May brings key primaries across nation
Voters in twelve states will choose party nominees in closely watched primary election contests around the country this month, as Democrats and Republicans jockey ahead of November’s midterms.
The battles include costly and competitive Senate contests in states like Indiana and West Virginia, closely watched House seats in Texas and Pennsylvania and gubernatorial races that pit competing visions of both the Republican and Democratic Parties against each other in states like Ohio and Georgia.
The critical states on the calendar this month:
Indiana (May 8)
Republicans will choose a nominee to face Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (D), one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year.
A nasty primary has set Reps. Luke MesserAllen (Luke) Lucas MesserK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Yoder, Messer land on K Street House GOP to force members to give up leadership positions if running for higher office MORE (R) and Todd RokitaTheodore (Todd) Edward RokitaBottom Line Lobbying world Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (R) against each other, giving former state Rep. Mike Braun (R) an opportunity to run up the middle. Braun, a wealthy businessman, has spent about $4.5 million on his campaign, more than either Rokita or Messer.
Donnelly beat a deeply flawed Republican, Richard Mourdock, in 2012; Messer, Rokita and Braun are all more polished than Mourdock was.
Indiana Republicans will see a familiar name on the ballot in the race to replace Messer. Greg Pence, the brother of Vice President Pence, leads the GOP field in Indiana’s 6th District, which stretches from Muncie to the Ohio and Kentucky border.
North Carolina (May 8)
This year marks a so-called Blue Moon election in North Carolina, where neither a governor’s seat nor a Senate seat are on the ballot. Some Republicans worry that will depress GOP turnout, even as Democrats show signs of increased enthusiasm for voting in the midterms.
Democrats will pick nominees in crowded primaries against Reps. Richard HudsonRichard Lane HudsonMourners, family and lawmakers in North Carolina gather to pay respects to George Floyd House GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought Meadows joins White House in crisis mode MORE (R), Robert PittengerRobert Miller PittengerBottom Line North Carolina reporter says there could be ‘new crop’ of GOP candidates in 9th Congressional District race North Carolina board calls for new election in contested House race MORE (R) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddHouse Republican introduces bill to hold up members’ pay if they vote by proxy House GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Dybul interview; Boris Johnson update MORE (R). Before he gets to November, Pittenger faces a tough rematch against Mark Harris (R), a conservative Baptist pastor. Pittenger beat Harris by just 134 votes in the 2016 Republican primary.
Ohio (May 8)
The battle to replace term-limited Gov. John Kasich (R) has gotten nasty in both parties.
On the GOP side, Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) leads Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R) in a contest of who can distance themselves most from Kasich. Among Democrats, former Attorney General Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayPoll: Biden, Trump neck and neck in Ohio On The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials ‘looking at’ offering coronavirus bonds Ex-CFPB director urges agency to ‘act immediately’ to help consumers during pandemic MORE (D) has had to fend off former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D), who is mounting a long-shot comeback bid.
Ohio will have an entirely new slate of executive officers next year — none of the six incumbents are seeking reelection.
Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciOhio is suddenly a 2020 battleground Democrats fear Ohio slipping further away in 2020 Medicare for All won’t deliver what Democrats promise MORE (R) is likely to hold off a conservative challenger in his bid against Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHillicon Valley: Senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests | Amazon pauses police use of its facial recognition tech | FBI warns hackers are targeting mobile banking apps Democratic senators raise concerns over government surveillance of protests Some realistic solutions for income inequality MORE (D), another Democratic incumbent seeking reelection in a state Trump won. Democrats are targeting a handful of Republican-held House seats, including an open-seat contest to replace former Rep. Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiOhio New Members 2019 Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress GOP Rep. Balderson holds onto seat in Ohio MORE (R), who resigned earlier this year to take a private sector job.
Also on May 8, Ohio voters will decide whether to change the way the state draws its congressional lines. A measure on the state’s ballot would create a commission independent of the legislature to draw the next set of boundaries.
