In North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, national Republicans are taking the rare step of intervening in a contested GOP primary in hopes of preventing a candidate some see as unelectable from winning the nomination.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Super PAC aligned with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, recently reported spending $588,834 on television ads attacking 2020 nominee Sandy Smith over a laundry list of opposition research. Smith, who is running again after losing the 2020 race by 8 points and who has the endorsement of controversial freshman GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn, has been accused in court documents of running scams and perpetrating spousal abuse — including swinging a frying pan at her then-husband, a claim Smith has denied.
One reason national Republicans are so invested in this race: Under North Carolina’s new court-drawn congressional map, the state’s 1st District is slightly less Democratic than its previous iteration and would have voted for Biden by just 7 points, compared to 9 points on the old map. It’s also an open seat due to Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s retirement.
While that makes it an appealing offensive target for Republicans, it’s Democratic-leaning enough that the wrong nominee could derail the party’s chances of flipping the seat. I’ll be watching the race closely tonight.
In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, the crew discusses today’s most anticipated contests — the Keystone State’s Republican Senate and gubernatorial races — and previews other races we’re watching, including Idaho’s Republican gubernatorial primary, where the lieutenant governor is challenging the sitting governor for the GOP nomination, and the Republican primary for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District, where Rep. Madison Cawthorn is facing seven challengers from his own party after revelations of numerous scandals.
The first state that will release results tonight is Kentucky, where polls have already closed in the eastern half of the state. That includes the 3rd Congressional District, an open, safely blue seat that will host the first noteworthy Democratic primary of the night. State Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey is the front-runner, but he is being challenged on the left by state Rep. Attica Scott, who, if elected, would be Kentucky’s first Black member of Congress.
This is the first of multiple races tonight where a lot of outside money is being spent — in this case, nearly $1 million from cryptocurrency magnate Sam Bankman-Fried to help elect McGarvey. For more detail on this race and the other Democratic primaries tonight, check out my full preview from this morning.