Southern Primary Results

May 23, 2018
Originally published on May 23, 2018 9:26 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Democrats have a clearer picture this morning of who they are. To be more precise, they have a better idea of who their candidates are in some key races this fall because primary elections came last night in Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas and Georgia. They were primaries for both parties also, though some of the most notable results were on the Democratic side, which we will discuss with NPR's Kelsey Snell. She's in our studios. Good morning.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: OK. New faces for Democrats - right? - starting with Stacey Abrams in Georgia. Who is she?

SNELL: Yeah. Stacey Abrams is the first black woman to ever be nominated for governor in a major political party.

INSKEEP: In any state.

SNELL: Yeah. This is a really big deal. And she won easily. Democrats are really excited and energized, and they hope that she's going to bring a lot of new fresh faces and voters out in November.

INSKEEP: Now, we should clarify. Georgia's a conservative state.

SNELL: Yes.

INSKEEP: There's a Republican runoff to decide who she'll face in the governors' race. So there's no assurance that she'll win. But my first thought, when I think about an African-American at the top of the ticket, is Democrats have to be excited because they want to get the African-American vote out to the polls in the fall, right?

SNELL: One of the things that's important about these top-of-ticket races, particularly for congressional races where, you know, sometimes people just don't know who their congressperson is or who's running, is when they're energized about somebody at the top of the ticket running for governor or running for president, they are more likely to show up and vote for all of those other people on that person's ticket. So Democrats like this idea.

INSKEEP: So there might be a House race somewhere in Georgia that is affected by the fact that you have this particular candidate at the top of the ticket. What about in Texas, where Democrats also got some candidates that they're kind of excited about?

SNELL: Yeah. They are excited because there was this progressive candidate, Laura Moser, that the Democratic Party wasn't quite so excited about. They were worried that she was just a little bit too far left. Now, she lost, and Democrats I talked to are feeling a little bit better about their chances to pick up that seat.

INSKEEP: OK. And we're talking about House races in Texas.

SNELL: Yes.

INSKEEP: ...We're discussing. Of course, there's also the question of Republicans and turning out. Historically, we should mention, whoever the president is, his party doesn't do so well, in nearly every occasion, in midterm elections. And this is very much on President Trump's mind. He was at a public event yesterday and discussed the importance, in his mind, of Republicans showing up to vote.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: So your vote in 2018 is every bit as important as your vote in 2016, although I'm not sure I really believe that, but, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP: I don't know who the hell wrote that line. I'm not sure.

(LAUGHTER)

INSKEEP: OK. So he said it, then he took it back. You know, it's not about me, therefore, maybe it's not about me.

SNELL: Yeah. And this is one of those things that Republicans are worried about. They're excited right now. It looks like that voters are more excited about Republicans. And Republican strategists I talked to say that the polls are moving in their direction, and they think that they have a better chance of keeping control of the House and keeping control of the Senate, but they need the president to stay on message, and they need him to talk about how great Republicans are and how great their wins are and get people to the polls. But that's not exactly what he did last night.

INSKEEP: Can I just ask about one other primary result yesterday, Kelsey? This is from Kentucky, one of the many states where there have been huge teacher protests. And here's the beginning of a news story. A teacher has defeated the Kentucky State House majority leader in the Republican primary for a seat.

SNELL: Yeah. A high school math teacher won out there. And, you know, I think Democrats are also kind of excited about that because that speaks to their broader message about what is making people engaged.

INSKEEP: OK. That's NPR's Kelsey Snell. She covers Congress. She's in our studios. Thanks for coming by.

SNELL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.