Three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts edged out Milton Wolf in Kansas’ primary Tuesday night as mainstream conservatives dealt another blow to the tea party movement. A GOP businessman swamped a first-term Michigan congressman, upending his re-election bid.
With 70 percent of the precincts reporting, Roberts held a 48 percent to 41 percent advantage over Wolf, a radiologist and distant cousin of President Barack Obama who had argued that the incumbent wasn’t conservative enough. Two other primary candidates combined for 11 percent of the vote.
The Associated Press called the race for Roberts.
The Senate’s establishment is on a roll, with incumbents prevailing in Texas, Kentucky, South Carolina and Mississippi, though it took six-term Sen. Thad Cochran two tries before defeating Chris McDaniel, who is challenging the outcome.
Primaries on Tuesday in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state launched a crowded stretch that continues with Tennessee on Thursday, Hawaii on Saturday and Connecticut, Minnesota and Wisconsin next week. Here are highlights from Tuesday’s primary elections:
U.S. House in Michigan
Dave Trott contributed almost $2.5 million of his own money to his campaign for Congress, and it paid off as he beat first-term Republican Rep. Kerry Bentivolio.
Investment adviser Brian Ellis didn’t get the same return on his investment. He lent his campaign $1 million, but was unable to topple GOP Rep. Justin Amash, who has sparred often with Republican leaders since his election in the 2010 tea party wave.
Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. John Dingell, who has been in Congress for a record 58 years, is retiring. But his wife, Debbie, won her primary bid to replace her husband on Tuesday and is expected to extend the Dingell dynasty come November.
Missouri roads and rights
Missouri primary voters rejected a three-quarters-of-a-cent sales tax for roads, bridges and other types of transportation that was projected to generate at least $540 million annually for 10 years.
By taxing almost all consumer items, the proposal would have marked a historic shift for a state that until now has funded its roads by taxing drivers for fuel and vehicles. State transportation officials promised it would have paid for more than 800 projects, including the widening of Interstate 70 to three lanes in each direction between Kansas City and St. Louis.
Supporters and opponents spent well over $1 million battling over a measure that would make Missouri the second state after North Dakota to create a constitutional right to engage in farming, and its fate was too close to call late Tuesday. It was backed by agricultural industry groups such as the state’s pork, corn and soybean associations. Opponents were financed heavily by the Humane Society of the United States, which had helped sponsor a 2010 Missouri initiative imposing stricter limits on dog breeders.
Voters added cellphones and other electronic data to the list of things protected by search-warrant requirements and approved a proposal to enhance the state’s right to bear arms by subjecting gun-control policies to strict legal scrutiny.
In Washington State
A dozen people – eight Republicans, two independents and two Democrats – sought to replace retiring Republican Rep. Doc Hastings in a central Washington district. The state has a top-two primary system, meaning that the top two vote-getters advance to Election Day regardless of party affiliation.
The winners? Republicans Clint Didier, a former NFL star who won two Super Bowl rings with the Washington Redskins and campaigned as a tea party candidate, and Dan Newhouse, a former state lawmaker and agriculture director.
The district hasn’t elected a Democrat since 1992, and Hastings generally cruised to re-election victory after first winning the seat in 1994. It’s home to farms that grow much of the nation’s crop of apples, cherries, grapes and hops to flavor beer, as well as the giant Hanford Nuclear Reservation, a federal installation that hold the nation’s largest volume of nuclear waste.
All of the state’s other incumbent members of the U.S. House advanced Tuesday, when about 40 percent of Washington’s registered voters were expected to cast ballots in the vote-by-mail election.
Tuesday’s primary was the first of three election days this week. Voters in Tennessee will cast ballots Thursday, when GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander faces a challenge in the GOP primary from tea party-backed state lawmaker Joe Carr.
On Saturday, Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz seeks his party’s nomination in Hawaii against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, as they both seek to complete the term of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died in 2012.
Associated Press writers in Jefferson City, Mo., and Spokane, Wash., contributed to this report.