10 Hot Primaries to Watch Amid an Avalanche of 2024 Election News

10 Hot Primaries to Watch Amid an Avalanche of 2024 Election News

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All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one-third in the Senate are open for voters in each election cycle. This year, the number of seats that won’t be contested by incumbents will add to some interesting primary contests.

Primary races often signal the stakes for the general election and can forecast the winner in a state or district where one party dominates.

Here are 10 primary races to track that could shift the momentum in either chamber.

West Virginia US Senate Seat

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) isn’t seeking reelection, leaving his Senate seat ripe for flipping in this solidly red state.

The top Republican primary contenders are former West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.).

Mr. Justice has raised $1.5 million and garnered endorsements from former President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Mr. Mooney has raised $2.3 million and gained endorsements from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Paul Rand (R-Ky.) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).

Marine Corps veteran Zachary Shrewsbury is the only candidate in the Democratic primary race to date.

Cook Political Report rates this seat as “solid Republican.” The primary election is scheduled for May 14.

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice at a Make America Great Again rally in Huntington, W.Va., on Nov. 2, 2018. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Montana US Senate Seat

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) is the only statewide elected official who’s a Democrat. As such, the third-term incumbent is always considered vulnerable to a Republican challenge.

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Mr. Tester has never won 50 percent or more of the vote in this state where Libertarian candidates usually claim up to 7 percent of the total.

The primary battle will happen on the Republican side and will determine the stakes for the general election.

Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL and CEO of Bridger Aerospace, is the most serious contender to date, having the backing of national party leaders.

Former state Attorney General Brad Johnson is also in the race, and Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) has hinted for several weeks that he intends to make another bid for the seat. Mr. Rosendale is a hardliner who was one of eight Republicans who voted to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the House speakership in October 2023.

Mr. Tester defeated Mr. Rosendale by 3.5 percent in the 2018 senatorial contest, making some party leaders question his ability to win in the general election.

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WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 28: Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) speaks during a news conference about the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act on Capitol Hill on July 28, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“It’s an old lesson that we forget sometimes, which is: Winning elections is more than just about winning the primary,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said on CNN in December 2023. “And I think that’s the concern, because there are some people who are capable of winning a primary, but they’re not capable of winning the general election because they refuse to broaden their appeal to a majority of the voters sufficient to actually win a general election.”

Montana primaries are held on June 4. Cook Political Report rates this Senate seat as a toss up.

Florida US Senate Seat

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) faces a primary challenge from Keith Gross, assistant state attorney for Florida’s 18th circuit court.

Mr. Gross began his campaign in attack mode, alleging that Mr. Scott is a corrupt businessman who doesn’t represent the interests of his constituents.

“The people we’re supposed to trust in Washington have forgotten us, the people that sent them there,” Mr. Gross said in his launch video. “Our nation is in desperate need of real leadership because, at the end of the day, we all want the same thing: freedom.”

He characterized himself as “someone that isn’t getting rich by riding fraud and corruption.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) arrives as Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young is testifying before the Senate Budget Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on March 30, 2022, in Washington. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) arrives as Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young is testifying before the Senate Budget Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on March 30, 2022, in Washington. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
The challenger has also made negative reference to Mr. Scott’s plan to sunset all federal laws every five years, requiring a reauthorizing vote to keep them in place. That would include Social Security and Medicare.

Mr. Gross has raised a little more than $1 million dollars, compared with Mr. Scott’s more than $14 million.

Cook Political Report calls this seat “likely Republican,” meaning that the GOP primary winner will likely go on to win the general election. The non-presidential primary elections in Florida are set for Aug. 20.

Utah US Senate Seat

The retirement of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has drawn seven Republicans into the primary contest for this safe GOP seat.

Contenders include Rod Bird, mayor of Roosevelt, who has pledged $1 million of his own money to his campaign, and Brad Wilson, who was speaker of Utah’s House of Representatives until last month.

Mr. Wilson has raised more than $3 million and Mr. Bird about $1 million. Trent Staggs, mayor of Riverton, has raised more than $500,000.

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson. (Utah House of Representatives via The Epoch Times)
Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson. (Utah House of Representatives via The Epoch Times)

Candidates are likely to position themselves against Mr. Romney’s legacy and may use Mr. Wilson’s position as an insider politician as ammunition against him.

This campaign is likely to pit moderate candidates against more conservative contenders such as Mr. Staggs, who has said that Utah voters “want another Mike Lee,” referring to the state’s senior U.S. senator.

Utah’s non-presidential primary is set for June 5.

Ohio US Senate Seat

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) unseated a Republican incumbent to win election to the Senate in 2006.

However, he’s the only Democrat to hold statewide elected office, and Cook Political Report calls the seat a toss up at this point.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) speaks before President Joe Biden at Max S. Hayes High School on July 6, 2022, in Cleveland. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) speaks before President Joe Biden at Max S. Hayes High School on July 6, 2022, in Cleveland. (Photo by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)

Vying for the GOP nomination are state Sen. Matt Dolan, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, and Bernie Moreno, a former car dealer. Both Mr. Dolan and Mr. Moreno ran in 2022 for the open Senate seat that was won by Republican J.D. Vance.

Mr. Dolan has raised nearly $9 million and Mr. Moreno more than $6 million, according to the latest campaign reports.

Both Mr. Dolan and Mr. LaRose have collected a number of endorsements from in-state politicians.

Mr. Moreno has received endorsements from President Trump, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Vance, and former House Speaker Newt Gingerich.

Primary elections in Ohio will take place on March 19.

