On our live coverage stream tonight, Elections Daily will be watching ten primary races in five different states across the country. This article provides rundown of each race that will be featured.
Kansas Senate (Republican Primary)
The Republican race in Kansas to choose their 2020 Senate nominee has proven to be very competitive. This race is considered by many to be the top primary today.
The race began in January of 2019 when long-time Senator Pat Roberts announced his retirement from the chamber. His announcement opened the floodgates for a competitive Senate primary with a crowded field.
At the beginning of the campaign there were five major candidates:
- US Representative Roger Marshall
- Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach,
- Chairman of the Kansas Turnpike Authority Dave Lindstrom
- Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner
- Kansas State Senate President Susan Wagle.
In October 2019, The Tarrance Group conducted a poll showing Kobach with a double-digit lead over Marshall. This worried some Republicans who feared that Kobach would cause the traditionally-Republican Senate seat to be vulnerable in November. (Kobach had lost the 2018 Gubernatorial race to Democrat Laura Kelly the year before he announced his Senate bid).
In May 2020, the race was the site of two major developments: businessman Bob Hamilton announced his candidacy and Wagle dropped out of the race. This event altered the course of the race. One major contender dropped out as another entered.
As the field changed, so did the polls. Marshall led in a May Public Opinion Strategies Poll, his first lead in a primary poll over Kobach. Another poll conducted by Daily Kos showed Marshall down by only nine points to Kobach, his smallest polling deficit yet. Nonetheless, Kobach has managed to maintain a lead in the overall polling average so far. This leaves some pundits unsure whether Marshall can win.
Despite the polls, prominent Kansas Republicans like Senator Roberts and former Governor Colyer endorsed Marshall. Kobach, backed by President Trump’s endorsement, had narrowly defeated Colyer in the 2018 primary when Colyer was the incumbent Governor.
One figure that has remained notably silent in this race is President Trump. Normally a towering leviathan in Republican primaries, the President has made clear that he will stay out of this primary. Trump’s endorsement was critical to Kobach’s primary victory in 2018, so it is unclear what impact his refusal to endorse will have on this primary.
From a fundraising angle, businessman Bob Hamilton is performing well. Hamilton has managed to raise $3.6 million since his late entry into the race, far more than Marshall’s $2.7 million and Kobach’s $939,776. Hamilton is also close to overtaking Marshall in the cash-on-hand category; both Hamilton and Marshall have around $1 million on hand, compared to Kobach’s meager $136,192, according to the latest FEC data.
Elections Daily views this primary as a tossup.
The winner of the closely-watched Republican primary here will likely face Democratic State Senator Barbara Bollier in November, should she defeat national guard veteran Robert Tillman in her primary. Bollier became the favorite to win the Democratic nomination after former US Representative Nancy Boyda and Kansas District Attorney Barry Grissom suspended their campaigns. Bollier is also leading all of her prospective Republican challengers in the fundraising category, showing her serious intention to contest November’s race.
KS-1 Republican Primary
Kansas’s 1st district is the scene of a Republican primary to replace Roger Marshall, who retired after two terms to run for US Senate. The sprawling rural seat is heavily Republican, making the Republican primary tantamount to victory in the general election.
This is the first competitive Republican primary here since 2016, when then-incumbent Congressman Tim Huelskamp lost his re-election bid in the primary to Roger Marshall by a 57-43% margin.
The two main candidates for the seat this cycle are former Kansas Lt. Governor Tracey Mann and Finney County Commissioner Bill Clifford. Jerry Molstad and Michael Soetaert are also running.
Mann has the support of former Governor Colyer, former Kansas GOP chair Kelly Arnold, and the NRA Political Victory Fund. Both candidates have been co-endorsed by the Kansans for Life PAC.
Mann and Clifford have both been competitive fundraisers. In terms of total fundraising numbers, Clifford has out-raised Mann $932,332 to $759,705. Despite his lead in the fundraising category, Clifford currently trails Mann by $47,879 in the crucial cash on hand category.
Both candidates have ample political experience, but due to a dearth of polling a favorite cannot be derived ahead of the primary this Tuesday.
KS-2 Republican Primary
The Republican primary in Kansas’s 2nd district has turned into one of the most interesting Congressional primaries in the state almost overnight.
