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First thoughts: Last night's three headlines

The three headlines from last night's primaries in KS, MI, and MO… Moran defeats Tiahrt in Kansas' Senate GOP contest… Snyder wins the GOP gubernatorial primary in Michigan (and might become a rising star)… Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick becomes the latest incumbent to lose this cycle (and Pete Hoekstra, in the GOV race, became yet another sitting member to lose in a big for higher office)… Referendum against the health-care law passes easily in Missouri… Obama makes a call for Bennet (yesterday) and celebrates his 49th birthday (today)… Spend $$$ now or forever hold your peace… Reid and Angle exchange ads… The GOP push for changing the 14th Amendment… And profiling IN-9.


*** Last night's three headlines: Here are the headlines from last night's Midwest primaries: 1) It was a victorious night for moderate and mainstream Republicans (translation: the Tea Party has a ceiling even in GOP primaries); 2) Another incumbent went down to defeat; and 3) Missouri voters approved a referendum opposing the health-care law's mandate. In Kansas' GOP Senate primary, Jerry Moran narrowly defeated Todd Tiahrt, and he's the overwhelming favorite to succeed Sen. Sam Brownback (R), who's running for governor. Meanwhile, in Michigan's GOP gubernatorial primary, former Gateway exec Rick Snyder -- the "one tough nerd" -- beat his more conservative opponents (like state AG Mike Cox and Congressman Pete Hoekstra), in part by winning crossover Democrats and independents. Snyder will face off against Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero in the fall to replace term-limited Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D).

*** Keep an eye on Snyder: So in a midterm cycle where GOP primary voters largely have been choosing the most conservative candidate, the Moran and Snyder wins reverse that trend (and stay tuned for Tennessee tomorrow for this new-mini-trend to get a third example). Here's a couple of other things to consider about the Snyder win. One, given that he will be the overwhelming favorite against Bernero, will that possibly help Republicans in the state's competitive House races this fall, like MI-1, MI-7 and even MI-9? Two, Snyder -- with his moderate credentials in a Dem-leaning swing state – could become a rising political star. Get to know this guy; he could be a cross between Charlie Crist and Haley Barbour; meaning he's got a pragmatist streak that may lead him one day to be criticizing the Democratic administration on something and the next, standing next to him, endorsing a pilot program.

*** Another one bites the dust: Also in Michigan last night, state Sen. Hansen Clarke knocked off Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D) -- mother of ousted Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick -- making her the sixth incumbent go down to defeat in a primary this cycle (joining GOP Sen. Bob Bennett, Dem Rep. Alan Mollohan, Dem Sen. Arlen Specter, GOP Rep. Parker Griffith, and GOP Rep. Bob Inglis). Yet here's something even more eyebrow-raising: Hoekstra's loss in the Republican gubernatorial primary makes him yet another sitting House or Senate member to lose a bid for higher office. The others: Kay Bailey Hutchison, Artur Davis, Gresham Barrett, and (likely) Nathan Deal. This isn't a good cycle to be a current member of Congress running for governor or senator (though Brownback, Moran, John Boozman, and Mary Fallin have had success).

*** Referendum against health care passes easily: And in Missouri, Democrat Robin Carnahan won 84% of the vote and Republican Roy Blunt got 71% in their respective Senate primaries, the Kansas City Star writes. But the bigger result from the Show Me State was the passage of the referendum opposing the health-care law's mandates. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "With most of the vote counted, Proposition C was winning by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1." While the referendum is largely a symbolic one -- the mandates will ultimately be decided by the courts -- the outcome last night in this battleground state is probably not a good sign for Carnahan's campaign in the fall. Yes, it was a Republican-leaning electorate in Missouri yesterday, but this vote was OVERWHELMING. This result might even convince Republicans in OTHER states to run more on health care, even as poll numbers suggest a more favorable opinion about the law.

