First ‘Super Tuesday’ of Primary Season Filled With Intriguing Questions
WASHINGTON — Voters in five states will head to the polls on Tuesday, each of them helping to determine who will appear in the general election in November, and, in a very real sense, the balance of power on Capitol Hill and beyond.
A primary always represents a winnowing of the herd, and it’s especially true this year, given the factionalization of both major parties.
In contests across the country, voters will be choosing their preferred candidates for the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, gubernatorial and state legislative seats, as well as scores of even more local candidates and bond issues.
They should also begin to clarify whether former President Donald Trump will remain a true force in the Republican Party, and whether moderates will continue to be the key to Democratic victory on the federal level.
Below is a synopsis of some of what we’ll be watching on Tuesday:
In many ways, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., has turned himself into the Republican Party’s version of the Mayhem guy in Allstate Insurance commercials.
In the television spots, the actor Dean Winters is the living embodiment of the unexpected travails that can befall any of us. In real life, the 26-year-old Cawthorn routinely creates his own headaches.
In the past year alone, the former Chick-fil-A manager has insinuated colleagues on Capitol Hill invited him to orgies and snorted cocaine in front of him, appeared in photographs posted on Twitter dressed in women’s clothing, appeared on the same media platform “humping” his cousin’s head (don’t ask), and has been cited twice for bringing a gun into an airport.
He also was recently caught driving with a revoked license for the second time in five years in North Carolina.
In short, while his reelection could help Republicans regain control of the House in November, he’s also likely the member that would cause House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., the most heartburn.
Privately, many Republicans say they hope Cawthorn doesn’t win his primary. According to Ballotpedia, the district has consistently been ranked “Safe Republican” or “Solid Republican” and whoever wins Tuesday is likely to prevail in the November 8 general election.
Complicating matters for the GOP, former President Donald Trump endorsed Cawthorn for reelection in March.
Heading into the final weekend of the primary contest, Cawthorn is facing a crowded field that includes incumbent State Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-N.C., and six other candidates: Matthew Burril, Rod Honeycutt, Wendy Nevarez, Bruce O’Connell, Kristie Sluder, and Michele Woodhouse.
Also receiving Trump’s blessing in North Carolina is Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., who polls suggest is the current frontrunner in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
Budd is also backed by Club for Growth, a conservative political action committee, which has invested more than $11 million in the race according to Federal Election Commission filings.
Budd’s main challengers are former Gov. Pat McCrory, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker and Marjorie Eastman, a political novice.
If a primary runoff is needed in either of these races, it will be held on either July 5 or July 26, depending on the specific race involved.
Former State Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley is heavily favored to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. If she were to win in November, she would be the first Black woman to serve in the Senate from North Carolina.
Democrats are holding a primary in the 4th Congressional District with State Sen. Valerie Foushee, Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam and former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken leading five other candidates.
The other candidates are: Crystal Cavalier, Matt Grooms, Stephen J. Valentine, Ashley Ward, and Richard Watkins.
In the 13th Congressional District, all eyes are on Bo Hines, a 26-year-old newcomer who was also endorsed by both Trump and Club for Growth.
He’s running in his primary against DeVan Barbour, Kelly Daughtry, Renee Ellmers, Kent Keirsey, Jessica Morel, Chad Slotta, and Kevin Alan Wolff.
Money — oodles of it — has been the story in the run-up to the primary in Oregon’s new, blue-tilting 6th Congressional District.
Early on Democratic House candidate Carrick Flynn, a virtual unknown, caught the eye of Sam Bankman-Fried, a 30-year-old American cryptocurrency billionaire based in the Bahamas.
Since then, his political action committee has pumped more than $10 million into the race.
A PAC tied to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other top Democrats has spent an additional $1 million to support Flynn, who is running in a crowded field of eight other candidates.
The other Democratic candidates are Ricky Barajas, Greg Goodwin, Kathleen Harder, Teresa Alonso Leon, Steven Cody Reynolds, Andrea Salinas, Loretta Smith and Matt West.
The GOP primary in the same district features seven candidates. The Republican Party primary candidates are: Jim Bunn, Mike Erickson, Ron Noble, Angela Plowhead, David Russ, Amy Ryan Courser and Nate Sandvig.
