Tuesday’s primaries were a fitting sequel to the last round on June 10, when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) lost his seat. Here are three lessons we took from a wild primary night:
— Those who best know the rules, like President Obama‘s 2008 primary campaign, will often win the game. Team Cochran had its flaws, but they ran a better race than his opponents in Mississippi, starting with the key realization that they should tap black voters who hadn’t participated in the June 3 elections (and didn’t want the hard-right Chris McDaniel (R) to win) to vote in the open primary runoff. It was a completely legal, reasonable, strategic move that appears to have clinched a Cochran victory that probably couldn’t have happened otherwise.
— Meanwhile, another lesson on race and politics reemerged in NY-13, where Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) narrowly leads a primary that hasn’t yet been called. Hispanic voters outnumber African-Americans nearly 2-to-1 in Rangel’s district, but translating those population numbers into votes isn’t simple, as we also saw in African-American Rep. Marc Veasey‘s (D) majority-Hispanic TX-33 in 2012. Relatively higher black turnout appears to have saved Rangel again.
— The third lesson: Most incumbents are still winning, but don’t mistake that for safety (at least the way we’ve known it). As we told subscribers two weeks ago, Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) were the foremost candidates for Cantor-like surprises after quiet primaries, and at 53% Tuesday night, they both came very close to losing. Lamborn is especially interesting: He’s about as conservative as you can get, and his challenger was disliked by many of Lamborn’s former fierce critics. But Lamborn is just not well-liked by his primary voters. That might have been easier to get away with, once upon a time, but primaries are proving less and less forgiving for incumbents. More are getting pulled into dogfights, including at least 14 members who finished under 60% so far this year.
We’re about to enter a quiet primary spell, with only a few runoffs in July. But there is still plenty to think about after last night.
— Scott Bland
What We're Following See More »
"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."
Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, "said on Wednesday she's open to using a subpoena to investigate President Donald Trump's tax returns for potential connections to Russia." She said the committee is also open to subpoenaing Trump himself. "This is a counter-intelligence operation in many ways," she said of Russia's interference. "That's what our committee specializes in. We are used to probing in depth in this area."
"Top lawyers who helped the Obama White House craft and hold to rules of conduct believe President Donald Trump and his staff will break ethics norms meant to guard against politicization of the government — and they’ve formed a new group to prepare, and fight. United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off, has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months." Meanwhile, NPR has launched a "Trump Ethics Monitor" to track the resolution of ten ethics-related promises that the president has made.