It was rough night for liberals as primary season turned its focus from presidential candidates to more local concerns, many of which against President Obama and the Democrats. In the two votes receiving the most national attention, North Carolina's constitutional ban on gay marriage easily passed and Republican Senator Richard Lugar saw his 36-year Senate career end in defeat.
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Lugar — the longest serving current Senator and an occasional ally of President Obama — was handily defeated by Indiana state treasurer Richard Mourdock in a primary challenge financed largely by out-of-state interests. Though Lugar is a big takedown for Tea Party voters and sympathizers, his defeat will be marked as an unfortunate blow to idea of bipartisan cooperation and a symbol of the ongoing war within the Republican Party's itself. Lugar himself lamented Mourdock's “embrace of an unrelenting partisan mindset” and offered tepid support for the nominee in November.
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In North Carolina, voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that explicitly defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. The amendment goes even further than current state laws (that already ban gay marriage) by also outlawing civil unions, which some opponents argued could affect heterosexual couples as well. The cements yet another anti-gay marriage state, while Colorado residents were also thwarted in their attempts to move towards recognizing more rights for same-sex couples
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And in a very public embarrassment for President Obama, 40 percent of the votes in the Democratic primary in West Virginia went to Keith Judd, a convicted felon currently in jail in the state of Texas. To be sure, the vote is skewed by the fact that actual Obama supporters weren't going to bother coming out to primary for an incumbent running unopposed nationally, but that fact that nearly 50,000 West Virginia Democrats felt the need to lodge a "Anybody But Obama" protest vote last night is not an encouraging sign for the fall.
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In another key vote in Wisconsin, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won the Democratic primary for governor and will face Republican Scott Walker in special recall election in June.