Sen. Frank Lautenberg defeated Rep. Robert Andrews for the Democratic Senate nomination Tuesday in New Jersey, while voters in New Mexico were deciding which of two GOP House members would win the party's nomination to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pete Domenici.
With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Lautenberg had 61 percent to 34 percent for Andrews. Andrews angered many with his aggressive campaign against Lautenberg, which focused on their 30-plus-year difference in age.
In the Republican primary former Rep. Dick Zimmer defeated state Sen. Joe Pennacchio and professor Murray Sabrin. Zimmer had 46 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Pennacchio and 15 percent for Sabrin.
Also Tuesday, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois became the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. He clinched a majority of the party's delegates while winning in Montana and losing in South Dakota to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
Clinton, addressing supporters in New York, praised Obama and sounded in many ways like a defeated candidate. But, she said, "This has been a long campaign, and I will be making no decisions tonight."
Clinton said her eventual decision would be made "with the best interests of our party and our country guiding my way."
Eighteen unpledged superdelegates in the Senate are expected to add icing to Obama's cake as early as today. One of them, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, said the unpledged senators were invited to a meeting today at Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee headquarters, where they would discuss whether to make their endorsements as a group or individually.
Obama's victory, to be ratified at the Democratic convention, brought to an end the party's most contentious primary fight in 24 years.
In New Jersey, Lautenberg took Andrews' change-charged challenge seriously, and he was rewarded with a large margin of victory. Andrews' wife, Camille, running to succeed him in New Jersey's 1st District, easily won the Democratic nomination in a four-way primary and will face Republican Dale Glading in November.
Andrews has consistently denied reports that his wife was on the ballot as a place-holder for him, and that he would replace her as the House candidate if he lost the Senate primary.
Retirements of Republican Reps. Jim Saxton and Mike Ferguson sparked competitive GOP primaries in both of their New Jersey districts. Lockheed Martin executive Chris Myers won the three-way primary in Saxton's district with 48 percent of the vote. Democratic state Sen. John Adler was unopposed for his party's nomination.
State Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance won a seven-way GOP primary for Ferguson's seat, with 39 percent of the vote. Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Stender was unopposed.
In New Mexico, where all three House races and Domenici's Senate seat were in play, the marquee battle was the Senate GOP primary between Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce. With 56 percent of precincts reporting, Pearce had 52 percent to Wilson's 48 percent. Rep. Tom Udall was unopposed for the Democratic Senate nomination.
Both parties faced contested primaries for all three House races in New Mexico, but results were slow to come in. The 1st District seat that Wilson vacated to run for the Senate is expected to be the most competitive in the fall, while Udall's 3rd District seat is expected to stay in Democratic hands.
In Alabama, Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright won a three-way Democratic primary in the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Terry Everett. With 96 percent of precincts reporting, state Rep. Jay Love appeared heading for victory in a six-candidate race for the GOP nomination.
State Sen. Parker Griffith easily won the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Rep. Bud Cramer, picking up 90 percent of the vote. Businessman Wayne Parker won a six-way Republican race with 39 percent of the vote.
This article appears in the June 7, 2008, edition of NJ Daily.