The presidential primary is ostensibly over, but there are still many primary elections taking place that should be of interest to conservatives. We often find ourselves bemoaning the lack of conservative members in Congress during the legislative session. Well, it is during primary season that we have the opportunity to shape the orientation of Congress. On Tuesday, Indiana and North Carolina will be holding primaries. Here is what is at stake for conservatives:
Senate: The marque race is the battle for the Senate seat between Richard Lugar and Richard Mourdock. We clearly have the momentum, but it would be nice to send an unambiguous message that we are tired of insipid pale-pastel politicians in our party. We should all rally behind Mourdock to ensure that this is not even close. Over the weekend, I saw an interesting story from Jack Hoogendyk, the conservative running against Fred Upton in south Michigan. He is suspending his campaign until after Tuesday's election, so his volunteers can cross the border into Indiana and help with GOTV for Mourdock. This is a great idea for team play in future primary battles.
District 5: Dan Burton is retiring and a number of candidates are vying for the open seat. David McIntosh is, by far, the most viable conservative in the race. He has a stellar record as RSC chairman during his first time in Congress in the 90s. He is endorsed by the Club for Growth and the Madison Project.
District 8: Freshman Republican Larry Bucshon has been a tremendous disappointment. He ran as a Tea Party candidate, but has turned in a mediocre performance during his first year in office. Kristi Risk, who came close to beating him in 2010, will be on the ballot again. I have not had time to interview her, and therefore, cannot issue an official endorsement from the Madison Project, but she is clearly the better choice.
Marriage Amendment: The most important item on the ballot is not a candidate; it is the proposed amendment to the state constitution that would permanently define marriage as what it has been since the dawn of time. After a number of setbacks during the Obama administration, a strong majority in favor of the amendment would give our side much-needed momentum in the fight to preserve the institution of marriage.
District 8: The most important race in North Carolina is the Republican primary for Larry Kissell's seat in the south central part of the state. The entire establishment handpicked congressional staffer Richard Hudson to run for the seat. They are upset that the Club for Growth, Madison Project, and Red State are supporting Tea Party candidate Scott Keadle. They sent out mailers referring to the Club and Red State as "Washington special interest groups." Yes, we are special interest groups. We represent the interests of the millions of conservatives who are disenfranchised by the current Republican Party leadership that is bought and paid for by his special interest buddies on K Street.
District 11: There is a crowded field vying for Heath Schuler's vacant seat that has become even more conservative. The Madison Project and Family Research Council Action have endorsed Mark Meadows, who has been a leader in the push for the marriage amendment.
There are also competitive races in district 7 (Mike McIntyre), district 9 (Sue Myrick's open seat), and the new conservative district 13 (Brad Miller's open seat). Personally, I haven't seen a major star who is also viable in those districts. Nonetheless, we should have a very good chance of flipping 4 districts in the general election. It is important to note that if the winner in any congressional race fails to reach the 40% mark, there will be a runoff election June 26.
As for incumbents, retired police chief Frank Palambo has launched a long-shot bid to unseat Walter Jones in CD-3, while two candidates have embarked on an even longer-shot bid against Howard Coble in CD-6. Both Jones and Coble have gone south on us in recent years. Jones was one of 3 Republicans to vote for Dodd-Frank. We'll be able to tell if there is any inherent anti-incumbent sentiment this cycle if those incumbents underperform from previous years. In CD-1, Renee Ellmers has not attracted a credible challenger. Given her opposition to the marriage amendment and support for the debt ceiling, I would pick one of the challengers or just write in Micky Mouse on the ballot.