What had been shaping up as one of this year’s most bitterly contested primaries came and went with barely a ripple on Tuesday as Wyoming U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi soundly beat four little-known Republican challengers in his pursuit of a fourth term.
Last summer, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s elder daughter, Liz Cheney, launched what widely was expected to be a formidable primary challenge for Enzi.
Ultimately, the Fox News commentator and former State Department official found little mainstream support in the sparsely populated state, and she dropped out in January, citing family health issues.
Enzi, meanwhile, raised even more campaign cash than usual: Just over $3 million to date.
In November, Enzi will face Democrat Charlie Hardy, a 75-year-old former Roman Catholic priest from Cheyenne, in the overwhelming Republican state.
Both Wyoming and Alaska held primary elections Tuesday. Other notable races included:
Gov. Matt Mead beat back two challengers to claim victory in the Wyoming Republican primary election as he seeks a second term.
Rather than respond to his challengers during the campaign, Mead instead focused on his record. He has emphasized his administration’s efforts to improve Internet service around the state.
Mead enjoyed considerable support from the state’s energy industry. He’s been an outspoken advocate of Wyoming’s coal industry, traveling to Asia on trade missions to seek overseas markets and filing numerous legal challenges to U.S. Environmental Protection air-quality regulations he says would hurt the industry.
Mead, 52, now heads to the November general election facing Pete Gosar, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary in the majority Republican state.
Two out-of-staters were running as Democrats in Wyoming’s primary – and one won Tuesday because he was the only one to register.
Richard Grayson, a 63-year-old political gadfly from Apache Junction, Ariz., was the lone contestant in the Democratic primary for U.S. Congress. No Wyoming Democrat bothered to register; the seat is held by Republican U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who is seeking a fourth term in Washington.
Grayson said he has run for Congress several times before in other states. It’s legal – a candidate simply must reside in the state they want to represent by Election Day.
Another non-Wyoming resident also ran Tuesday. William Bryk, a Brooklyn attorney, was one of four candidates seeking the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. He lost to a former Roman Catholic priest. Bryk also is running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in Alaska and has run for Congress in other states over the past several years.
Three Republican challengers have waged contentious campaigns in Alaska to take on U.S. Sen. Mark Begich in the fall.
The race is important to Republicans nationally because Begich, a first-term incumbent Democrat, is seen as vulnerable and the GOP needs a net gain of six seats to take control of the Senate.
The Alaska GOP Senate race mirrors national trends, with tea party conservatives trying to knock out mainstream Republicans. The race features former state attorney general and natural resources commissioner, Dan Sullivan, current Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and tea party favorite and 2010 GOP Senate primary winner Joe Miller.
Oil tax referendum
Alaska voters also are deciding if their old system for taxing oil companies is better than the new one.
The referendum asks voters if they want to reject the 2013 law, championed by Gov. Sean Parnell. It replaced the production tax that was pushed by former Gov. Sarah Palin.
Critics say Palin’s plan was an investment killer. It gave tax credits for investment, but contained a progressive surcharge that companies say ate too deeply into profits.
Referendum advocates contend Parnell could have fine-tuned Palin’s oil tax measure but instead pushed the new law, which they say gives tax breaks to profitable petroleum companies at the expense of revenue that belongs to the people of Alaska.
Two Dan Sullivans
Alaska Republican voters might think they’re seeing double on Tuesday’s ballot with two Dan Sullivans running for higher office.
Dan Sullivan, the former state attorney general and natural resources commissioner, is seeking the Republican party nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Sen. Mark Begich, who is seeking re-election.
The other Dan Sullivan – or the “original” Dan Sullivan, as he has referred to himself because he’s older– is the Republican mayor of Anchorage, known for his political battles with labor unions. He is seeking the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.
Next Tuesday brings primary elections in Vermont, Florida and Arizona.
In Arizona, six Republicans look to replace outgoing Gov. Jan Brewer in a GOP primary that has focused on immigration, border security and economic issues. The winner will face Democrat Fred DuVal in November.
In Florida, former Gov. Charlie Crist, who won in 2006 as a Republican, is running to regain the office as a Democrat and is a heavy favorite in the party’s primary against former state Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich. Republican Gov. Rick Scott has token opposition from two political unknowns in his primary.