While Democratic presidential candidates scrap for delegates in 14 states across the country on Tuesday, voters in five of those states will kick off the battle for the House and Senate by choosing down-ballot nominees.
Forget the presidential contest, here are the key races to watch as the polls close Tuesday:
Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE wants his seat back, but he’s likely headed to a runoff with one of two main Republican rivals before any of them earns the right to face off against Sen. Doug Jones (D).
Sessions faces former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville and Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneTrump's Slovenia Ambassador Lynda Blanchard jumps into Alabama Senate race Mo Brooks expresses interest in running for Shelby's Senate seat Ex-Rep. Mike Conaway, former aide launch lobbying firm MORE (R), both of whom have tied themselves as closely as possible to President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE. Sessions’s relationship with Trump is more complicated, but it appears he hasn’t lost any love for his old boss even after being summarily canned following the 2018 midterms.
If no one reaches 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday, the two leading Republicans will face off in an April 14 runoff. The winner of that contest gets to face Jones in a state President Trump carried easily. But Jones isn’t going to roll over: He’s got $7 million in the bank as of the last reporting period, money he will use to pound his eventual rival.
Alabama open seats
None of the five Republicans running to replace Byrne in Congress is likely to clear the 50 percent barrier on Tuesday. But former state Sen. Bill Hightower (R), who ran for governor in 2018, is the best known of the bunch. Expect him to claim one of the two runoff positions in a safe Republican district that Trump carried by an almost two-to-one margin in 2016.
In the southeast corner of Alabama, moving company executive Jeff Coleman (R) is in the driver’s seat to win the Republican nomination to replace retiring Rep. Martha RobyMartha Dubina RobyLobbying world House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit The year of the Republican woman MORE (R). If he’s forced into a runoff, it would likely be against Troy King, Alabama’s former attorney general, or Jessica Taylor, a newcomer to the political scene. The second district is just as heavily Republican as the first.
California voters will take a first step toward choosing former Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillKatie Hill launches effort to protect Democratic majority in House Katie Hill says 'it would take a lot' to convince her to run again for House The tale of the last bipartisan unicorns MORE’s (D) replacement in Tuesday’s all-party primary. Those voters will cast ballots in two distinct elections — a special election and the regular primary — with a runoff coming in November.
The leading contender on the Democratic side is Christy Smith, a state assemblywoman who has garnered most establishment support. Cenk Uygur, the host of the Young Turks series, has also raised a decent sum of money. But he may be shut out by former Rep. Steve KnightStephen (Steve) Thomas KnightThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The American Investment Council - Pelosi touts T bill as Fauci stresses go-slow openings The Hill's Campaign Report: A Los Angeles House seat is in play for Republicans Democrats on edge over California special election nail-biter MORE (R), who lost to Hill in 2018 and wants another shot at his seat.
In San Bernardino County, Rep. Paul CookPaul Joseph CookHouse Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit Lawmakers seek extension for tribes to spend stimulus money following Treasury delays The 14 other key races to watch on Super Tuesday MORE (R) is leaving Congress to run for a local office. State Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R) is favored to win a spot in the runoff, but it’s not clear who is most likely to earn the second spot. Three Democrats and four other Republicans — including former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R), who ran for governor in 2014 — are running in a district that gave President Trump 55 percent of the vote in 2016.
Former Rep. David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoTwo House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms California state assemblymember Salas launches bid against Valadao The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (R) wants another shot at Rep. T.J. Cox (D) after losing in 2018 by fewer than a thousand votes. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to attend World Series Game 4 in Atlanta Pavlich: Democrats' weaponization of the DOJ is back Mellman: The trout in the milk MORE won the district by almost 16 points in 2016, but Valadao won that year, making this contest potentially competitive.
And former Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaBipartisan lawmakers target judges' stock trading with new bill How lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation Dozens of Sacramento students remain in Afghanistan after US pullout, district says MORE (R) is hoping to return from Congress just two years after retiring. He’s running in a different district, one formerly held by disgraced ex-Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterTrump denies Gaetz asked him for blanket pardon Gaetz, on the ropes, finds few friends in GOP Trust, transparency, and tithing is not enough to sustain democracy MORE (R). He faces former San Diego city councillor Carl DeMaio (R) and state Sen. Brian Jones (R), all of whom are hunting for what’s likely to be a second runoff spot behind Ammar Campa-Najjar, the Democrat who narrowly lost to Hunter in 2018.
