Update: the winners of tonight’s primaries
10 PM – West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey wins West Virginia Senate race, will face Manchin for general election
Braun wins Indiana Senate race, will face Donnelly for general election
Renacci wins in Ohio, will face Brown in the general election
Polls close at 7 p.m. in Indiana and at 7:30 p.m. in North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia.
Politico had a very good rundown of each of the important races as they stand.
1. Can Republicans dodge the Blankenship bullet?
Their first item talks about West Virginia’s weird primary where a convicted felon is trying to get a plurality of votes to become the Republican Senate nominee.
What does it say about the voter trust in the Republican Party such that they are willing to vote for a convicted felon over known quantities like the West Virginia Attorney General?
The last-minute push to scuttle Blankenship’s bid — including Trump’s tweet on Monday — is a good barometer of GOP concern. While there’s been no public polling in the final two weeks of the race, internal surveys indicate Blankenship has bounced back into contention for the Republican nomination after an initial GOP barrage knocked him off his perch in April.
There’s also concern that the two other major candidates — Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey — will split the anti-Blankenship vote evenly. Trump’s tweet notably did not take sides, instead urging voters to back either alternative.
Blankenship’s baggage is obvious: He was convicted of violating safety standards in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which killed 29 miners, and was released from jail only a year ago. After his release, he settled in Nevada, not West Virginia. More recently, he’s referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) in television ads as “Cocaine Mitch” and made racially charged comments about McConnell’s family.
If Blankenship wins the primary, I think this race is done. He’s acting like he is the Donald Trump of West Virginia. The only problem is, Donald Trump was never a convicted felon.
Joe Manchin is going to be much harder to beat than people realize, he’s won statewide elections five times during his career:
One for secretary of state, two for governor, a special election for Senate and a full term two years later. Seeking reelection in a state Trump carried by a whopping 42 percentage points, Manchin could be in the fight of his political life — unless the GOP nominates the wrong candidate.
2. Seeking the Trump mantle in Indiana
While Trump hasn’t given a formal endorsement of any candidate in the Indiana race, Sparta Report already had an article on this race.
In short, one of them was a nevertrumper and supported a hypothetical amnesty (Messer), the other one endorsed Marco Rubio for president and attacked Trump (Rokita), and the other one is an alleged stealth Democrat (Braun) because he switched parties 4 years ago and doesn’t attend GOP meetings.
Mike Braun, the favorite, is a self-funder who says Trump “paved the way” for a candidate who has spent most of his career in business, not politics. Rep. Todd Rokita has been traveling the state with a cardboard cutout of the president, and he donned a red Make America Great Again hat in a recent campaign ad. Rep. Luke Messer wants to nominate Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, based on the early negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.
In recent days, Messer and Rokita have attacked Braun, citing his long history of voting in Democratic primaries. But Trump’s trajectory — the president was a long-time donor to Democratic political candidates before running as a Republican — casts doubt on whether that is still grounds for excommunication in Trump’s GOP.
If I were in Indiana, I think I would probably vote for Braun.
3. House of pain – House candidates running for higher office
Several of the candidates running in the races today are currently sitting in the House of Representatives. One thing that is common to most of their respective races is that they are considered the underdog.
Trump’s call to “drain the swamp” is running head-long into the ambitions of up-and-coming GOP politicians.
Jenkins, Messer and Rokita enter the Tuesday primaries as underdogs and could find their political careers on ice if they fall short. Each is ambitious: Rokita, first elected in the 2010 Republican wave, has the longest tenure in the House of the three. Jenkins switched parties to challenge then-Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) in 2014.
Across the map, Republicans are counting on House members in a number of key races this fall. National Republicans believe Rep. Martha McSally is the party’s best nominee for a Senate seat in Arizona, over one of her bomb-throwing conservative primary challengers. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) is the party’s likely nominee against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) in a state Trump carried by 36 points. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) will try to keep retiring Sen. Bob Corker’s seat in GOP hands in Tennessee.
One GOP House member likely to prevail on Tuesday in his bid for a nomination for higher office: Rep. Jim Renacci, who is seeking to challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) this fall. Renacci has Trump’s endorsement in the primary against self-funding businessman Mike Gibbons.
4. Another wild special election in Ohio
The house Freedom caucus does little for actual conservatives except showboating how conservative they are. But if I were to pick between someone trying to tell me how conservative they are versus someone who will actively and publicly distain conservatives like John McCain, I will pick the freedom caucus candidate every time.
Melanie Leneghan has the endorsement of Freedom caucus leadership member Jim Jordan.
A proxy battle between former House colleagues has stirred up the special election to replace Rep. Pat Tiberi in Ohio, pitting old foes against each other in this Republican primary.
