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What to know on Tuesday’s primary elections in Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia

Voters head to the polls Tuesday in four states for primaries that will set up key Senate races and settle other intraparty battles, including a race featuring a Jan. 6 Capitol rioter and another featuring a police officer who fought off the rioters that day.

Maryland, West Virginia and Nebraska hold primaries, and North Carolina holds runoff elections in which candidates did not win a majority of votes in the March primary.

Former President Donald Trump’s support is at stake in West Virginia, where he has shaped the race to succeed Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin. And Trump is sure to score two victories in North Carolina, where two of his favored House candidates — lobbyist Addison McDowell and lawyer Brad Knott — are the only candidates left in two primary runoffs after their opponents ended their campaigns.

Meanwhile, a few Republican lawmakers are looking to fend off primary challengers from their right, and a handful of vacant seats in Maryland will also help shape the Democratic caucus next year.

Polls close at 7:30 p.m. ET in West Virginia and North Carolina, 8 p.m. ET in Maryland, and 9 p.m. ET in Nebraska. Here are four things to watch out for.

Senate race matchups

Republicans are eyeing possible victories in typically blue Maryland and red West Virginia as they seek to flip the Senate this year.

Manchin’s retirement makes West Virginia, which Trump won by 39 points in 2020, a much easier target for the GOP. The Republican primary remains a battle, and it will test Trump’s influence over primary voters.

Trump supported Republican Gov. Jim Justice from the start of the race, as did the National Republican Senatorial Committee. But Rep. Alex Mooney didn’t give up, enjoying major momentum on the airwaves from the Club for Growth Action, the political action committee of the conservative Club for Growth.

Mooney and the Club for Growth attempted to portray Justice as a liberal who raised taxes, while Justice touted his work as governor. Justice also highlighted Trump’s support in each of his television ads.

Three candidates are competing for the Democratic nomination: Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott, Navy veteran and organizer Zachary Shrewsbury and Don Blankenship, a former coal baron who unsuccessfully ran as a Republican for Senate in 2018. Blankenship spent a year in prison for violating mine safety. rules after an explosion in one of his company’s mines.

Maryland’s Senate showdown will also be decided Tuesday, and the race could be crucial for control of the Senate if former Gov. Larry Hogan prevails in the GOP primary. Republicans hailed Hogan, who was twice elected statewide in the traditionally Democratic state, as one of the top recruits, and he was quickly endorsed by the NRSC.

Hogan, a vocal critic of Trump, is in a primary against Robin Ficker, a perennial candidate who is self-funding his campaign. Although Ficker made many unsuccessful runs for office, he outspent Hogan on the airwaves, running ads claiming that Ficker would “stand with President Trump.”

The NRSC partnered with Hogan on ads, launching spots focused on immigration, a major issue for GOP primary voters.

Hogan’s entry into the race has upended the Democratic primary between Rep. David Trone and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, both of whom say they can hold on to their seats in November.

Trone, who enjoys the support of some notable members of the House and the state teachers union, has blanketed the airwaves with television ads. He loaned more than $60 million to his campaign, leveraging his personal fortune as the founder of the Total Wine & More retail chain.

Alsobrooks, who would be the state’s first Black female senator, has the support of Gov. Wes Moore, Sen. Chris Van Hollen and other members of the congressional delegation. She received a late boost on the airwaves from EMILY’s List, a group that supports candidates who support abortion rights.

The Senate clashes will also take place in deep-red Nebraska. Republican Sen. Pete Ricketts is running to serve the final two years of former Sen. Ben Sasse’s term after he was appointed to the Senate last year. The only Democrat vying to hire him is Preston Love Jr., an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Democrats have not fielded a candidate to take on Republican Sen. Deb Fischer, who is seeking a third term. She should therefore face independent Dan Osborne, a union leader, in November.

House Republicans face right-wing challengers

Republicans in several chambers face main adversaries coming from their right. Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, one of 17 Republicans representing districts Joe Biden won in 2020, faces businessman Dan Frei in Omaha’s 2nd District.

