This is no 2010. Established politicians dominated Tuesday night’s primaries, outshining the type of businessmen and tea party candidates who helped the GOP seize the House just two years ago.
In Michigan, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra easily won the Republican Senate primary for Senate over former state Board of Education president Clark Durant. Hoekstra ran a far-from-perfect campaign: He drew fire for a racially charged ad about China and the national debt, and for his call to create national commission to approve the birth certificates of presidential candidates.
In the end, none of that derailed Hoekstra — though he is still serious underdog against incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
In Missouri, Rep. Todd Akin won a three-way Republican primary against two opponents who each made different outsider pitches — businessman John Brunner and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman — setting up a top-tier match with Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.
McCaskill is considered perhaps the most vulnerable Senate incumbent in 2012, but with Akin she likely got her best shot to put up a fight. McCaskill did better in the PollTracker Average against Akin in potential match-ups than when she was pitted against either Steelman or Brunner.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that McCaskill’s campaign ads suggested she was hoping to draw Akin as an opponent:
McCaskill never admitted trying to help Akin, but her ads against all three candidates told a different story. While delivering outright negative attacks on Brunner and Steelman, McCaskill’s ad against Akin featured upbeat music and American flags. Her criticisms of Akin were more like compliments in a conservative Republican primary. McCaskill’s ads said he opposed big government and wants to cut the federal departments of energy and education, and that he had been hotly critical of Obama.
The McCaskill campaign is already on the attack against Akin, targeting his calls for privatizing Social Security and Medicare, his opposition to federal student loans and the minimum wage and other hard-line conservative stances.
In Michigan, Democratic Rep. John Conyers easily fended off a field of four primary challengers, and two-term Democratic Rep. Gary Peters also defeated one-term Rep. Hansen Clarke by 12 points. In Missouri, in a match-up between Democratic Reps. William Lacy Clay and Russ Carnahan, the more senior Clay steamrolled Carnahan with 63 percent of the vote.