The primary votes are in and, well, they prove that a small percentage of voters can have a lot of influence, and that we need to move the primary back to September and start shaking sense into people in hopes that more of them will participate. Beyond that, some thoughts:
• A Democratic activist noted late in the afternoon, “Every single post in my twitter feed is regarding SD1#anyotherraceshappeningtoday!?” Apparently not, but the battle between State Senator John Lee and challenger Patricia Spearman was a classic: a Mormon Democrat so conservative that his bona fides were questioned by seemingly everybody in the party except those with big money, against an African-American lesbian military veteran backed by just about every fellow liberal except the ones afraid to buck the establishment. And Spearman trounced him.
Significance? To be conservative is one thing, but Lee took positions that many Democrats found not merely conservative, but gratuitously so, and that energized the Democratic left—and moderates, lest we forget. Lee had endorsements from big names tied to big bucks, but a couple of things are worth considering: Having an endorsement doesn’t mean you get
much action on your behalf, and what matters is what your district thinks. Also, the party faithful may close ranks in a general election, but that doesn’t mean they obey dictates in a primary—even when the party establishment convinces some in the media that they will have their way.
• Those who were expected to cruise did so, but a couple of things were worth noting. Shelley Berkley had no trouble in her primary, and her average in Washoe was close to her statewide average, which is good news considering concerns about how well she, a Las Vegan, would do up there.
John Oceguera easily won his primary, but with about half the vote. He will need to tend to his base to make sure he isn’t sounding too conservative in hopes of winning over independents and moderates in his general election battle with Joe Heck.
• In the House District 4 primary, Danny Tarkanian won, but only by about 1,000 votes
statewide, and he ran behind Barbara Cegavske in Clark County. This suggests a couple of things. One, the attack ads against him were effective. Two, that $17 million judgment against him in California may end up going away, but it may have had a political impact. And consider this: Dan Schwartz spent considerable money on advertising and made his presence felt, but he still ran well behind Ken Wegner, who finished third overall and has name recognition only for constantly losing GOP congressional races.
Tarkanian ran better than Cegavske in rural counties, but Wegner drew votes from both of them. All of which may say something about how rural Republicans feel about voting for a woman—even for a woman who may be to their right. And all for the honor of losing to Steven Horsford.
• In House District 1, Miguel “Mike” Rodrigues—that’s how he appeared on the ballot—was an obvious party hope, especially in the quest for Hispanic votes. And he finished fourth in a five-person race. That’s potentially great news for Democrats, especially Barack Obama and Berkley. Democrats are doing all they can to win Hispanic votes, and here’s a selling point: Republicans weren’t inclined to vote even for a Republican Latino, even for the honor of losing to Dina Titus.