We already took a look at the nine Democratic primaries to watch in a preview yesterday, so now we’re back with the 21 GOP contests to watch tonight, plus a bonus special election. As with most Republican primaries this cycle, almost all the GOP contenders are favorably inclined toward former President Donald Trump, but they vary in just how much they support Trump or his false claims about fraud in the 2020 election. But importantly, Democrats are also meddling in many GOP primaries by spending money to boost the most extreme Republican candidates, aiming to make it easier for Democrats to win in November.
Without further ado, let’s tour the high-profile races in Colorado, Illinois, Mississippi, New York, Oklahoma and Utah, along with a special election in Nebraska. We’ll go through the races based on when the polls close, starting with Illinois, which coincidentally also has the most high-profile GOP contests.
Races to watch: 6th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 17th congressional districts; governor
Polls close: 8 p.m. Eastern
The Land of Lincoln hosts seven notable GOP primaries today, and the party’s contest for governor has attracted easily the most interest and money. Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire who’s given his reelection campaign an eye-popping $125 million, is the likely general election favorite considering how blue Illinois is, but Pritzker is far from the only wealthy person involved.
The Republican primary to take on Pritzker is also raft with money: Hedge fund founder Ken Griffin, for instance, has contributed $50 million of the $53 million raised by Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who would be Illinois’s first Black governor if elected. And GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein has donated $9 million of the roughly $11 million that state Sen. Darren Bailey has brought in. (Uihlein has also contributed $8 million to a pro-Bailey PAC.) Venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan has also garnered his own wealthy backers, as $11 million of the $12.6 million he’s raised comes from just three donors.
Until a few weeks ago, Irvin seemed like the favorite, too. He’d raised the most money, and two surveys released in early May also gave him an edge over Bailey, and Irvin seemed to be making a compelling case to voters that he was a tough-on-crime leader who would clean up state politics. But Bailey and his allies have since turned the tables by portraying Irvin as a closet liberal, while Pritzker and the Democratic Governors Association have spent millions to damage Irvin and boost the more conservative Bailey.
The final-ish map of new congressional districts | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast
Polls now show Bailey ahead of Irvin. Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling has been surveying the race for the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ, and both its early and late June polls put Bailey at 32 percent and Irvin in the mid-to-high teens. Meanwhile, two surveys from Ogden & Fry and one poll from the Trafalgar Group, both GOP-aligned pollsters, also found Bailey north of 30 percent and Irvin trailing by double digits (one even had Sullivan ahead of Irvin for second). And on Saturday, Trump endorsed Bailey.
In more bad news for Irvin: He pulled back on advertising in Republican-rich southern Illinois and was outspent by his opponents in the final days of the campaign. Moreover, Irvin’s main benefactor has abandoned the state: Griffin announced last week that he is moving his hedge fund from Chicago to Miami.
After the gubernatorial clash, the state’s highest-profile GOP primary is the race between Republican Reps. Rodney Davis and Mary Miller in the new 15th District, one of the nation’s six incumbent-versus-incumbent primaries. Illinois Democrats drew an aggressive gerrymander that made Davis’s old district Democratic-leaning and placed half of Miller’s old 15th District in the same seat as the longer-tenured GOP Rep. Mike Bost, so both incumbents opted instead to run in this south-central Illinois district, even though Miller and Davis represent just 31 percent and 28 percent of its constituents, respectively.
This race, though, features clear ideological differences that might give Miller the upper hand in a seat that is 42 points more Republican than the country as a whole, according to FiveThirtyEight’s partisan lean metric.1 Not only does Miller have a more conservative voting record, she has the Trumpier resume, having voted against certifying the 2020 presidential results and the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. She also has the endorsement of Trump, who even campaigned with her at a recent rally where she told the audience that the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade was a “historic victory for white life.” (A campaign aide has said she misspoke and meant to say “right to life,” but Miller is no stranger to controversy, having previously praised Hitler in a speech.)
Conversely, Davis has one of the most moderate voting records of any House Republican. He also voted both to certify the 2020 outcome and create a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission. Consequently, Miller and her allies have tagged Davis as a “RINO” — a Republican in name only — while hitting him for backing the commission and reminding voters that Trump supports Miller.
