While Democratic presidential candidates scrap for delegates in 14 states across the country on Tuesday, voters in five of those states will kick off the battle for the House and Senate by choosing down-ballot nominees.
Forget the presidential contest, here are the key races to watch as the polls close Tuesday:
Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, role on surveillance warrants MORE wants his seat back, but he’s likely headed to a runoff with one of two main Republican rivals before any of them earns the right to face off against Sen. Doug Jones (D).
Sessions faces former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville and Rep. Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneOvernight Defense: Pentagon chief says he opposes invoking Insurrection Act for protests | White House dodges on Trump’s confidence in Esper | ‘Angry and appalled’ Mattis scorches Trump Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump Democrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard MORE (R), both of whom have tied themselves as closely as possible to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE. Sessions’s relationship with Trump is more complicated, but it appears he hasn’t lost any love for his old boss even after being summarily canned following the 2018 midterms.
If no one reaches 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday, the two leading Republicans will face off in an April 14 runoff. The winner of that contest gets to face Jones in a state President Trump carried easily. But Jones isn’t going to roll over: He’s got $7 million in the bank as of the last reporting period, money he will use to pound his eventual rival.
Alabama open seats
None of the five Republicans running to replace Byrne in Congress is likely to clear the 50 percent barrier on Tuesday. But former state Sen. Bill Hightower (R), who ran for governor in 2018, is the best known of the bunch. Expect him to claim one of the two runoff positions in a safe Republican district that Trump carried by an almost two-to-one margin in 2016.
In the southeast corner of Alabama, moving company executive Jeff Coleman (R) is in the driver’s seat to win the Republican nomination to replace retiring Rep. Martha RobyMartha Dubina RobyThe 14 other key races to watch on Super Tuesday Collins Senate bid sets off game of musical chairs for GOP Global health is the last bastion of bipartisan foreign policy MORE (R). If he’s forced into a runoff, it would likely be against Troy King, Alabama’s former attorney general, or Jessica Taylor, a newcomer to the political scene. The second district is just as heavily Republican as the first.
California voters will take a first step toward choosing former Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The American Investment Council – Trump takes his ‘ready to reopen’ mantra on the road The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democrat concedes in California House race Republican flips House seat in California special election MORE’s (D) replacement in Tuesday’s all-party primary. Those voters will cast ballots in two distinct elections — a special election and the regular primary — with a runoff coming in November.
The leading contender on the Democratic side is Christy Smith, a state assemblywoman who has garnered most establishment support. Cenk Uygur, the host of the Young Turks series, has also raised a decent sum of money. But he may be shut out by former Rep. Steve KnightStephen (Steve) Thomas KnightThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The American Investment Council – Pelosi touts T bill as Fauci stresses go-slow openings The Hill’s Campaign Report: A Los Angeles House seat is in play for Republicans Democrats on edge over California special election nail-biter MORE (R), who lost to Hill in 2018 and wants another shot at his seat.
In San Bernardino County, Rep. Paul CookPaul Joseph CookThe 14 other key races to watch on Super Tuesday Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel Warren bill would revoke Medals of Honor for Wounded Knee massacre MORE (R) is leaving Congress to run for a local office. State Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R) is favored to win a spot in the runoff, but it’s not clear who is most likely to earn the second spot. Three Democrats and four other Republicans — including former Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R), who ran for governor in 2014 — are running in a district that gave President Trump 55 percent of the vote in 2016.
Former Rep. David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoDemocratic Rep. Cox advances in California primary The 14 other key races to watch on Super Tuesday The biggest political upsets of the decade MORE (R) wants another shot at Rep. T.J. Cox (D) after losing in 2018 by fewer than a thousand votes. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE won the district by almost 16 points in 2016, but Valadao won that year, making this contest potentially competitive.
And former Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaGOP sues California over Newsom’s vote-by-mail order Conservative group files challenge to California vote-by-mail order New poll shows tight race in key California House race MORE (R) is hoping to return from Congress just two years after retiring. He’s running in a different district, one formerly held by disgraced ex-Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan HunterLobbying world Duncan Hunter granted delayed start to prison sentence over coronavirus New poll shows tight race in key California House race MORE (R). He faces former San Diego city councillor Carl DeMaio (R) and state Sen. Brian Jones (R), all of whom are hunting for what’s likely to be a second runoff spot behind Ammar Campa-Najjar, the Democrat who narrowly lost to Hunter in 2018.
A huge field of 11 Democrats are running for the right to replace retiring Rep. Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Warren announces slate of endorsements including Wendy Davis and Cornyn challenger Hegar MORE (D) in San Diego. San Diego City Council president Georgette Gomez (D) is probably the best known in the field. Three Republicans are also running, but the district went for Clinton by a more than two-to-one margin in 2016.
