Boost for Obama as president's man wins primary


WASHINGTON – Democratic senator Michael Bennet of Colorado bucked a national anti-incumbent mood to beat an insurgent challenger, while a Tea Party-backed conservative narrowly defeated an establishment favourite in the state’s Republican senate primary.

In Connecticut, wealthy former wrestling executive Linda McMahon easily won the Republican senate nomination over a former congressman in the latest in a string of Republican primary victories by anti-establishment outsiders.

The Colorado and Connecticut senate races were the highlight of primary voting in four US states. Voters in Georgia and Minnesota also chose candidates to square off in November’s midterm elections.

In Colorado, Mr Bennet beat liberal former Colorado house speaker Andrew Romanoff to dodge a wave of anti-Washington anger that buried two Senate colleagues earlier this year.

Both Democrats had high-profile support. Mr Bennet was backed by President Barack Obama, and Mr Romanoff had been endorsed by former president Bill Clinton.

Mr Bennet will face former prosecutor Ken Buck in November. Mr Buck won the Republican nomination over former Colorado Republican Lieut Governor Jane Norton, who had the backing of the state’s Republican establishment.

Mr Buck is one of several conservative Tea Party-backed candidates who have scored wins fuelled by voter unhappiness with Washington over spending and Mr Obama’s ambitious agenda.

Mr Buck, a former prosecutor, won despite being caught on tape complaining about Tea Party “dumbasses” who question whether Mr Obama was born in the United States.

Democratic control of Congress and the ability to push Mr Obama’s legislative agenda will be up for grabs in the November 2nd elections, when all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 37 Senate seats and 36 governorships will be on the ballot.

In Connecticut, Ms McMahon easily won the Republican Senate nomination after pouring tens of millions of her own dollars into the race.

She beat former Representative Rob Simmons for the right to face Democratic state attorney general Richard Blumenthal.

Ms McMahon, who promises to spend up to $50 million of her own money on the election, was the chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc, which produces staged spectacles featuring scantily clad women and heavily muscled wrestlers who sometimes bash each other with folding chairs.

Democrats said her wrestling past would be a prime issue in the November race to replace retiring Democratic Senator Chris Dodd.

As the former WWE CEO, Ms McMahon built an empire peddling violent, sexually explicit material that glorified the exploitation of women, and the mentally disabled,” Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said after her victory.

In the Democratic race for governor, former Stamford mayor Dan Malloy defeated businessman Ned Lamont. Among Republicans, businessman Tom Foley won the nomination as governor.

In Colorado, Bennet’s win was a welcome political victory for Mr Obama, who campaigned, filmed television ads and recorded phone calls on Mr Bennet’s behalf. Mr Obama won the state by eight percentage points over Republican John McCain in 2008.

In Georgia, Nathan Deal beat Karen Handel in the Republican runoff for governor in a race that had become a proxy battle between potential 2012 Republican presidential contenders.

Ms Handel was endorsed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Mr Deal was backed by former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and former speaker Newt Gingrich. – (Reuters)