Still, Davis has more money than Miller, having raised $3.5 million to her $1.5 million as of June 8. Davis has also attacked Miller’s conservative bona fides by claiming that she “voted with the Squad” on a military spending bill, referring to progressive members of Congress who are mostly women of color. He’s also accused Miller of being soft on immigration and for having used a campaign driver who pleaded guilty in 2005 to luring a young boy for sex.
The race’s final two polls suggest it could go either way, although both come from potentially biased sources. Miller’s campaign released a survey in mid-June from Cygnal that found her ahead 45 percent to 40 percent, while Davis led 38 percent to 35 percent in a recent Victory Geek survey conducted on behalf of The Illinoize, a political blog run by a former GOP strategist who once worked for Davis.
The 15th District won’t feature a competitive general election, but five other districts that could see hard-fought November contests also have notable Republican primaries. We’ll start with the two seats that are located downstate or outside of the Chicago area.
In the 17th District in northwestern Illinois, attorney Esther Joy King is heavily favored to win the GOP nomination over insurance broker Charlie Helmick in the race to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos. King, who lost to Bustos by about 4 points in 2020, has the backing of national Republicans and has substantially outraised the six candidates competing for the Democratic nomination. This D+4 district is one of the GOP’s best shots at flipping a Democratic-held seat in Illinois.
Meanwhile, Democrats drew the 13th District in south-central Illinois to be a D+7 seat, leading Davis to abandon it. But the GOP could still hold this seat in a Republican-leaning midterm environment. Republicans look likely to pick either former federal prosecutor Jesse Reising or nonprofit president Regan Deering, as they’ve raised the most money and are on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s list of candidates to watch. Both contenders have deep ties to Decatur, as Reising’s family has been there for six generations while Deering’s grandfather led farm products giant Archer-Daniels-Midland while it was based there.
Reising might have a slight edge, but it’s difficult to say with no polls available. With $131,000 in the bank, Reising had more money down the stretch than Deering’s $33,000. He’s also garnered support from many local officials in the district and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, not to mention about $120,000 in outside spending support from Americans for Prosperity. For her part, Deering has the backing of two national organizations working to elect Republican women — Maggie’s List and VIEW PAC — as well as an endorsement from the anti-abortion rights group Illinois Right to Life. The winner will likely face former Biden administration official Nikki Budzinski in November.
Three suburban-exurban seats located around Chicago could also be in play. Most of the attention in the 6th District is focused on the Democratic primary between incumbent Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman, but Republicans could make a play for this D+6 seat split between Cook and DuPage counties. The leading GOP contenders appear to be two mayors, Gary Grasso of Burr Ridge and Keith Pekau of Orland Park, although attorney Scott Kaspar is also in the mix.
Grasso has led the way in fundraising with $621,000, compared with Pekau’s $375,000 and Kaspar’s $266,000, although Grasso gave his campaign $250,000 to achieve that advantage. Pekau has also received some outside support from the conservative Restoration PAC, which has spent $100,000 promoting him. Yet while Grasso and Pekau have both accepted the 2020 election result, Kaspar has raised doubts about the outcome, helping position himself as arguably the Trumpiest candidate in the race. Kaspar has also visited Trump’s club at Mar-a-Lago and has the support of former Trump attorney and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. We have no polling to go on here, so it’s hard to say how this primary will play out.
On the western outskirts of Chicagoland, Republicans hope the national environment will help them capture the 14th District, a D+7 seat helmed by Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood and her $2.4 million war chest. But it’s anyone’s guess as to who will come out on top among the four notable Republicans in the race: Kendall County Board Chair Scott Gryder, conservative radio host Mike Koolidge, businessman Jack Lombardi and Kendall County GOP Chair Jim Marter. No candidate had more than $35,000 in the bank heading into the final weeks of the campaign, and outside groups haven’t invested here. Gryder has attracted a large number of endorsements from current or former local and state elected officials, but Koolidge did just receive the endorsement of Republican Rep. Darin LaHood, and Marter has the backing of the aforementioned Rep. Mary Miller.
