(WASHINGTON) — Tuesday’s primaries include only Virginia and Washington, D.C., as regularly scheduled elections — but the day will also feature some contested, Trump-involved rematches between Georgia GOP House candidates and for the Republican nomination to be Alabama’s secretary of state and junior senator.
Runoffs across those two Southern states are being held because candidates for a number of seats failed to clear the majority-vote margin and win outright during their May 24 primaries. Several of the races include candidates backed by former President Donald Trump, who will add to or subtract from his endorsement scorecard depending on how successful they are.
In Virginia, red momentum will be put to the test in newly redrawn swing districts that could have an outsized influence on Democrats’ narrow control of Congress.
Though they aren’t under any primary stress, moderate Democratic Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger will soon be up against the victor from crowded fields of Republicans challenging them for their 2nd and 7th District seats, respectively. Both of those districts had swung Democratic under Donald Trump, but they have remained competitive for conservatives, in part due to the redistricting after the last census.
These expensive races, for the Virginia Beach and Northern Virginia areas, could determine which party controls the House come November.
Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin defeated Democratic incumbent Terry McAuliffe by eight points in Luria’s district last November, while Spanberger’s then-Richmond suburban district voted for the now-governor by 11 points over McAuliffe.
The latest redistricting has pushed Spanberger’s jurisdiction over to constituents in the outer D.C. suburbs, a shift not necessarily favorable because of low voter turnout among residents.
Coming off of Youngkin’s 2021 victory and amid President Joe Biden’s continually shrinking approval numbers, an atmosphere conducive for Republican victories has formed across the state.
“The climate is so god-awful for Democrats. I mean, it’s the worst maybe since 2010, maybe even worse. Republicans feel very emboldened,” John Whitbeck, a former state Republican Party chairman, told the Associated Press in a story this week.
Both Luria and Spanberger are uncontested in their Democratic primaries. Trump has not endorsed a candidate in either GOP primary.
In Spanberger’s 7th District, the front-runner against her appears to be former narcotics detective and state Sen. Bryce Reeves. Reeves already represents a large chunk of the district’s constituents. But former “Latinos for Youngkin” chair Yesli Vega, a Prince William County supervisor, has emerged with late momentum. Vega is endorsed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ginni Thomas, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife.
For Luria’s 2nd District seat, state Sen. Jen Kiggans, who served on the same Navy ship with Luria, is the National Republican Congressional Committee-backed choice. She garnered much of the Republican establishment’s support, also drawing donations and backing from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy-affiliated Congressional Leadership Fund and Conference Chair Elise Stefanik-helmed E-PAC.
But Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, who served as Trump’s national security adviser, as well as Arizona GOP Rep. Paul Gosar and Turning Point Action have all backed Kiggans’ main competitor: Jarome Bell.
Just outside of Virginia are another set of races: While the elections in Washington will not directly impact party control of the U.S. House or Senate, the contest results still have wider ramifications in helping shape the future of the city that serves as the seat of the federal government, as well as ongoing debates surrounding whether D.C. should become a state.
In the Democratic mayoral primary, incumbent Muriel Bowser has highlighted her previous initiatives as the city’s chief executive as she seeks to be the city’s first three-term mayor. Her primary challengers — D.C. councilmembers Trayon White and Robert White and former lawyer James Butler — are calling for new leadership.
In the primary for the delegate to the House, who does not have a full vote in Congress, incumbent Eleanor Holmes Norton faces two others: Wendy Hamilton and Kelly Williams.
The district also remains on alert in light of the high-profile Jan. 6 committee hearings in the House and upcoming Supreme Court decisions on issues including abortion access, which may trigger mass protests.
In Alabama, the Senate Republican primary runoff could spotlight the lingering shadow of the 2020 election. It also prominently features Trump’s shifting endorsement.
The race for the GOP nomination is a matchup between Katie Britt, retiring Sen. Richard Shelby’s former chief of staff, who secured his endorsement; and Rep. Mo Brooks, of Huntsville.
Brooks had initially secured Trump’s backing — only to have it rescinded because Trump did not appreciate when Brooks suggested voters move on from the 2020 election, which Trump has continued to falsely claim he won.
Despite having lost Trump’s favor, Brooks continued to run on the former president’s earlier support: His campaign website features old video footage of Trump speaking kindly of him. Brooks also recently circulated mailers which featured quotes from Trump during the time he supported Brooks.
Trump has since endorsed Britt, calling her a “fearless American warrior,” even though he had criticized her in the past. Britt also has endorsements from state officials as well as Sens. Joni Ernst and Lindsey Graham, of Iowa and South Carolina.
In Georgia, congressional redistricting has allowed for the state’s 2nd District to become more competitive for the GOP in their effort to unseat incumbent Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop.
The candidates in the Republican primary runoff on Tuesday include Jeremy Hunt, a Black Army Veteran endorsed by former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, and attorney Chris West.
In Georgia’s 6th Congressional District Republican primary runoff, attorney Jake Evans has Trump’s support, but he earned around 20% less of the May 24 primary vote compared to physician Rich McCormick.
According to FiveThirtyEight, McCormick has raised almost twice as much money as Evans, and School Freedom Fund, a super PAC allied with the Club for Growth, has spent $1.3 million to help McCormick win.
Redistricting also means the winner of that race has a stronger chance of flipping the seat, currently represented by Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath. McBath instead ran and won in her party’s primary for the newly redrawn 7th Congressional District.
In the 10th District GOP runoff, the highest fundraiser and favorite is Mike Collins, the owner of a trucking company. Collins led over Vernon Jones in the initial May 24 primary, 26% to 22%.
Despite not having Trump’s endorsement, Collins is a MAGA enthusiast. In September, he spoke at a “Justice for J6” rally.
Jones, a former Atlanta Democrat turned MAGA activist who was endorsed by Trump early this spring — and who briefly challenged incumbent Brian Kemp in the Republican gubernatorial primary — has struggled to raise money and spark with some voters in the area, much of which was represented by Collins’ father in the 1990s.
Jones has also been accused of rape, which he denies. After the primary elections, Collins began to circulate rape whistles with his competitor’s name on them.
Jones filed a complaint on June 14 with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office over a tweet sent by Collins’ campaign mentioning rape whistles.
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