California US Senate Seat

When 90-year-old Democrat Sen. Diane Feinstein died in September 2023, California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Laphonza Butler, president of EMILY’s List, to temporarily fill the seat. Ms. Butler has announced that she won’t seek election to retain the seat, opening a Democratic primary battle to fill it.

The primary race, which will almost certainly predict the winner of the general election, will be among three members of Congress representing the Golden State in the House: Reps. Adam Schiff, Barbara Lee, and Katie Porter.

Ms. Lee has served in the House since 1998, Mr. Schiff since 2001, and Ms. Porter since 2018.

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Congresswoman Barbara Lee speaks during the 2015 amfAR Capitol Hill Conference at U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on March 24, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

Each candidate has solid Democratic credentials, although Ms. Lee is known as a progressive and Ms. Porter as a moderate.

Mr. Schiff gained national attention through his opposition to President Trump. Mr. Schiff was the ranking Democratic member and chair of the House Intelligence Committee during investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and he was lead impeachment manager during the first impeachment trial of President Trump.

The most recent Republican to represent California in the Senate left office in 1992.

Cook Political Report calls the seat “solid Democrat.” The primary election is set for March 5.

Virginia 7th Congressional District

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) is surrendering this seat to make a run for governor of Virginia.

The vacancy makes the seat poachable for Republicans in a district that mixes Democrat strongholds in the outer Washington suburbs with solidly Republican areas farther south.

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) speaks about banning stock trades for members of Congress at a press conference on Capitol Hill on April 7, 2022 in Washington. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) speaks about banning stock trades for members of Congress at a press conference on Capitol Hill on April 7, 2022 in Washington. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Five Democrats, seven Republicans, and one independent have entered the race so far. However, only three have reported raising more than $100,000. They are Republicans Derrick Anderson, Cameron Hamilton, and William Moher.

Mr. Anderson, an attorney and former Green Beret, placed second in the 2022 Republican primary.

Given the wide field on both sides, the primary contest may foreshadow both the issues and the tone of the general election.

Before Ms. Spanberger’s election in 2018, the district had been in Republican hands since the early 1970s.

Cook Political Report recently downgraded its assessment from “likely Democrat” to “leaning Democrat.” Virginia’s congressional primaries are scheduled for June 18.

Colorado 4th Congressional District

Embattled Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) is switching districts to run in Colorado’s 4th congressional district, which is being vacated by Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.).

The second-term congresswoman was facing both a primary challenge and a strong Democratic opponent for her current seat in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.

Ms. Boebert narrowly retained her seat in the 3rd district in 2022 over Democrat Adam Frisch, who’s vying for the seat again in 2024. Mr. Frisch has already raised nearly $8 million to Ms. Boebert’s $2.4 million.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 23, 2021. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on June 23, 2021. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Ms. Boebert faces a crowded primary field of six Republicans in the 4th district.

She drew criticism after security footage circulated of her and a date being ejected from a theatrical performance in Denver in September 2023.

The 4th district is considered more conservative than the 3rd district, which Ms. Boebert said “Hollywood elites and progressive money groups” were attempting to buy.

“Republicans will hold the 3rd, and I’ll proudly represent the 4th,” Ms. Boebert said in a video announcing her switch.

She said the move offered a “fresh start after a pretty difficult year.”

The Colorado 4th Congressional District is rated a “safe Republican” seat by Cook Political Report. Colorado congressional primaries are scheduled for June 25.

Minnesota 5th Congressional District

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) is facing a primary challenge from Don Samuels, a former city council member and mayoral candidate who lost to Ms. Omar in the 2022 Democratic primary by just 2 percentage points.

Mr. Samuels has attacked Ms. Omar for her comments on X, formerly known as Twitter, mentioning “unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”

House Republicans removed Ms. Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee in February 2023 over her comments on Israel.

Ms. Omar has defended her remarks and denied the charge that she’s anti-Semitic.

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Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks to reporters in Minneapolis on Aug. 11, 2020. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Attorney Sarah Gad and Air Force veteran Tim Peterson have also joined the race, which will almost certainly forecast the winner of the November election.

Cook Political Report rates the seat as “solid Democrat.” The Minnesota congressional primary elections will be held on Aug. 13.

New York 16th Congressional District

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) faces a primary challenge from Westchester County Executive George Latimer of Rye.

Mr. Latimer, 70, has been endorsed by dozens of Jewish leaders in New York.

Mr. Bowman, 47, is a former high school principal who entered politics in 2020, earning endorsements from progressives Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

The second-term congressman has drawn criticism from Jewish constituents over his vote against a House resolution condemning Hamas and his refusal to attend a speech by Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the U.S. Capitol.

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Westchester County Executive George Latimer (C) speaks at a press conference in White Plains, N.Y., on Jan. 20, 2023, in a still from video. (Westchester County Via AP/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Mr. Bowman defended his actions by saying that although he condemns Hamas, the House resolution didn’t recognize Palestinian victims and that he boycotted Mr. Herzog’s speech because the Israeli leader doesn’t endorse a two-state solution for Israel and the occupied territories.

Mr. Bowman garnered a censure by the House after pulling a fire alarm in the Capitol complex when Democrats were attempting to delay a vote on a continuing spending resolution.

Critics charged that the act was an illegal attempt to delay the vote. Mr. Bowman maintained that it was done in the belief that it would open a locked door, allowing him to proceed to the Capitol building. He was charged with a misdemeanor, but the charge was dismissed upon his agreement to pay a $1,000 fine and write an apology to the Capitol police.

The 16th Congressional District has been safely in Democratic hands since 1949 and is rated “solid Democrat” by Cook Political Report.

Congressional primaries in New York are set for June 25.


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