Finally, the GOP field seems easier to handicap next door in the D+10 11th District, as former Trump administration official Catalina Lauf appears to be the favorite to take on Democratic Rep. Bill Foster in a “reach” seat for Republicans. Lauf has raised $1.4 million, far more than any of her five Republican opponents. Lauf narrowly lost a primary for Underwood’s seat back in 2020 and garnered an appearance at the 2020 Republican National Convention that promoted her as a conservative Hispanic woman. But Jerry Evans, a Christian missionary, has raised some money and actually entered the final stretch of the race with more in the bank than Lauf, so she might not have smooth sailing to the GOP nomination.
Races to watch: 3rd and 4th congressional districts
Polls close: 8 p.m. Eastern
Back on June 7, no one got a majority in two Republican primaries for U.S. House in Mississippi, requiring runoff elections three weeks later. One of these runoffs was expected; the other came as a total surprise.
The expected one was in the 4th Congressional District, where Rep. Steven Palazzo is under investigation for allegedly spending nearly $200,000 in campaign funds on himself and his wife. Consequently, he got only 32 percent of the vote in the primary, only 7 percentage points ahead of the second-place finisher, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell. Even worse for Palazzo, all five of the other Republicans in the primary who didn’t advance to the runoff quickly endorsed Ezell, so it seems likely that the anti-incumbent vote will coalesce around him.
Meanwhile, the surprise runoff comes from the 3rd Congressional District, where former Navy pilot Michael Cassidy finished ahead of Rep. Michael Guest in the primary, 48 percent to 47 percent. There was little sign before the primary that the Republican base was unhappy with Guest, but the staunchly pro-Trump Cassidy had been slamming the incumbent for his vote to create the Jan. 6 commission, and it apparently resonated.
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, though, the cavalry is coming to Guest’s rescue. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with House GOP leadership, has spent more than $400,000 against Cassidy, attacking him for briefly supporting Medicare for All. Guest has also blasted Cassidy for being a recent transplant to Mississippi. And unlike in the 4th District, the third-place finisher from the Republican primary is actually supporting the incumbent in this runoff.
So Guest looks like a better bet than Palazzo to survive, but it’s still possible that either or both of them will join the list of incumbent congressmen going down in defeat on Tuesday. One thing is for sure, though: Whoever wins the Republican runoffs will almost certainly win the general elections in these deeply red seats.
Races to watch: U.S. Senate special election, 2nd Congressional District
Polls close: 8 p.m. Eastern
Oklahoma has two Republican primaries to monitor, both of which will probably go to a runoff on Aug. 23. First, the special election for Senate has attracted a baker’s dozen of candidates aiming to succeed Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, who announced in February that he would resign at the end of the current Congress. And because Oklahoma is a deep-red state, the eventual GOP nominee will be a mortal lock to win in November. (The regular election for Oklahoma’s other Senate seat is also taking place, but Republican Sen. James Lankford appears on his way to easily winning renomination and the general election.)
The front-runner in the special election is Rep. Markwayne Mullin, who has raised the most money ($3 million, $1 million via a candidate loan) and had $1.1 million in the bank heading into the final weeks of the campaign. Mullin also garnered just shy of 40 percent in two recent surveys, one from Amber Integrated and another from News 9/News On 6/SoonerPoll, that put him well ahead of the rest of the field but short of the majority required to avoid a runoff. Mullin has a solidly pro-Trump record, having voted against certifying the 2020 election result, in addition to introducing legislation to expunge Trump’s impeachments. His “fighter” profile may also be appealing to voters: As a former mixed martial artist, Mullin is a member of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, and he drew headlines last year when he attempted to enter Afghanistan to evacuate a group of Americans.
In the race for second place is former state House speaker T.W. Shannon, the first Black person to hold that office. Shannon placed second in recent polls, and he has raised $961,000 while also benefiting from $1.7 million in outside spending by a super PAC supporting his bid. Four others are chasing Shannon for the other potential runoff slot, though: state Sen. Nathan Dahm, Inhofe’s chief of staff Luke Holland, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and physician Randy Grellner.
Dahm has raised only $374,000, but Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s super PAC has splashed $1 million on his behalf. Holland, who has Inhofe’s endorsement, has brought in $1.2 million and has also received $572,000 in outside support. Pruitt hasn’t raised much money, but the former Oklahoma attorney general was part of Trump’s cabinet, where he was beset with ethics scandals while pursuing a deregulatory agenda. Finally, Grellner hasn’t polled much support, but he has donated $1 million to his campaign and has attacked Shannon for being too cozy with casino magnates and the other candidates for being “career politicians.” That said, the fragmented field might help Shannon stay ahead.
