Election Recap: June 12 Gubernatorial Primaries

By Peter Brath and Danny Restivo

Five states held primaries on Tuesday, with Republicans and Democrats in Nevada, Maine and South Carolina choosing their party’s respective nominee for governor.

 

South Carolina

Governor Henry McMaster will face former Marine and businessman John Warren in a runoff on June 26 after neither GOP gubernatorial candidate won the majority. McMaster received 42.4 percent of the vote, while Warren received 27.7 percent. Lawyer Catherine Templeton received 21.4 percent, but did not finish in the top two and will not participate in the run-off.

After South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was reelected in 2014, she was tapped to become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 2017. As Lieutenant Governor, McMaster became South Carolina Governor is now seeking his first full-term.

On the Democratic side, State Representative James Smith easily beat Attorney Marguerite Willis and businessman Phil Nobel with 61.9 percent to 27.5 and 10.6 percent, respectively.

The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections both rate this race as “solid Republican.”

Nevada

Clark County Commissioner Chairman Steve Sisolak took half of Nevada’s Democratic electorate and clinched the party’s nomination for governor. Sisolak had 50 percent of the vote against fellow Clark County Commissioner Christina Giunchigliani, who had 38 percent. Meanwhile, four other candidates took a combined 12 percent. Polling between Sisolak and Giunchigliani was tight up until primary day. With an endorsement from former Senator Harry Reid, Sisolak’s victory is seen as a win for the party establishment.

Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt took Nevada’s GOP nomination with 71.5 percent, while State Treasurer Dan Schwartz took 9 percent. Six other candidates had a combined 20 percent. Laxalt had the support of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, as well as political donors Charles and David Koch.

Laxalt will try to replace Republican Governor Brian Sandoval, who leaves office next year. Sisolak will try to become Nevada’s first Democratic governor since 1999.

The Cook Political Report rates this election as a “toss-up,” while Inside Elections rates it “tilt-Democrat.”

Maine

Businessman Shawn Moody won the Republican nomination with 56 percent, defeating State Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, who had 22.9 percent of the vote. Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew took 15 percent, while Maine House Minority Leader Ken Fredette had 5.9 percent.

Since Maine has moved to ranked-choice voting, no candidate took a 50-percent a majority in the Democratic race for governor, meaning second choice candidates will get tallied. State Attorney General Janet Mills currently has the most votes with more than 32 percent. National Guard Veteran Adam Cote has 28.5 percent, former Maine House Speaker Betsy Sweet has 16.2 percent, while Biddeford Mayor Donna Dion has 1.4 percent.  Since she finished last, those who voted for Dion will now have their second choice votes tallied. However, neither she nor the other candidates’ second place votes will likely overtake Mills or Cote, while second and third place votes will likely get tallied.

Meanwhile, current Republican Governor Paul LePage, who’s term-limited, said he will not certify Tuesday’s primary votes because ranked-choice voting is “the most horrific thing in the world.”  Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is now consulting with State Attorney General to see if they can certify without the governor.

The Cook Political Report has categorized the November election as a “toss-up,” while Inside Elections rates it “lean Democrat.”

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