Originally published in Red Racing Horses.
Five states go to the polls today for primaries. Here are some races to watch in each state.
the presidential race, there is a chance that Ron Paul could win a
congressional district or two in an upset. Despite the presence of a
large phonebank center in Los Angeles for Paul, the populous state is a
bad fit for the grassroots-style campaining of his followers, so expect
something close to a Romney sweep.
It is uncertain if a
Republican will even make the ballot to take on Senator Barbara Boxer
(D), with a crowded field of anonymous candidates.
Consult our own Left Coast Libertarian's excellent three part preview of
the US House primaries in California. Essentially, Republican turnout
is surprisingly high without any prominent Republican contests to drive
One thing to watch for are the efforts of independent
candidates. There are one or two races where they could make runoffs,
backed by a California super PAC and abetted by split votes in the top
two primary. These include Chad Condit in CA-10 (son of former Rep.
Condit), former Republican Bill Bloomfield in CA-33 (who has spent $1
million on his race), former GOP Assemblyman Anthony Adams in CA-08, and
Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks in swingy CA-26. Of the four, I
see Bloomfield having the strongest shot at a runoff, with Parks in a
more contested primary contest but also having significant resources.
races feature legitimate de facto primaries. These include CA-30, with
Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman (D) battling each other in a
multi-million dollar race. Republican Mark Reed threatens to make the
ballot with both splitting Democratic votes, but both could squeeze into
the general election as well. If Reed is in, the Democrat left standing
will have won this safe Democratic district long before November.
a safe and open Republican seat, is also worth watching, with a crowded
field of legitimate Republicans but no real Democratic candidates.
Frontrunners include Assemblyman Paul Cook, San Bernardino County
Supervisor Brad Mitzelfet, and Victorville Mayor Ryan McEachron.
races to watch include CA-47, where former Rep. Steve Kuykendall (who
has struggled with fundraising) faces fellow Republican and Long Beach
City Councilman Gary DeLong and Democratic frontrunner Alan Lowenthal in
a likely Democratic seat.
With two clear frontrunners, also worth
watching is CA-41 with Democrat Mark Takano (who has raised significant
money from the national LGBT community) and Republican Mark Tavaglione,
a member of Riverside County's Board of Supervisors. Their margins will
preview the November election.
CA-02 features a contest between
Democratic State Assemblyman Jared Huffman and Netroots favorite Norman
Soloman, who has attracted money from that community. CA-52 is a swingy
seat with two Democrats jockeying for a runoff berth, Scott Peters and
The action here
is all on the Democratic side. The Republican Senate contest is all but
wrapped up, with conservative Greg Sowards ineffectively attacking
former Rep. Heather Wilson from the right. On the Democratic side, Rep.
Martin Heinrich seems like the likely Democratic nominee. State Auditor
Hector Balderas has run a strong campaign working to position himself as
a reformer, but the two candidates agree on too much to draw much of a
contrast. Heinrich should win the Democratic nod tonight.
contested is the Democratic primary in NM-01, Heinrich's soon to be open
seat. State Senator Eric Griego faces Bernalillo County Commissioner
Michelle Lujan Grisham. Griego has outside help from prominent
progressive groups, while Grishma surged from the back of the pack, much
of it at the expense of early frontrunner Chavez. Griego and Grisham
have hammered each other in mailings and in television advertising. The
relatively moderate former Albuquerque Mayor Marty Chavez has avoided
much of the infighting, focusing on GOTV and limiting his attacks on the
presidential primary here is the only one that is really interesting
tonight. Ex-Paul staffers from nearby states have opened offices in
Sioux Falls and canvassed, phonebanked, and generally run a pre-primary
effort in two weeks by raising $25k for a PAC, South Dakota for Liberty.
The effort is not tied to the campaign and will probably help Paul
reach 20% to win delegates in proportional South Dakota, but Romney
should still win the contest.
Also of interest is the Democratic
primary between Matt Varilek, a former aide to Senators Tim Johnson and
Tom Daschle, and Jeff Barth. Barth, you may recall, is the eclectic
candidate and county commissioner whose latest web ad is just odd and
went viral (it features ostriches and explosions; watch it here).
There are also clear fault lines in the race- Barth supports the Bush
tax cuts, while Varilek opposes them; Barth supports gay marriage, which
Varilek opposes. Varilek has the establishment backing and much more
money than Barth, but his campaign has just gotten interesting in the
last few weeks. With a low-profile race, anything can happen.
is known as a libertarian-leaning state, but with little organized Paul
effort don't expect Romney to face a serious challenge.
biggest primary action is in the gubernatorial race. Former Rep. Rick
Hill is seen as the frontrunner for the Republican nod. A crowded field
hopes to outflank Hill in a race that has garnered little attention.
Most prominent among the challengers is State Senator Corey Stapleton,
who has gone on the air to attack Hill. Hill has hit back at Stapleton,
and with the biggest warchest in the race he has the resources to push
back his opposition. Also in the race are social conservative State
Senator Ken Miller and Choteau County Commissioner James O'Hara, among
Businessman Steve Daines leads the race for the
Republican primary with a huge cash advantage, while Democrats have a
crowded but fairly anonymous field including Missoula City Councilman
There is one
big primary here: NJ-09. Representative Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell,
Democrats, were both drawn into the same district. Rothman had the
initial edge with his base in Bergen County, which outnumbers Pascrell's
base in Passaic County. The fight has been nasty and bitter, with
Pascrell being particularly acrimonious toward Rothman. Rothman has the
(non-explicit) support of President Obama, while President Clinton has
campaigned for Pascrell in the district. The race has absorbed millions
of dollars and is expected to be close, even if featuring uninspiring
Another contest to watch: the Democratic primary in
NJ-10. After Rep. Donald Payne passed away, a number of local Democratic
politicos entered the race to succeed him. The frontrunners are Donald
Payne Jr. (a local political force in his own right), State Senator Nia
Gill, Newark City Councilman Ron Rice, and Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith.
Payne should do well in Essex while Rice does well in Newark and Union
County. Nevertheless, the edge goes to legacy and Payne Jr.