Primary elections Tuesday in 8 states

CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press
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California Republican gubernatorial candidate, Neel Kashkari, left, drops off his ballot with the help of poll worker Shiming Wen, Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in Laguna Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

California Republican gubernatorial candidate, Neel Kashkari, left, drops off his ballot with the help of poll worker Shiming Wen, Tuesday, June 3, 2014 in Laguna Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

TOP OF THE TICKET

On a day with primary elections in eight states, the headline will be made in Mississippi, where six-term GOP Sen. Thad Cochran faces his toughest re-election fight ever. The state’s Republican establishment backs Cochran against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a favorite of the tea party.

Voters also are choosing nominees in Alabama, California, Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota.

Lisa Bailey aggressively waves her campaign sign for state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is running against incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the GOP primary, while Shelby Ford, 15, takes a more laid back approach to sidewalk campaigning for her father running for county chancery clerk by sitting in a lawn chair and waving his sign during the state's primary election, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Madison, Miss.,  (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Lisa Bailey aggressively waves her campaign sign for state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who is running against incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in the GOP primary, while Shelby Ford, 15, takes a more laid back approach to sidewalk campaigning for her father running for county chancery clerk by sitting in a lawn chair and waving his sign during the state’s primary election, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Madison, Miss., (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

MISSISSIPPI TURNING?

The closing days of the Cochran-McDaniel race were dominated by a controversy involving, of all things, a camera in a nursing home. Four McDaniel supporters were arrested on charges tied to the surreptitious photographing of Cochran’s bedridden wife, who has dementia.

McDaniel said he knew nothing about it, but Cochran supporters suspected dirty politics.

Cochran, 76, emphasizes the federal money — sometimes called pork — that he has steered to Mississippi for decades. The 41-year-old McDaniel’s critique of the incumbent is that he’s too willing to go along with Democrats in Washington.

While a McDaniel win would be a rare victory for tea party conservatives this year over a candidate favored by the party’s establishment wing, it’s not likely to affect control of the Senate. The winner of the GOP primary will be the heavy favorite in November against the Democratic nominee. Former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers faces three others in that party’s primary.

The Cochran-McDaniel showdown has produced record spending in the relatively small state. Third-party groups have spent about $8.4 million, mostly for TV ads.

That’s on top of $3 million spent by Cochran’s campaign and $1 million from McDaniel’s. The total outlay amounts to $4.13 for each of Mississippi’s 3 million residents, and $6.53 for each of its 1.9 million registered voters. The cost-per-vote figure promises to be much higher, given that primaries usually draw only a fraction of eligible voters.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst and her husband Gail, rear, fill out their ballots in Iowa’s Republican primary in Red Oak, Iowa, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Five Republicans are competing for the GOP Senate nomination and a chance to face Democrat Bruce Braley, who is running unopposed. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst and her husband Gail, rear, fill out their ballots in Iowa’s Republican primary in Red Oak, Iowa, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Five Republicans are competing for the GOP Senate nomination and a chance to face Democrat Bruce Braley, who is running unopposed. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

SQUEALING PIGS IN IOWA

Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s retirement triggered a feisty Republican primary in Iowa, where state Sen. Joni Ernst made national news with a TV ad boasting that she castrated hogs as a farm girl. (She will “cut the pork” in Washington … get it?) Ernst went on to win endorsements from Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and others.

The goofy nature of the ad doesn’t really reflect Ernst’s personality, but the attention it generated made her the star in a then-muddled field of five. She needs 35 percent of the vote to win the nomination outright, with businessman Mark Jacobs as her chief rival.

The winner advances to a race against U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, who is unopposed for the Democratic nod.

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a media conference after he voted Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a media conference after he voted Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

CALIFORNIA’S TOP TWO TAKE ALL

California holds its primaries under its unusual all-candidates system, in which the top two finishers, regardless of party, face off in November.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is favored to grab one spot in the gubernatorial race. Republican candidates include former investment banker Neel Kashkari and state legislator Tim Donnelly. Donnelly, the more ardently conservative of the two, has compared President Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler.

Seven-term U.S. Rep. Mike Honda is being challenged by fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, a patent lawyer backed by several high-tech interests.

John Hernandez, of West Des Moines, signs his name as he votes during the primary election at Fire Station No. 17, Precinct 113, in West Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday, June 3, 2014. (AP Photo/The Des Moines Register, Holly McQueen)

John Hernandez, of West Des Moines, signs his name as he votes during the primary election at Fire Station No. 17, Precinct 113, in West Des Moines, Iowa, on Tuesday, June 3, 2014. (AP Photo/The Des Moines Register, Holly McQueen)

BIG NAMES, LITTLE SUSPENSE IN SOUTH DAKOTA AND MONTANA

Republicans see South Dakota and Montana as prime opportunities to take Senate seats from Democrats this year. The showdowns will occur in November, with nominees becoming official on Tuesday.

Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds is heavily favored to win the GOP Senate nomination for the seat being vacated by Democrat Tim Johnson. Businessman Rick Weiland is unopposed as the Democrats’ pick.

In Montana, then-Lt. Gov. John Walsh was appointed in February to the Senate seat that fellow Democrat Max Baucus left to become ambassador to China. Walsh is trying to win a full six-year term.

Republicans got their top recruit in U.S. Rep. Steve Daines. He has won statewide election to Congress because Montana has only one House seat.

Todd Randall, center, of West Des Moines, is joined by his sons, Coleman Randall, 9, left, and Dalton Randall, 6, during voting for the primary election at Fire Station No. 17, Precinct 113, in West Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Also pictured are Polk County election officials Nellie Bobenhouse, light blue, and Mary Connair, white sweater, both from West Des Moines. (AP Photo/The Des Moines Register, Holly McQueen)

Todd Randall, center, of West Des Moines, is joined by his sons, Coleman Randall, 9, left, and Dalton Randall, 6, during voting for the primary election at Fire Station No. 17, Precinct 113, in West Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Also pictured are Polk County election officials Nellie Bobenhouse, light blue, and Mary Connair, white sweater, both from West Des Moines. (AP Photo/The Des Moines Register, Holly McQueen)

UP NEXT

The next primaries are scheduled for June 10 in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and Virginia, with a runoff in Arkansas.

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Associated Press writer Bill Barrow in Georgia contributed to this report.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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