Meanwhile, Mullin’s Senate bid has also opened up the 2nd District in eastern Oklahoma, one of the reddest seats in the country at R+55. This contest has attracted 14 Republican contenders, too, making a runoff likely. And notably, most of the major candidates have self-funded a great deal: About $1.9 million (60 percent) of the $3.1 million raised by the entire field has come from candidate loans to their own campaigns.
6 incumbents could lose primaries on June 28 | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast
There seem to be nine candidates of significance, although we have no polling to differentiate them. The leading fundraiser is energy businessman Guy Barker, who is also secretary-treasurer of the Quapaw Nation (eastern Oklahoma has a sizable Native American population). But Barker has loaned himself nearly all of the $821,000 he’s raised. Pharmacy executive Chris Schiller doesn’t have as much money on hand, but he’s raised the most from contributors ($365,000); he also loaned himself $250,000. Three current state legislators are also in the race: state Rep. Avery Frix, state Sen. Marty Quinn and state Rep. Dustin Roberts. Frix has raised the third-most in the field with $417,000 (helped by $245,000 in self-funding) while Roberts and Quinn have raised roughly $160,000 and $200,000, respectively, with each throwing in around $25,000 from their own pockets. Both Frix and Schiller have especially played up their support for Trump in recent ads.
Meanwhile, former state Sen. Josh Brecheen has mostly made his mark via $597,000 on ads sponsored by the School Freedom Fund, a super PAC affiliated with the conservative Club for Growth that supports giving taxpayer money for school choice. Former Oklahoma GOP chairman Rep. John Bennett is also running, and he’s been a lightning rod, once comparing COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. Additionally, Muskogee Police Chief Johnny Teehee and Cherokee Tribal Councilor Wes Nofire are two other contenders with connections to the Native American community. Considering the size of the field, it’s nigh impossible to handicap favorites, so this could be a wild one.
Races to watch: U.S. Senate; 3rd, 5th, 7th and 8th congressional districts; governor; secretary of state
Polls close: 9 p.m. Eastern
Colorado is another busy state for Republicans, with three statewide and four congressional primaries to watch. Each state-level race appears to favor Democrats in the D+6 state, but the contests could become more — or less — competitive depending on whom Republicans nominate. This is perhaps most true in the Senate primary, where state Rep. Ron Hanks and businessman Joe O’Dea are battling for the GOP nomination to take on two-term Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.
Hanks, a fervent denier of the 2020 election, has attracted support from conservative elements in the GOP, but whether he has the resources to win statewide is an open question. Hanks qualified for the ballot via the activist-dominated pre-primary convention, but as of June 8, he had raised a piddling $125,000. O’Dea, meanwhile, chose to qualify for the ballot by petition rather than by the pre-primary convention route, and he’s raised $2.3 million, including $500,000 in self-funding.
But Democrats have tried to boost Hanks in the belief that he would be a much weaker general election candidate than O’Dea, especially considering Bennet has about $7 million in his campaign account. For instance, the super PAC Democratic Colorado has spent $2 million opposing Hanks, funding anti-Hanks ads clearly meant to encourage Republican voters to support the “too conservative” Hanks. Meanwhile, the same super PAC has spent $2 million on ads portraying O’Dea as supportive of President Biden and Democrats.
The only primary poll we’ve seen, though, is an O’Dea-sponsored survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies that found O’Dea leading Hanks 38 percent to 14 percent. However, that survey was conducted before most of the recent spending. That said, one wrinkle that might help O’Dea is that Colorado allows registered independents to vote in party primaries, and with zero contested statewide Democratic primaries on the ballot this year, some moderate independents might vote in the Republican primary, which could boost O’Dea.
Colorado’s Senate primary isn’t the only race where we’ve seen Democratic meddling. The GOP primary for governor, where University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl faces businessman Greg Lopez for the right to challenge Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in November, has also caught Democrats’ attention. Ganahl, the only Republican statewide-elected official in Colorado, is a stronger fundraiser than Lopez — she’s raised about $1 million to Lopez’s $123,000 — and would likely be the GOP’s better general election choice. But Democrats would prefer to take on Lopez, another 2020 election denier. A Democratic super PAC funded in part by the DGA has spent $1.5 million on television and internet ads aimed at — stop me if you’ve heard this before — portraying Lopez as “too conservative” for Colorado.
