Two weeks ago, voters unceremoniously dumped the House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), and Tuesday's primaries and runoffs give voters the chance to turn out another incumbent member of the Congress (or two) in one more step on the road to the 2014 November elections.
Here are some thumbnails on what to watch for around the nation, as the votes are counted in Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, New York, South Carolina, Utah and Florida.
The biggest race today is certainly in Mississippi, where Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) is trying to stave off state Senator Chris McDaniel in a GOP runoff for U.S. Senate. McDaniel actually edged Cochran the first time the votes were counted back on June 3, but could not muster the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. This race has been - in the parlance of hockey fans - somewhat chippy in recent weeks. We'll see whether the Tea Party or the GOP Establishment will come out the victor. So far, no Senators have been knocked off in primary elections this year.
Other than Sen. Cochran, the only other member of Congress publicly thought to be in trouble today is veteran Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY). Rangel is again facing state Senator Adriano Espaillat, who lost this primary two years ago by just a couple of percentage points. Two other Democrats are on the ballot, which probably works to Rangel's advantage in a state that does not have runoff elections. Will there be any other Eric Cantor developments tonight? So far, 44 House members and 7 Senators won't be back in January of 2015 for the next Congress.
One Senate race that will get a lot of attention when the returns roll in is the GOP Senate race in Oklahoma, where Republicans are trying to replace, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who is going to resign his seat early at the end of this year. Coburn has refused to endorse anyone looking to succeed him, but has weighed in against outside ads in the race twice in recent days, taking public exception to ads against both Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) and ex-state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. With seven candidates in this race, a runoff on August 26 is not out of the question.
While primaries in Florida don't take place until August 26, today voters in a district centered in the southwest of the state will get to elect a new member of the U.S. House, replacing ex-Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL), who resigned back in January in the wake of his arrest for possession of cocaine in Washington, D.C. The favorite to win this seat is Republican Curt Clawson. The winners won't have much time to celebrate, as the regular primary for this November's elections will be in late August in the Sunshine State.
After Tuesday's primaries, voting for the 2014 mid-term Congressional elections takes a bit of a summer break. Other than runoffs in Alabama and North Carolina on July 15, and runoffs in Georgia on July 22, no state holds primaries until August 5, when voters in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and the state of Washington go to the polls. If you need a stat to amaze your colleagues at the water cooler, after today, 18 states still must hold their primaries for the Congress. The primaries for 2014 wrap up after Labor Day, on September 9.
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