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Seven primaries to watch in Colorado, Illinois, New York

A voter casts her ballot at a mobile location
Associated Press/David Zalubowski
A voter casts her ballot at a mobile location in the Swansea neighborhood June 30, 2020, in Denver.

Seven states are holding primaries and runoff elections on Tuesday, but the spotlight will focus on three states: Colorado, Illinois and New York.  

Democrats have sought to intervene in the top Republican primaries in Colorado and Illinois, hoping that GOP voters will choose conservative hard-liners who could prove easier to defeat in November. In New York, meanwhile, the biggest primary fights are unfolding on the Democratic side. 

Here are seven races to watch on Tuesday. 

Colorado GOP Senate primary 

State Rep. Ron Hanks and construction company owner Joe O’Dea are vying for the right to take on Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in November, duking it out in a primary that has emerged as a contest between the GOP’s hard-right and more moderate wings. 

Democratic-linked groups have spent big in the primary to boost Hanks, who attended the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol and who has also echoed former President Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.  

O’Dea, meanwhile, has taken a more moderate tack in the primary, including on issues like abortion and the outcome of the 2020 election. His campaign released a statement earlier this month accusing “far-left dark money groups” of spending in order to “hijack the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate.” 

The eventual nominee will face an uphill battle in the November general election. While some Republicans have insisted that Bennet could become vulnerable, Colorado tilts heavily toward Democrats and the incumbent senator is heading into the fall campaign with a clear advantage. 

Colorado GOP secretary of state primary  

Secretary of state races have typically been relatively low-key affairs, but they’ve become highly politicized in recent years, given the job’s importance in overseeing the administration and execution of state elections. 

In Colorado, three Republicans — Pam Anderson, Mike O’Donnell and Tina Peters — are running for the nomination to compete with Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold in November. 

Each GOP candidate has taken a different approach to the 2020 election. Anderson has said that she believes the results of the last presidential election were legitimate, while Peters has sided with Trump, arguing that the race was stolen from the former president. 

O’Donnell, meanwhile, has taken a middle-of-the-road approach, claiming that he doesn’t have enough information to say one way or the other. 

Illinois GOP gubernatorial primary 

Trump weighed into the six-candidate Republican primary for Illinois governor over the weekend, endorsing state Sen. Darren Bailey for the nomination in a last-minute bid to boost a loyalist in the race. 

Recent polls have shown Bailey overtaking the previous front-runner, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who has the backing of billionaire Ken Griffin. 

Whoever wins the Tuesday primary will go on to face Gov. J.B. Pritzker in November. But there are signs that Bailey may be Pritzker’s preferred opponent. The incumbent and the Democratic Governors Association have spent millions of dollars on ads highlighting Bailey’s conservatism in an apparent effort to boost him in the primary. 

If Bailey wins the nominating contest, Democrats believe it could give Pritzker an easier general election campaign.  

Illinois 6th District Democratic primary 

The decennial redistricting process is pitting two Democratic incumbents, Reps. Marie Newman and Sean Casten, against one another in Illinois’s 6th District.  

Newman, who ousted conservative Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski in a 2020 primary, is challenging Casten after the updated congressional lines placed a plurality of her constituents in the new 6th District. While both Newman and Casten have liberal voting records in the House, Newman has sought to position herself as the more progressive candidate, touting her support for left-wing priorities like the “Green New Deal.”

Regardless of what happens in Tuesday’s primary, one thing is clear: One Democratic incumbent isn’t heading back to Washington next year. 

Illinois 7th District Democratic primary 

Progressives are trying to knock off another Democratic incumbent in Tuesday’s primary in Illinois’s 7th District.  

President Biden endorsed longtime Rep. Danny Davis over the weekend in an effort to boost the 13-term congressman. But he’s still facing a tough primary, with progressive groups throwing their weight behind activist Kina Collins.  

Davis has defeated Collins before, in a 2020 primary by a nearly 50-point margin. This year, however, she has both outraised and outspent Davis and has the backing of Justice Democrats, an influential progressive group, giving her a real chance of ousting an incumbent who has been in the House since 1997. 

New York Democratic gubernatorial primary 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is the clear favorite heading into Tuesday’s primary. She became the state’s first female governor last year after stepping into the job in the wake of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation and has a staggering financial advantage.  

Still, she’s facing primary challenges from two fellow Democrats, Rep. Tom Suozzi and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who is running against Hochul from the left. 

Williams has struggled to raise money in the primary, while Suozzi hasn’t racked up the kind of high-profile endorsements necessary to build a coalition against Hochul. If the incumbent governor does win the primary on Tuesday, she’ll likely have a glide path to victory in November.  

New York Democratic lieutenant gubernatorial primary  

The Democratic primary for New York lieutenant governor was shaken up earlier this year when Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested on bribery charges and resigned his post.  

Hochul appointed Rep. Antonio Delgado to take Benjamin’s place, but that put him in the position of having to play catchup against two other Democrats, activist Ana María Archila and former Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna, who had already been running for the nomination for months. 

Archila is aligned with Williams, while Reyna is aligned with Suozzi. And while Delgado has the fundraising advantage heading into the primary, he hasn’t emerged as a clear favorite in the way Hochul as in the gubernatorial primary.

Tags Colorado Darren Bailey Illinois Michael Bennet New York Trump
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