Sessions to tout NRCC's strong night – Lincoln stuns with comeback win – Haley and Barrett headed to runoff – Brown: Whitman 'rich and restless' – Reid gets Angle for the fall

June 9, 2010

SCORE EXCLUSIVE — AFTER-ACTION REPORT: NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions will seize on the results of last night’s elections to argue Wednesday that the 2010 primary season — long described as a draining, destructive series of GOP nomination fights — has actually left Republicans with a slate of House candidates prepared to “challenge more than enough Democrat-held seats to put the majority in play.” In a memo dropping later today, Sessions says “top-tier Republican candidates are already playing offense against Democrats in over 40 seats,” writing: “Contrary to assertions that recent contested primaries have left the GOP divided, we need to look no further than last night’s results to see that strong candidates have emerged to give Republicans the best possible chance for victory in November.”

The Texas congressman will point to three high-value primaries where heavyweight challengers emerged victorious — in Virginia’s 2nd and 5th Districts and South Dakota’s at-large seat — to push back on the conventional wisdom that the GOP’s November odds have suffered due to intra-party struggles. “By-and-large the primary contests that have taken place have served to strengthen the respective candidacies of those like Kristi Noem in South Dakota, Robert Hurt and Scott Rigell in Virginia,” Sessions writes in his message. “With five months to go, Republicans have established a foundation of candidates that will only grow as we continue our fight to retire Nancy Pelosi and take back the majority in the House of Representatives.”

As Bob Inglis stumbles, Nikki Haley nears victory and Arkansas produces another survivor, here’s the 100th edition of POLITICO’s Morning Score: your daily cheat sheet for the 2010 midterm elections.

THE MORNING AFTER — FIVE THINGS WE THINK WE KNOW NOW: (1) Bill Clinton’s support is worth even more to Democrats than Sarah Palin’s is to Republicans; (2) The tea party isn’t wreaking enough havoc to save every vulnerable Dem — just maybe enough to save Harry Reid; (3) John Boozman is as likely to be a senator today as he was yesterday; (4) There is no maximum age for a change candidate; (5) There are polls that matter besides the one on election day, and many of them hit the nail on the head.

AND FIVE THINGS WE STILL DON’T KNOW: (1) Which item on the menu of Sharron Angle attacks Democrats will order up first; (2) Whether Jerry Brown and Terry Branstad can really capitalize on nostalgia without seeming over the hill; (3) Who among the defeated Arkansas Dems will be a team player; (4) How much nastier the South Carolina gov race can get; (5) How much time Bill Clinton will spend in Florida and Pennsylvania.

THE BIGGEST WINNER — BLANCHE LINCOLN SURVIVES: The Arkansas Democrat defied the odds and lived to die another day, beating back Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s primary challenge with 52 percent of the vote to his 48 percent. Overcoming a tidal wave of spending from labor unions and environmental groups, and from Halter’s netroots-backed campaign, Lincoln exulted in an e-mail to supporters at 11:34 p.m.: “President Clinton called me tonight when it was clear we were going to win and said, ‘Blanche, you’re the new Comeback Kid!’ … Tomorrow, when all those outsiders who flooded the state get back on their airplanes and buses to go back where they came from, our campaign will stay rooted right here in Arkansas.” An administration official was even blunter about those “outsiders” in a phone call with POLITICO’s Ben Smith, declaring: “Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise.”

FOURNIER’S READ — ‘WASHINGTON LOST’ — The Arkansas veteran sizes up the night for the AP: “Lincoln’s comeback strategy was twofold: She took the anti-incumbent mood head on — ‘I know you’re angry at Washington,’ she said in one ad — while making out-of-state unions a political boogeyman more scary than even, well, a Washington incumbent. These outsiders, she said, ‘try to tell us who we are and buy our votes.’ Former President Bill Clinton, still popular in his home state, especially among black voters, echoed Lincoln’s messages. With Clinton and Arkansas business leaders behind Lincoln, the race became a fight between the state’s establishment (Lincoln, Clinton and the Chamber of Commerce) and the Washington establishment (unions). Washington lost.”

NOT SO LUCKY: South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis came in second in his district’s GOP primary, falling behind Spartanburg County Solicitor Trey Gowdy, who he’ll face in a runoff election. The State reports: “Gowdy built a large early lead and finished far ahead of Inglis, a former real estate lawyer now serving his sixth U.S. House term, with state Sen. David Thomas running a distant third … Gowdy, in his first congressional race, had accused Inglis of becoming too moderate for his heavily Republican district … If Gowdy defeats Inglis, South Carolina will have at least three new U.S. House members next January, the first time that has occurred since 1975.” Inglis took 28 percent of the vote to Gowdy’s 39 percent — a tough margin to overcome in the second round of voting.

MORE — RESULTS TICKER: Georgia’s Graves headed to Congress … Womack beats Bledsoe in AR-03 … Fiorina rolls over Campbell … Harman whistles past Winograd … Nevada Gov. Gibbons ousted … Dems Causey and Elliott win Arkansas House runoffs … Libby Mitchell, tea partier LePage prevail in Maine … Full results, maps and more at

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