5 Things to Watch in Tonight's Primaries in Maine, Nev., N.D., S.C., and Va.
Voters in five states will cast ballots in primaries today. Elections in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia will choose Republicans and Democrats to face off in November. The results will determine whether each party has competitive candidates and may predict whether the GOP or the Democrats will pick up seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
Polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern in South Carolina and Virginia, at 8 p.m. Eastern in Maine, at 9 p.m. Eastern in North Dakota, and at 10 p.m. in Nevada.
Most of these states have interesting and competitive races, but not North Dakota. The Peace Garden State has two key primaries: one for U.S. Senate and another for U.S. House. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) is almost certain to win the Republican primary to face Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and state Sen. Kelly Armstrong is almost certain to win the Republican primary and the general election for Cramer's House seat.
Update: Cramer and Armstrong indeed won.
Here are 5 things to watch in the primaries tonight.
1. Three governor races.
In Maine, where Trump lost by 3 points in 2016, many Republicans and Democrats are running to replace Gov. Paul LePage (R-Nev.). LePage has a negative approval rating (53 percent disapprove, 41 percent approve), and he blocked the Medicaid expansion despite Maine voters supporting a ballot referendum to expand Medicaid in 2017.
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills leads the Democratic primary, but former Maine House Speaker Mark Eves, state Sen. Mark Dion, and Iraq war veteran Adam Cote all present credible challenges. Mills has the support of EMILY's List.
On the Republican side, businessman Shawn Moody leads, with former Maine Heath and Human Services Director Mary Mayhew, Maine Senate Majority Leader Garrett Mason, and State House Minority Leader Ken Fredette not too far behind. National Republicans have weighed in on the race, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) endorsing Fredette, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) endorsing Mason, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich backing Mary Mayhew. Moody has cast himself as the outsider.
Update: Moody won the Republican primary.
In Nevada, Democrats face a contentious primary that could cost them the victory in November. Hillary Clinton won Nevada by 2 points in 2016, but Republicans stand a good chance of replacing term-limited Gov. Brian Sandoval with another of their own. Former U.S. Navy Lieutenant and current Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt leads the GOP primary polls with more than 50 percent and enjoys endorsements from Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and many local sheriffs.
President Donald Trump also endorsed Laxalt, calling him "smart" and predicting he would "be a great Governor ... fight hard to lower your taxes [and be] tough on crime!"