A huge field of 11 Democrats are running for the right to replace retiring Rep. Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisOvernight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military's eighth COVID death identified Bipartisan congressional task force recommends extending nuclear treaty with Russia The Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation MORE (D) in San Diego. San Diego City Council president Georgette Gomez (D) is probably the best known in the field. Three Republicans are also running, but the district went for Clinton by a more than two-to-one margin in 2016.
North Carolina Senate
Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D) is likely to win the right to face Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTrick-or-dog-treat: Lawmakers hold annual Halloween puppy party After 35 years, Congress should finally end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair MORE (R) in November, but neither candidate faced the easiest path to their own nominations.
Cunningham, running for statewide office a second time, faces state Sen. Erica Smith (D), an African American woman with a liberal political base in Raleigh. Smith didn’t raise a lot of money, but an outside group funded by the largest Republican super PAC ran ads on her behalf. Even that super PAC believes Cunningham will win the primary now, but their spending made Democrats drop a ton of early ads on his behalf.
Tillis, seeking a second term, faced his own prospects of a contentious primary race against a rich businessman. But Tillis worked to earn Trump’s endorsement, which he made the subject of his first statewide television ad. The businessman, Garland Tucker, dropped out shortly after the ad started running, and Tillis’s team scared Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerInternal poll shows McCrory with double-digit lead in North Carolina GOP Senate primary We are all paying for DeSantis' defiance of the First Amendment Democrats look to make debt ceiling a winning issue MORE (R) out of mounting his own challenge.
North Carolina Governor
It is not often that a sitting governor faces off against a sitting lieutenant governor, but that’s what will happen this year in the Tar Heel State. Gov. Roy Cooper (D), elected as a centrist, will face Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R), who sits firmly on the right of the Republican spectrum.
Cooper is the only Democratic governor running for reelection in a state President Trump won in 2016, though Trump only won there by 3.6 percentage points. North Carolina is in the crosshairs again this year, presenting a big challenge to both Cooper and Forest if they are tied too closely to their side’s presidential nominees.
North Carolina open seats
Three Republican members of Congress are not seeking reelection this year. Rep. Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsAt least five Trump administration staffers have spoken with Jan 6 committee: CNN Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled Report: Rally organizers say GOP lawmakers worked on Jan. 6 protests MORE (R) is almost certain to be replaced by a Republican and state Sen. Jim Davis (R) appears to be leading a crowded field. If he can’t top 30 percent of the vote, he would face his second-place rival in a May 12 runoff.
Two other Republicans are likely to be replaced by Democrats after a state court ordered the GOP-led legislature to redraw district boundary lines. The legislature opted to preserve eight Republican seats, and seats held by Reps. George HoldingGeorge Edward Bell HoldingHouse Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit Lara Trump leading Republicans in 2022 North Carolina Senate poll Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day MORE (R) and Mark Walker (R) were the casualties.
In Holding’s second district, former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D) is the favorite. She is making a political comeback after losing a race against Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrInternal poll shows McCrory with double-digit lead in North Carolina GOP Senate primary Democratic incumbents bolster fundraising advantage in key Senate races McConnell gets GOP wake-up call MORE (R) in 2016.
A crowded Democratic field is vying for Walker’s sixth district. Keep an eye on Kathy Manning, a University of North Carolina-Greensboro trustee, and Rhonda Foxx, a former congressional aide, two women lapping the rest of the field on the fundraising circuit.
Two yeas after former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) came oh-so-close to upsetting Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFlake, Cindy McCain among latest Biden ambassadors confirmed after delay Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it MORE (R), Democrats hope lightning strikes twice with Afghan war veteran M.J. Hegar (D).
Hegar narrowly lost a bid against Rep. John CarterJohn Rice CarterEarly redistricting plans show GOP retrenching for long haul Bottom line READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R) in 2018, pulling in millions after a campaign video went viral. She’s been endorsed by national Democrats who want to see her matched up against Cornyn, who is seeking his fourth term.
Before Hegar gets her shot, she will have to beat back several other rising stars. The liberal group Justice Democrats has endorsed Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, a civil rights activist.
Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards (D) and Dallas-area state Sen. Royce West (D) are both trying to corner the market on Texas’s not-insubstantial African American vote. And former Rep. Chris Bell (D), last seen running unsuccessfully for mayor of Houston, is also in the race.
The winner faces an uphill slog against Cornyn, even as Texas becomes more competitive. The incumbent has more than three times as much money in the bank, $12 million, as the leading Democrat, Hegar, has raised altogether.
Two years after California was the epicenter of the battle for control of the House, focus has now shifted to Texas, where half a dozen seats are up for grabs. The battlefield is broad: here is a a separate story on the fights to watch.