Tuesday Elections: Super for Romney and Palin, Not So for Huckabee

A number of big elections took place yesterday, some of the candidates were endorsed by “The Big 3″ and may have some 2012 Presidential implications. I admit that the game of who-endorsed-who is not of vital importance, but neither can it be cast aside as worthless information. Either way it is unresistingly intriguing to those who are closely following the potential candidates of 2012.

Some highlights of yesterday’s GOP primaries…

WINNERS:

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley - South Carolina’s Governor race: Nikki Haley enjoyed the endorsement of both Mitt Romney (March 16) and Sarah Palin (May 14th). After both Romney and Palin (and RedState) endorsed her Nikki Haley jumped from a no-name in this race to a substantial lead going into yesterday’s primaries. What she did not enjoy were two separate accusations by men who said they had an affair with her. Haley vigorously denied the accusations and they seemed to fall flat on the voters as well as Haley continued to surge in the polls. There was also a very ugly incident of a State Rep. calling Nikki Haley a raghead, as well as accusation to the affect that she was not really Christian.

Haley lead yesterday’s primary with 49% of the vote in the four-way race. Unfortunately she did not capture a full 50% of the vote and will therefore have a run-off with second-place finisher US Rep. Gresham Barrett, who captured 22% of the votes. Barrett announced this morning that he will not concede the victory. The run-off primary election will be held June 22nd. Barring any revelations about the accusations against Haley, she should cruise to victory as she only needs to add 2% of the remaining 51% that voted for other candidates yesterday. Visit Nikki’s website here. Haley was a prominent endorser of Romney in 2008.

Terry Branstad

Terry Branstad

Terry Branstad - Iowa’s Governor race: Terry Branstad was Governor of Iowa from 1983 to 1999 He also enjoyed the support of both Mitt Romney (May 18th) and Sarah Palin (June 3rd). The Sarah Palin endorsement was quite odd I think as she never actually met with Branstad and her endorsement came from Facebook - watch the video of Branstad’s reaction here. Branstad remained neutral through the 2008 campaign but has shown in the past that he is willing to make endorsements. Chris Cillizza reports “As a state representative in 1976, he picked Ronald Reagan. He endorsed Bob Dole in 1996 and Lamar Alexander and then George W. Bush in 2000.” Terry Branstad seemed to be favored in the polls throughout the race and ended up winning by a margin of 50% to 41% over Bob Vander Plaats. Brandstad now faces the incumbent Democrat Chet Culvers for the Governors seat in November.

Meg Whitman

Meg Whitman - California’s Governor race: In the race to replace the Governator the ex-CEO of eBay cruised to a 64% to 27% victory over Steve Poizner. Meg Whitman was an intricate player in Romney’s 2008 campaign and has enjoyed his support as early as September of last year - possibly earlier, but I don’t know when her campaign officially began. Whitman and Romney’s acquaintance goes much further back than 2008 - she used to work with Mitt at Bain some time long ago. During his campaign stops with Meg in CA Mitt would recall the first time he interviewed her for Bain and how brilliant and authoritative she was. Meg Whitman credits Mitt Romney as being her inspiration for leaving the private sector and jumping into politics. On a side note, the two both testified for the Economic Recovery Working Group in January of 2009. California is economically ill and Meg Whitman is the right person to restore it to fiscal sanity. Meg faces the current Attorney General of CA, Jerry Brown, in the November general elections.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina - California’s Senate race: There were 3 players in the race to oust incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer (shudder). Spurred on by the strong endorsement of Sarah Palin (May 6th), Fiorina enjoyed a surge late in the polls that put her over the top against Former US Congressman Tom Campbell and California State Assembly member Chuck DeVore. It seemed that women that were former CEOs were the order of the day in California as Carly Fiorina won easily with 56% compared to 22% for Campbell and 19% for DeVore. Fiorina was CEO of HP 1999 to 2005. (Romney did not involve himself in this primary as he was not well acquainted with the candidates, but he did congratulate and endorse winner Fiorina earlier today.)

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Losers:

Andre Bauer - South Carolina’s Governor race: The current Lt. Governor failed in his bid for the nomination finishing in 4th place in the race at 12%. Bauer was a strong proponent of Huckabee’s 2008 campaign in South Carolina and received Huckabee’s endorsement very early in December of 2009. Bauer’s campaign was likely damaged by the fact that one the men who claimed to have an affair with Nikki Haley worked for his campaign. That man, Larry Marchant, was fired by Bauer and Bauer passed a lie-detector test saying that he knew nothing of the alleged involvement with Haley. Marchant also took a polygraph test but it was scored inconclusive.

Bob Vander Plaats - Iowa’s Governor race: Team Huck and Chuck went in big for Bob Vander Plaats campaign, to no avail. Vander Plaats chaired Huckabee’s Iowa campaign. Way back then Huckabee was already referring to Vander Plaats as “the next Governor of Iowa”. I would call that an extremely early endorsement. Bob ran a good race and lost by a not-large margin of 9 points.

