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News Guide: Primary elections Tuesday in 6 states

Wednesday - 6/11/2014, 4:00am  ET

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., listens at right as House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 10, 2014. Cantor faces a challenge from a political newcomer backed by the tea party as Virginia voters go to the polls Tuesday for three congressional primaries. Cantor was once popular in the tea party but has now become its target. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

PHILIP ELLIOTT
Associated Press

Voters cast ballots Tuesday in primary elections in five states, plus a runoff in Arkansas. Here are some highlights:

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TOP OF THE TICKET

In a stunning upset, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia lost his Republican primary to a little-known and underfunded tea party challenger, economics professor Dave Brat, who has never held public office and has raised only a fraction of Cantor's haul from donors. Brat enlisted conservative activists to power his uphill battle against the No. 2 Republican in the House.

Cantor spent more than $1 million in April and May in his ultimately unsuccessful effort beat back Brat's campaign, which raised just $200,000 total.

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GRAHAM AVOIDS RUNOFF

A tea party challenge failed against South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was once considered vulnerable to a challenge from the right. Graham defeated six opponents and avoided a runoff by getting more than 50 percent of the vote. Some conservatives loathe him for his support of immigration reform and other issues, but none of his challengers could gain traction or match Graham's fundraising.

The odds favor Graham winning a third term in the U.S. Senate in November against Democratic State Sen. Brad Hutto and Libertarian Victor Kocher in the deeply conservative state.

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SENATE CONTROL

Tuesday's elections shouldn't have an impact on the race for control of the Senate, where Democrats are defending a six-seat majority.

Graham and incumbent South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, a fellow Republican appointed to the seat vacated by Jim DeMint, are viewed as easy general election winners. Both won their primaries Tuesday.

In Maine, GOP Sen. Susan Collins is not expected to face a Democratic threat this fall.

Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, last weekend captured the GOP nomination for the Senate in Virginia. He will face incumbent Sen. Mark Warner, a popular Democrat in Virginia.

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SOULS OF THE PARTIES

The race to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in Maine's vast rural north illustrated the deep divisions among Republicans and Democrats alike.

Tea party favorite Bruce Poliquin won the Republican primary over Kevin Raye, a former state Senate president and a favorite of establishment-minded Republicans.

Poliquin, who campaigned on a pledge to never raise taxes and his deep Catholic faith, unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and for the Senate in 2012. He made his opposition to abortion rights a central issue in the race.

Social conservatives distrusted Raye because he supports abortion rights and because he was a chief of staff to former Sen. Olympia Snowe, a moderate Republican.

State Sen. Emily Cain won the Democratic nomination, campaigning as a dealmaker who would work with Republicans. She defeated Troy Jackson, a logger who campaigned as a champion for the working class.

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ELECTIONS ELSEWHERE

Tuesday's election will set up a familiar scenario for Maine's combative Republican Gov. Paul LePage: a three-way race with a Democrat and an independent splitting votes on the left. LePage is unopposed for re-nomination, and will face Michaud and independent Eliot Cutler, whom he beat in in 2010 to become the state's first Republican governor in 16 years.

Voters in Nevada picked Robert Goodman, a retired state economic development commissioner, as the Democratic nominee to face popular Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval. They also endorsed state Sen. Mark Hutchison, who had Sandoval's backing, as the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor over one-time U.S. Senate hopeful Sue Lowden.

In North Dakota, voters decided to give elections officials more time to review signatures on petitions trying to force ballot measures. North Dakota currently allows ballot measures to be filed 90 days from an election, but that will now expand that to a 120-day window.

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UP NEXT

Voters in Colorado, Maryland, New York, Oklahoma, Utah and the District of Columbia vote on June 24. Voters in Mississippi also cast ballots that day in the GOP runoff between Sen. Thad Cochran and tea party challenger Chris McDaniel. If Graham fails to win 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday, he, too, will have a runoff on June 24.

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Follow Philip Elliott on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/philip_elliott


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