The race began when State Auditor Jake LaTurner dropped out of the Senate race to run against incumbent Republican Congressman Steve Watkins. LaTurner said he was running because the people of the 2nd needed a “solid conservative fighter they can count on” who won’t “put the district in jeopardy every cycle”.
Watkins has become increasingly vulnerable to LaTurner over the last few months, and has been mired in scandals of various sorts since he began his campaign in 2018.
In the final weeks of the 2018 campaign Watkins was accused of sexual assault, but he denied the allegations. Soon after, he defeated Democrat Paul Davis by a narrow 47.6-46.8% margin in one of 2018’s handful of upset victories.
Following his surprise election and his January inauguration, his tenure appeared to grow even rockier. In the fall of 2019 there was wide speculation that Watkins would resign for undisclosed reasons. Watkins once again denied these rumors, and remained committed to seeking reelection in 2020 even as some Kansas Republicans tried to push him out.
In July 2020, the now-vulnerable Congressman was knocked off guard by another controversy. He was charged with committing three-counts of voter fraud by the Shawnee County District Attorney. Like his past scandals, Watkins once again denied the allegations, making clear that he believed the charges were politically motivated. Regardless of whether or not the charges were politically motivated, they certainly don’t help Watkins going into a competitive reelection primary this Tuesday.
However, Watkins’s various scandals are not the only thing helping LaTurner in the primary. LaTurner has more support from Kansas politicians like Colyer and fellow US Representative Ron Estes. LaTurner also has the support of Matt Schlapp and the American Conservative Union.
Watkins, despite his lack of endorsements from actual politicians, does still have valuable endorsements from the NRA Political Victory Fund and the National Right to Life Committee.
Like in the Kansas Senate primary, President Trump has been notably absent from this primary race. He has not endorsed Congressman Watkins or his challenger. The impact of his silence is not yet known.
Fundraising so far appears to be a mixed bag benefiting both candidates. Watkins has out-raised LaTurner by around $225,000, but LaTurner has more cash-on-hand. Since both candidates have remained competitive in the fundraising category, it is unclear how much of an impact it will have on the primary.
Elections Daily rates this primary as a tossup. If Watkins loses he will be the sixth incumbent to lose re-nomination this cycle. The other five so far are Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL3), Rep. Steve King (R-IA4), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY16), Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO3), and Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA5).
The winner of the primary will likely face Democratic Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla in November if she wins her primary. Despite the fact that De La Isla has performed well in two Republican internal polls against both of her prospective opponents, it is important to remember that this seat still voted for Trump by 19 points in 2016. Regardless of the Republican nominee, De La Isla will likely face an up-hill battle to flip the seat.
MI-3 Republican Primary
Michigan-3 is the home of one of Congress’s most interesting incumbents: Justin Amash. Amash began his final term as a Republican, but eventually became an Independent and backed President Trump’s impeachment in the House. In May 2020, Amash went even further, becoming the first Libertarian member of the House following his second, and final, party switch. Shortly after, Amash announced he was retiring, dashing political expectations of a close three-way race.
Since the district is historically Republican, a lot of attention has been paid to the Republican primary here. The two main candidates are State Representative Lynn Afendoulis and businessman Peter Meijer.
Afendoulis has been endorsed by nearly thirty of her colleagues in the Michigan State House, but Meijer has the backing of Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise, the two leading Republicans in the House leadership.
When it comes to fundraising, Meijer is leading the field. This fundraising prowess can be attributed to Meijer’s family business, which has made his family one of Michigan’s richest. Afendoulis is currently in third place among the combined field, behind fellow Republican Peter Meijer and Democrat Hillary Scholten.
There has been one poll of this primary conducted in June by National Research Inc. The poll showed Meijer leading Afendoulis 41-17%. While some may suggest that Meijer’s polling lead is indicative of frontrunner-status, it is important to remember that the poll has a margin-of-error of 5% and only polls the top-two candidates in the five candidate field.
Elections Daily views this race as Leans Meijer.
The winner of the primary, whomever it ends up being, will face Democratic attorney Hillary Scholten in November. With Amash in the race, the seat is expected to flip back to the Republicans. Elections Daily rates this race as Likely Republican.