There’s no primary polling available, but Lopez could make things interesting, given the spending by Democrats and his Trumpy profile (Ganahl has accepted the 2020 election result). Still, Lopez doesn’t have an auspicious track record, having won only 13 percent in the 2018 Republican primary for governor. Ganahl also has taken steps to protect her right flank, calling for the rollback of state laws protecting abortion rights and appearing at the Western Conservative Summit, a conference featuring many far-right and conspiracy-theorist voices. Regardless of who wins, though, the eventual GOP nominee will face an uphill battle against Polis, who has a fairly strong approval rating in the state and great personal wealth to help fund his campaign.
The other statewide race on our radar is the Republican primary for secretary of state, which involves Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters, former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson and nonprofit leader Mike O’Donnell. (The eventual winner will face Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold in November.) This office oversees state elections, and it looks like Republicans might nominate Peters, a candidate who has not only promoted debunked conspiracy theories about the 2022 election, but whom state courts removed from managing the elections in her home county because of breaches in election security, which also resulted in 10 indictments against her. In other words, she cannot do the job at home that she now wants to do for all of Colorado.
Yet Peters could very well win the GOP nomination. We don’t have any polling, but she advanced out of the pre-primary convention with 61 percent to O’Donnell’s 39 percent (Anderson qualified via petition). Peters has also outraised her opponents, bringing in $175,000 compared with $112,000 for Anderson and $55,000 for O’Donnell. It may also help that she has two opponents potentially splitting the anti-Peters vote. For her part, Anderson accepts the 2020 election result and has promised to bring greater professionalism to the office, while O’Donnell won’t say whether the 2020 result was legitimate and wants to undo some of Colorado’s recent expansion of voting access.
Four U.S. House primaries are also on our watchlist, two of which are open-seat races in competitive seats. To start, the GOP has a good shot at picking up the new 8th District north of Denver, an R+3 seat, and Republican voters there will choose among state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann, Weld County Commissioner Lori Saine and retired Army Green Beret Tyler Allcorn. We lack polling, but the fundraising numbers portend a fairly wide-open race. Kulman has led with $470,000, followed by Allcorn’s $349,000 (about half self-funded), Kirkmeyer’s $338,000 and Saine’s $297,000 (a little over a quarter self-funded). Kirkmeyer may have the financial upper hand, however, thanks to $531,000 in outside spending support from Americans for Prosperity and a super PAC backing her candidacy.
Once again, Democrats are also trying to boost the Republican they view as easiest to beat: Saine, who has dabbled in election conspiracies and has used messaging like “The Biden-Harris-Schumer-Pelosi gang’s Socialist-Communist Agenda” in election materials. Democratic outside groups House Majority PAC and 314 Action have spent $251,000 either ostensibly attacking Saine as “way too conservative” or even supporting her. Kirkmeyer has been ensnared in this, too, as 314 Action has run ads attacking her for not supporting Trump or his election lies — Kirkmeyer has accepted the 2020 election outcome — while a Kirkmeyer ally spent $80,000 attacking both Saine and Kulman as “liberals.” However it plays out, the eventual Republican nominee will meet Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo in what should be a very competitive general election.
Colorado’s other competitive seat is the D+6 7th District west of Denver, which is open following Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s retirement. GOP primary voters will pick from economist Tim Reichert, former oil and gas executive Erik Aadland and former state legislative candidate Laurel Imer. Reichert has the most money, having raised $1 million (half from his own pocket), and he’s used his background in economics and business to criticize high inflation. Aadland, meanwhile, has raised $492,000 (around a quarter self-funded) and has highlighted his experience as an Army veteran, support for border security and the Second Amendment. Finally, Imer has raised only $87,000 but has portrayed herself as the Trumpiest candidate in the field. Reichert is probably the favorite — national Republicans are keeping an eye on him — but we have no polling to suggest which candidate is most likely to face Democratic state Sen. Brittany Pettersen.
