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The Last of the Primaries

This is the end of the primary season to determine who will be the candidates for Senate and House for each party. The final primary elections will be held on September 11th.

On 8/14, primaries will be held in Connecticut, Florida and Minnesota. All three states have Senate sets up for grabs with two of the three having interesting races. In Connecticut, the fight is on to succeed independent Joe Lieberman in the Senate. In effect, this creates an open Democratic seat since he caucuses with that party. Originally, like Hawaii, this was supposed to be the coronation and elevation of Congressman Chris Murphy from the 5th District to the upper chamber. However, former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz has been running a good campaign that puts the breaks on that coronation. Polling would certainly lead one to believe that Murphy will eventually be that candidate, but the fact that such intra-party vulnerabilities are seen, it should give the GOP hope that they can snag an unexpected Senate seat in New England. On the Republican side, this was also expected to be a cakewalk for former Congressman Chris Shays who came back to his home state after retiring to Maryland. Like the Democrats, a fly in the ointment in the form of former WWE President Linda McMahon, who also ran in 2010, is placing an obstacle in that path. McMahon obviously has the personal fortune to run a campaign. Regardless of who emerges for the GOP, this is a blue state and the Republican nominee, in order to have any chance of general election victory, must be a moderate (or RINO, if you will). The people of Connecticut know all four of these major candidates since it is a relatively small state and McMahon is known from her 2010 run.

The Connecticut congressional races are of little interest other than the 5th, being vacated by Murphy. This is perhaps the only district in the state where the GOP would have a chance of picking up a seat.

In Minnesota, congressional races are of some interest in half of the eight districts. In the 1st, Republicans will choose between Mike Parry or Allen Quist to take on Tim Walz in November. Incumbent Democrat Betty McCollum faces opposition in her primary in the 4th while either Tony Hernandez or Ron Selford will emerge as her GOP opponent. There is an interesting race in the 5th as a rarity- a Democratic anti-abortion activist- will challenge Keith Ellison. Finally, in the 8th, the Republican incumbent Chip Craavack is considered vulnerable and will likely face Taryl Clark if they win the Democratic primary.

The Florida Senate race has come down to the known- incumbent Bill Nelson versus Connie Mack IV now that Mack’s opposition has dropped by the wayside. Instead, most interest will be on the congressional races in the sunshine state. Democrats are not even fielding candidates in the 15th or 25th districts, but Republicans have conceded the 20th, 21st, and 24th districts. In the open 6th, an extremely crowded Republican field must sort itself out. From the GOP standpoint, the most interesting race is the 7th where two incumbents will face each other- Sandy Adams and John Mica. In the 9th, it would be great to see a viable Republican emerge to take down Alan Grayson who is seeking a seat again in the House. This could make for a campaign of fireworks.

A strong GOP candidate could take down Kathy Castor in the 14th. Of course, many here are pulling for Alan West in the 18th in the primary and general election. In the 22nd, Adam Hasner, once a Senate candidate will represent the GOP against either Kristin Jacobs or Lois Frankel in a great November match up. And finally, like everyone else, I am looking forward to a real viable Republican taking on Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the 23rd District.

On August 21st is the Wyoming primary, otherwise known as the “watching paint dry” primary. Georgia will hold their run offs also this day. There are three of them, all on the Republican side. In the 2nd, the race is between Rick Allen or John House to take on Sanford Bishop in November. Meanwhile, in the 9th- actually a new district due to the census- Doug Collins or Martha Zoller will take on John Cooley in November in what most believe will be a Republican district. Thus, invoking the Buckley rule, Martha Zoller would likely be the better choice. Finally, either Rick Allen or Lee Anderson will take on the very vulnerable John Barrow in the general election. Barrow has been here before and won, so the most formidable challenger must emerge from this runoff.

On the 28th will be boring primaries in Alaska and Vermont. However, the recent announcement by Republican incumbent Don Young of Alaska to endorse a Democrat, Mazie Hirono, in her bid for Senate in Hawaii is disconcerting to say the least and needs to be addressed, if not this year (it may be too late) then certainly in 2014 when he runs for reelection (Joe Miller, where are you?).

Instead, most attention on the 28th will be in Arizona. The Senate match up to succeed John Kyl is pretty much set and will feature Richard Carmona for the Democrats and Jeff Flake for the Republicans, although some are pulling for Wil Cardon here. The House races are another story. In the 1st district- and all these are newly drawn and numbered due to a gain of one seat- Ann Kirkpatrick will run for the Democrats and either Jonathan Patton or Doug Wade for the GOP. Ron Barber won a special election in the 2nd to fulfill the term of Gabrielle Giffords. Jesse Kelly should emerge the GOP candidate. In the 5th, Kirk Adams or Matt Salmon will fight it out to take on Spencer Morgan for the Democrats to succeed Jeff Flake. Whoever wins the primary in the 6th for the Republicans- Ben Quayle or David Schweikert, both incumbents- should keep the district in Republican control in November over Matt Jette. The only other district of interest is the newly created 9th where crowded fields for both parties need to be sorted out.

On September 6th, Massachusetts will hold their primary. Obviously for the Senate, it will be GOP incumbent Scott Brown versus the part-Cherokee, uber liberal Elizabeth Warren for the Democrats. For the House, all eyes will be on the 4th District where Barney Frank is retiring and his replacement will likely be either a Kennedy or Scott Bielat, a Republican. The rest of the districts are largely Democratic wins. Defeating a Kennedy in Massachusetts is an almost impossible task, but the newly drawn 4th District disfavored the previously gerrymandered one that sent Barney Frank to Congress and was a reason he decided to retire rather than run in a more fair (for Massachusetts) district this time out. If anyone can take down Kennedy, it would be Scott Bielat. All the other districts are pretty much set and very much Democratic shoo-ins as far as incumbents go.

The final primaries will be held on September 11th when Delaware and Rhode Island will hold their primaries. In Delaware, Tom Carper, the incumbent Democratic Senator, should face little competition from Republican Kevin Wade. For the at-large seat in the House, John Carney, whom some consider a future senatorial candidate will face either Rose Izzo or Tom Kovach for the Republicans with Carney the eventual winner in November. Hence, there is very little excitement to be found in Delaware.

In Rhode Island, incumbent Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, arguably one of the most liberal voices in the Senate (Sherrod Brown of Ohio gives him a run for the money as they try to “out-liberal” one another) will face Barry Hinckley for the GOP. Given Whitehouse’s generally dismal approval ratings in his home state, Hinckley may have an opening, but we are getting ahead of ourselves here. In the House races, only an opponent for Jim Langevin in the 2nd District needs to be decided. The First District match up is pretty much set between the struggling David Ciccillene (the Democratic incumbent) who is coming under fire from his own party over his tenure as Mayor of Providence, and Brendan Doherty for the Republicans.

After the primaries are over, a more in-depth analysis of general election campaigns will be presented on a regional basis where the Presidency, Senate and House outcomes will be predicted.

September 11th- Delaware, Rhode Island

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