McCain Wins Michigan & Arizona Primaries; Bush Now In Trouble

Senator John McCain has won today’s Republican Party primary elections in Michigan and Arizona, giving his presidential bid a significant boost.

Early projections from CNN point to a McCain victory in the industrial state of Michigan, home to the American car industry. Democrats and independent voters turned out in force to vote solidly for McCain.

The McCain victory is a vital chance for the self-styled insurgent to recover from his loss in South Carolina at the weekend. His victory in a State more typical of the American mainstream than the conservative South Carolina will alarm the Bush campaign and shatter the aura of inevitability surrounding the Texas Governor’s campaign.


Bush Wins South Carolina; McCain Campaign Falters

George W. BushTexas Governor George W. Bush has defeated Senator John McCain in the South Carolina Primary Election. Bush secured 53% of the vote to McCain’s 42%. Alan Keyes won 5%.

The win is an important boost to the Bush campaign which took a hammering following his defeat in New Hampshire two weeks ago.

The South Carolina poll is to be followed by tomorrow’s primary in Michigan, a state where the Governor, John Engler, has been a prominent and enthusiastic supporter of the son of the former president.

Recent polls have suggested McCain is leading in Michigan as well as in his home state of Arizona.

McCain needs to do well in both these states if he is to retain electoral momentum in the run-up to Super Tuesday, March 7, when over a quarter of all delegates to the party conventions will be chosen.


Beattie Survives By-Elections; Liberals Under Pressure

Queensland Labor Premier Peter Beattie’s hold on government has been strengthened following the ALP’s victories in two by-elections on the weekend.

In Bundamba, held by Labor by 6.5%, there was a swing of nearly 8% to the Labor candidate, Jo-Ann Miller.

In Woodridge, where a 13.5% swing was required to defeat Labor, the former State ALP Secretary, Mike Kaiser has won the seat with over 50% of the primary vote, minimising the swing against the government to around 1%.

The Liberal Party is now under pressure following its dismal showing in the by-elections. The Liberal candidate in Bundamba polled only 8.8% of the vote.

Meanwhile, in Victoria a by-election looms in Benalla, the seat held by former National Party leader, Pat McNamara. According to a report in The Age on the weekend, Dr. Bill Sykes has been drafted by the National Party as its candidate in Benalla. He will most likely be opposed by independent Bill Hill and the ALP’s Denise Allen.


Kernot Embarrassment A Dilemma For Beazley

Cheryl Kernot, Political Dud?As the farcical Cheryl Kernot soap opera gathers momentum, Opposition Leader Kim Beazley has an interesting problem to solve in the coming days: protect and defend the defector from the Australian Democrats, or cut her loose and risk the loss of her Queensland electorate of Dickson?

Kernot defected from the leadership of the Democrats in 1997. She was narrowly elected as the Labor member for Dickson in the October 1998 Federal election. Her election night whining about not being given a safer seat was an early sign of problems to come.

In 1999 Kernot asked to be shifted from her shadow portfolio responsibility for Regional Affairs. She swapped jobs with Martin Ferguson and became the shadow minister for Employment. In late 1999 she took sick leave, was hospitalised and gave a couple of interviews in which she took aim at the ALP’s attitude towards her.

Last weekend Kernot was spotted attending a cinema on the Gold Coast, outside her electorate. She was disguised wearing a red wig. Curiously, the film was “Being John Malkovich”.

Kernot failed to return to work yesterday. Media reports over recent days have served up a number of stories about her personal behaviour in recent times and when she was Democrats leader.

With Federal Parliament resuming on February 15, the Opposition must be dreading the potentially disastrous focusing of attention on their defective defector. Thus far, Kim Beazley has defended her, despite his own reservations about her role in ensuring Democrat preferences were directed against him in his seat of Brand in 1996. In the coming days Beazley will have to decide whether enough is enough and if she should be removed from the shadow ministry. Given Kernot’s volatility, a resignation precipitating a risky by-election in Dickson must be considered a possibility.

The episode will confirm the belief of many people on all sides of politics that you can never rely on a political “rat”.