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Primary Recap: Results from Tuesday’s Other Big Races

The hotly contested Mississippi Senate primary remained too close to call early Wednesday, with just a few thousand votes separating incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and the Tea Party-backed Chris McDaniel.

With nearly 98 percent of the votes in early Wednesday, McDaniel holds a slim lead over the incumbent, 49.6 percent to 48.8 percent, according to the Associated Press.

A slew of other races were decided Tuesday that will set the stage for this year’s midterm elections.

Here’s a recap of results from other important races on the busiest night of the primary season:

Iowa

Joni Ernst, an Iowa state legislator whose ads about guns and hog castration helped her shore up support among conservatives, easily won the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate Tuesday, setting up a fall matchup that Republicans are eyeing as a prime opportunity to pick up a seat.

Once a long shot when better-known party leaders passed on the race, the state senator and Iraq War veteran handily received enough votes to avoid a nominating convention in the five-way race. Most of the voting came before severe storms curbed later voting and forced some precincts to suspend voting temporarily.

Alabama

Incumbent Republican Robert Bentley and Democrat Parker Griffith easily won their party's nominations for Alabama governor Tuesday night and will face off in a general election that promises to be more challenging.

Bentley and Griffith are both physicians and both 71, but they differ on many issues. They also differ in fundraising. Bentley has raised about $4 million, while Griffith has taken in $20,000 in contributions.

Montana

Montana voters set the stage Tuesday for a November election that will determine whether a U.S. Senate seat that has been in Democratic hands for a century will stay there after the resignation of six-term Sen. Max Baucus.

U.S. Rep. Steve Daines won the Republican primary against state Rep. Champ Edmunds and political newcomer Susan Cundiff.

Daines is leaving his House seat to challenge incumbent Sen. John Walsh, who was appointed in February to replace Baucus. Walsh also faced two primary opponents, former Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger and Wilsall rancher Dirk Adams, for the Democratic nomination.

Walsh said he's not looking past the primary, but that Daines should be called out for his vote to shut down the government last year.

South Dakota

South Dakota's current and past governor scored convincing Republican primary election wins Tuesday that could propel them to the lead in gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races in November and tighten the GOP grip on the state's top political offices.

Rounds avoided a runoff with any of four other candidates for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination to replace retiring Democrat Tim Johnson. Republicans nationally see the race as one of their strongest chances to pick up a Democratic seat in 2014, and if a Republican wins in November it would be the first time in 28 years both South Dakota U.S. Senate seats are held by the GOP.

New Mexico

Retired Marine colonel and aerospace entrepreneur Allen Weh Tuesday easily defeated political newcomer David Clements for the unlikely chance to unseat popular Democratic Sen. Tom Udall in November.

The 71-year-old Weh had 65 percent of the vote in unofficial returns from the GOP primary.

A wealthy Albuquerque businessman, Weh spent more than $200,000 of his own money to defeat Clements, a political newcomer with little cash who surprised many by winning 47 percent of delegate support at the state convention earlier this year.

California

Gov. Jerry Brown easily advanced to the November general election Tuesday night as two Republicans were locked in a fight for second place in a gubernatorial primary race that has become a proxy for the direction of the California GOP.

In the first statewide election under California's new top-two primary system, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari are each seeking GOP votes, as the anticipated low turnout is expected to skew Republican, older and whiter than the overall electorate.

New Jersey

State Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman won a battle of state lawmakers in New Jersey's 12th District Congressional primary Tuesday, making it all but certain that the state will have its first woman in Congress in 12 years.

Watson Coleman defeated Sen. Linda Greenstein, Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula and scientist Andrew Zwicker in the Democratic primary for the central New Jersey seat. Physician Alieta Eck was unopposed in the Republican primary in the heavily Democratic district where Rep. Rush Holt, a Democrat, decided not to seek re-election.

The last woman to represent New Jersey in Congress was Republican Marge Roukema, who retired in 2003.

At the top of New Jersey's ticket was a Republican U.S. Senate primary won by Jeff Bell, who also won a Senate primary in 1978 and has spent most of the last 30 years working as a policy consultant in Washington D.C. He moved back to New Jersey earlier this year to run for the Senate against Cory Booker, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

-- The Associated Press