Today is a day of reckoning for incumbents, self-financers, and Tea Party candidates alike, as primaries in five states winnow the list of political hopefuls in some of this year's most hard-fought congressional races. Tuesday features Senate, House, and gubernatorial races in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, and Vermont, as well as a run-off Republican primary in Oklahoma's Second Congressional District. Republican incumbent Sens. John McCain and Lisa Murkowski will face off against Tea Party upstarts, while the pools of candidates will be pared down in hotly contested open races, like that for Florida's open Senate seat.
Tuesday's runoff primary in Oklahoma's rural Second District will determine the Republican challenger to Democratic Rep. Dan Boren, who has held his seat for five years. The two remaining Republican candidates, Charles Thompson and Daniel Edmonds, respectively received 34 percent and 28 percent of the vote in the July 27 primary. The runoff is necessary because in Oklahoma a majority of the vote is needed to win a party nomination.
No matter who wins, Boren, a member of the conservative Democrat Blue Dog Coaltion, will find himself facing a strict conservative. Both Edmonds and Thompson have made the importance of the Constitution and cutting both taxes and federal spending cornerstones of their campaigns.
Edmonds, a 26-year-old farmer, on his most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission reported taking in $27,739 this election cycle, with $4,406 in the period since the primary. Edmonds' campaign has also been largely self-financed; nearly three-quarters (over $20,000) of his funds have come from his own pocket.
Thompson, a 47-year-old Army veteran and veterinarian, has taken in slightly more than Edmonds this cycle ($31,835) but has well out-fundraised Edmonds in the period since the primary. In that period, Thompson has taken in more than twice Edmonds' total, with $10,180. Thompson's campaign money is also almost entirely from individual contributors. In contrast to his runoff opponent, Thompson has only provided $1,300 to his campaign.
While both Republican candidates are relatively evenly matched in campaign receipts, the winner will face a stark financial disadvantage in the general election. Edmonds reported just under $1,400 on hand as of August 4, and Thompson reported having $13,000. Boren, on the other hand, reported in his pre-primary filing having $1.4 million on hand as of July 7.