Two incumbent Republicans also have notable primary challengers. First, Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert faces state Sen. Don Coram in the GOP primary for the 3rd District, an R+15 seat covering western and southern Colorado. Boebert has courted controversy since winning in 2020 and has drawn a ton of eyeballs doing it, raising $5 million for her campaign. Although Boebert has a simmering scandal involving mileage reimbursement from her campaign account, she’s a clear favorite over Coram, who has raised just $229,000.
The election deniers dominating the primaries in Colorado | FiveThirtyEight
But the state senator is trying an unorthodox primary approach — he’s promising to bring people together and reduce partisan animosity. An unusually large number of Democratic registered voters in the district have switched to independent, perhaps a sign that they intend to vote in the GOP primary against Boebert. However, as we’ve discussed in Rep. Liz Cheney’s reelection battle, that probably won’t make a difference unless Coram can win over a lot more Republicans than we expect.
The most endangered GOP incumbent is eight-term Rep. Doug Lamborn, who represents the R+18 5th District around Colorado Springs. Lamborn’s main primary opponent is state Rep. Dave Williams, although businessman Andrew Heaton and Navy veteran Rebecca Keltie are also running. Despite sporting a strongly conservative record, Lamborn won barely more than 50 percent of the vote in his 2014 and 2018 primaries, and he faces an ethics investigation over his alleged use of official resources for personal matters. So there might be an opening for Williams, who has promised to be a conservative fighter in Congress. Although Williams has only raised about $196,000 (about half of which is self-funded), Lamborn has brought in $353,000, which is meager for an incumbent.
The Lamborn-Williams race has turned ugly, too. Lamborn had planned to compete at the pre-primary convention in early April, but he then claimed there were “troubling irregularities” that suggested the El Paso County GOP was working to help Williams, so Lamborn instead qualified for the primary via petition. The local party chairwoman, a Williams ally, excoriated Lamborn for withdrawing from the convention and his accusations of malfeasance. Then in early June, Lamborn started running ads saying the Trump 2020 campaign in Colorado had fired Williams, which led Williams to demand TV stations stop airing the ad. Williams has since fired back with an ad attacking Lamborn for lying and promoting Williams as a pro-Trump candidate. With multiple challengers in the race, Lamborn may survive again, but there’s a path for Williams to topple the incumbent.
Races to watch: Governor
Polls close: 9 p.m. Eastern
Let’s be clear: Republicans are very unlikely to win the governorship of New York this year. The state has a FiveThirtyEight partisan lean of D+20, and both Inside Elections and the Cook Political Report rate the race as “Solid” Democratic. However, the GOP gubernatorial primary for still has a couple of interesting names that make it worth watching.
On paper, Rep. Lee Zeldin should be the runaway favorite; he has raised more money from individual contributions than any other Republican (about $10 million), and he has the official backing of the state Republican Party. However, former Trump aide Andrew Giuliani — Rudy’s son — is a wild card. He has raised less than a million dollars, but a recent Siena College poll found that he had higher name recognition and a higher net favorability rating2 than Zeldin among Republicans. (Fifty percent of New York Republicans viewed Giuliani favorably, versus 28 percent who viewed him unfavorably; for Zeldin, that split was 36 percent versus 21 percent.)
Giuliani is also the Trumpiest candidate in the field. He has said that he believes Trump was the true winner of the 2020 election, while Zeldin has been wishy-washy on the issue. By contrast, only one candidate has affirmed that Biden fairly won the election: businessman Harry Wilson. Wilson is also an interesting figure: a pro-choice “Rockefeller Republican,” the sort who used to succeed in New York politics. If he were to win the nomination, he’s the one candidate who might actually make the general election competitive — but despite spending almost $11 million of his own money on his campaign, he has had trouble appealing to an increasingly uncompromising Republican electorate.
According to an Emerson College poll conducted June 9-10, Zeldin had 34 percent support in the primary, former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino had 16 percent, Wilson had 15 percent, and Giuliani had 13 percent. However, the most recent poll — conducted June 15-20 by SurveyUSA for WHEC-TV and WNYT-TV — showed Zeldin and Giuliani in a dead heat, 25 percent to 23 percent. We will see on Tuesday night whether that poll is an outlier or picked up on a real trend.
