May brings key primaries across nation

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 DonnellyEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown MORE (D), one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year.

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A nasty primary has set Reps. Luke MesserAllen (Luke) Lucas MesserYoder, Messer land on K Street House GOP to force members to give up leadership positions if running for higher office Indiana New Members 2019 MORE (R) and Todd RokitaTheodore (Todd) Edward RokitaHouse passes year-end tax package Indiana New Members 2019 Braun knocks off Donnelly in Indiana 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 HudsonHouse Dems make gun control action an early priority House GOP returns to Washington after sobering midterm losses Jockeying already stepping up in House leadership fights MORE (R), Robert PittengerRobert Miller PittengerFight over North Carolina race set to drag on for months NC GOP calls on board to certify House race unless it can prove fraud changed results North Carolina on cusp of House race reset MORE (R) and Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddRepublican Ted Budd holds off challenger to win reelection in North Carolina Election Day: An hour-by-hour viewer’s guide Jockeying already stepping up in House leadership fights 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 CordraySupreme Court should do what Congress won’t: Rein in the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Congress must restrain power of new consumer financial director Five challenges facing new consumer bureau chief 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. RenacciGOP rep: If Mueller had found collusion, ‘investigation would have wrapped up very quickly’ House Ethics Committee extends probe into Renacci Sherrod Brown says he has 'no real timetable' for deciding on 2020 presidential run MORE (R) is likely to hold off a conservative challenger in his bid against Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell Brown2020 Democrats barnstorm the country for MLK weekend Sen. Casey says he won't run for president in 2020 The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Day 27 of the shutdown | Cohen reportedly paid company to rig online polls, boost his own image | Atlantic publishes ‘Impeach Donald Trump’ cover story 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) ManchinSenate rejects government-wide ban on abortion funding Centrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Bipartisan group of senators will urge Trump to reopen government for 3 weeks 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 MooneyKey conservative presses for shield law after seizure of NYT reporter’s records May brings key primaries across nation 25 House Republicans defy leadership in key spending bill vote 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 AshfordWhite men now the minority in pool of House Democratic candidates: analysis Pelosi sees defections from an unusual quarter — the left Ex-Dem lawmaker: Russians hacked my email in 2016 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).

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 DentEx-GOP lawmaker says his party is having a 'Monty Python' moment on shutdown Former GOP lawmaker: Republicans know shutdown is ‘a fight they cannot win’ Pennsylvania New Members 2019 MORE’s (R) 7th District, in swing exurban Philadelphia.

Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyTrump pitches new plan to reopen government amid Dem pushback Dem senator references 'The Office' when posting job for Scranton regional manager  Sen. Casey says he won't run for president in 2020 MORE Jr. (D), another Democrat running for reelection in a state President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal Rove warns Senate GOP: Don't put only focus on base Ann Coulter blasts Trump shutdown compromise: ‘We voted for Trump and got Jeb!’ MORE won, will formally get an opponent this month. Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaTrump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 GOP trading fancy offices, nice views for life in minority Casey secures third Senate term over Trump-backed Barletta 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 HillHere are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown Rep. French Hill wins after unexpected challenge Election Day: An hour-by-hour viewer’s guide 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 HandelOssoff tests waters for Georgia Senate run Jon Ossoff considering 2020 run for Senate in Georgia: report New House GOP campaign chairman lays out challenges for 2020 MORE (R), who won last year’s special election, and Rob WoodallWilliam (Rob) Robert WoodallGOP struggles to find right Republican for Rules Dem challenger concedes to incumbent Woodall in Georgia's 7th District Election Countdown: Florida Senate race heads to hand recount | Dem flips Maine House seat | New 2020 trend - the 'friend-raiser' | Ad war intensifies in Mississippi runoff | Blue wave batters California GOP 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 BarrGarland (Andy) Hale BarrThe new Democratic Congress has an opportunity to move legislation to help horses Top 5 races to watch in 2019 GOP seeks to ram through Trump’s B wall demand MORE (R). Gray ran against Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulPressure mounts for Trump to reconsider Syria withdrawal House Republicans call for moving State of the Union to Senate chamber GOP rep: 'Rand Paul is giving the president bad advice' on Afghanistan and Syria 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 PoeTexas New Members 2019 Cook shifts two House GOP seats closer to Dem column Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs MORE (R), Jeb HensarlingThomas (Jeb) Jeb HensarlingExiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch Ryan focuses on legacy as talk of shutdown dominates capital Rare bipartisanship in lame duck Congress battling the ‘WTO’ of insurance regulation MORE (R), Joe BartonJoe Linus BartonGOP trading fancy offices, nice views for life in minority Privacy legislation could provide common ground for the newly divided Congress Texas New Members 2019 MORE (R), Lamar SmithLamar Seeligson SmithCongress can stop the war on science Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm MORE (R), Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdFormer Texas lawmaker Blake Farenthold resigns from lobbying job Congress sends bill overhauling sexual harassment policy to Trump's desk Senate approves bill reforming Congress's sexual harassment policy 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 JohnsonTexas New Members 2019 Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress May brings key primaries across nation MORE (R), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonDemocrats need a worthy climate plan NASA lost key support to explore Jupiter's moon Texas New Members 2019 MORE (R), Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulRichard Overton, America's oldest living WWII vet and man, dies at 112 Inside the Trump-Congress Christmas meltdown DHS to make migrants wait in Mexico while asylum claims processed MORE (R), Pete OlsonPeter (Pete) Graham OlsonBipartisan bill would give government workers access to retirement funds amid shutdown Here are the lawmakers who will forfeit their salaries during the shutdown Privacy legislation could provide common ground for the newly divided Congress MORE (R), Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdTexas GOP lawmaker calls Trump border crisis a 'myth' Latest funding bill to reopen the government fails in House GOP maps out early 2020 strategy to retake House MORE (R), Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsCongress starts first day of shutdown with modest hope Senate agrees to last-ditch talks, but no clear path over shutdown Pelosi vows Dem help after GOP ‘meltdown’ on spending bills MORE (R), John CarterJohn Rice CarterProgressives to target Dem reps in 2020 primary fights Puerto Ricans may have elected Rick Scott and other midterm surprises Rise of big cities push Texas to swing-state territory — maybe by 2020 MORE (R) and Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsTop 10 events of 2018 that shaped marijuana policy Washington braces for lengthy shutdown Lawmakers shrug off shutdown drama MORE (R).

--Updated at 7:31 a.m.