Rep. Jim Jordan, a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, has lined up behind Melanie Leneghan in the Republican primary, while Tiberi is boosting state Sen. Troy Balderson. Multiple outside groups are involved on both sides, and Jordan and Tiberi appeared in dueling TV ads for their endorsed candidates. Tim Kane, a first-time candidate and veteran who’s self-funding his bid, could also win, having avoided the increasingly bitter back-and-forth between Balderson, Leneghan and their allies.
But Balderson backers say that if Leneghan gets the GOP nomination, she’ll put Ohio’s 12th District — a Republican seat for decades — at risk in the Aug. 7 special election, by alienating suburban Columbus voters in a district that President Donald Trump won by 11 points in 2016.
And this last bit illustrates one of the main problems the Republican Party refuses to address and one of the main reasons why they lose, they are too afraid to take a chance on anyone other than a bland, uninspiring, milquetoast, establishment backed candidate.
5. “Contrasting styles” in Democrats’ biggest primary
Dennis “THE ALIENS TOOK MY BABY” Kucinich versus Richard “Professional ******” Cordray in the Democrat Ohio primary should be something to watch. Tune into the Daily Kos and Huffington Post to see reactions to the Carnage of BLUE ON BLUE ACTION!
Also, cordray is the former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief. A Cordray loss tonight would be very sweet for conservatives and very bad for the Obama faction in the Democrat Party.
The Democratic gubernatorial primary in Ohio has basically come down to two contenders: Richard Cordray, the buttoned-up former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief, and Dennis Kucinich, the left-leaning former congressman. Cordray has support from a broad range of “establishment” Democrats as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and he has talked up his time protecting Americans’ wallets at the CFPB, but Kucinich has framed himself as the only candidate who can energize grassroots progressives in the primary — and blue-collar voters in the general. A number of Bernie Sanders backers have jumped behind Kucinich, including the nonprofit group Our Revolution.
Both candidates have hit each other for various progressive apostasies — Cordray’s old “A” rating from the NRA, Kucinich’s words of praise for Trump in the past — but the primary has largely been a contest about which type of populism best fits the political moment in the Democratic Party, and whether the candidates can muster sufficient enthusiasm from general election voters to give Democrats a new foothold in the heart of the Midwest this November.
Cordray has more money, endorsements and support in the sparse public polling that’s been available — but Kucinich has lurked within striking distance.
6. GOP congressmen face primary challengers in North Carolina — again
I have not heard much about these races In North Carolina except that they are being challenged again. This time it is because they are accused of being not strong enough in their support of President Trump’s agenda.
Republican Reps. Robert Pittenger and Walter Jones face stiff primary challenges on Tuesday, though Republicans watching the races expect both to survive. Pittenger opponent Mark Harris and Jones foe Scott Dacey have tried to question the members’ commitment to the Trump agenda — a strategy Republican primary opponents are using throughout the country.
If Pittenger and Jones weather their GOP challengers, they’ll face distinctly different post-primary paths. Jones, who represents a deep red district in eastern North Carolina, would coast in the general election, and has said he won’t run for reelection in 2020.
But Pittenger, unlike Jones, will go on to face a serious general election fight in the Charlotte suburbs, an area that’s trended away from Republicans in the last year. Democrat Dan McCready, a veteran and businessman, outraised both Pittenger and Harris, holding more cash on hand ahead of November.
7. What are the latest signs of Democratic enthusiasm?
This “blue wave” scenario is one I do not think is going to materialize by November. We really can’t compare special election turnouts to midterm turnouts and by doing so, Democrats are deluding themselves into thinking they are assured of victory when the actual results will be very different. Just like in the 2016 elections where Hillary Clinton was going to get way over 300 electoral college votes because of magical thinking.
But here is the scoop from the Democrat’s thinking:
Democrats have been turning out at higher-than-usual rates in 2017 and 2018 so far, propelling them to victories in special elections in southwestern Pennsylvania and Alabama, as well as dozens of state legislative seats. Turnout in Tuesday’s primaries will provide yet another window into Democratic enthusiasm in a handful of House races that are expected to be competitive in November.
“If you’re not seeing the increased Democratic enthusiasm and energy on their side, you’re not paying attention,” said Matt Borges, former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. “Primary turnout will give us some indication as to what that looks like here.”
In particular, political operatives are watching turnout around Columbus and Cincinnati, Charlotte and Raleigh, all home to swaths of suburban voters — and potentially vulnerable Republican House incumbents.
Again, the results will start showing up around 7 PM eastern time tonight as the polls close in various states.
Also, I know we have tagged this as an “Open Thread,” but please try to limit your topics to election related subjects. Otherwise please post in the other open thread.