Buckle up — it’s going to be a bumpy ride tonight, and not just in West Virginia. Most eyes will look to the Mountain State to see if Republicans shoot themselves in the foot by nominating Don Blankenship, but six other states also have primaries today. And not all of the potential foot-shooting involves the GOP.
For instance, Ohio voters will select the GOP nominee today in the Senate race to challenge incumbent Sherrod Brown, but that appears to be Rep. Jim Renacci’s race to lose. Far more interesting is the open gubernatorial race, where Republicans are running two well-established candidates, AG Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor. They’re both arguing over who’s more conservative, but they’re both competitive in a general election.
Democrats, however, have pitted former AG and CFPB director Richard Cordray against former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who has been arguing that Cordray is just another establishment stiff. It’s opened a split of sorts on the progressive Left, with Cordray getting Elizabeth Warren’s endorsement and Bernie Sanders’ activists lining up behind Kucinich. As Thomas Suddes wrote for Cleveland.com, it’s a test of whether Ohio Democrats want “decaf … or high-test,” but also whether they want to be competitive or make a statement. Populism for populism’s sake may not be limited to West Virginia or Republicans.
Most of the action today will be on the GOP ballot, though. In Indiana, Republicans have to choose between three candidates vying to challenge Joe Donnelly for his vulnerable Senate seat, and there is a similarity to West Virginia here too. Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita may split the establishment vote and leave businessman Mike Braun an opening to win the nomination. At the moment it looks like a toss-up, polling analyst Harry Enten writes for CNN, but Braun seems to have the edge.
Also in Indiana, watch the races for the 4th and 6th CDs. Braun’s brother Steve is running for the seat in the former, and Mike Pence’s brother Greg is running in the latter. Greg Pence is expected to win big, thanks to his brother’s close support, but the Brauns have been at loggerheads. Mike Braun’s consultants are working for one of Steve’s opponents, and Steve donated the max to Rokita. Here’s a little insight into the dynamics:
The brothers don’t campaign together. They’ve appeared at just two of the same GOP events. At the Cass County Lincoln Day Dinner last month, they left with each other’s gray coats and took three weeks to return them.
They must be fun at holiday family dinners, eh? Given all the infighting in the GOP, these brothers are a perfect fit.
Speaking of which, watch out for two primary challenges to Republican incumbents in North Carolina for a chance to see how the winds are blowing. Both Walter Jones and Rob Pittenger are expected to win, but Jones says he’ll retire after his next term and Pittenger nearly lost two years ago to the same challenger. Both districts might be at risk to the GOP if they become open seats.