What to watch on Primary Tuesday

As voters go to the polls in six states, there are a lot of different election angles to watch on Tuesday in Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Arkansas, as the pace picks up in the battle for control of the Congress in the 2014 mid-term elections.

Let’s take a peek at what’s on tap for voters:

1. I’ve got Georgia on my mind

The biggest race nationally today may well be the GOP fight for U.S. Senate in Georgia, which has a big field and three sitting members of Congress involved. No one is expected to get over 50 percent, meaning today’s voting will trim the field to two candidates for a July 22 runoff. Conventional wisdom is that businessman David Perdue, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston are the leading contenders for those top two spots. Democrats are ready to give their party’s nomination to Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn.

2. The GOP Establishment fights back

Today offers a series of Tea Party versus Establishment type races, most notably in Kentucky, where Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is heavily favored over Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, who was embraced by a series of national conservative groups. In Idaho, those outside groups seem to have failed in a bid to defeat Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), and they also face an uphill fight to knock off Rep. Bill Shuster (R) in Pennsylvania, who is the only sitting House member in that state to even face a primary. In the Georgia GOP Senate race, the two lawmakers most often identified with the Tea Party – Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) have been trailing in the polls in that race.

3. Throw the bums out – except my member of Congress

If you are looking for a bunch of lawmakers to be booted out of office, this might not be the night you want to watch election results, as most incumbents don’t even have an opponent today. In Kentucky, only one of six U.S. House members has a primary, just one of 17 in Pennsylvania, zero of two in Arkansas, and only one of four in Oregon. Six of 11 U.S. House incumbents in Georgia are unopposed today, while both lawmakers from Idaho face a primary. Total that up, and only 13 of the 38 U.S. House members on the ballot in six states have a primary challenger today.

4. Is any member of Congress really on upset alert?

So far, no lawmakers in the Congress have been defeated in primaries in 2014 – and that streak has a good chance of being extended tonight.  While the Tea Party has made a lot of noise with challenges against sitting Republicans, one Democrat might also be on upset alert tonight – Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia, who faces a challenge from former DeKalb County Sheriff Tom Brown. A primary battle is actually how Johnson got into the Congress, as he defeated ex-Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) eight years ago. With so little polling available, it’s hard to figure out whether Johnson is really in trouble or not.  

5. It’s November for some running for Congress today

Hard as it may be to believe, some of the primary winners today for Congress will also all but be elected for November, as they won’t even have a major party opponent on the ballot for the general election. In Georgia, seven of the fourteen U.S. House seats won’t have a Republican versus Democrat battle in the fall, as four Republicans and three Democrats could essentially win re-election today. Add to that, one in Arkansas and three sitting lawmakers in Pennsylvania, and you have up to eleven seats that might be fully wrapped up for November by late Tuesday night.

6. Is the Obama health law an election plus?

While Republicans believe they can take election year advantage of the troubles with the Obama health law, one prominent Democrat in Pennsylvania hopes it can help launch her into the race for Governor in November. Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz has used an ad in her bid for the Democratic nomination for Governor that touts her support of the Obama health law.

Recent polls show Schwartz in second among Democrats running for Governor, but far behind the frontrunner Tom Wolf – who says he will be a “different kind of Governor” in his ads.

7. Bad rumblings for GOP in Oregon Senate race

When you’re the front runner, it’s not odd to have all kinds of stories thrown at you. But for Monica Wehby, stories have surfaced in recent days that involved police reports – one where an ex-boyfriend had accused Wehby or stalking him and harassing his employees, and the latest story, where her ex-husband accused Wehby of ‘ongoing harassment’ as they were going through a divorce. Wehby has been the establishment pick in the Republican Senate race to take on Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D-OR). As the Oregonian newspaper put it last week – “much ado about nothing or a threat to her campaign?” Let’s just put it this way – it’s not the type of P.R. you want just before an election.


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