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We almost didn’t preview Tuesday’s primaries, since they seemed a foregone conclusion, but there were some surprises, and some lessons. We did suggest that Rep. Mark Sanford might be in trouble in South Carolina. He was. Sanford lost his governorship, due to his extra-marital affair, but even after that, he won a US Representative seat in a heavily conservative coastal Carolina district because, well, a ham sandwich could win in there. If he’s going to lose, it had to be in the primary. He did.

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Sanford’s sin was in not being fully “loyal” to Donald Trump. As the Washington Examiner says, it’s no longer the Republican Party; it’s the Trump Party.

First it was Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. Then it was Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

Now it is Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C.

Clashing with President Trump is the quickest way to the exits for a Republican lawmaker who represents red-state voters. This is despite the lingering movement of conservative opposition to Trump that invites these politicians to assert their opposition to a president who lacks their shared history fighting for conservative principles.

Neither Corker nor Flake even made it to their respective Republican primaries before deciding their best course of action was to retire. Sanford, a former governor, lost to a lesser known GOP primary challenger who made his criticism of Trump her main issue but did not receive any support from the president himself until an 11th hour tweet. . .

Recent Republican primaries have demonstrated Trump’s power over the party. Corey Stewart won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Virginia over the strenuous objections of many in the party — his less prominent main challenger did come within less than 2 points of the upset — in no small part because he embraced Trump. . .

Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., was forced into a runoff by a recent former Democratic congressman who voted for Barack Obama for president and Nancy Pelosi for speaker. Why? Because Roby was deemed insufficiently loyal to Trump. . .

Sanford told Politico he was a “dead man walking.”

In that interview, Sanford decried the world of “alternative facts” that accompanied the Trump administration and seemed to accept his political fate.

“I believe in a war of ideas … and I tell the staff all the time: Look, we’re in the business of crafting and refining our arguments that are hopefully based on the truth,” he said. “Truth matters. Not hyperbole, not wild suggestion, but actual truth.”

It was an especially big loss, because it was Sanford’s first.

This is, remarkably, the first election of any kind for any office that Sanford has ever lost in nearly a quarter-century of putting his name out there. . .

The irony is that despite Arrington’s MAGA-hood, Trump nearly lost his chance to take credit for Sanford’s demise. He didn’t get around to endorsing her until less than three hours before the polls closed on primary day. That likely won’t keep him from taking credit.

Another Trumpist won in Virginia, but he has skeletons in his closet.

The ties between a far-right US Senate candidate in Virginia and an anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim US House candidate in Wisconsin go beyond public exchanges of praise to include a political campaign payment.

During his failed primary bid for Virginia governor in 2017, Republican Corey Stewart paid far-right commentator Paul Nehlen $759 dollars as a “fundraising commission,” in May, according to a June 2017 campaign finance filing with the Virginia Department of Elections.

Video surfaced earlier this week of Stewart praising Nehlen in January 2017 during the weekend of the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

In the video, Stewart calls Nehlen one of his “personal heroes” and said he was “inspired” by the far-right figure’s failed 2016 primary challenge to House Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin. Nehlen is running again this year for the same seat, which Ryan will vacate with his announced retirement.

Speaking of Wisconsin, the liberal Vox reports that Scott Walker’s candidates lost.

Democrats just won a Wisconsin special election Scott Walker didn’t want to have
It’s another round of big wins for Democrats in the Badger State.

This is undoubtedly a victory for the state’s Democratic Party, in the third Wisconsin state election this year that has left Republicans sounding alarm bells. In January, Democrats flipped a rural Trump +17 state district with a comfortable 10-point margin of victory — a loss Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is also up for reelection this year, called “a wake-up call for Republicans in Wisconsin.” Liberals also won a seat in the Wisconsin Supreme court by a huge margin in April.

The conservative National Review says it’s because Democrats imitated Trump.

Democrats are convinced that Wisconsin is primed for a Trump-backlash-inspired “blue wave” come November, and potential Walker challengers have joined the race in droves. With so many bodies in the race, a fringe candidate could conceivably win the primary with 15 to 20 percent of the vote and move on to face the vulnerable Republican incumbent in November. And just as Candidate Trump used vulgarity, insults, and half-cooked media stunts to differentiate himself from his primary opponents two years ago, so, too, are Walker’s Democratic challengers in 2018.

Up in Maine, the news was their new voting system.

Turnout appeared to be strong as Mainers statewide cast ballots for the first time using ranked-choice voting in a seven-way primary for governor among Democrats and a four-way race among Republicans. In addition, voters in the U.S. House 2nd District will choose among three Democratic candidates seeking to challenge incumbent Rep. Bruce Poliquin, and Republican voters will use ranked-choice voting to pick a candidate in Maine House District 75.

The fate of ranked-choice voting itself is also on the ballot. The Maine Legislature adopted a bill to delay implementation of the voting system until 2021 and repeal it altogether if the state Constitution isn’t changed by then to allow its use in general election races for governor and the Maine Legislature. Supporters of ranked-choice voting have put a “people’s veto” on the ballot Tuesday to repeal that law and retain ranked-choice voting, which was adopted by referendum in 2016.

Under ranked-choice voting, voters select their first choice for a position and then put the rest of the candidates in order of their preference. After the votes are counted, if no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote, the last-place candidate is eliminated and his or her votes are allocated based on voters’ second choices. The process continues until one candidate gets a majority of the vote.

Out west, according to The Hill, a brothel owner won a GOP nomination. Seriously.

Dennis Hof, the owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch and a handful of other legal brothels and the star of the HBO series “Cathouse,” took 43 percent of the vote on Tuesday. He beat out Assemblyman James Oscarson (R), who claimed 36 percent of the vote, and a third candidate who took 21 percent. . .

Hof is highly likely to win the seat in November’s midterm elections, when he will face Democrat Lesia Romanov. The district, mainly centered in Nye County, gave Trump more than a two-to-one edge over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

And, finally, North Dakota went—well, as expected.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, looking ahead to a November battle with Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp that could be key to control the chamber, cruised to an easy victory in Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary in North Dakota. . .

Democrats had no contested statewide races and were gearing up for the fall campaign, hoping Heitkamp — their only statewide officeholder — can hang on to a seat she won by fewer than 3,000 votes in 2012 in the deeply conservative state. . .

Heitkamp, who is seeking her second term, has played up her independence from the Democratic Party. She has also sided with Trump on some policy issues popular in the state, such as deregulation.

This year is getting interestinger and interestinger!

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Goethe Behr is a Contributing Editor and Moderator at Election Central. He started out posting during the 2008 election, became more active during 2012, and very active in 2016. He has been a political junkie since the 1950s and enjoys adding a historical perspective.

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