Updated with results.
On Tuesday, voters in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas cast their ballots in primary elections and runoffs for Congress and governor. As the ghost of self-identified democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) haunts the Democratic Party, Republicans face fissures of their own.
Polls close between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern Time (6 p.m. in eastern Kentucky, 7 p.m. in western Kentucky and Georgia, 8 p.m. in most of Texas, 8:30 p.m. in Arkansas, and 9 p.m. in western Texas).
Here are six important races to watch.
1. Arkansas 2nd Congressional District
Democrats in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District will face off for the opportunity to challenge Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) in November. A clear frontrunner, he faces challenges from three Sanders-style radicals.
State Rep. Clarke Tucker took 41 percent in a recent poll, but he needs more than 50 percent to avoid a runoff. Each of his three opponents took about 10 percent, with the remaining 32 percent undecided.
School teacher and Air Force veteran Gwen Combs, high school teacher Paul Spencer, and University of Arkansas project manager Jonathan Dunkley have endorsed Sanders’s single-payer “Medicare-for-all” health care system. Tucker, on the other hand, supports expanding Obamacare and allowing people to opt into such a program.
National Democrats have backed Tucker, and Spencer has raised the most in opposing him. If the Democrats’ left-ward tilt continues, Tucker may get less than 50 percent and lose the runoff to Spencer. Even so, he remains the clear favorite to face Rep. Hill.
Results: Tucker beat the 50 percent threshold and won the nomination.
Arkansas voters will also vote for governor. Former television journalist and gun range owner Jan Morgan has launched a primary challenge against Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson from the Right, but President Donald Trump has endorsed Hutchinson, who leads by more than 20 points. Jared Henderson leads Leticia Sanders for the Democratic nomination, but the Republican is almost certain to prevail in November.
Results: Hutchinson beat Morgan. Henderson beat Sanders.
2. Georgia: governor
Georgia voters will select Republican and Democratic candidates to run to replace Gov. Nathan Deal in the race this November.
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle leads among Republicans by either 41 or 35 percent. Cagle threatened to eliminate a tax break for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines when Delta ended its relationship with the National Rifle Association (NRA). Some businesses bankrolled Democratic candidates following that move.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp will likely take second, potentially challenging Cagle in a runoff, should the lieutenant governor not take more than 50 percent. Kemp pledged to “put Georgia first,” and infamously launched an ad pushing against government spending and regulations but also showing the candidate with a shotgun seemingly aimed at a young man interested in dating his daughter. State Sen. Michael Williams has gained notoriety for his “deportation bus,” while former state Sen. Hunter Hill, businessman Clay Tippins, and restaurant owner Eddie Hayes are also in the race.
On the Democratic side, black former minority leader of the Georgia House Stacey Abrams aims to turn out hundreds of thousands of black voters who did not vote in 2014 and 2016. Stacey Evans, a current member of the Georgia House, aims to persuade moderate Republicans.
Both Democrats would expand Medicaid, but both rejected the Sanders Medicare-for-all program. Both push gun control and oppose limits on abortion. Since Georgia leans red (R+8), the Democratic primary focuses on what kind of strategy can turn the state blue. Abrams stands for identity politics while Evans supports wooing Republicans. Abrams enjoys a slight lead, but Evans could pull an upset.
Results: Abrams beat Evans.
3. Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
Again?! Yes, one year after the Georgia 6 special election in which former Lt. Gov. Karen Handel defeated liberal darling Jon Ossoff by 4 points, Democrats are again vying for the traditionally red district Trump won by a mere 1.5 points in 2016.
Three notable Democrats are vying to face Handel in November: Former CBS Atlanta news anchor Bobby Kaple, entrepreneur Kevin Abel, and gun control activist Lucy McBath.
Kaple’s name recognition has yielded him frontrunner status in the primary, and he has raised the most of any candidate. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Congressional Black Caucus Chair Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) have endorsed him, along with former Georgia Sen. Max Cleland and former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes.
Abel has raised a comparable sum, however. The immigrant entrepreneur directly addressed Trump in an ad attacking the president for “holding DACA kids hostage” and calling America a “better, more decent, and kind place before you.”
