Seven key primary races still to come before November

May contained a whirlwind of crucial primaries that offered several tea leaves about the directions of the U.S.’s two major parties and their chances in November. 

However, there are still scores of races left to go throughout the summer that will determine nominees in key contests. 

Here are seven important races that remain ahead of the general election. 

South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District 

The GOP primary is South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District Tuesday is pitting Rep. Nancy Mace against former state Rep. Katie Arrington and marks a test of former President Trump’s sway and the value GOP voters place on unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in 2020. 

Arrington first ran for Congress in 2018, unseating then-Rep. Mark Sanford in the GOP primary only to lose in the general election. Mace flipped the district back in 2020. 

Mace did not vote to impeach Trump, but she did blame the former president for the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. She also did not object to certifying the results of the 2020 election and voted to refer a criminal contempt case against Trump ally Stephen Bannon to the Justice Department after he shirked a subpoena from the House committee investigating the insurrection. 

Those decisions infuriated Trump, who endorsed Arrington in February. 

However, Trump is not rallying in person with Arrington, who is expected to fall short in her challenge to Mace. 

A Mace win would compound other losses by Trump-backed challengers who focused intensely on 2020 and indicate that GOP primary voters are not willing to rebuke a conservative just over disagreements with Trump.

Colorado GOP Senate primary 

Colorado’s GOP Senate primary on June 28 will be crucial to any chances Republicans have of unseating Sen. Michael Bennet (D). 

The two main candidates in the race are Joe O’Dea, a businessman, and state Rep. Ron Hanks. 

O’Dea is running on a more traditional GOP platform, while Hanks is running as a MAGA hardliner, arguing that Trump actually won in 2020 and that all abortions should be illegal. He was also seen near the Capitol the day of the riot there. 

Unseating Bennet is already a bit of a reach for the GOP given a blue hue in Colorado that has deepened in recent cycles. However, given the absolutely abysmal environment expected for Democrats this year, Bennet is not completely safe. 

In a sign that Democrats are growing worried, a left-wing super PAC called Democratic Colorado launched ads hyping up Hanks’s conservative bona fides, an apparent effort to give him a boost with GOP primary voters. 

Should Republicans make Colorado competitive, it could at worst force Democrats to spend money to protect what was once thought to be a safe seat and at best pad GOP efforts to win a majority. But if Hanks wins the nomination, Republicans would likely consider the Colorado Senate seat to be out of reach. 

Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District runoff

The GOP primary in Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District is heading to a runoff after Rep. Michael Guest failed to get a majority of the vote in last Tuesday’s primary. 

Political newcomer Michael Cassidy clinched about 48 percent of the vote in the primary, outrunning Guest by 0.5 percentage points. However, candidates in Missouri progress to a runoff if nobody gets over 50 percent of the vote. 

Guest is one of the 35 House Republicans who voted last year to create a bipartisan panel to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, and is so far one of the few who has faced electoral consequences over that decision. 

Guest later explained that he cast the vote because he wanted the panel to investigate whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) bore any responsibility for the security situation on the Capitol that day. 

Still, Cassidy hammered Guest as a “card-carrying member of the Establishment” over the vote. 

Arizona GOP Senate primary 

Republicans are bullish on their chances of unseating Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D), but they won’t know who their candidate is until after Aug. 2. 

The three main candidates are Blake Masters, who worked for PayPal founder and GOP megadonor Peter Thiel and won Trump’s endorsement earlier this month, businessman Jim Lamon and state Attorney General Mark Brnovich. 

The primary is becoming incredibly bitter, with Masters leaning into a hardline platform and Lamon blasting him as being owned by “Big Tech” over his ties to Thiel, who was also an early investor in Facebook. 

State Attorney General Mark Brnovich is also running and anticipated to take a chunk of the vote, but his footing has been weakened after he was savaged by Trump for supposedly not working hard enough to overturn the former president’s loss in Arizona in 2020. 