Frei has the support of the state Republican Party, which has not endorsed any members of the state’s congressional delegation and has instead backed three primary challengers. Bacon and an allied super PAC funded by Ricketts far outspent Frei in the race, and Bacon expressed his confidence that he will win on Tuesday.

Representative Don Bacon at the Capitol in Washington on January 30. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

If Bacon wins his primary, he will face a rematch against Democratic Sen. Tony Vargas, who lost to him by 3 points in 2022. Democrats are optimistic about Bacon’s defeat in a presidential year, l abortion being expected to be a major issue for voters (and as Bacon touted his support to anti-abortion groups in his primary school).

In West Virginia’s 1st District, Miller faces former State’s Attorney Derrick Evans in the GOP primary.

Evans was convicted of a felony for storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021. He touted his actions on January 6 in a television ad, saying he “stood with President Trump in peaceful protest and patriotically against the stolen elections” and claimed he was being held “hostage” as a “political prisoner.” (Evans pleaded guilty to one count of civil disorder in March 2022.)

Miller, who outspent Evans on the airwaves, cited his past candidacy as a Democrat. Miller also launched an ad in which Trump congratulates her, even though Trump did not support him in the primary.

Former Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn is running for Congress

Tuesday’s primaries also include a face that might be familiar to those who watched testimony during the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol: former Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who is running in Maryland’s open 3rd District.

The seat, vacated by incumbent Democratic Rep. Paul Sarbanes, is in a Democratic-leaning area, meaning the winner of the primary will be the front-runner in November. Dunn was the race’s top fundraiser with several million dollars, allowing him to spend more than $2 million on ads, according to AdImpact, including ads highlighting his Jan. 6 actions.

The United Democracy Project, a super PAC aligned with the pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has spent more than $3.5 million supporting state Sen. Sarah Elfreth. The group’s ads focus not on Israel-related issues but on abortion and health care. Dunn’s campaign attempted to fight back by pointing out that the UDP relies in part on Republican donors (an attack to which the UDP responded with its own message, saying Dunn should be “ashamed of himself”) ).

There is also a competitive and crowded primary in Maryland’s 6th District to replace Trone in the House. Democrats include April McLain Delaney (former Deputy Secretary of Commerce and wife of former Rep. John Delaney), state Rep. Joe Vogel, Hagerstown Mayor Tekesha Martinez, and Montgomery County Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles. And in the Republican primary, 2022 GOP gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox and former state’s attorney Neil Parrott are the top contenders.

Democratic Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger’s retirement opens up another Democratic-leaning seat: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski and state Rep. Harry Bhandari are among the top candidates in this race, while the Republican camp includes Kimberly Klacik, a pro-Trump radio personality who was the GOP nominee in another Maryland congressional district in 2020.

Brutal primary for West Virginia governor

The race to replace the judiciary has been wild and brutal, with a leading pack made up of powerful politicians and scions of well-known political families in the state.

There doesn’t appear to be a clear favorite among this crowded field. The candidates include two state officials, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Secretary of State Mac Warner, as well as two children of West Virginia Republican congressmen – former state Rep. Moore Capito, Rep. son of Senator Shelley Moore Capito and businessman Chris Miller. the son of Rep. Carol Miller. (Tuesday’s election is a family affair, as Riley Moore, the senator’s nephew and cousin of the former state representative, is also running for an open house.)

There has been a wave of advertising spending – more than $33 million from candidates and outside groups. Justice weighed in favor of Capito, but Trump did not choose a candidate.

The advertising wars have become particularly vicious. A group supporting Morrisey released a series of ads lambasting transgender people and accusing Miller and Moore of being allies of the LGBTQ community. A group supporting Miller compares Morrisey to a pig before making similar anti-transgender arguments against Morrisey. And a group supporting Capito blasted Morrisey’s lobbying work and argued he “took advantage of big pharmaceutical companies when they marketed their poison pills.”

The positive side for Republicans, however, is that whoever makes it through this complicated primary will be heavily favored over Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, the only Democrat in the race.

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