by Karl Kurtz
North Dakota leads the story on last Tuesday's primary elections with its resounding defeat of a ballot measure to abolish the property tax, voter approval of the University of North Dakota dropping its Fighting Sioux nickname and the defeat of 22-year House incumbent and former NCSL Executive Committee member RaeAnn Kelsch. 78 percent voted no on Measure 2, the property tax initiative that was strongly opposed by a coalition of business and nonprofit organizations. Voters also approved a constitutional amendment to allow legislators to be appointed to other state government offices but defeated a religious liberty measure that would have expanded the right of North Dakotans to disobey laws based on their religious beliefs.
Kelsch finished third in a two-member district Republican primary race in which an independent PAC supported one of her opponents. In a battle between two incumbent senators thrown into the same district by redistricting, Sen. Joe Miller (R) defeated Sen. Curtis Olafson. Other incumbents who lost primary elections included Sen. Gerald Uglem and Rep. Duane DeKrey, who was the odd man out among three incumbents redistricted into the same two-member district.
South Carolina voters received a surprise when the state Supreme Court at the last minute knocked approximately 250 candidates off the ballot for filing campaign paperwork online, not in person as required by law. The result is that some state legislative districts that are safe for one party or the other will not have candidates on the November ballot from the majority party in that district. The longest-serving member of the South Carolina House, Rep. Denny Neilson (D), lost her primary election to Rep. Robert Williams, another incumbent thrown into the same district. Sean Bennett defeated incumbent state Sen. Mike Rose.
The top two leaders in the Nevada Assembly and Senate, Speaker John Oceguera and Senate Majority Leader Steve Horsford, both won primary elections to become the Democratic nominees for two congressional seats. Oceguera faces incumbent Rep. Joe Heck, while Horsford is running in a new district. Another veteran state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, narrowly lost her bid for the Republican nomination in a third U.S. House race. Incumbent Sen. John Lee lost a bid for renomination to fellow Democrat Patricia Spearman who challenged him from the left. According to the Las Vegas Sun, several "establishment GOP candidates for state Senate made a clean sweep Tuesday over the more conservative candidates, giving Republican leaders the races they wanted in their effort to take over the state's upper house."
Maine Sen. Majority Leader Jon Courtney won a close race for the Republican nomination to challenge another former state Senate leader, incumbent U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in November.