State by state

California

Iraq war veteran Eric Egland this week became the first Republican to launch an official primary campaign against Rep. John Doolittle (R). The move came just days after Doolittle’s 2006 primary challenger announced an exploratory committee for the race.

An Air Force reservist, Egland is a first-time political candidate. President Bush recently praised his military service in a speech.

Doolittle is enmeshed in a federal investigation surrounding his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In April, the FBI raided Doolittle’s California home.

Mike Holmes, a former mayor of Auburn who announced an exploratory committee last week, took 33 percent against Doolittle last year in a head-to-head primary.

— Aaron Blake



Minnesota

Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) top Democratic challengers have gained ground in recent months, but the freshman retains a modest lead over all of them, according to a poll released this week by SurveyUSA.

Coleman beats comedian Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenPoliticon announces lineup including Comey, Hannity, Priebus Scarlett Johansson defends Woody Allen: 'I believe him' Trump mocks Gillibrand after exit: 'She was the one I was really afraid of!' MORE and attorney Mike Ciresi by seven and six points, respectively. He leads Franken 49–42 and Ciresi 48–42.

Both Democratic front-runners trailed Coleman by more than 20 points when the same poll was conducted five months ago and also in a Minnesota Public Radio poll conducted in May.

Franken has garnered much attention due to his celebrity and fundraising prowess — he raised nearly $2 million in the second quarter — but Ciresi has stuck with him in the polls.

A third Democrat, environmental activist Jim Cohen, holds Coleman to a similar 49 percent clip but trails Franken and Ciresi with 37 percent in a head-to-head match-up.

Coleman holds an advantage over all three candidates among independent voters and party-switchers. There are more Democrats who support Coleman than Republicans who support any of the three Democratic candidates. No Democrat pulls more than 6 percent of GOP voters.

The poll was conducted last week among 628 registered voters and released Monday. It did not survey several other Democratic candidates, including Nobel laureate Peter Agre and Professor Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer.

— A.B.



Nebraska

Financial adviser Pat Flynn became the latest Republican to join the Senate race in Nebraska, giving Sen. Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelWhite House aide moves to lobbying firm Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces Five takeaways from Pentagon chief's first major trip MORE (R) another potential primary challenger, according to The Omaha World-Herald.

Flynn has made clear that his Christian faith will be a centerpiece of his campaign.

Hagel has yet to announce whether he will run for reelection or whether he will run for the presidency.

State Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) is already in the race, and others including former Rep. Hal Daub (R), former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D), Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey (D) and 2006 congressional candidate Scott Kleeb (D) are also weighing bids. Businessman Tony Raimondo (R) has an exploratory committee but has said he will step aside if Hagel runs for reelection.

— A.B.



Oregon


Oregon House Speaker Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Health Care: Juul's lobbying efforts fall short as Trump moves to ban flavored e-cigarettes | Facebook removes fact check from anti-abortion video after criticism | Poll: Most Democrats want presidential candidate who would build on ObamaCare Overnight Energy: Democrats call for Ross to resign over report he threatened NOAA officials | Commerce denies report | Documents detail plan to decentralize BLM | Lawmakers demand answers on bee-killing pesticide Oregon Democrats push EPA to justify use of pesticide 'highly toxic' to bees MORE (D) vowed to shake up Washington on Wednesday as he announced the formal launch of his campaign against Sen. Gordon Smith (R).

“I’m running for U.S. Senate because I believe we need to make some big changes in our country,” Merkley said in a letter to supporters. “And I believe George Bush and Gordon Smith are leading us in the wrong direction,”

The five-term member of the Oregon House is the son of a mill worker and mechanic. He was elected Speaker in January after Democrats reclaimed the legislative majority in the state.

Merkley said he would run a grassroots campaign that speaks to the average Oregonian. He pledged to work with Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenProgressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum Key Senate Democrat unveils proposal to tax the rich Overnight Health Care: Trump seeks ban on flavored e-cigarettes | Purdue Pharma nears settlement with states, cities over alleged role in opioid epidemic | Senate panel cancels vote on key spending bill amid standoff MORE (D) to bring troops home from Iraq, promote clean energy, combat climate change and make healthcare universal.

He cited his “passion for tax fairness, public education and for helping ordinary, everyday Oregonians achieve their aspirations,” as he asked for donations to counter “Gordon Smith and his special-interest friends.”

Former Justice Department attorney Steve Novick, the first Democrat in the race, said he looks “forward to an inspired primary where each of us makes our case for why we must replace Gordon Smith and presents our respective visions for Oregon and America.”

— Kara Oppenheim