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Dingell Beats Fellow Democrat in Michigan; Kansas Picks Governor's Candidates

Michigan Rep. John Dingell survived the toughest political challenge of his long House career to win a primary that pitted the old-school, union-backed Democrat against a colleague who represented the issues-oriented liberal wing of the party.

Dingell, the longest-serving member in the House, on Tuesday defeated Rep. Lynn Rivers, a four-term incumbent who challenged Dingell on gun control, abortion and the environment.

Voters in Michigan and Kansas also chose candidates to fill governor's seats opened up by term limits. Michigan Democrats chose the first woman ever nominated for governor by a major party.

Dingell, 76, and Rivers, 45, were pitted against each other as the result of a Republican-led redistricting plan that was one of the most successful for the GOP in the nation. States are required to draw new political maps each decade because of shifts in population.

Rivers, who was put into Dingell's district, became the sixth House incumbent to be ousted in a primary this year.

Dingell raised about twice Rivers' campaign funds, had the backing of the Detroit-area district's powerful unions and campaigned on his long record of advocating for Social Security, health care and Medicaid.

"I congratulate Lynn on a fine campaign," Dingell told his supporters after declaring victory. "She did make us work, I want to say. The primary this year was extremely difficult."

With all precincts reporting, Dingell had 58,117 votes, or 59 percent, and Rivers had 40,781 votes, or 41 percent. Dingell is expected to win re-election this fall in the heavily Democratic district that stretches from suburban Detroit to the college town of Ann Arbor.

In the Michigan governor's race, Attorney General Jennifer Granholm defeated two of the state's most influential Democrats -- Rep. David Bonior and former Gov. James Blanchard -- for the chance to replace GOP Gov. John Engler, who is barred from seeking a fourth term.

With 86 percent of precincts reporting, Granholm had 457,678 votes, or 48 percent. Bonior had 268,772 votes, or 28 percent, and Blanchard had 223,559 votes, or 24 percent.

Granholm, a 43-year-old lawyer who was a political unknown before becoming attorney general four years ago, is the first woman ever nominated for Michigan governor by a major party; the state has never had a female governor. She will face Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus, who coasted to the GOP nomination.

Bonior, who was the No. 2 Democrat in the House before resigning in January to run for governor, conceded. Blanchard did not, in part because of a delay in counting thousands of absentee ballots in Detroit. Blanchard was the last Democrat elected Michigan governor, in 1982 and again in 1986.

In the Kansas governor's race, State Treasurer Tim Shallenburger beat two other high-profile Republicans and will take on Kathleen Sebelius, who hopes to be the first Democrat elected to the job since 1990. The November winner will replace GOP Gov. Bill Graves, who is barred from seeking a third term.

In Detroit's northern suburbs, Democratic Rep. Sander Levin trounced primary challenger William Callahan, who had said Levin does not represent the largely Christian district because he is Jewish and too liberal.

And in Missouri's Senate primary, Republican Jim Talent, a former four-term congressman, and incumbent Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan, appointed in 2001 to fill her dead husband's seat, easily advanced to the general election.

In Michigan, many thought Rivers, a low-profile congresswoman first elected in 1994, would challenge a Republican in a nearby district or resign rather than face a veteran incumbent from her own party.

Instead, she campaigned and gained momentum by touting her personal story of triumph over teen motherhood and poverty. Her abortion rights stance drew hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Emily's List political group.

One of the most powerful lawmakers in the House, 23-term veteran Dingell campaigned this time by touting a list of legislative accomplishments that dates to 1955, when he took over the seat his father held from 1933 until his death.

The senior Democrat on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, Dingell has fought for stronger health care and for the auto industry, which is vital to Michigan's economy. He was backed by unions, law enforcement and business groups, and the National Rifle Association, which encouraged its members to support him even if they usually vote for Republicans.

Rivers said she's looking forward to resting and spending more time with her family, and she hinted that her political career may not be over.

"I am not going away," she told her supporters.