In the biggest political day of the year thus far, voters in seven states went to the polls on June 4 to settle hundreds of intraparty nomination battles. Republicans ended up with a mish-mash of conservative nominees and liberals, political veterans and neophytes. With the most to lose in November, the GOP needed the biggest wins in June. Here's a look at some of the most interesting results:
Alabama In the closely watched governor's race, conservative Rep. Bob Riley swamped two lesser-known opponents for the right to face incumbent Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat. After 16 years of GOP rule, Mr. Siegelman swept into office in 1998 with promises of a statewide lottery that would fix the state's miserable public schools. Four years later, the lottery issue has receded amidst charges that Mr. Siegelman directed sweetheart contracts to his political cronies. "You need a governor who will go to Montgomery and work for you, not for his buddies," Mr. Riley said in his victory speech.
Though Mr. Siegelman took 73 percent of the vote in his primary against Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bishop, he may face a divided party in November. Mr. Bishop resigned from the state Democratic Party following his loss.
Two congressional races also drew national scrutiny. In the rural, majority-black 7th District, 10-year veteran Rep. Earl Hilliard couldn't avoid a June 25 runoff with political newcomer Artur Davis. Mr. Hilliard, the first black member of the state's congressional delegation in 125 years, came under fire last month as one of just a handful of lawmakers who voted against a resolution supporting Israel in its fight against Palestinian terrorists.
And in the newly redrawn 3rd District, state Sen. Mike Rogers defeated two opponents to claim the Republican nomination. In November, he'll face former state Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham for the open seat that is considered a must-win if Republicans are to maintain their majority in the House.
Iowa Despite running a shoestring campaign from his mother's kitchen table, 33-year-old farmer Bill Salier grabbed more than 40 percent of the vote in his unlikely battle for the GOP Senate nomination. Rep. Greg Ganske, a moderate Republican, will face Sen. Tom Harkin, the Democratic incumbent, in the general election, but his weak showing in the primary means he'll have to campaign hard to win back disillusioned conservatives.
In the wake of a deteriorating state budget, first-term Gov. Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, is considered vulnerable, and three Republicans vied for the right to challenge him. Doug Gross, chief of staff to former GOP Gov. Terry Branstad, won the primary, but he'll need to replenish his campaign coffers quickly if he hopes to seriously challenge Mr. Vilsack, who faced no primary opposition.
After a late round of spending by national conservative groups, state Sen. Steve King surged to the top of the primary field in the heavily Republican 5th Congressional District. Still, because no candidate managed to eke out 35 percent of the vote in the four-way contest, the race will be decided by 589 delegates at a party convention slated for June 29. The eventual GOP nominee is considered a sure thing in the general election, because Republicans outnumber Democrats by 55,000 in this western Iowa district.
Montana After two top choices, former Gov. Marc Racicot and Rep. Dennis Rehberg, passed on a chance to challenge powerful Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Republicans gave the nod to state Sen. Mike Taylor, a wealthy gentleman farmer and a dead-ringer for Teddy Roosevelt. Mr. Taylor took 60 percent of the vote, while his nearest opponent, beauty-supply magnate Brad Johnson, garnered less than 20 percent. National GOP leaders were heartened by the margin of victory, because a closely divided party would have spelled doom in November.
As it is, Mr. Taylor faces a tough fight against Sen. Baucus, a four-term incumbent. As chairman of the influential Senate Finance Committee, Mr. Baucus attracts big donations from the banking industry, and he has banked more than $5 million toward the November election. Still, President Bush carried Montana by 25 percentage points, and Mr. Baucus won his last election with barely 50 percent of the vote, so Mr. Taylor could make the race interesting.
New Jersey Another Northeastern state, another millionaire candidate. Businessman Douglas Forrester took a page from the playbook of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, spending more than $3 million of his own money to buy his way out of political obscurity. In the end, he won his three-way battle for the GOP Senate nomination, though two state senators, Diane Allen and John Matheussen, managed to hold him below 50 percent. Mr. Matheussen, the lone pro-lifer in the race, hoped to mobilize the party's conservative wing, but he ran a low-key campaign and was outspent by Mr. Forrester by roughly 30 to 1.
Mr. Forrester's target in November will be Sen. Robert Torricelli (D), the freshman incumbent who remains under an ethical cloud even though federal investigators recently wrapped up a case against him without filing any charges. Republicans haven't won a Senate race in New Jersey since 1972, but the free-spending Mr. Forrester vowed to break that pattern.
The news for conservatives was better in a closely watched House race. Retiring Rep. Marge Roukema, one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress, anointed state Sen. Gerald Cardinale as her successor. But conservative Assemblyman Scott Garrett, who twice challenged Ms. Roukema in earlier primaries, wouldn't go along with the coronation. He beat Mr. Cardinale and three other challengers for the right to face ophthalmologist Anne Sumers in the general election.
Though Mr. Cardinale insisted Mr. Garrett was too "extreme" for New Jersey voters, Mr. Garrett responded that "extreme" conservative Bret Schundler carried the district in his gubernatorial bid last year. National Democrats are sure to spend millions backing Ms. Sumers, who casts herself as the logical heir to the Roukema political tradition (fiscally moderate, socially liberal).
New Mexico While political heavyweight Bill Richardson scared off his opposition in the Democratic primary for governor, Republicans endured a tough and divisive campaign. In the end, John Sanchez, a 39-year-old, first-term state legislator, beat his better-known opponent, Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley, with nearly 60 percent of the vote.
But popular GOP Gov. Gary Johnson backed Mr. Bradley late in the race after becoming alarmed at the negative campaigning by the Sanchez camp. He now says he may not endorse Mr. Sanchez in the general election-a potentially crippling blow to Republicans' hopes in the state. Mr. Richardson, who served as both Secretary of Energy and Ambassador to the UN during the Clinton administration, is a prodigious fundraiser, but the nomination of Mr. Sanchez may undercut his presumed base among the state's large Hispanic population.
In the race to succeed retiring 20-year veteran Rep. Joe Skeen (R), former state legislator Steve Pearce defeated steakhouse magnate Ed Tinsley by about 3,000 votes to win the GOP nod. To everyone's surprise, Mr. Skeen endorsed Mr. Tinsley early in the race, but that was not enough to help him overcome charges of carpetbagging. (Though Mr. Tinsley owns a ranch in the 2nd District, critics said his home was actually in Albuquerque, north of the district line.) Democrats also faced a tough primary, with state Sen. John Arthur Smith eking out a win over Las Cruces Mayor Reuben Smith. With the district trending more liberal in recent years, Democrats view the race as a top priority in their quest to win six seats nationwide.
South Dakota Two statewide political titans squared off for the GOP nomination to the House of Representatives, a political honor that's actually harder to win in this state than a Senate seat. (South Dakota gets two senators, like everyone else, but only one representative.) Former Sen. Larry Pressler was the frontrunner until Gov. Bill Janklow, limited to two terms in Pierre, made a late entry into the race. The quirky, outspoken governor took 55 percent of the vote, doubling Mr. Pressler's 27 percent share. He'll face attorney Stephanie Herseth, the heir to a statewide political dynasty, in another must-win open seat for the Republicans.