North Carolina Senate
Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D) is likely to win the right to face Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisKoch-backed group launches ad campaign to support four vulnerable GOP senators The Hill’s Campaign Report: It’s primary night in Georgia Tillis unveils new 0,000 ad in North Carolina Senate race MORE (R) in November, but neither candidate faced the easiest path to their own nominations.
Cunningham, running for statewide office a second time, faces state Sen. Erica Smith (D), an African American woman with a liberal political base in Raleigh. Smith didn’t raise a lot of money, but an outside group funded by the largest Republican super PAC ran ads on her behalf. Even that super PAC believes Cunningham will win the primary now, but their spending made Democrats drop a ton of early ads on his behalf.
Tillis, seeking a second term, faced his own prospects of a contentious primary race against a rich businessman. But Tillis worked to earn Trump’s endorsement, which he made the subject of his first statewide television ad. The businessman, Garland Tucker, dropped out shortly after the ad started running, and Tillis’s team scared Rep. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerDemocrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard John Ratcliffe is the right choice for director of national intelligence — and for America NCAA backs plan to allow college athletes to cash in on name, image and likeness MORE (R) out of mounting his own challenge.
North Carolina Governor
It is not often that a sitting governor faces off against a sitting lieutenant governor, but that’s what will happen this year in the Tar Heel State. Gov. Roy Cooper (D), elected as a centrist, will face Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R), who sits firmly on the right of the Republican spectrum.
Cooper is the only Democratic governor running for reelection in a state President Trump won in 2016, though Trump only won there by 3.6 percentage points. North Carolina is in the crosshairs again this year, presenting a big challenge to both Cooper and Forest if they are tied too closely to their side’s presidential nominees.
North Carolina open seats
Three Republican members of Congress are not seeking reelection this year. Rep. Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsTim Scott to introduce GOP police reform bill next week House GOP delays police reform bill White House says Trump may issue executive order on police reform MORE (R) is almost certain to be replaced by a Republican and state Sen. Jim Davis (R) appears to be leading a crowded field. If he can’t top 30 percent of the vote, he would face his second-place rival in a May 12 runoff.
Two other Republicans are likely to be replaced by Democrats after a state court ordered the GOP-led legislature to redraw district boundary lines. The legislature opted to preserve eight Republican seats, and seats held by Reps. George HoldingGeorge Edward Bell HoldingThe 14 other key races to watch on Super Tuesday GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts House GOP vows to use impeachment to cut into Democratic majority MORE (R) and Mark Walker (R) were the casualties.
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In Holding’s second district, former state Rep. Deborah Ross (D) is the favorite. She is making a political comeback after losing a race against Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrExclusive investigation on the coronavirus pandemic: Where was Congress? Trump asserts his power over Republicans FISA ‘reform’: Groundhog Day edition MORE (R) in 2016.
A crowded Democratic field is vying for Walker’s sixth district. Keep an eye on Kathy Manning, a University of North Carolina-Greensboro trustee, and Rhonda Foxx, a former congressional aide, two women lapping the rest of the field on the fundraising circuit.
Two yeas after former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) came oh-so-close to upsetting Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police MORE (R), Democrats hope lightning strikes twice with Afghan war veteran M.J. Hegar (D).
Hegar narrowly lost a bid against Rep. John CarterJohn Rice CarterLawmakers call on VA to remove swastikas from headstones in veterans cemeteries Warren announces slate of endorsements including Wendy Davis and Cornyn challenger Hegar Liberal group endorses Royce West for Texas Senate MORE (R) in 2018, pulling in millions after a campaign video went viral. She’s been endorsed by national Democrats who want to see her matched up against Cornyn, who is seeking his fourth term.
Before Hegar gets her shot, she will have to beat back several other rising stars. The liberal group Justice Democrats has endorsed Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez, a civil rights activist.
Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards (D) and Dallas-area state Sen. Royce West (D) are both trying to corner the market on Texas’s not-insubstantial African American vote. And former Rep. Chris Bell (D), last seen running unsuccessfully for mayor of Houston, is also in the race.
The winner faces an uphill slog against Cornyn, even as Texas becomes more competitive. The incumbent has more than three times as much money in the bank, $12 million, as the leading Democrat, Hegar, has raised altogether.
Two years after California was the epicenter of the battle for control of the House, focus has now shifted to Texas, where half a dozen seats are up for grabs. The battlefield is broad: here is a a separate story on the fights to watch.