Five states will be holding their own primary contests tomorrow and many of these races will be of particular interest to conservatives, particularly in light of how some state laws may be changing next year. We will also see several more tests of just how influential Donald Trump remains in terms of playing the role of kingmaker. There will be contests in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Idaho. Here’s a brief look at what we should be able to expect and which ones you may want to keep a closer eye on.
Pennsylvania is in turmoil, particularly for Republicans. In the GOP gubernatorial race, state Sen. Doug Mastriano has been leading in all of the polls. He’s been pretty much holding the Trump party line since entering the race and the voters don’t appear to be looking to punish him for that, but as with everything to do with Trump, not all Republican primary voters are fans of the former president. He will most likely be taking on Democrat Josh Shapiro. That could prove to be a problem because Shapiro doesn’t even have a primary opponent and his party seems to be unified behind him. The November race will be one of the major tests to see if Trump-backed candidates can unify their party behind them or if there’s still a GOP civil war going on.
The GOP Senate primary in the Keystone State could be a closer race while posing the same question. Trump previously backed Dr. Oz and it really seemed to boost his chances. But Kathy Barnette has also been surging recently. She’s certainly conservative enough for most of the base, but a victory by her will be one in the “loss” column for Trump. Look for this one to come down to the wire.
In the North Carolina Senate GOP primary, everyone originally thought that former governor Pat McCrory would be a shoo-in. But since Donald Trump endorsed Ted Budd, he’s slowly built up a huge, double-digit lead in the polls. This one looks like it’s all but over, and if so, Trump will no doubt take credit for Budd’s sudden rise to fame. Keep an eye on the 11th District race in North Caroline too, of course. Madison Cawthorn may have Trump’s endorsement, but since then he has seemingly done everything imaginable to shoot himself in the foot. He might still pull this off, but it will be close.
The other thing about North Carolina to keep in mind is that the fight may not be over tomorrow. Winners must get more than 30% of the vote to avoid a runoff this summer. So in any of the races with more than two viable primary candidates, simply winning may not be enough to assure a spot on the ballot in November.
The only race in Kentucky that may prove interesting is the one to replace John Yarmuth in the House. Only one year ago I would have called that a lost cause, but as the red wave has appeared to grow, it’s looking more and more like the seat could flip. There are a few Republicans running in the primary and the polling has been sporadic at best, but if you had to look for an upset in November, this seat might be where you’ll find one.
One of the bigger tests for the Trump brand will be found in the Idaho GOP gubernatorial primary. Governor Brad Little is fighting off a primary challenge from his own Lt. Governor, Janice McGeachin. She is backed by Trump and has turned what should have been little more than a nuisance bid into a potentially serious race. I would still put my money on Little, but if McGeachin can pull this off at the last minute, Trump will probably fly out there to hoist her up onto a podium next to him.
Oregon won’t be that interesting unless you’re curious about what the Democrats are up to, but that aspect of it could prove interesting. There is a lot of infighting going on between the Democrats there, particularly when you consider what a mess they’ve had on their hands ever since the Summer of Love began. Anyway, that’s pretty much the end of my personal list of things to watch. It should be an interesting night.