West Virginia (May 8)
Republicans are banking on either Rep. Evan JenkinsEvan Hollin JenkinsWest Virginia New Members 2019 Republican Carol Miller holds off Democrat in West Virginia House race Trump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report MORE (R) or Attorney General Patrick Morrissey (R) as viable nominees to take on Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump administration seeks to use global aid for nuclear projects Shelley Moore Capito wins Senate primary West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice wins GOP gubernatorial primary MORE (D) in November. If Jenkins and Morrissey can hold off a free-spending Don Blankenship, whose poll numbers have slipped in recent weeks, Manchin will likely face the most difficult race of his long career.
Democrats hope they can win seats held by Jenkins and Rep. Alex MooneyAlexander (Alex) Xavier MooneyHouse GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought Overnight Defense: House passes bills to rein in Trump on Iran | Pentagon seeks Iraq’s permission to deploy missile defenses | Roberts refuses to read Paul question on whistleblower during impeachment trial Here are the lawmakers who defected on Iran legislation MORE (R), though West Virginia has been trending strongly Republican in recent years.
Idaho (May 15)
Three Republicans vying to replace term-limited Gov. Butch Otter (R) are locked in a dogfight in this deep-red state.
Lt. Gov. Brad Little (R) has Otter’s backing, along with that of most of the Republican establishment. Businessman Tommy Ahlquist (R) will bank on his connection to Idaho’s large and conservative Mormon population. And Rep. Raúl Labrador (R) has a track record among Tea Party types, who sent him to the state legislature and Congress over establishment-backed favorites.
The winner of the Republican primary is almost certain to replace Otter next year. Idaho has not elected a Democratic governor since Cecil Andrus won his last term in 1990.
Nebraska (May 15)
First-term Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is cruising toward reelection in November. He is likely to face state Sen. Bob Krist, who faces two lesser-known Democrats in the primary. The state’s only other race of note is in the Omaha-based second district, where Rep. Don Bacon (R) appears set for a rematch against the man he beat in 2016, former Rep. Brad AshfordJohn (Brad) Bradley AshfordNebraska Democrat Kara Eastman wins House primary to take on Don Bacon Lobbying world Justice Democrats endorses two progressives challenging Democratic incumbents MORE (D).
Oregon (May 15)
Oregon has not elected a Republican governor since 1982, the second-longest streak of Democratic dominance in the nation. But the GOP is quietly hopeful that state Rep. Knute Buehler (R) might be the man to end that drought. Buehler faces nine other candidates vying for the right to face Gov. Kate Brown (D).
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Pennsylvania (May 15)
A state Supreme Court ruling striking down congressional district lines has scrambled the field, opening districts where longtime incumbents once claimed insurmountable advantages. Seven of the commonwealth’s 18 House districts will elect new members of Congress in November, including in battlegrounds like the 5th and 6th Districts, both in Philadelphia’s Collar Counties, and Rep. Charlie DentCharles (Charlie) Wieder DentThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: WHO vs. Trump; Bernie’s out The biggest political upsets of the decade Ex-GOP lawmaker: Former colleagues privately say they’re ‘disgusted and exhausted’ by Trump MORE’s (R) 7th District, in swing exurban Philadelphia.
Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick Casey21 senators urge Pentagon against military use to curb nationwide protests Overnight Health Care: Trump says US ‘terminating’ relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge 10 things to know today about coronavirus MORE Jr. (D), another Democrat running for reelection in a state President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE won, will formally get an opponent this month. Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaBottom Line Ex-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs Head of Pennsylvania GOP resigns over alleged explicit texts MORE (R) is likely to beat state Rep. Jim Christiana (R) for the Republican nomination.
Arkansas (May 22)
Democrats have little hope of knocking off Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R). But the party has hopes in the Little Rock-based House district held by Rep. French HillJames (French) French HillHow lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman’s COVID-19 response Treasury has not disbursed B in airline support: oversight panel On The Money: Black workers may face disproportionate COVID-19 risk | Trump pick for pandemic response watchdog vows independence | Stocks inch higher as oil prices rise MORE (R). Four Democrats are fighting for the right to face Hill in November, led by state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D).
Georgia (May 22)
Both Democrats and Republicans face crowded races to replace term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal (R). On the GOP side, polls show Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R) within shouting distance of the 50 percent he would need to avoid a runoff, with Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) and former state Sen. Hunter Hill (R) competing for second place.
On the Democratic side, former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) has become a minor celebrity in progressive circles. She is likely to best former state Rep. Stacey Evans (D).
