Key races to watch in Tuesday’s primaries

Eight states and Washington, D.C., will hold primaries on Tuesday, marking the busiest electoral day since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in mid-March.

Besides presidential contests, the races include a number of congressional primaries, which could have implications for the fight to control the House and Senate in November. 

In Iowa, Rep. Steve King (R) will fight to defend his House seat from a GOP challenge from businessman Randy Feenstra, who has been backed by much of the Republican establishment. 

Meanwhile, in Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) is likely to clinch his party’s Senate nomination as Democrats look to flip Sen. Steve Daines’s (R) seat in the fall. 

Here are the key races to watch in Tuesday’s primaries. 


Numerous candidates have lined up in the race to replace outgoing Reps. Susan Brooks (R) and Peter Visclosky (D). 

Fourteen Democratic candidates are set to compete in the 1st District, held by Visclosky, on Tuesday, while six Republicans are competing in the district’s GOP primary. The seat is considered safely Democratic. 

Meanwhile, in Brook’s 5th District, there are 15 Republicans running in the GOP primary and five candidates in the Democratic primary. The Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Republican.” 


King finds himself in the fight of his political life after years of making inflammatory remarks, resulting in a number of Republicans backing his top challenger, Randy Feenstra, in the state’s 4th District.

Party leaders like Karl Rove and Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), have backed Feenstra. A number of national organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Right to Life Committee have pledged their support to elect the businessman. 

Feenstra’s recent internal polling shows him within the margin of error and trailing King by only 3 points, after trailing him by 31 points in January and by 7 points last month. Another survey released by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling earlier this month shows Feenstra leading King by four points.

Jeremy Taylor, Bret Richards, and Steven Reeder will also face off against King in the Republican primary, potentially splitting the anti-King vote.

Iowa will also hold three other House primaries for races that are likely to be close in the fall, including the open race to replace retiring Rep. Dave Loebsack (D) in the 2nd District.

And in the Senate, former urban planner Theresa Greenfield is heavily favored to emerge as the winner from the Democratic primary, setting up a challenge against Sen. Joni Ernst (R) for a seat rated as “Lean Republican” by The Cook Political Report.


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will face a primary challenge from progressive candidate Mckayla Wilkes in the state’s 5th District on Tuesday. Wilkes, who released her first television ad in the race earlier this month, will likely face an uphill climb against the longtime Maryland lawmaker. 

Democrats will also hold a primary in the 7th District, where recently-elected Rep. Kweisi Mfume will face a crowded list of challengers, including Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the widow of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, whose seat Mfume now occupies. 

Mfume easily beat Rockeymoore Cummings in a February primary and went on to win the special election last month. Whoever emerges from next week’s primary will be favored to win in November in the safe blue district. 


Bullock appears to be on track to become the Democratic Senate nominee in the state on Tuesday. The two-term governor will face John Mues, an energy engineer and Navy Veteran, who is running as a progressive. Bullock has raised $2.5 million over the past six weeks and has raised a total of $5.8 million. 

Incumbent Sen. Daines will face former Montana Public Service Commissioner John Driscoll and hardware store manager Dan Larson. Daines brought in $1.3 million over the last six weeks, and has raised a total of $9.2 million. 

Meanwhile, in the state’s Democratic race for governor, the race appears to be tight based on fundraising. Montana Lieutenant Gov. Mike Cooney (D) has raised roughly $886,500 as of mid-May in his bid to replace Bullock, while Whitney Williams has raised over $1 million. 

Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) is heavily favored in the GOP gubernatorial primary.

New Mexico

The Republican and Democratic primaries to replace outgoing Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) will take place on Tuesday with Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Luján and Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh set to become their party’s nominees in their uncontested races. Prior to Udall, the Senate seat was held by former Sen. Pete Domenici (R) for over 30 years. 

In the GOP Senate primary, former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti ended last quarter with the most cash on hand, but was outspent by Gavin Clarkson, who served in the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the Trump administration in 2017. Elisa Martinez, founder of the New Mexico Alliance for Life, is also running in the state’s GOP primary. 

Luján’s decision to run for Senate has opened up his House seat in the 3rd District. Former CIA operative Valerie Plame will face off against activist Teresa Leger Fernandez  in the Democratic primary. The two women have led the field in fundraising in the battle for the House seat, which has been historically Democratic. 

Over in the state’s 2nd District, the GOP primary to challenge first-term Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is heating up. Former state Rep. Yvette Herrell (R) is running for a second time after losing her bid in 2018. She is going up against oil executive Claire Chase and businessman Chris Mathys.

Chase, who is part of the NRCC’s Young Guns program, has traded barbs with Herrell throughout the race, with the two accusing each other of being secretly “never Trumpers.” 

Cook Political Report rates the seat in New Mexico’s 2nd District as a “toss-up.” 


Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) will face Andrew Meehan in Pennsylvania’s 1st District. Meehan, a vocal supporter of the president, faces an uphill climb in his primary challenge.

However, the primary underscores the challenge Fitzpatrick could face in November as a moderate Republican with Trump at the top of the ticket. Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Republican.”

Meanwhile, Christina Finello, who is considered to be her party’s favorite to win the nomination in the district’s Democratic primary, will face off against technology consultant Skylar Hurwitz on Tuesday. 

Republicans are also holding primaries in Pennsylvania’s 7th and 8th Districts. In the 7th District, Republicans Lisa Scheller and Dean Browning will face off to determine who will go up against freshman Rep. Susan Wild (D-Penn.) in November.

Scheller has received endorsements from Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Cook Political Report rates the seat as “lean Democratic.” 

In the 8th District, six Republicans have lined up to challenge Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Penn.): Jim Bognet, Mikkel Cammisa, Teddy Daniels, Earl Granville, Harry Haas, and Mike Marsicano. Cook Political Report has rated the general election as a “toss-up.” 

In the 10th District, Attorney Tom Brier will face off against the state’s auditor general in the Democratic primary in their bid to challenge Rep. Scott Perry (R) in the fall. The seat is rated as a “toss-up” by Cook Political Report.



Tags Brian Fitzpatrick Dave Loebsack Elijah Cummings Greg Gianforte Joni Ernst Karl Rove Kevin McCarthy Matt Cartwright Peter Visclosky Scott Perry Steny Hoyer Steve Bullock Steve Daines Steve King Steve Stivers Susan Brooks Susan Wild Tom Udall

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