Chuck DeVore - California’s Senate race: This race saddened me the most. I met DeVore at CPAC earlier this year and took a liking to him. I felt he was certainly the most conservative candidate in this race and he had the potential to beat Boxer, but I must readily admit that Fiorina is probably more electable, or rather, has a higher likelihood to defeat Boxer. DeVore was endorsed by Huckabee alone back on April 28th. Though DeVore gave it an excellent effort his campaign failed to gain traction statewide. Hopefully we’ll see more like him in the future.

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For those keeping score for yesterday we have both Romney and Palin at 3-0, and poor Huck at 0-3. I know Huckabee supporters are disappointed on the returns of the day. Huckabee has actually issued a very respectable statement about yesterday’s elections.

Congrats to those who won. We look forward to more primaries coming up in the next few weeks and months.

~Nate Gunderson

Update 1 by Jayde: For further information on election results for Arkansas, California, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, N. Dakota, S. Carolina, S. Dakota, Virginia, and Georgia’s special election run-off click here.

For additional information on Montana’s primary election click here.

For additional information on Maine’s primary election click here.

UPDATE 2 by Jayde: The election headline that caught fire last night was: Ladies’ Night!

Romney Endorses Branstad in Iowa, 2012 Huckabee Rivalry Underway

Branstad vs. Vander Plaats in Iowa GOP Primary

Terry Branstad (left) and Bob Vander Plaats (right) face off in the Iowa Gubernatorial Republican Primary on June 8th

The spirit of rivalry is thick in the air as Mitt Romney’s PAC announced today that Romney has endorsed Terry Branstad in Iowa’s republican primary race for the Governorship. In addition to the endorsement the PAC wrote out a check for the maximum possible donation the PAC can give, $10,000, which is incidentally among the highest contributions given by the PAC this year.

The rivalry with this endorsement is evident when you consider the fact that Branstad’s main opponent, Bob Vander Plaats, has been heavily endorsed by Mike Huckabee AND his trusty sidekick Chuck Norris. According to The Iowa Independent other similarities with Huckabee and Vander Plaats abound:

The comparisons between this year’s Republican gubernatorial primary, with Sioux City businessman Bob Vander Plaats and former Gov. Terry Branstad as the frontrunners, and the 2008 Iowa Republican Caucuses, where former governors Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney squared off, are many. The biggest similarity, ultimately, is that the race represents a fork in the road for the Republican Party of Iowa, observers say, with voters facing stark differences in choosing the de facto leader of their party.

“The 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary runs parallel to the Romney/Huckabee match-up insomuch as the internal struggle for control of the party remains,” said Graham Gillette, who runs a public affairs/communications firm and occasionally blogs for The Des Moines Register. “The players are different. The campaign strategies being employed are not like 2008. But, ideology is driving the race as it did the 2008 Caucuses.”

Vander Plaats’ campaign is being run by Eric Woolson, who helped steer Huckabee to a caucus victory in 2008. In fact, Vander Plaats served as Huckabee’s state chair, and the former Arkansas governor has endorsed and repeatedly campaigned on Vander Plaats’ behalf.

Branstad remained neutral during the caucuses, but his staff is made up of numerous former Romney aides, including his spokesman, Tim Albrecht, his main fundraiser, Nicole Schlinger, and the person who put together the “Draft Branstad PAC,” Sandy Greiner, among others. But Doug Gross, Branstad’s former chief of staff and longtime adviser, represents Branstad’s closest ties to Romney. In fact, the two of them sat down with the former Massachusetts governor when he visited Iowa [in the end of March].

So Romney is going in big with 2012 implications on the line. Huckabee already put all of his chips into this one, nearly a year ago. With Huckabee’s busy TV and radio schedule, plus his daughter’s upcoming wedding (May 25th, Virgin Islands), Huckabee won’t be able to make it the state to campaign for Vander Plaats so his proxy, Chuck “Texas Ranger” Norris, is filling in for him. The legendary Mr. Norris will be in Iowa on June 4th and 5th.

The Iowa 2010 primary elections are set for June 8th - mark your calendars. The way I see it Romney has nothing to lose on this one and much to gain, as he would be the underdog going into Iowa should Huckabee run. I couldn’t find any head to head polling of Branstad and Vander Plaats, but Rasmussen did do a hypothetical match-up of both candidates against incumbent Democrat Chet Culver in a general election:

branstad-vander-plaats-poll

Apr. 29th Poll

Romney’s statement of endorsement for Terry Branstad:

Terry Branstad served Iowa well in the 1980s and 1990s, compiling an enviable record as a pro-growth fiscal conservative who will make jobs his first priority. Iowa is ready for a comeback, and Terry’s proven leadership is just what Iowa needs to get its economy back on track. I am proud to endorse his candidacy to lead Iowa to a more prosperous future.

~Nate Gunderson

Update by Luke:

Sarah Palin Joins Mitt Romney in Backing Terry Branstad for Governor of Iowa

Read her Facebook note here (6/3/10)