Video: Primary hot race roundup

By MSNBC anchor
updated 9/13/2006 8:53:34 PM ET 2006-09-14T00:53:34

Twenty percent of the nation had the opportunity to go to the polls on Tuesday, and while neither party got hurt in this primary election, Republicans may have been "helped" more. 

That's because Lincoln Chafee, the most liberal Republican in the U.S. Senate, beat back conservative firebrand challenger Steve Laffee, 54 percent to 46 percent. National Republicans viewed Laffee as unelectable in a Rhode Island general election, and believed if he beat Chafee, the GOP would practically concede the November race against Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. 

"It was a good night for Republicans because now Democrats have to still target Rhode Island through November,” said the National Journal’s Chuck Todd. “They have to spend money in Rhode Island to try and win that seat rather than saving money and spending it in Arizona, Tennessee, or Virginia.”

Democrats in primaries
Democrats got the result they wanted in Maryland’s state senate primary with house member Ben Cardin defeating former NAACP president Weiss Mfume. Mfume’s fundraising had been so anemic that the Democratic National Committee feared having to take over and invest heavily in his campaign had he won. Now Democrats expect not only to hold the Democratic seat against the GOP’s Michael Steele, but enable precious National Democratic Party fundraising dollars to be spent on other races.

One race where Democrats may be able to pick up a Republican-held House seat is in Arizona.  Randy Graf won yesterday’s GOP primary by highlighting his hard-line positions on immigration.  National Republicans, including Jim Kolbe who is retiring from the seat, say Graf is “too divisive” and will lose to Democrat Gabrielle Giffords.

In New York on Tuesday, former Clinton administration housing secretary Andrew Cuomo defeated liberal advocate Mark Green in the primary race for the state’s attorney general.

And in Washington, D.C., 35-year-old City Council Member Adrian Fenty won the democratic nomination for mayor. With 70 percent of D.C.’s voters registered as Democrats, Fenty is a lock this fall to become the youngest mayor in Washington, D.C.

Anti-Iraq war passion
Across the country, the one national lesson from the primaries appears to involve the growing passions against the Iraq war. In Maryland, house Democratic lawmaker Albert Wynn voted for the war. His primary opponent, Donna Edwards, ran against him on that single issue and came within 2,000 votes of beating him. 

In New Hampshire, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter has been calling for a troop withdrawal from Iraq. She defeated Democrat Jim Craig, who said a withdrawal right now is inappropriate. New Hampshire’s passions are significant because the Democratic presidential primary will be held there in 16 months. And several candidates, including anti-war Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, are hoping to put a dent in the expected presidential nomination juggernaut of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton voted to authorize force in Iraq.

Tough attacks
For now though, all eyes are on November and the battle for control of Congress. The fight is getting nastier over the President's 9/11 speech and his primetime political argument about Iraq. 

Democrats are condemning the White House for what they saw as a speech exploiting 9/11.  Republicans are suggesting Democrats are weak on terrorists. 

House Leader John Boehner went even further, saying “I wonder if they (Democrats) are more interested in protecting the terrorists than they are in protecting the American people.”  One Democrat today fired back by comparing Boehner's tactics to those of red scare Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

"I come from the state of Joe McCarthy,” Rep. David Obey said. “I know a first-rate McCarthy when I see one, and I know a third-rate McCarthy when I see one. Yesterday we saw a third-rate McCarthy."

In any case, this is fast becoming a first-rate campaign season. The attacks are tough, the issues are clear, and there are only 55 more days until the mid term elections.

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