Races to watch: U.S. Senate, 1st Congressional District
Polls close: 10 p.m. Eastern
Incumbent Mike Lee shouldn’t have much trouble getting renominated to the U.S. Senate, but with former Republican presidential candidate Evan McMullin running against him as an independent in the general election, it will be interesting to see how much support Lee’s primary opponents draw. The most recent poll of the race is from all the way back in May, but it showed Lee receiving only 49 percent of the vote, with his opponents getting a combined 25 percent and 26 percent undecided — hardly an indication that Republicans are united behind him.
Lee’s opponents, former state Rep. Becky Edwards and businesswoman Ally Isom, largely share Lee’s down-the-line conservative views. (One notable exception: Edwards was not in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade.) But they have still attacked him for being too much of a partisan pitbull; in particular, they’ve taken Lee to task for strategizing with the Trump White House about challenging the results of the 2020 election in the immediate aftermath of the vote. While Lee eventually voted to certify the election, Edwards especially has been more forceful about condemning Lee’s involvement. Not your typical Republican primary challenge — but then again, this is famously Trump-skeptical Utah. The state’s other senator, remember, is Mitt Romney.
To be safe, we’re also keeping an eye on the GOP primary in the deep-red 1st District in northern Utah, where first-term Rep. Blake Moore faces retired intelligence officer Andrew Badger and former Morgan County Councilmember Tina Cannon. Moore has far more money than his opponents, but he won his 2020 primary with only 31 percent and has faced criticism that he hasn’t fought hard enough against Biden’s administration. The activist-dominated pre-primary convention even gave Badger more support, 59 percent to Moore’s 41 percent, advancing both to the primary (Cannon qualified via petition). But Moore is still favored, as a survey conducted for Moore’s campaign and a poll from Dan Jones & Associates on behalf of the Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics both found him clearing 50 percent.
Races to watch: Special election for the 1st Congressional District
Polls close: 9 p.m. Eastern
Finally, a little piece of bonus electoral action for you (as if 30 Democratic and Republican primaries weren’t enough): Tuesday will also bring a special general election for Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District. This seat became vacant in March after former Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry resigned just days after being convicted on charges of lying to federal agents who were investigating illegal donations to his campaign. Because this is a solidly red seat (with a FiveThirtyEight partisan lean of R+17), Republican candidate state Sen. Mike Flood should easily dispatch Democratic candidate state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks, but that isn’t what’s most interesting about this race.
What’s odd is that the special election is being conducted within the boundaries of the new, post-redistricting 1st District — despite the fact that the winner of the special election will finish the term that Fortenberry was elected to in 2020 under the old district lines. This is very unusual, as ordinarily when a special election is held in a redistricting year, the special election is held using the old lines because those lines are still operative until the very last day of the active congressional session (in this case, Jan. 3, 2023). For example, every other special election this year has been or will be conducted under the boundaries that were used in 2020.
Nebraska’s new congressional map, though, passed with an emergency clause that meant the new lines took effect almost immediately — on Oct. 1, 2021. “Once the Nebraska Legislature passed the new redistricting lines, the old district lines are no longer in place” for electoral purposes, Deputy Nebraska Secretary of State Cindi Allen wrote in an email to FiveThirtyEight.
However, Allen clarified that the old lines do apply to representation and constituent services until January 2023. In other words, the special election will be decided by the voters of the new 1st District, but the winner will represent the voters of the old 1st District. That means that 75,430 Nebraskans who were in the old 1st District but are not in the new one will not be eligible to vote for who represents them in Congress for the next six months. (And, on the other side of the coin, many of the 69,436 Nebraskans who live in the new 1st District but not the old one will vote in an election that has no bearing on them whatsoever.)
Allen called this an “anomaly,” but it may be worse than that — by denying some otherwise eligible voters in the old 1st District the right to choose their next representative, it may be illegal as well. “This makes no sense at all,” said Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Some people will effectively end up with two representatives and others with none.” However, both Li and law professor Rick Hasen said that the situation is so unusual, it’s hard to know how a court might rule if the election were challenged. And with the election taking place literally today, it would seem that it is fated to be decided in this unusual manner, legally or not.
Clearly, there will be no shortage of election results to sift through on Tuesday night as we learn the results, so join us for what is sure to be an action-packed live blog, starting at 8 p.m. Eastern.