the same old thing."
Scott faces Democrat Alex Sink and independent Lawton "Bud" Chiles in November. Sink easily defeated challenger Brian Moore in the Democratic primary.
In Florida's Senate race, Democrats chose Meek, 43, over Jeff Greene, 55. Greene surged initially, eventually spending $25 million of his personal fortune and pummeling the Miami congressman with television spots and mailings casting him as a do-nothing, "corrupt" career politician. But the billionaire real-estate investor was tripped up by questions about links to Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, whether his yacht had docked in Cuba and whether it was a party boat for friends such as Lindsay Lohan and Mike Tyson.
"There were those that counted us out, but you counted us in," a beaming Meek told supporters at a victory party. He thanked everyone from God to President Obama to "school-bus drivers that I greeted this morning at 4:30 a.m. that know what it means to have to live paycheck to paycheck."
Meek, however, has little time to savor defeating a brash billionaire. He wakes up Wednesday somewhat bruised, very broke and polling in last place behind a national Republican superstar, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, and the sitting governor, Charlie Crist.
Crist, who left the Republican Party four months ago to run as an independent, has about $8 million stashed away. Rubio has about $4.5 million.
Greene said Tuesday night he would endorse Meek and contribute to his campaign.
"While this effort may have fallen short, we must work hard to ensure that the failed policies that will be pursued by the two Republicans in this race ... cannot come back to power in Washington," Greene said in a concession speech.
In Alaska, Murkowski battled against a challenge similar to McCain's. Her challenger, attorney Joe Miller, enjoyed support from Palin and tea-party activists. With about half the votes counted, Miller led 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent.
Palin's opposition to Murkowski carried on a pattern of challenging the Murkowski family. Palin defeated Murkowski's father, former Sen. and then-Gov. Frank Murkowski, in the 2006 Republican primary.
Compiled from The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Miami Herald and The Washington Post
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