Voters in four states cast primary and runoff ballots Tuesday – but the most-watched races of the day were for governorships in Arizona and Florida.
Other U.S. House races Tuesday included unique candidates such as a female Air Force fighter pilot, a Democrat who argued that President Obama is not a natural-born citizen and filed a legal complaint to keep him off the 2012 ballot, an Army lieutenant colonel who commanded the operation that captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and a write-in libertarian candidate who called GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham “ambiguously gay.”
In Florida, all eyes were on the state’s governor’s mansion – where the gubernatorial race quickly became the most contested and expensive in recent history.
Still, incumbent GOP Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic challenger former Gov. Charlie Crist – who was a Republican when he was governor from 2007 to 2011 – both easily secured their party nominations.
While Democrats see an unusual chance to unseat a Southern Republican governor this November, a Democrat hasn’t held the Florida governor seat since 1994, when Jeb Bush suffered a narrow loss to incumbent Lawton Chiles.
In the GOP primary for U.S. representative of Florida’s 26th Congressional District, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo captured 47 percent of the vote to become the Republican nominee to battle Democrat incumbent Rep. Joe Garcia. Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney had been campaigning with Curbelo, who was named one of the 2014 Republican “young guns” by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
In the GOP primary for U.S. representative of Florida’s 18th Congressional District, there were six Republicans vying to challenge well-funded Democrat U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in November.
In that race, former state Rep. Carl Domino emerged the victor with 38.4 percent of the vote. Other candidates included Beverly Hires, a health-care attorney and former nurse; Brian Lara, a consultant for an investment management firm; former Connecticut State Rep. Alan Schlesinger; former Tequesta Village Council member Calvin Turnquest; and Nick Wukoson, an ex-police officer who co-owns a small business.
In the six-way Republican primary, candidates vied for GOP Gov. Jan Brewer’s seat in Arizona, where immigration is the biggest issue of the day.
Brewer backed former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and rallied with him Monday for last-minute support, but it wasn’t enough to help him win the race. Former Cold Stone CEO and State Treasurer Doug Ducey won the race, which also included former GoDaddy executive Christine Jones and Secretary of State Ken Bennett, among others.
Ducey – a pro-life candidate who had the backing of much of the Republican establishment and tea-party favorites Sarah Palin and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz – called for “fencing, satellites, guardsmen, more police and prosecutors” to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the New York Times.
Democrat Fred DuVal was unopposed and will face Ducey in November.
In the Republican primary for U.S. representative of Arizona’s Second Congressional District, retired fighter pilot and Air Force Col. Martha McSally easily secured the party’s nomination to unseat Democrat incumbent Rep. Ron Barber.
Barber is a former top staffer to Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who held the seat before a January 2011 shooting that killed six people and injured 13, including Giffords. Barber replaced her in a special election in 2012.
In the GOP primary for U.S. representative of Arizona’s First Congressional District, at the time of this report, three Republicans were locked in a close race to challenge Democratic incumbent Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick: state Reps. Adam Kwasman, Andy Tobin and rancher Gary Kiehne.
Kwasman and Tobin are two of 36 GOP members of the state legislature who joined a September 2013 lawsuit against Gov. Brewer after Brewer broke ranks with the GOP to express support for state participation in the in the federally controlled Medicaid expansion. Kwasman has called Obamacare “a monstrosity” that must be repealed.
Kiehne has advocated to end what he says is federal mismanagement of land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and other federal agencies in the Arizona district. He describes himself as a passionate advocate for limited government who will seek to reduce government spending, lower taxes, end Obamacare and protect Second Amendment rights.
Tobin, speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, is backed by the establishment GOP and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
In Oklahoma, Democrats selected their Senate nominee in a runoff between Jim Rogers and state Sen. Connie Johnson, who won the race with 58 percent of the vote. Johnson will face Rep. James Lankford in a battle for the open seat left behind by retiring Republican Sen. Tom Coburn.
In another runoff, both the Republican and Democratic seats for U.S. House District 5 were decided.
On the GOP side, voters chose between State Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas and Steve Russell, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army who commanded the operation that captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003. Russell won the nomination with 59.3 percent of the vote and will challenge the winner of the Democratic runoff, Al McAffrey, in November.
In Vermont, less than a quarter of registered voters were expected to turn out Tuesday, but the colorful races included a Democrat candidate who in 2012 argued that President Obama is not a natural-born citizen and unsuccessfully waged a legal battle in the Vermont Superior Court in Montpelier for an injunction to stop distribution of the ballots during that election.
According to the Burlington Free Press, that candidate, Democrat H. Brooke Paige, “based his argument on readings of a 1758 legal treatise he said influenced the writers of the U.S. Constitution. The document, called the ‘Law of Nations,’ decreed that a person seeking the presidency must not just be a U.S. citizen, but a ‘natural born citizen,’ defined as someone born of parents who were both American citizens at the time of birth.”
Paige, 62, ran in his party’s primary for two offices at once: governor and attorney general.
He suffered a double loss Tuesday evening.
The winners of both races, incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin and incumbent Attorney General William Sorrell, never appeared concerned about losing the primary races to Paige. Shumlin is vacationing, and Sorrell had said last week, “I expect to be the Democratic candidate for attorney general.”
Paige ran a one-man campaign and spent only $89 on his website.
In the colorful Senate race, Dan Feliciano, a libertarian, ran as a write-in candidate in the Republican primary against three others: Scott Milne, Steve Berry and Emily Peyton.
Milne, a businessman, handily secured the GOP nomination.
In March, Feliciano reportedly showed up at a press conference in blue jeans and called GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham “ambiguously gay.”
“We’re tired of the ambiguously gay senator from South Carolina,” he said, according to the Freedom Outpost.