*** Obama makes a call for Bennet: In advance of next week's VERY competitive Democratic Senate primary in Colorado, President Obama last night called into Sen. Michael Bennet's tele-town hall. Obama on Bennet: "He's been a breath of fresh air in a time with a lot of hot air… Michael has been as good a senator as I expected him to be when I first met him when he was still head of the public schools out in Denver." More: "We've accomplished an incredible amount over the last 18 months, but we've got a lot more work to do, and Michael's the person I want alongside me when we do it." Obama is now investing a lot of political capital in getting Bennet across the finish line in his primary against Andrew Romanoff. But will this turn out better for the White House than its other attempts to influence primaries and general elections? If Bennet comes up short, it's unfair to blame the White House; he's still very popular with the Democratic base (90% fav rating among those Dems in Colorado). But what's got to be frustrating to the DNC and to the White House political shop is that they don't have this sway with the Democratic electorate that they had when Obama himself was running.

*** Happy birthday, Mr. President: On his 49th birthday today, Obama delivers remarks at the AFL-CIO executive meeting in DC at 11:05 am ET. Later in the day, he flies to Chicago for a birthday party and a fundraiser. But he'll be without his family -- Michelle Obama and younger daughter Sasha are on vacation in Spain, and older daughter Malia is away at summer camp.

*** Spend now, or forever hold your peace: If you're Patty Murray and you've raised (as of June 30) $11.5 million and have $6.8 million in the bank, what do you do with that financial advantage? You spend it now, especially during these dog days of August, to define your opponent -- even before he's officially your opponent. (After all, a spending advantage only matters if you use it.) On Monday, the Murray campaign released a new TV ad highlighting Dino Rossi's desire to repeal Wall Street reform, after raising money from Wall Street. For his part, Rossi has responded with his own TV ad, in which he argues that the Senate is wasting taxpayer money and is running up the debt. August is when negatives can take hold, and candidates ignore the month at their own peril.

*** The Reid-Angle ad war: Speaking of using your money advantage while you have it, Harry Reid (D) is hammering Sharron Angle (R) in a TV ad highlighting her past remark calling the $20 billion BP fund a "slush fund" (and note the Tony Hayward cameo in the ad). But Angle is now responding with her own ad, which notes that home values in Nevada have plummeted since Reid became majority leader. "Harry Reid -- the only thing he's delivered for Nevada is hardship," the ad says. Meanwhile, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll has the race at Reid 48%, Angle 44%.

*** Out of touch? By now, you've probably heard about the GOP push -- embraced by Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, and even John McCain and Lindsey Graham -- to hold Senate hearings into whether the 14th Amendment should be amended. At issue: the 14th Amendment granting automatic citizenship rights to anyone born in the United States, even the offspring of illegal immigrants. Just askin, but do these Republicans want to be tied to wanting to change this historic, post-Civil War amendment, which made former slaves and their children full citizens in this country? At a time of 10% unemployment and two wars, do politicians really want to debate a Constitutional Amendment from the 19th century? For the GOP, does this help them with their problem at wooing non-white votes? This seems a tad tone deaf; it may be popular with folks who listen to talk radio or watch evening infotainment debate shows but really?

*** 75 House races to watch: IN-9: The Democratic nominee is incumbent Baron Hill (first elected to Congress in '98, lost in '04, but was re-elected in '06). The GOP nominee is attorney/former Marine Corps officer Todd Young (who in the primary defeated Mike Sodrel, who beat Hill in '04, but lost to him in '06 and '08). McCain won 50% in this district in 2008, and Bush got 59% in 2004. Hill voted against the stimulus, but for cap-and-trade and health care. As of June 30, Hill had $1.1 million in the bank, versus $259,000 for Young. Both Cook and Rothenberg rate the race as a Toss Up.

*** More midterm news: In Florida, a new poll "shows Gov. Charlie Crist (I) ahead of Marco Rubio (R) by some of the largest margins reported by any poll so far," Talking Points Memo reports. "With Democrat Jeff Greene in the race, Saturday's Florida Poll finds, Crist leads Rubio 37%-29%, while Greene takes third with 16%."… And in Illinois, "Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias is about to take a hard hit from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as the powerful business lobby goes on the air with a commercial slamming the Democrat's 'record of failure' and linking him to the state's 10.5 percent unemployment rate," Politico writes.

Countdown to TN primary: 1 day
Countdown to CO, CT, and MN primaries, plus GA run-off: 6 days
Countdown to WA and WY primaries: 13 days
Countdown to AK, AZ, FL, and VT primaries: 20 days
Countdown to Election Day 2010: 90 days

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