Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

What to watch for in today’s Virginia primary election as voters head to polls

By 37ci3 Jun18,2024

Two congressional Republicans on Tuesday sought to fend off their primary rivals in races that include former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, millions of dollars in advertising and, in one case, a revenge-seeking former House speaker.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Goode must fend off attempts by both Trump and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy to unseat him in Virginia’s deep-red 5th District.

Trump endorsed state Sen. John McGuire in the race after Goode angered Trump and his allies by endorsing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the presidential election. Goode has since endorsed Trump, but that hasn’t been enough to stop him from entering the race. Trump held a teleconference for McGuire on Monday evening and appeared there 15 second TV commercial on his behalf.

Goode, R-Calif., was also one of eight Republicans who voted last year to oust him as speaker. It drew McCarthy’s ire, and the race may be McCarthy’s best shot at defeating one of his detractors. GOP Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina defeated a McCarthy-backed challenger main competitor last week. And only two other detractors — Reps. Eli Crane of Arizona and Matt Gaetz of Florida — face challengers in future primaries.

Outside groups linked to McCarthy’s allies have also spent millions of dollars on ads against Goode, who has airwave support from the conservative Action Club for Growth, the House Freedom Caucus and groups affiliated with GOP Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Goode and his supporters cast the race as a battle between the “D.C. establishment swamp” and the hard-right Freedom Caucus. McGuire, meanwhile, attached himself to Trump on January 6, 2021, after attending the “Stop Stealing” rally and marching to the Capitol grounds.

In Oklahoma, GOP Rep. Tom Cole faces a primary challenger in the ruby-red 4th District from businessman Paul Bondar, who has poured millions of his own money into the race. Cole, who heads the powerful Appropriations Committee, has faced criticism from the right wing for his role in government spending.

Cole and his allies targeted Bondar’s weak ties to the state. accusing him of actually being a Texan, a problematic charge given the fierce rivalry between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners. Bondar, who recently voted in Texas’ March primary, owns property in Oklahoma, but that’s outside the 4th District.

Cole has Trump’s endorsement, which he recently told NBC News was “very helpful.” Cole’s challenge is not only to fend off Bondar, but also to win more than 50% of the primary vote to avoid a runoff on August 27.

Establishing key general election contests

Virginia is also home to several primaries that will set the stage for key elections this fall and help determine which party controls the House.

The 7th District, which is being vacated by Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger before she runs for governor next year, is holding expensive primaries on both sides of the aisle. Democrats likely hold the edge in the district until November, but Republicans have a new opportunity now that Spanberger has left his seat open.

On the Democratic side, retired Army Colonel Eugene “Eugene” Windman’s role in Trump’s first impeachment helped secure a financial windfall for his campaign.

Vindman was fired from his job in the Trump White House after he increasesed is disturbing Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy raised more than $5 million for his bid and spent $2.2 million on ads, more than any other candidate or outside group in the race. Two outside groups also spent more than $1 million to boost it.

But while Vindman has a cash advantage, he faces the challenge of seasoned politicians, including Prince William County Supervisors Andrea Bailey and Margaret Franklin, state Del. Briana Sewell and former state Del. Elizabeth Guzman is running as a candidate for the first time in a crowded field. There are no runoffs in Virginia, so the winning candidate could end up well short of a majority of the vote.

On the GOP side, former Green Beret Derrick Anderson and former Navy SEAL Cameron Hamilton were the top primary fundraisers in another clash between the GOP’s establishment and insurgent wings.

On Monday, Anderson released a video Speaker of the House Mike JohnsonR-La., is endorsing him, and Hamilton released a video promoting his candidacy. A blow to the Washington establishment. American Patriots PAC, a super PAC tied to McCarthy and Republican megadonors, is spending money to boost Anderson, while Protect Freedom PAC, a group linked to Sen. Paul of Kentucky, is helping Hamilton.

Republicans also have a competitive Senate primary ahead of a tough race against Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine. Trump is backing Hung Cao, a military veteran who lost his 2022 bid for Congress and is the top GOP fundraiser in the race.

Cao is running against Scott Parkinson, a longtime Republican operative who worked for DeSantis, the Republican Research Committee and the Development Caucus and has been endorsed by a handful of GOP senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas. Attorney Jonathan Emord, who has loaned his campaign more than $400,000 and is backed by former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, is also running.

Two other Democratic House primaries will set up a potentially competitive general election in the suburban Washington district vacated by Republican Jen Kiggans and Democratic House Jennifer Wexton.

In the race to face Kiggans, military veteran Missy Cotter Smasal is leading on the Democratic side and has the support of Gov. Ralph Northam, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and every Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the state. His challenger, lawyer and former journalist Jake Denton, is backed by former MP Glenn Nye.

President Joe Biden narrowly won Virginia’s 2nd District in 2020, and Democrats are already spending big to attack Kiggans. But Kiggans unseated a Democratic candidate in 2022 and has a significant fundraising advantage over his future opponents.

In District 10, Wexton, who diagnosed with a rare and severe disease So-called progressive supranuclear palsy, is not a candidate for re-election. Democrats are favored in the fall after Biden won the district by 18 points in 2020.

The open seat led to a crowded field of Democrats, four of whom raised nearly $1 million or more: state Del. Dan Helmer, state Sen. Suhas Subramanyam, former Defense Department official Kristle Kaul and former state Assembly Speaker Eileen Filler-Korn.

Wexton backed Subramanyam, and Helmer was both the top fundraiser and beneficiary of nearly $5.5 million in TV spending from Protect Progress and VoteVets, a group associated with the cryptocurrency industry.

Georgia: continuation

There are also two GOP primaries for House seats in Georgia where candidates failed to win a majority in the May primary.

In District 2, former banker Wayne Johnson and activist Chuck HandThe person who pleaded guilty to committing a crime related to the attack that took place on January 6, 2021, is competing head-to-head.

The Republican nominee will face Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop in the fall.

In the conservative 3rd District, Trump’s endorsement will be tested as his former White House political director Brian Jack faces state Sen. Mike Duggan in a primary runoff. Winner will be favored to win in November to replace retiring Drew Ferguson.

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By 37ci3

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