MI-10 Republican Primary
Michigan’s 10th district is a solidly Republican seat in Michigan’s “thumb”. The seat voted for Trump by 32 points, making the open Republican primary here the “effective” deciding factor in the race.
The primary, which is shaping up to be one of Michigan’s most competitive this cycle, began when two-term Congressman Paul Mitchell announced his retirement from the chamber.
Three candidates are seeking the nomination: State Representative Shane Hernandez, finance executive Lisa McClain, and retired Brigadier General Doug Slocum.
Hernandez has notable endorsements from House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, out-going Congressman Paul Mitchell, and the Club for Growth. McClain is backed by Maggie’s List (which is also backing Afendoulis) and Slocum has the support of former Governor Rick Snyder.
One poll has been conducted here by WPA Intelligence showing Hernandez leading McClain 33-27% with 10% going to Slocum and 30% undecided. But it is important to remember, as we mentioned earlier in our MI-3 segment, that these polls have a fairly high margin-of-error and should therefore taken lightly.
Elections Daily rates this primary as a Tossup. You can expect this primary to be highly competitive on election day.
MI-13 Democratic Primary
The most competitive Democratic primary in Michigan this cycle is in Michigan’s 13th district. The 13th is a heavily-Democratic majority-black VRA seat within Wayne County. Much like the 10th district primary for the Republicans, the 13th district primary for the Democrats is tantamount to the general election in November.
The district was held from 1965-2017 by John Conyers. After a brief stint as Dean of the House, Conyers resigned his seat following allegations of sexual promiscuity. Conyers died in 2019.
Former President of the Detroit City Council Brenda Jones won the November 2018 special election to represent the seat until January 3rd, when the new session of Congress began. State Representative Rashida Tlaib won the November general election, which was held on the same day as the special election, to serve the two year term from January 2019 to January 2021. Had Jones won the primary for the regular November general election against Tlaib, she would likely be representing MI-13 at this moment.
This year the district is the site of a hotly-contested rematch between the controversial Tlaib and her predecessor.
Tlaib has been endorsed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Bernie Sanders, and the other three members of the “Squad”, a group of four freshmen House Democrats with progressive views, and noted Michigan progressive Abdul El-Sayed. Jones has been endorsed by former Congresswoman Barbara Rose-Collins, Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp, Westland Mayor Bill Wild, Ian Conyers, and the Michigan Chronicle.
Jones has lagged badly behind Tlaib in the fundraising column. She currently has about $21,000 of cash-on-hand compared to Tlaib’s $913,000. While any Democrat would have an advantage here in November regardless of their fundraising capabilities, weak fundraising could’ve damaged Jones’s primary campaign leading up to election day.
Two polls have been conducted in the primary by Target Insyght, a questionable pollster with a C/D rating from 538. The first poll, conducted in March, gave Tlaib a 43-34% lead over Jones. The second, held in June, gave Tlaib a 52-24% lead. Despite the fact that Target Insyght has a dubious record, both of Tlaib’s leads are outside the four percent margin of error.
Elections Daily rates this primary as Leans Tlaib.
MO-1 Democratic Primary
The 1st district of Missouri is the most Democratic in the state. It is located in the St. Louis area and gave Hillary Clinton 77% of the vote in 2016. The seat also happens to be the only VRA seat in Missouri.
Since 2001 the district has been represented by Democrat Lacy Clay. He won the open seat in 2000 when his father Bill Clay retired from the seat he had represented for 32 years.
Clay is now facing a rematch against his 2018 primary challenger: activist Cori Bush. Bush challenged Clay from the left in 2018, losing 57-37%. Despite the fact that Clay dispatched Bush by 20 points last cycle, there is a possibility for a competitive primary this time around.
Clay is narrowly leading Bush when it comes to fundraising by a $743,124 to $569,051 margin. This haul may appear somewhat lackluster for a long-time incumbent, but it is important to remember that Clay has only faced competitive primary elections in 2012 and 2018, both of which he won by wide margins. In 2012 he was drawn into the same seat as MO-3 Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan. He won 63-34% – a wider margin than he defeated Bush by in 2018.
There has also been no polling of the primary rematch here, leaving us in the dark as to the true state of the race. Despite this, Elections Daily rates this race as Likely Clay.