Though the Democratic party has tended to dominate Oregon House races in recent years, the state’s voters do also embrace Republicans. Such was the case in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, which has been represented by Republican Greg Walden since Jan. 3, 1999. He is retiring at the end of this term.
In Kentucky, much of the pre-primary attention has focused on the 3rd Congressional District race to replace retiring Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth.
The two Democrats facing off in the primary are State Sen. Morgan McGarvey and State Rep. Attica Scott.
The district has long been the only House seat in the state held by Democrats.
Both candidates describe themselves as progressives. Beyond that, they are as different as shirts versus skins.
McGarvey, a White attorney, is a top-ranking Democrat in the Republican-dominated Kentucky Senate.
During debates, McGarvey has presented himself as a coalition builder, able to pass legislation through skillful negotiation and deal-making.
Scott, a Black woman, is a former Louisville metro councilwoman who made national headlines after she was arrested during protests following the shooting of Breonna Taylor by police in 2020.
The charges were later dropped, but the incident cast her as an uncompromising advocate for her beliefs. But she too has touted her ability to work across the aisle during her time in government.
In Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District, Trump has endorsed incumbent Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, who has represented the district for 12 years.
Massie faces three Republican challengers in the May 17 primary. If Massie wins, he’ll face Democrat Matthew Lehman, of Newport, in the general election.
Also facing a primary challenge is Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is facing five little-known Republican challengers. So confident is Paul of a win that he’s already attacking his likely Democratic challenger in November, Charles Booker, a former member of the state House of Representatives.
While Paul continues to present himself as a national figure and the voice of the libertarian movement, Booker is a populist who supports expanding the social safety net.
Booker is expected to handily win his primary against three opponents, and he’s already campaigning on the promise that he can prevail in unseating Paul where more moderate Democrats have failed.
The big story here, of course, is the late surge in the polls by Kathy Barnette, the conservative author and political commentator, in the state’s Republican Senate primary.
So significant was her momentum heading into the weekend that former President Trump, who had endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz, a longtime television host, has begun to attack her, releasing a statement that said, “Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the general election against the radical left Democrats.”
If she wins on Tuesday, it will be the most high-profile blow yet to the idea that a Trump endorsement equals invincibility.
While Barnette, in the great words of “Caddyshack,” may be an “Outta nowhere, Cinderella story,” Oz has spent most of his campaign attacking another primary contender, David McCormick, a former hedge fund executive.
Meanwhile, in the Democratic primary for Senate, Rep. Conor Lamb, a moderate who many saw as a shoe-in, has been struggling in the last weeks of the campaign and is currently trailing Lt. Gov. John Fetterman by double digits in the polls.
The problem, political prognosticators say, is that Lamb believed his press and ran like the inevitable choice of the people, piling up party establishment endorsements in the process.
Fetterman, meanwhile, has run as something of a maverick in a state where voters, at the moment at least, like the idea of sending a more partisan voice to Washington to do battle with the Republicans.
In that context, party endorsements and sure-fire electability appear to have fallen short. But only Tuesday’s outcome will reveal whether appearance matches reality.
If electoral pugilistics is your thing, the gubernatorial primary in Idaho is the contest of the day.
The contest features incumbent Republican Gov. Brad Little and incumbent Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, whose political rivalry has become legendary over the past two years.
It all comes down to this: Little and McGeachin are philosophical opposites. As a result, on multiple occasions, when Little has left the state, McGeachin, as acting governor, has issued executive orders rescinding his policies.
McGeachin used her temporary authority to, among other things, issue executive orders that banned mask mandates and, on another occasion, COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements.
Little has promptly overturned those executive orders upon his return and has accused McGeachin of abusing her power.
But if the two front-running brawlers aren’t to Idaho voters’ tastes, they’ll have six other Republican candidates to choose from, including Ed Humphreys, Ashley Jackson, Lisa Marie, Steven Bradshaw, Ben Cannady and Cody Usabel.
On the Democratic side, only a little-known candidate, Stephen Heidt, is on the primary ballot, while a local mayor, Shelby Rognstad, has been campaigning to be a write-in candidate.
This article was corrected to better reflect the history of GOP success in House races in Oregon. Republican Greg Walden, who is retiring as of Jan. 2023, has represented Oregon's 2nd Congressional since Jan. 3, 1999.