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2014 primaries: What you need to know

Contests taking place across the country on Tuesday night are being seen as critical for setting match-ups in the November midterms.
Tom Corbett
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, points to photographers as he votes in the Pennsylvania primary election on May 20, 2014 in the Pittsburgh suburb of Shaler Towhnship, Pa.

Even as the political world zeroed in on the two biggest prizes — the Senate primaries in Kentucky and Georgia -- there was a slew of other contests taking place across the country Tuesday night that are critical for setting match-ups in the November midterms.

Legacy candidates dominated many of the Democratic races. Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter — grandson of the former president – secured the party’s nomination in his run for governor in the Peach State. And Michelle Nunn -- daughter of former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn -- emerged victorious in the Democratic primary in the Georgia Senate race, while Alison Lundergan Grimes – daughter of former Kentucky Democratic Chairman Jerry Lundergan – cruised to victory in her primary and will now take on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And Sen. Mark Pryor – son of former governor and senator David Pryor—expectedly advanced unopposed in Arkansas.

During his victory speech, McConnell took a shot at Lundergan’s relationship with her father. “She’s been practicing party politics since she learned to talk,” he declared. “Anybody who learned politics at the school of Jerry Lundergan will not be a model of bipartisanship.

Grimes, during her celebratory remarks, fired back: “I'm here to tell you tonight, my fellow Kentuckians, I am not an empty dress, I am not a rubber stamp and I am not a cheerleader. I am a strong, Kentucky woman who is an independent thinker who, when I'm Kentucky's next senator, the decisions I make will be what's best for the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, not partisan interests," she said.

Meanwhile, it  hasn’t been a particularly great night for several other high-profile women candidates. U.S. Rep Allyson Schwartz lost to former State Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf in the four-person  nomination race for Pennsylvania governor. And Marjorie Margolies, a Clinton in-law, lost big in her congressional primary for Schwartz’s old seat. Republican Monica Wehby won her primary for a Senate seat in Oregon but has emerged bruised and battered following harassment and stalking accusations.

Here’s a further breakdown of what has happened so far:


Voters in the Keystone State decided businessman and former State Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf is the Democrat to take on Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. The governor was elected in the tea party wave of 2010 but is now considered vulnerable and unpopular.

Wolf – who spent more than $6 million of his own money on his bid -- beat out three other candidates, including better-known competitors U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz and state Treasurer Rob McCord. Corbett was running unopposed.

Meanwhile, just because you have Bill and Hillary Clinton stumping for you, a victory is not guaranteed.

Marjorie Margolies, whose son is married to the Clintons’ daughter, Chelsea, did not succeed in winning back her old House seat representing the Philadelphia suburbs. On Tuesday night, she lost to state Rep. Brendan Boyle, according to the Associated Press. Margolies was the only candidate Hillary Clinton – who is considering a bid for the Oval Office – campaigned for this election cycle. Former President Bill Clinton starred in a television advertisement for Margolies as well.

In the ad, he declared, “If you send Marjorie to Congress, she’ll make you proud, she’ll vote right.” Margolies was defeated in a bruising midterm election for Democrats in 1994, a result of casting the deciding vote for then-President Clinton’s 1993 budget.

Margolies was in a four-person race with Boyle, state Sen. Daylin Leach and Dr. Val Arkoosh. Boyle is expected to go on to win the general election in the reliably blue district.


As expected, former congressman Asa Hutchinson clinched the gubernatorial nomination for the Republicans while former congressman Mike Ross won for the Democrats.

For the Senate race in Arkansas, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor and GOP opponent Tom Cotton, expectedly won their respective nominations. Pryor is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents running for re-election this year.


Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter, who was running unopposed, will  now take on Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. Carter’s cousin, James, had a role in leaking the now-infamous recording of Mitt Romney’s  “47%” comments during the 2012 election.

It looks like a new generation of Carters is on the rise.

Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn – who bagged the Senate Democratic nomination (and whose father Sam Nunn served four terms in the Senate) – represent two big Democratic legacies at the top of the ticket in the state.  


Despite front-runner Monica Wehby taking some last-minute heat following accusations of “stalking” her ex-boyfriend last year, Wehby — endorsed by the GOP establishment — was able to pull a win against state Rep. Jason Conger in the highly contested GOP primary for the U.S. Senate.

What’s yet to be seen is how the stalking allegations hurt Wehby in the general election against first-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, who some Republicans think could be vulnerable.

Abortion was a key issue in the race. Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon, has said she’s pro-life but says the procedure should not be in the hands of the federal government. Conger is a strict social conservative and opposes both abortion and gay marriage. Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney endorsed Wehby while strict social conservative and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum backed Conger.