elections

What to Watch in Tuesday’s Primaries
GOP picks nominee in top Senate race; 2 Toss-up House races will be set

Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith faces a DFL primary challenge Tuesday from five other candidates, including former Republican Richard Painter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

From New England to the upper Midwest, four states are hosting primaries Tuesday. The most interesting contests are in Wisconsin and Minnesota, which both hold primaries for Senate and for several competitive House seats. And in two safe Democratic districts — one in Minnesota and one in Connecticut — primaries will likely pick new members of Congress.

Wisconsin Republicans will pick their nominee to take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, one of 10 Senate Democrats running for re-election in states that President Donald Trump won in 2016. The contest between Marine veteran and businessman Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir has come down to the wire.Both are backed by billionaires bankrolling super PACs. Vukmir has the state party’s endorsement, and the Wisconsin GOP’s turnout machine behind her. But Nicholson has benefitted from millions of dollars in outside spending to boost his campaign. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Wisconsin Senate race Leans Democratic.Some Democrats see their best House pickup opportunity in Wisconsin in the 1st District, which opened after Speaker Paul D. Ryan decided to retire. Trump carried the district by 10 points in 2016, his smallest margin among all five GOP-held seats in the Badger State. Former Ryan aide Bryan Steil is expected to win the Republican nod, while ironworker Randy Bryce faces Janesville school board member Cathy Myers for the Democratic nomination.

Democratic Poll Shows Close Race for Pete Sessions’ Seat in Texas
GOP congressman faces Democrat Colin Allred in Dallas-area district

GOP Rep. Pete Sessions is facing Democrat Colin Allred in November. (Bill Clark/Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Pete Sessions’ re-election race is looking increasingly competitive, with Democrat Colin Allred polling close to the longtime Republican lawmaker, according to a new internal Democratic survey.

The Dallas-area 32nd District is traditionally GOP territory. But this year’s race is considered competitive, in part because the 32nd is one of three Republican-held districts in the Lone Star State that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Toss-up

Abuse Allegations Loom Over Minnesota Race to Replace Ellison
Female candidates dominate Democratic-Farmer-Labor primary

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison vacated his 5th District seat to run for state attorney general. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic candidates running for Rep. Keith Ellison’s seat in Minnesota’s deep-blue 5th District are pushing voters to the polls Tuesday, as abuse allegations against the congressman threatened to send them off-message in the campaign’s closing hours.

The three front-runners for the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nod in Tuesday’s primary declined to take sides when asked at a candidate forum Monday about allegations that Ellison physically abused a former girlfriend — which he has denied. The six-term congressman vacated the 5th District seat to run for state attorney general. 

2 Democratic Women Face Off in Connecticut for Esty’s Seat
Connecticut Democrat opted to retire after an office abuse scandal

Who will replace Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn.? Tuesday’s Democratic primary is likely to determine her successor in this open seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two women face off Tuesday in a competitive Democratic primary to fill Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s seat in Connecticut’s 5th District. 

Mary Glassman, a former local elected official in suburban Hartford, has the state party’s endorsement. But Jahana Hayes, a former national teacher of the year, received enough support at the party convention to qualify for the primary ballot 

Minnesota 5th District Candidates Sidestep Ellison Allegations
Democratic primary in the state is Tuesday

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who is running for state attorney general, has been accused of abuse by a former girlfriend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three top Democrats running to succeed Rep. Keith Ellison in Minnesota’s 5th District responded cautiously Monday to allegations that he abused a former girlfriend in 2016.

The candidates did not say whether they believed the allegations against the six-term Democratic lawmaker, who has denied that the long-term relationship included physical abuse. They also did not call for him to resign or drop out of his current race for state attorney general. 

Fame and Campaign Fortune Haven’t Saved ‘Iron Stache’ From a Heated Primary
Randy Bryce faces fellow Democrat Cathy Myers in Wisconsin’s 1st District on Tuesday

Democrat Randy Bryce faces Cathy Myers in Tuesday’s primary in Wisconsin’s 1st District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When Randy Bryce came on to the political scene, he became a Democratic fundraising juggernaut. But the Wisconsin Democrat, who is known by his Twitter moniker “Iron Stache,” hasn’t locked down his primary race in the 1st District, despite a national profile and buckets of money being poured into his campaign.

Bryce faces a potentially competitive contest against Janesville school board member Cathy Myers in Tuesday’s primary. 

Democratic Poll: GOP Rep. Mimi Walters in Competitive Race
Democrat Katie Porter’s poll shows her in a tight contest in California’s 45 district

Democrat Katie Porter is running against GOP Rep. Mimi Walters in California’s 45th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A poll from California Republican Rep. Mimi Walters’ Democratic opponent Katie Porter found a competitive race in the 45th District in Southern California. 

The 45th is a Democratic target this cycle, one of seven GOP-held House seats in the Golden State that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

House GOP Appropriators Facing Steep Turnover in 116th Congress
Both parties have endured upheaval in wave elections in the past

Two senior House GOP appropriators,  John Culberson, R-Texas, left, and Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., personify the challenged facing the Appropriations panel heading into the 2018 midterms. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic “wave” this November, should one materialize, could result in the departure of as many as five senior House Republican appropriators, which would mark the biggest wipeout of major players from one side of the dais in 26 years.

Three subcommittee “cardinals” are facing tough re-election fights this November: Commerce-Justice-Science Chairman John Culberson and Military Construction-VA Chairman John Carter, both of Texas, and Homeland Security Chairman Kevin Yoder of Kansas.

Beto O’Rourke Drops $1.27 Million in Ads
Ads will play in all 20 of Texas’ media markets.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, (right), shown here with Rep. Scott Peters, D- Calif., is going on the offensive with an ad campaign after a fundraising blitz. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Beto O’Rourke went on the offensive against Sen. Ted Cruz after a fundraising blitz, dropping $1.27 million worth in ads against his opponent.

The Democrat’s campaign said it would play ads in all 20 of Texas’ media market.

California Wildfires Headed to Capitol Hill
Funding fire suppression a looming issue

A firefighting helicopter drops water as the Holy Fire burns near homes on Friday in Lake Elsinore, California. Wildfires continue to burn in the state. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Lawmakers thought they fixed the U.S. Forest Service’s “fire borrowing” problem earlier this year. But the breadth and intensity of fires scorching the West this year is likely to prompt the agency to raid other accounts one last time before budgetary changes go into effect in fiscal 2020.

The issue could come to a head once again on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks and months, as lawmakers and the administration weigh the need for another infusion of taxpayer dollars ahead of the midterm elections — and California’s devastating fires have already become a campaign issue.