AZ-4 Republican Primary
In the heart of rural northwestern Arizona, the home of some of the prettiest landscapes in the west, controversially conservative 4th district Congressman Paul Gosar is seeking reelection.
Gosar is facing Anne Marie Ward, a former staffer to now-US Senator Martha McSally. There have been no recorded endorsements in this race and no polling has been conducted. Despite these factors, there is a possibility that the five-term incumbent could face a closer-than-expected challenge from his youthful foe.
Since he took office, Gosar has drawn the ire of his opponents for his strongly conservative political views. His voting record and his endorsement history have solidified his image as one of Congress’s most conservative members. At first glance being that conservative may seem like an electoral bane, but in the 4th district, which Trump won by 40-points in 2016, being heavily conservative is an asset.
The highlight of the race so far are Ward’s allegations that a windmill was stolen from her home as an act of political targeting. The incident is currently being investigated. Responding to innuendos that Gosar’s campaign may have been involved in the Ward incident, as reported by AZ Central, his chief of staff said, “property damage is common and shouldn’t be elevated to greater significance.”
On paper Gosar, who has a strong fundraising lead over Ward, should be an easy favorite. After all, it is possible that this primary will not be competitive at all. But looking at Lauren Boebert’s completely unexpected upset of CO-3 Republican Congressman Scott Tipton last month, it is hard to say anything is impossible nowadays.
Elections Daily rates this race as Likely Gosar.
AZ-6 Democratic Primary
Arizona’s 6th district is currently held by Republican David Schweikert. Schweikert has recently become embroiled in controversy with the House Ethics Committee after it was revealed that he procured a fake $100,000 loan during the final stages of his 2012 primary campaign, allowing him to narrowly defeat then fellow incumbent Ben Quayle 51-49%. The seat did vote for Trump by 10 points in 2016, but it has been trending toward the Democrats over the last few years. For both of these reasons Democrats believe they have a shot at defeating Schweikert in 2020.
There is a highly-competitive Democratic primary here to determine which Democrat will secure the right to take on Congressman Schweikert in November.
The two leading candidates are physician Hiral Tipirneni, the Democrat who narrowly lost to Debbie Lesko in the 8th district special election in 2018, and Anita Malik, a businesswoman who lost to Schweikert by ten points in November 2018. Businesswomen Stephanie Rimmer and Karl Gentles are also running.
Tipirneni has myriad endorsements from various politicians around Arizona, including Congresspeople Tom O’Halleran and Ann Kirkpatrick, along with dozens of local politicians and political organizations. Malik’s most prominent endorser is Athena Salman, the Minority Whip of the Arizona State House.
In the fundraising category, Tipirneni is a decisive leader. She has outraised both Schweikert and Malik by well-over $1 million, and has a cash-on-hand advantage of 36:1 over Malik. Compared to her opponents, her fundraising has been incredibly strong. If she wins the primary, her copious war-chest to her should benefit her in November.
Elections Daily rates this primary as Leans Tipirneni.
WA-10 Democratic Primary
In 2020, Democratic Congressman Denny Heck retired from his seat to run for Lieutenant Governor of Washington. This paved the way for a competitive primary to replace him in this Clinton+11 seat.
In Washington, a “jungle primary” system is used. This means that all contenders for the seat, regardless of their party affiliation, are on the same primary ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of their party, advance to the November general election.
Out of the nineteen candidates running in the seat, the three main contenders are Democrats. They are State Representative Beth Doglio, former State Representative Kristine Reeves, and businesswoman and former Tacoma mayor Marilyn Strickland.
Doglio has been endorsed by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, WA-07 Rep. Pramila Jayapal, and a plethora of her colleagues in the state legislature. Among organizations, Doglio has been endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the League of Conservation Voters, the LGBTQ Victory Fund, and the Sierra Club.
Reeves has been endorsed by colleague Adam Smith, the Democratic Rep. from Washington’s 9th district, as well as 11 state legislators. Strickland has been endorsed by former Congressman Norm Dicks, former Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, and ten state legislators.
All three major candidates have run about even in the fundraising category, with Doglio narrowly leading in total raising. Strickland, however, narrowly leads in the cash on hand category.
With no polling the outcome of this primary is uncertain. Elections Daily rates this primary as a tossup.
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