Election Night in America: Arizona! Florida! (Vermont, if You’re a Completist.)

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 26 2014 7:00 PM

Election Night in America: Arizona! Florida! (Vermont, if You’re a Completist.)

Polls close in Vermont at 7 p.m. There are no competitive races that the non-Vermonter needs to bother himself with. Lovely state, though.

Polls close in most of Florida at 7 p.m. and in the last pesky panhandle counties at 8 p.m. At the top of the ballot is the governor's race, and both Gov. Rick Scott (running for re-election as a Republican) and former Gov. Charlie Crist (running for his old job as a Democrat) have primary challengers. Scott's challenger is a joke, but Crist's challenger, longtime Democratic pol Nan Rich, is the sort of sacrificial lamb the party might have nominated had Crist not come over. She's won over a few dozen minor Democratic endorsers, and made some noise—enough that a weak victory for Crist will be hyped by a Republican Party that cannot stand to look at the guy.

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There are some strange races down the ballot because, well, Florida. In the 9th District, Rep. Alan Grayson faces a primary challenge from a Democrat who mystifyingly switched from an easy nod in a Republican district to a primary against a wealhy, nationally known progressive. Grayson's 2012 comeback became a cakewalk when a weak candidate emerged—with Grayson's help—from the Republican primary. If Jorge Bonilla fails to win the Republican nod, we'll know Grayson lucked out again. In the 18th District, one-time Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Alan Schlesinger is vying for the right to challenge Rep. Patrick Murphy, who beat Allen West two years ago. If Schlesinger wins, Democrats will get a buy in a seat they really never should have won. And in the 20th District, Rep. Alcee Hastings is being primaried by a former professional wrestler. 

I did say that these elections were being held in Florida.

Results will be right here.

Polls close at 9 p.m. in Arizona, the site of a great intra-Republican fight and a magnificently dumb Democratic fight. The Republican race for governor is a dogpile, under which are the bruised limbs of Treasurer Doug Ducey (endorsed by Ted Cruz), Mesa Mayor Scott Smith (the moderate who still loudly denounced Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and has been endorsed by Gov. Jan Brewer), Secretary of State Ken Bennett (endorsed by nobody in particular), and a few other people. A Ducey win, obviously, would be the latest victory for conservatives in a year when people keep writing that the Tea Party is dead.

The other race to watch is in the 7th District, a safe Democratic seat centered in Phoenix. When Rep. Ed Pastor retired, rising star Ruben Gallego (a state representative who left his seat to run) announced that he was ready to move up. Gallego, a Harvard-educated Iraq war veteran, had been tipped for stardom. But his path appeared to be blocked by Mary Rose Wilcox, 30 years his senior, who called in decades of chits from Latino political battles in the hopes of rising from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to a retirement gig in Congress.

Wilcox is—how to put this?—a singularly silly and desparate candidate. She has sent out mailers linking Gallego to the killing of Trayvon Martin, because Gallego sided with the NRA on some gun bills. She briefly challenged Gallego's right to appear on the ballot under his name, his mother's name, which he adopted late in life because his father abandoned his family. Yet Wilcox scored endorsements from some prominent Hispanic pols, like Rep. Luis Gutierrez and former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, while Gallego won backing from MoveOn, the Sierra Club, labor unions, and Arizona's senior Latino member of Congress Raul Grijalva (D-Tune Inn). Gallego won the support of Larry Lessig's Mayday PAC, which to Walter Shapiro was a sign that MayDay had no idea what it was doing. A win for him would be a generational shift in Arizona Latino politics. A win for Wilcox would be a feather in the cap for Emily's List, and the other groups that decided that, sure, a 65-year-old pol mostly known for legal fights against Joe Arpaio was the right person to hold a safe blue seat.

Election results will be posted here.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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