The lengthy and bloody primary will allow Kelly to stock up on campaign cash and avoid getting hit as Masters and Lamon slug it out. It’s also unclear whether the two candidates’ hardline stances on issues like guns, the 2020 election and more will hold up in a purple state like Arizona. 

Missouri GOP Senate primary 

The Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R) should be a safe one for Republicans. But GOP operatives repeatedly lament that former Gov. Eric Greitens (R) is putting it at risk. 

Greitens has a stubborn polling lead in a primary field that also includes state Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, with over a quarter of voters also saying in surveys they remain undecided. 

Any candidate besides Greitens would likely coast to victory given Missouri’s strong conservative bent. But Greitens carries unique baggage that could put a Senate seat in play for Democrats, even in Missouri. 

Greitens resigned in disgrace in 2018 over allegations he sexually assaulted his hairdresser, with whom he was having an extramarital affair. An inquiry led by Republicans in the state legislature found the accusations credible. 

His candidacy is giving Republicans in the state flashbacks to the 2012 Senate candidacy of former Rep. Todd Akin, who infamously said the body has a way of rejecting pregnancies that resulted from “legitimate rape.” He ended up getting drubbed in the Senate race that year by former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) by over 15 points. 

It’s possible that even Greitens could win in a great Republican year like this, but should he become the nominee on Aug. 2, Republicans would have to make the difficult decision of spending money in the Show-Me State rather than other battlegrounds and of whether to endorse him and tie their brands to his toxic reputation. 

Wisconsin Democratic Senate primary 

The Wisconsin Senate seat held by Sen. Ron Johnson (R) is one of Democrats’ top targets, but the party is mired in a crowded primary that won’t be concluded until Aug. 19. 

Among the top contenders are Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski.  

All three are staking out progressive policy stances, and the candidates have largely focused their fire on Johnson, including over past controversial comments on the coronavirus, last year’s insurrection, Black Lives Matter and more. 

Those comments, which included suggesting that mouthwash could prevent contraction of COVID-19, make Democrats optimistic that Johnson could be toppled despite the national political environment. 

However, Johnson has twice run against former Sen. Russ Feingold (D), a titan in Wisconsin politics, and was left for dead by Republicans both times only to win. Should the Democratic primary become bloody, it could help Johnson secure a third term. 

Wyoming At-Large GOP Congressional primary 

Wyoming’s Aug. 16 GOP primary for its sole House seat is already one of the ugliest in the nation – and getting uglier. 

The race pits Rep. Liz Cheney, arguably the biggest intraparty critic of Trump, against attorney Harriet Hageman, who has Trump’s backing. 

Cheney has lambasted Trump over his role in provoking the Jan. 6 riot and serves as the vice chair of the special House committee investigating the insurrection, appearing in prime time Thursday night for the panel’s first public hearing.  

Hageman, meanwhile, is tying herself closely to Trump and is leaning heavily on his endorsement, particularly given Cheney’s conservative voting record. 

Trump is anticipated to be heavily involved in Wyoming’s race, already appearing for one rally with Hageman, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him make at least one more trip to the state before Aug. 16. 

Unseating Cheney would hand him one of the biggest heads for Trump’s mantle. 

The three-term incumbent is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and her last name rings out in every corner of Wyoming. 

However, she appears to be on her back foot. 

An internal poll released by a pro-Hageman super PAC and conducted by pollster Tony Fabrizio, who also does work for Trump, shows Hageman leading Cheney in a primary by a 28-point margin, leading her 56-28. That’s a major jump from the 34-26 lead Hageman had in the same poll in December. 

Still, Cheney says she views the investigation into the riot as one beyond partisanship. 

“We are absolutely in a moment where we have to make a decision about whether we’re going to put our love of this country above partisanship,” Cheney told CBS News on Sunday. “And to me, there’s just no gray area in that question.” 

Tags Arizona Senate primary Blake Masters Blake Masters Colorado Senate primary Donald Trump Katie Arrington Mark Brnovich Mark Brnovich Mark Sanford Michael Bennet Michael Bennett Michael Guest Nancy Mace Nancy Mace Peter Thiel Ron Johnson Stephen Bannon
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