HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Former President Donald Trump’s winning streak in the US Senate primary is on the line Tuesday as voters in five states cast their ballots in the midterm elections.
Trump made bold endorsements for supporting famed heart surgeon Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and US Rep. Ted Budd in North Carolina. The once little-known Budd is now in a strong position to win the Republican nomination, but Oz is locked in a tight primary against a former hedge fund CEO and a community activist. The primary follows a resounding victory by Trump’s Senate nominee JD Vance on May 3 in Ohio.
On the Democratic side, Pennsylvania Senate nominee John Fetterman announced Sunday that he had suffered a stroke but was on the road to a “full recovery.”
Pennsylvania, Oregon and Idaho will hold gubernatorial primaries on Tuesday. In Idaho, Republican Brad Little is fighting a challenge from his lieutenant governor, a Trump-backed conservative who issued executive orders banning mask mandates during the height of the pandemic when Little was abroad on business.
In Congress, Rep. Madison Cawthorn is trying to survive a Republican primary in North Carolina after a tumultuous first term.
What to watch in Tuesday’s primary elections in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Idaho and Oregon:
The race for the seat of retiring Republican US Sen. Pat Toomey was dominated by a huge primary field that was particularly competitive on the GOP side.
But on Sunday, the focus was on the Democrats as Fetterman announced he was recovering from a stroke. The 52-year-old said he went to hospital on Friday after not feeling well and will stay for a while for observation. He vowed to keep going despite the health setback, saying, “Our campaign isn’t slowing down one bit and we’re still on track to win that primary on Tuesday.”
Fetterman has taken the lead in polls and fundraising in a four-person field that includes U.S. Representative Conor Lamb and State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta.
For Republicans, for much of the campaign, the race looked like a two-man contest between the Trump-backed Oz, best known as the anchor of the daytime show The Dr. Oz Show” and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick.
But several prominent conservative groups have gotten involved in the final days of the race, supporting lesser-known conservative activist Kathy Barnette as an alternative. A recent Fox News poll shows it’s on the rise, trailing only Oz and McCormick.
In the gubernatorial race, some Republicans are wringing their hands at the prospect that a far-right candidate, Sen. Doug Mastriano, could emerge victorious from the crowded field. They worry that Mastriano, who peddled Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, will be ineligible in November and likely miss an opportunity to replace Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, who is barred from running again by term-limit laws .
On the Democrat side, the two-term Attorney General Josh Shapiro is the unchallenged candidate for governor.
Trump is trying to influence races for the US Senate and House of Representatives in a state he has twice but narrowly won.
Trump backed Budd for having the Senate seat vacated by retired Republican Richard Burr, surprising many at last year’s state GOP conference. Budd’s main rivals in the 11-way primary are former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker, who had actively sought Trump’s support, and former Gov. Pat McCrory, who is considered a moderate in the race but is best known nationally for having one “Bathroom bill” that targeted transgender people in 2016 and cost the state billions.
On the Democrat side, Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, appears to be clearing her field of 11 of significant rivals. She would be North Carolina’s first black US Senator if she wins in November.
In congressional races, Trump’s support of Cawthorn in the 11th District didn’t stop established figures from opposing the 26-year-old first-term congressman.
Unforced political and personal blunders on the part of Cawthorn — a speaker at the “Stop the Steal” rally before the Jan. 6 riot in the US Capitol — have left him vulnerable in an eight-candidate GOP primary. US Senator Thom Tillis endorsed Congressman Chuck Edwards in the race.
In two Democratic-leaning districts, Democrats are holding solid primary nominations to replace retiring Rep. David Price in the 4th District and Rep. GK Butterfield in the 1st District. Former American Idol star Clay Aiken is among the Democratic candidates running for Price’s seat.
In the open 13th district, considered a toss-up in November, Republicans’ field includes Bo Hines, a former college football player who is Trump-backed.
Tuesday’s primary may not be the last word for potential candidates: First-place candidates need more than 30% of the vote to avoid a July 26 runoff.
US Rep. John Yarmuth, chairman of the House Budget Committee and the only Democrat on the Kentucky congressional delegation, is retiring and opening his seat for the first time in 16 years.
On the Democrat side, State Senator Morgan McGarvey and State Assemblyman Attica Scott are playing up their progressive credentials in the Louisville-area 3rd Circuit. Despite their underdog status, several Republicans are also running for the seat, which Yarmuth won in 2006 by ousting a veteran GOP congresswoman.
The Louisville mayoral race is also attracting outsized interest this year after someone fired on one of the candidates while he was in his campaign office. Democrat Craig Greenberg escaped the February 14 shooting with a bullet hole in his sweater and a local social justice activist has been charged with attempted murder.
Greenberg is one of eight candidates running in the Democratic primary. No Republican has held the office of mayor in Kentucky’s largest city for several decades.
In liberal Oregon, the primary for governor is shaping up to be a test between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party at a time of widespread frustration in the state over the COVID-19 pandemic, the homelessness crisis, the lack of affordable housing and rising gun violence.
The two leading Democratic candidates are Tina Kotek, a staunch Liberal and former House Speaker, versus Tobias Read, the state treasurer, who has positioned himself as a moderate.
In the pro-Democratic 5th congressional district, US Rep. Kurt Schrader – a moderate supported by President Joe Biden – is attempting to fend off a key challenge posed by progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner.
The state’s new 6th District has garnered national attention as one of the most expensive Democratic congressional primaries this year. It has attracted 16 candidates, including Democratic newcomer Carrick Flynn, who is backed by a cryptocurrency kingpin.
In the pro-Democratic 4th District, eight Democrats are fighting for the nomination to succeed US Rep. Peter DeFazio, who is retiring after 35 years in office.
Little, the Republican governor, is trying to survive a major challenge from his Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, a far-right conservative who was backed by Trump.
Little and McGeachin’s relationship was strained. On two occasions when Little left the state last year, McGeachin claimed responsibility and issued executive orders to block COVID-19 mandates. Little, who had never attempted to implement any pandemic-related mandates, rescinded both orders upon his return.
In February, McGeachin gave a recorded speech at a white nationalist rally in Florida. She later said that she took the opportunity to speak about Trump’s “America First” agenda and that the “media wants us to play a blame-by-association game.”
The establishment and far-right factions of the Republican Party are also vying for control in other races in the state.
In the race for Attorney General, five-term incumbent Lawrence Wasden faces a major challenge from former US Rep. Raul Labrador, a tea party favorite. In the race for secretary of state, establishment-backed Phil McGrane is up against Senator Mary Souza and far-right Rep. Dorothy Moon, both of whom have spread the lie that Trump won the 2020 election.
Robertson reported by Raleigh, NC Associated Press writers Sara Cline in Portland, Oregon; Keith Ridler in Boise, Idaho; and Bruce Schreiner in Frankfurt, Kentucky, contributed to this report.
https://www.boston.com/news/politics/2022/05/16/2022-midterms-what-to-watch-as-5-states-hold-primaries/ What to Consider When 5 States Hold Primary Elections