Primary Results: Coats Wins GOP Nod in Indiana
WASHINGTON - Former Indiana senator Dan Coats won the Republican nomination for his old job Tuesday, putting him in a group of former officeholders who are trying to work their way back into public life in a year when voters appear inclined to throw out incumbents.
Other former lawmakers in this week's primary elections include two former Ohio congressmen: John Kasich, running unopposed in his state's Republican gubernatorial primary, and Rob Portman, also unopposed for the GOP Senate nomination.
Coats beat another ex-lawmaker, former representative John Hostettler in the Senate primary.
Tuesday's contests in Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina set the stage for fall campaigns in battleground states that Republicans want to win back after President Obama pulled them into the Democratic column last year.
They also highlighted rifts between the political establishments of both parties and activists.
Among the most-watched races:
- Indiana. The marquee race was the battle for the Hoosier State's Republican Senate nomination. The Indiana seat is among 11 prime targets because no incumbent is running.
Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh announced his retirement in February. Coats, who was recruited to the race by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, held the Senate seat from 1989 to 1999 and watched his conservative credentials questioned by Hostettler and state Sen. Marlin Stutzman.
Stutzman received more than $100,000 from Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican whose political action committee is dedicated to electing like-minded conservatives.
Coats will face Democrat Brad Ellsworth, a second-term congressman, in November.
Republican Rep. Mark Souder beat back an intraparty challenge, and another veteran Republican, Rep. Dan Burton, narrowly prevailed over a field of six challengers to win his party's nomination for a 15th term.
- North Carolina. Several Democrats are vying to oppose Republican Sen. Richard Burr this fall.
Members of the national Democratic Party officials recruited Cal Cunningham, a former state senator who won a Bronze Star for prosecuting fraud and waste as a member of the judge advocate general's corps in Iraq.
He is facing a challenge from Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, who became North Carolina's first woman statewide executive in 1997 when she defeated NASCAR legend Richard Petty.
Also a factor: Chapel Hill attorney Ken Lewis, backed by prominent African Americans such as former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, and former senator Carol Moseley Braun, an Illinois Democrat.
If none of the three Democrats wins 40 percent of the vote, a June 22 runoff will pick the nominee.
Hopes of knocking off freshman Democratic Rep. Larry Kissell has drawn seven Republicans into a primary, all touting their conservative credentials.
The field includes local TV sportscaster Harold Johnson, IBM executive Hal Jordan and Tim D'Annunzio, a former paratrooper who is promising a "war" on liberal Democrats.
- Ohio. Polls show Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher with a wide lead in the state's Democratic Senate primary, but the race has turned nasty. Fisher's Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, has said she will not throw her support to him should he win.
The feud has cost Fisher, literally: Financial reports filed last month show he has spent all but $900,000 of the $3.9 million he raised. Portman, meanwhile, is going into the fall campaign with $7.7 million in the bank.
In their races against party-backed candidates, both Brunner and North Carolina's Marshall got support from Democracy for America, a liberal organization headed by Jim Dean, brother of former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean.
"We are in the fight to elect not just any Democrat but better Democrats," Jim Dean said.