While the general election determines which party represents a district or state, the primaries set the ideological and stylistic direction of each party.
Senate control could be determined by the candidates the parties nominate. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) admitted that “unacceptable” GOP candidates nominated in the primaries could prevent his party from winning a majority.
“Atmospherically, this is a perfect storm of trouble for Democrats,” McConnell said last month. “How could you mess it up?” It is in fact possible. And we’ve had some experience with that in the past.
Senate primaries to watch
Democrats are hoping to flip the seat of incumbent Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), but must first choose between liberal Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, moderate Rep. Conor Lamb and liberal Malcolm Kenyatta in the U.S. primary. May 17. Fetterman won support as an unconventional candidate, a liberal who made deliberate appeals to rural Democrats.
The Democrat the race was relatively smooth compared to the Republican competition. Former President Donald Trump recently endorsed fellow TV host Mehmet Oz, who faced backlash for living in New Jersey and retaining his Turkish citizenship. It faces stiff competition from former hedge fund manager David McCormick, who traveled to Mar-a-Lago in an effort to drum up Trump’s support. Both candidates are individually wealthy and their breed should be one of the most popular in the country. Very expensive. A third candidate, Kathy Barnette, brought additional volatility to the primary.
Wisconsin Democrats feel optimistic that Senator Ron Johnson (right) will be ousted, but they must first determine who will challenge him. It’s a crowded field in the Aug. 9 primary, but Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is backed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), has an early advantage over Milwaukee Bucks Manager Alex Lasry, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Outagamie County Manager Tom Nelson.
In Arizona, the questioning of the 2020 presidential election has become the main topic of debate among five Republicans seeking their party’s nomination to challenge Senator Mark Kelly (D). One of the main contenders, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, is fighting to maintain his lead despite not repeating Trump’s bogus claim that Biden won Arizona because widespread fraud, for which there is no evidence. Although Trump did not endorse the race, he criticized Brnovich and spoke positively about the efforts of another candidate, Blake Masters, a venture capitalist close to entrepreneur Peter Thiel, to decry the certification of 2020 results.
Internal primaries to watch
Trump and his allies have made it difficult for any House Republican who has voted with Democrats over the past year. But no group has received their wrath more than the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for inciting the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Four of the 10 have decided to retire, but the other six – Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Tom Rice (SC), Dan Newhouse (Wash.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), David G. Valadao (Calif.), and Peter Meijer (Mich.) are running for re-election and face difficult primary challenges. Cheney’s run in particular is garnering national attention ahead of the Aug. 16 primary.
But the MAGA team faces its own reactions. The re-election bid of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has been challenged in a lawsuit citing a Constitution provision that bars politicians from running for Congress if they have engaged in “insurrection or rebellion “against the nation. A judge determined that she could seek re-election. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (RN.C.) faced a similar lawsuit, which was dismissed in March, but Cawthorn still faces a tough primary, with top Republicans opposing him.
Other races garnering interest feature young liberals challenging longtime incumbent Democrats who they say have fallen disconnected from their constituents. This dynamic is playing out in the primaries in Texas, Nevada, New York and Illinois.
In Texas, Jessica Cisneros, a 28-year-old immigration lawyer, forced Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) to a runoff after neither garnered enough votes to secure the outright nomination. simple in the March primary.
This is the first election cycle following the process known as redistricting, the reshuffling or elimination of congressional districts to reflect population changes determined by the decennial census. Lines are rarely redrawn to force two incumbents from the same party to face each other in the primary, but it has happened in five House races.
Three Democratic Races in precincts redrawn to lean more Democratic, will test whether voters want a more moderate or liberal representative.
In Georgia’s 7th congressional district, voters will decide to keep Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, a freshman considered financially conscious, or Representative Lucy McBath, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who wants to focus on the fight against gun violence.
In Illinois’ 6th congressional district, Moderate Rep. Sean Casten (D) and freshman Liberal Rep. Marie Newman (D) will square off in June. While the race is largely on ideological lines, it is clouded by an ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation into Newman following allegations that she offered a senior executive job to prevent a opponent to challenge her in the 2020 primary.
In Illinois’ 15th congressional district, Trump-endorsed freshman Rep. Mary E. Miller (R) challenges Rep. Rodney Davis (R) in the district he’s represented for nearly a decade. Miller attacks Davis as soft Republican after voting to certify 2020 presidential election results and establish a commission to investigate the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
In Michigan’s 11th congressional district, the race between Representatives Haley Stevens and Andy Levin has split the House Democratic caucus, with many female colleagues on Stevens’ side. Levin decided to challenge Stevens rather than stay in his previous neighborhood after was redesigned to be much more competitive, while ensuring that his current seat will be seized by Republicans.
Governor’s primary to watch
The most watched gubernatorial primary is being held in Georgia, where Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who incurred Trump’s wrath after certifying President Biden’s victory there in 2020, is being challenged by David Perdue, who has lost his Senate seat in a runoff in 2021.
Perdue, with Trump’s endorsement, bet his campaign on perpetuating Trump’s bogus claim of a stolen election. Kemp has led in recent polls and Perdue will need a strong turnout from Trump voters if he hopes to win the May 24 primary.