Primaries in Alabama, Mississippi, and New Mexico

PRIMARIES IN ALABAMA, MISSISSIPPI, AND NEW MEXICO…. There were some interesting primary election results last night, and let’s start with the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Alabama, where things didn’t go according to plan.

Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks trounced Rep. Artur Davis in the state’s Democratic primary for governor Tuesday night, a shocking result for a national figure once regarded as a heavy favorite to be on the ballot in November.

Davis’s insistence on opposing President Obama’s agenda — in a failed attempt to keep himself viable in a general election — combined with his long-running feud with the state’s unelected black leaders to chill his chances.

Davis had long been considered the favorite, but ran to the right to position himself for a general election fight in Alabama. Davis ran so far away from his own party’s priorities, however, that Democratic voters eventually decided they had no use for him. When the results came in, it wasn’t close — Sparks won by 26 points.

The Republican gubernatorial primary has been quite an affair, with candidate advertising so nutty it generated national attention. As of this morning, Bradley Byrne (who recently came under attack for suggesting he believes in modern biology) was leading the multi-candidate field, and will face either Tim James or state Rep. Robert Bentley in a run-off. Disgraced theocratic judge Roy Moore came in fourth.

Also in Alabama, Rep. Parker Griffith, who made a bizarre switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party late last year, was seeking his new party’s nomination. That didn’t work out — Griffith, despite being an incumbent, was easily defeated by Madison County Commissioner Mo Brooks.

Griffith is the second party-switcher to lose a primary this year, following Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), and is the second House incumbent to fail to make the November ballot this year, following Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.).

We also saw gubernatorial primaries in New Mexico, where Susana Martinez, a local district attorney, won the Republican nomination, thanks to generous financial support from Texas home builder Bob Perry, who funded the Swiftboat lies of the 2004 presidential campaign. Martinez will face Lt. Gov. Diane Denish (D), guaranteeing that New Mexico will have its first-ever woman governor.

And in Mississippi, state Sen. Alan Nunnelee won a Republican congressional primary, and will take on Rep. Travis Childers (D) in November. The interesting angle here was Fox News personality Angela McGlowan, who ran in the GOP primary with the backing of a certain former half-term governor from Alaska. McGlowan nevertheless came in a distant third.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.