Democrats narrowly missed out on winning a special election in the Atlanta suburbs last year, but they will try again in two districts this year. Both Reps. Karen HandelKaren Christine HandelJon Ossoff to challenge David Perdue after winning Georgia Democratic primary The Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Ossoff within reach of Democratic Senate nomination in Georgia, but counting continues MORE (R), who won last year’s special election, and Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Democrats head to runoff in top Georgia House race The Hill’s Campaign Report: It’s primary night in Georgia MORE (R) represent well-educated districts where President Trump may become an albatross. Four Democrats are running against Handel. Woodall has six Democratic opponents.
Kentucky (May 22)
Kentucky elects its statewide constitutional officers the year after a midterm, but all 100 state House seats and half of the 38 state Senate seats are up this year. Republicans hold both chambers by large margins, though Democrats won back a seat in a heavily Republican district earlier this year.
The marquee match-up in the primary will happen in Lexington, where Mayor Jim Gray (D) and Iraq war veteran Amy McGrath (D) are fighting for the right to take on Rep. Andy BarrAndy BarrKentucky Senate candidate: McConnell ‘couldn’t care less if we die’ House GOP to launch China probes beyond COVID-19 Put entrepreneurs, workers and flexibility in next stimulus package MORE (R). Gray ran against Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Louisville passes ‘Breonna’s Law’ banning no-knock warrants Rand Paul aide joins Trump campaign, RNC fundraising group MORE (R) in 2016, but McGrath has caught fire, and is proving a remarkably strong contender in her first run for office.
Texas (May 22 runoff)
Democrats will pick their nominees in a handful of races where neither candidate reached 50 percent in the March primaries, including in the race for governor, where Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D) faces businessman Andrew White (D). Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) advisers expect Valdez to prevail.
Republicans will pick nominees to fill seats held by outgoing Reps. Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeSheila Jackson Lee tops colleagues in House floor speaking days over past decade Senate Dem to reintroduce bill with new name after ‘My Little Pony’ confusion Texas New Members 2019 MORE (R), Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingLawmakers battle over future of Ex-Im Bank House passes Ex-Im Bank reboot bill opposed by White House, McConnell Has Congress lost the ability or the will to pass a unanimous bipartisan small business bill? MORE (R), Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonEx-Tea Party lawmakers turn heads on K Street Longtime GOP aide to launch lobbying shop Katie Hill resignation reignites push for federal ‘revenge porn’ law MORE (R), Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithHow effective are protests and riots for changing America? Education Department changing eligibility for hundreds of rural school districts receiving aid: report Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm MORE (R), Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThe biggest political upsets of the decade Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (R) and Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenTexas New Members 2019 Two Democrats become first Texas Latinas to serve in Congress Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 MORE (D). Democrats must finalize their picks in districts held by Barton, Smith, Farenthold and Reps. Sam JohnsonSamuel (Sam) Robert JohnsonSam Johnson: Fighter for the greater good House pays tribute to late Congressman Sam Johnson on the floor The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – US virus deaths exceed 100,000; Pelosi pulls FISA bill MORE (R), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonBottom line Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm Bottom line MORE (R), Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaul The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Association of American Railroads Ian Jefferies says no place for hate, racism or bigotry in rail industry or society; Trump declares victory in response to promising jobs report Ousted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe US to slap restrictions on more Chinese media outlets: report MORE (R), Pete OlsonPeter (Pete) Graham OlsonPeople over politics on PPP funding Kulkarni wins Texas House Democratic primary Former sheriff, GOP mega-donor headed to runoff in Texas GOP race MORE (R), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHouse Republicans hopeful about bipartisan path forward on police reform legislation House GOP delays police reform bill The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests MORE (R), Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsLawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank Democrats ‘frustrated’ by administration’s coronavirus response after closed-door briefing Republicans sense momentum after impeachment win MORE (R), John CarterJohn Rice CarterLawmakers call on VA to remove swastikas from headstones in veterans cemeteries Warren announces slate of endorsements including Wendy Davis and Cornyn challenger Hegar Liberal group endorses Royce West for Texas Senate MORE (R) and Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsTexas kicks off critical battle for House control The Hill’s review of John Solomon’s columns on Ukraine Tenth Congressional Black Caucus member backs Biden MORE (R).
–Updated at 7:31 a.m.