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The primary elections (and runoffs) worth watching on Tuesday

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's primary is today's marquee contest, but there are plenty of other races worth keeping an eye on in several other states.


The dust hasn’t yet settled on last week’s highly significant primaries — we still don’t know, for example, who won the Republicans’ U.S. Senate primary in Pennsylvania — and it’s already time to shift our focus again to another round of notable and consequential contests.

Like last week, let’s dig in, going state by state, in alphabetical order:

In Alabama, incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey won easily four years ago, but after finding herself in Donald Trump’s doghouse — for reasons that never made any sense — the Republican is facing several intra-party rivals, including businessman Tim James and former Ambassador Lynda Blanchard. The conventional wisdom suggests the governor will prevail, but it’ll be worth watching to see if she reaches the 50 percent threshold. If not, Ivey will be forced into a runoff.

Even more interesting will be the Republican U.S. Senate primary, where much of the party establishment has rallied behind Katie Britt, who served as retiring Sen. Richard Shelby’s chief of staff, but also in the mix are Rep. Mo Brooks, and Army veteran Michael Durant. Brooks’ standing actually improved after Trump withdrew his endorsement, and the better the congressman fares, the more embarrassing it will be for the former president.

As for the 5th congressional district seat that Brooks is giving up, local county commissioner Dale Strong appeared to be the prohibitive GOP favorite, but he’s faced criticisms over a decision to move a Confederate monument. Casey Wardynski, a former assistant secretary of the Army, might very well push the race into a runoff.

In Alabama’s secretary of state race, where a longtime incumbent is retiring, there’s a crowded field of Republicans, only one of whom — former state Administrator of Elections Ed Packard — believes in the legitimacy of the 2020 election results. He’s expected to lose.

In Arkansas, it appeared months ago that there would be a competitive GOP gubernatorial primary, but former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders gradually cleared the field of credible rivals, including Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who quit months ago. There are five competitors in the Democratic primary, but as is the case in Alabama, no one seriously expects the party to keep it close in the fall.

The more notable statewide race is the Republican U.S. Senate primary, where incumbent Sen. John Boozman is facing a tougher-than-expected challenge from former football player Jake Bequette, who’s far-right candidacy has received a significant financial boost from Richard Uihlein, a conservative mega-donor. Boozman is the favorite, but the fact that he recently launched an attack ad targeting Bequette suggested the senator saw some unsettling polling.

Also note, there are two state Supreme Court elections in Arkansas today, which are technically non-partisan, but which have turned into predictably ideological affairs.

In Georgia, there is a degree of irony surrounding the Republican gubernatorial primary: It’s generally seen as the marquee contest, and it’s generated a ton of attention at the state and national level, but the outcome is not seriously in doubt. Trump effectively dragged former Sen. David Perdue into the race against incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp — the former president is retaliating against the governor for not going along with a coup scheme two years ago — but polls show the governor with a big lead, and Perdue effectively conceded last week that he's likely to lose.

As for the GOP’s Senate primary in Georgia, former football player Herschel Walker remains the prohibitive favorite in a relatively crowded field, despite his many personal scandals, professional scandals, and unfamiliarity with the basics of current events.

One of Georgia’s most closely watched contests this week is the Republicans’ secretary of state primary, where incumbent Brad Raffensperger is facing a challenge from a sitting congressman, Jody Hice. Like too many 2022 contests, the race is based almost entirely on Trump’s Big Lie, and the former president has thrown his enthusiastic support behind Hice.

At the congressional level, arguably the most important Democratic race of the day is the congressional primary in Georgia’s 7th congressional district, where two incumbent congresswomen will face one another — Rep. Carolyn Bourdeauxs and Lucy McBath — thanks to the GOP-led state legislature’s redistricting plan.

Right-wing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is facing multiple rivals today, but she’s seen as a heavy favorite in her very conservative district.

In Minnesota, both parties will hold primaries in the 1st congressional district, where Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn died in February. The GOP contest is proving to be rather messy: The late congressman’s widow, Jennifer Carnahan, is facing credible rivals, including state Rep. Jeremy Munson, who’s been endorsed by Republican senators such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, and former state Rep. Brad Finstad, who’s received some backing from GOP establishment figures in the state.

Meanwhile, in Texas, statewide primaries were held in March, but there will be runoff primaries in some key contests today. One of the key contests for Democrats is in Texas’ 28th congressional district, where moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar is facing the same progressive rival he narrowly defeated two years ago: immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros. The incumbent had a slight edge in the first round of balloting, leading by about two points.

As for the state attorney general’s race, scandal-plagued incumbent Ken Paxton enjoys Trump’s backing, and he appears to be well positioned against George P. Bush, who humiliated himself while unsuccessfully wooing the former president, and whose surname, once seen as a benefit, has become a hindrance as the radicalized Republican base sees the Bush family as insufficiently right-wing.

Paxton led Bush by 20 points in the first round of balloting. He’s expected to advance in the runoff, despite the fact that he’s currently under indictment and has been accused by members of his own team of committing multiple crimes.