With Joe Biden securing a majority of delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination on Saturday, the presidential primary is officially no longer the top race to watch.
Good thing there are plenty of other primary races to keep things interesting. Voters in four states are going to the polls on June 9 — Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Nevada. There are several competitive US Senate, gubernatorial, and US House races, plus some competitive state Supreme Court races in West Virginia. North Dakota is also holding primaries for its at-large House seat and governor’s race, although both are expected to remain in Republican hands this fall.
Georgia is a key state to watch because it has two Senate seats open this fall. However, just one race will get a Democratic nominee on Tuesday night. The other is a special election with a massive all-party primary happening on November 3. Georgia also boasts four competitive primaries for House seats: two in the hyper-competitive Atlanta suburbs and two more seats in Republican districts left open by retiring members of Congress.
In South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey Graham is expected to emerge from his Republican primary to face Democrat Jaime Harrison in the fall (Harrison is running unopposed) — the question is how decisively. Graham retains an advantage going into the fall because South Carolina is still fundamentally a Republican state, but Harrison outraised Graham in the first quarter of 2020, and what few polls have been conducted show the potential for a close race. And Republicans are vying to face off against Rep. Joe Cunningham, a moderate Democrat who pulled off a shocking upset in South Carolina’s First Congressional District in 2018.
In Nevada, Republicans are running to see who will face off against two Democratic House members, Reps. Steven Horsford and Susie Lee. Both Democrats flipped their districts in 2018, but they have the potential to swing back.
And finally, there are primary races for West Virginia’s gubernatorial race and three state Supreme Court seats, after three state Supreme Court justices were impeached in 2018 following a corruption scandal. Democratic voters in the state will also pick a candidate to run against Republican incumbent Sen. Shelley Moore Capito in the fall, although Capito will be extremely tough to beat.
Vox is covering the results live, with our partners at Decision Desk HQ.
Georgia has long been a Republican stronghold, but Democrats made gains in 2018, harnessing the political power of Atlanta’s suburbs. National Democrats look to see if they can turn the state blue in 2020 and pull off some long-shot wins in two Georgia Senate races in the process.
Tuesday’s elections will decide which Democrat challenges Sen. David Perdue in the fall; Jon Ossoff, a 2017 House candidate, appears to be the frontrunner but needs to clear 50 percent in order to avoid an August 11 runoff. Other serious candidates in that race are former Columbus, Georgia, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and 2018 candidate for lieutenant governor Sarah Riggs Amico. There won’t be a nominee chosen in Georgia’s other, highly watched Senate special election — that race will go down to the wire with an all-party primary on November 3. Incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler has a serious primary challenge from Rep. Doug Collins, plus Democrats Raphael Warnock and Matt Lieberman.
There are four other interesting US House primaries playing out, two in House districts around Atlanta’s suburbs (one of which Democrats flipped in 2018, and the other where they came within 500 votes of winning). There are also two open Republican seats in northern Georgia with large fields of candidates running.
For more on Georgia’s primary contests, read Vox’s roundup here.
Georgia’s Democratic Senate and House primaries
Georgia’s Republican House primaries
While the Democratic fight to take on Sen. Lindsey Graham has pretty much been settled — former South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison is now running unopposed — the incumbent senator still needs to beat a few challengers in the Republican primary before he’s on the ticket again this November. Graham recently got President Donald Trump’s formal endorsement and is by far seen as the favorite, but it will be worth watching how decisive his margin is. The thing to watch here isn’t whether he’ll win, but if there’s any anti-Trump — and, by extension, anti-Graham sentiment — bubbling up in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, a slate of four Republicans — businesswoman and Mount Pleasant Town Council member Kathy Landing, state Rep. Nancy Mace, Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox, and Bluffton housing official Brad Mole — are duking it out to unseat Rep. Joe Cunningham, a Democratic first-term incumbent who flipped the First District in 2018. Cunningham faces some headwinds, given the heavy Republican lean of his district and Trump’s dominance there in 2016, but he’s a moderate, and national Democrats will likely spend heavily to protect him.
For more on South Carolina’s primary contests, read Vox’s roundup here.
South Carolina’s Democratic House primaries
South Carolina’s Republican Senate and House primaries
Republicans are eyeing Nevada’s primaries on June 9 for opportunities to unseat a pair of Democrats facing potentially tough reelection campaigns, Reps. Susie Lee in the Third Congressional District and Steven Horsford in the Fourth. Both districts are swingy, and Lee and Horsford won them in 2018, a wave midterm year for Democrats. Nevada has voted blue in three of the past four presidential elections, but it’s considered a battleground state. Nevada’s Latino voters could be key to keeping the state blue, but the state also has an aging, increasingly conservative population.
For more on Nevada’s primary contests, read Vox’s roundup here.
Nevada’s Republican House primaries
There’s a bit of something for everyone in West Virginia’s primary races. Much of the action is happening in statewide races. Republican Gov. Jim Justice has a few primary challengers but is expected to win his race. Meanwhile, there’s a competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary between Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango (endorsed by moderate Sen. Joe Manchin) and progressive community organizer Stephen Smith. A recent poll showed Smith within 3 points of Salango, and he’s been organizing in the state for quite some time. Three Democrats — state Sen. Richard Ojeda, former South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb, and activist Paula Jean Swearengin — are running to be the nominee who faces off against Sen. Shelley Moore Capito in November.
There are also three races for the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals. But because these races are nominally nonpartisan, there is no primary election to choose each party’s candidate. Still, the state’s Republican Party endorsed incumbent Justice Tim Armstead, Fifth Judicial Circuit Judge Lora Dyer, and Putnam County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kris Raynes, while rival group ReSet West Virginia is supporting incumbent Justice John Hutchison, former Justice Richard Neely, and 13th Judicial Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit. It is unusual for so many seats to be up for grabs at once, but it’s the result of a corruption scandal that forced three justices to resign in 2018.
For more on West Virginia’s primary contests, read Vox’s roundup here.
West Virginia’s Republican Senate, House, and gubernatorial primaries
West Virginia’s Democratic Senate, House, and gubernatorial primaries
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