Missouri voters on Tuesday easily approved a measure aimed at nullifying the new federal health care law, becoming the first state in the nation where ordinary people made known their dismay over the issue at the ballot box.
The measure was intended to invalidate a crucial element of President Obama’s health care law — namely, that most people be required to get health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Supporters of the measure said it would send a firm signal to Washington about how this state, often a bellwether in presidential elections, felt about such a law.
“My constituents told me they felt like their voices had been ignored and they wanted Washington to hear them,” Jane Cunningham, a state senator and Republican who had pressed for a vote, said Tuesday night. “It looks to me like they just picked up a megaphone.”
The referendum, known as Proposition C, was seen as a first look at efforts by conservatives to gather and rally their forces over the issue. In the end, though, the referendum seemed not to capture the general population’s attention. Instead, Republican primary voters (who had the most competitive races on Tuesday) appeared to play a crucial role in the vote’s fate.
Practically speaking, it remains entirely uncertain what effect the vote will have. The insurance requirement of the federal health care law does not come into effect until 2014. By then, experts say, the courts are likely to weigh in on the provision requiring people to buy insurance.
“While we’re disappointed that Missourians didn’t vote against this, we think the courts will ultimately decide it,” said David M. Dillon, a spokesman for the Missouri Hospital Association.
For some, the outcome was not merely about health care, but about the role of states in setting policy.
“This really wasn’t an effort to poke the president in the eye,” said State Senator Jim Lembke, a Republican. “First and foremost, this was about defining the role of state government and the role of federal government. Whether it’s here in Missouri with health care or in Arizona with illegal immigration, the states are going to get together on this now.”
Residents in Arizona and Oklahoma are expected to cast ballots this year on amendments to their Constitutions aimed at accomplishing the same idea.
Voters in Missouri also selected nominees to compete for the United States Senate seat of Christopher S. Bond, a Republican who is retiring. The nominees both come from well-known families in Missouri politics.
On the Democratic side, Robin Carnahan, the secretary of state (and daughter of Mel Carnahan, a former governor) won, while Republicans chose Representative Roy Blunt (whose son Matt was formerly governor).
In Michigan, where Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, was barred by term limits from seeking re-election, Rick Snyder, a businessman who has never held office, defeated four other Republicans, including Mike Cox, the attorney general, and Representative Pete Hoekstra, for the nomination.
In November, Mr. Snyder will compete against Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, who beat Andy Dillon, the speaker of the state House, for the Democratic nomination.
In Kansas, a bitter, personal primary battle for the United States Senate stretched late into the night, and ended when Representative Jerry Moran beat Representative Todd Tiahrt. Much of the campaign seemed to center on which man — Mr. Tiahrt (who boasted Sarah Palin’s support) or Mr. Moran (who campaigned this week with Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma) — had true rights to the conservative title.
Either candidate was widely expected to win in November, succeeding Sam Brownback, a Republican who is leaving the Senate to run for governor. Kansas has not sent a Democrat to the Senate in more than 70 years. That said, Kansas Democrats also picked a nominee for the Senate: Lisa Johnston, a college administrator.
Written by, Monica Davey for the New York Times
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