McBath entered the race after the February 14 shooting in Parkland, Fla. Her 17-year-old son Jordan Davis died in 2012 when Michael Dunn fired 10 bullets into the vehicle Davis sat in after Dunn had complained about “loud music” coming from the car. Everytown for Gun Safety, for which McBath is a national spokeswoman, has poured $540,000 into the race. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), EMILY’s List, and Giffords PAC have also backed McBath.
Results: Runoff between McBath and Abel.
Democrats will select a candidate to face off against Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. Trump won the district with only 51 percent of the vote, so Democrats think they may be able to flip the seat. Tutoring business founder David Kim, Georgia State professor Carolyn Bourdeaux, and small-business owner Ethan Pham have raised the most money, and Bourgeaux received the endorsement of EMILY’s List. Expect a runoff.
4. Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District.
While Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District leans red (R+9), registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by around 100,000. Democrats are aiming to unseat Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky.), first elected in 2012, in November.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has backed Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who is both wealthy and well-liked. Gray also won the district before, in the 2016 U.S. Senate race (which he lost state-wide). Gray has raised $1.3 million.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Amy McGrath jumped into the race last August with a viral video about her career as a female combat pilot. McGrath has raised $2 million. Both Gray and state Sen. Reggie Thomas have attacked McGrath as a carpetbagger, not native to the district.
Thomas represents the Sanders wing of the party, pushing single-payer health care, medicinal marijuana, a plan to buy back “assault” rifles, and a large infrastructure plan. Kentucky 6 might prove a major high-profile loss for a Sanders-style Democrat, although it may not mean much, given the fierce competition.
Results: McGrath won with 48 percent of the vote, 7 points ahead of Gray’s 41 percent. Thomas took a mere 7 percent.
5. Texas’s 7th Congressional District.
Texas already had its first round of primaries, but voters will decide more than 30 different runoffs Tuesday. In the 7th Congressional District, voters will decide between the DCCC candidate, Houston attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, or far-left Sanders-style activist Laura Moser.
The DCCC tried to sabotage Moser by releasing a thick file of opposition research on her just before the March 6 primary. Ironically, this attack energized local activists, pushing Moser into second place and forcing a runoff with Fletcher.
Even so, the differences between them boil down to style rather than substance. The two candidates agree on all issues except Sanders-style single-payer health care, but Moser echoes the anti-Trump #Resistance, while Fletcher has cast herself as a moderate, attempting to bring Republicans and Democrats together.
As PJ Media’s Rick Moran noted, however, Fletcher has largely adopted the far-left ideology of Sanders, attempting to mask his radicalism in the language of “family” and “community.”
No matter who wins, Rep. John Culberson should be the favorite. The eight-term congressman trounced the Democrat by 12 points in 2016 (56 percent to 44 percent). If Moser prevails, however, that will not only embarrass the DCCC still further, but decrease Democrat chances of a victory in the 7th Congressional District.
Results: Fletcher beat Moser. DCCC victory.
6. Texas’s 23rd Congressional District.
Democrats have a much better shot at winning in Texas’s 23rd Congressional District, where Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) won by 2 points in 2014 and 1 point in 2016. Clinton won the district in 2016.
Different national leftist groups are shooting for the seat, however. The DCCC and EMILY’s List have backed lesbian Air Force veteran Gina Ortiz Jones, while the Bernie Sanders group Our Revolution championed teacher Rick Treviño.
Treviño, a former Bernie Sanders delegate, narrowly advanced to the runoff against Ortiz Jones. The race seems a perfect test of whether the national party and identity politics (Ortiz Jones would be Texas’s first LGBT Filipina-American congresswoman) can defeat the insurgent Sanders wing. Ortiz Jones has outraised Treviño $1.2 million to $49,000, and she beat him 41 percent to 17 percent in March, so she will likely prevail.
Results: Ortiz Jones did indeed defeat Treviño.
Texas has two other races of note: the Democrat runoff to see who will (likely) lose to Governor Greg Abbott and the race for the 21st Congressional District.
In the governor runoff, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, who was the state’s first openly gay and first Latina sheriff, aims to turn out Latino voters, while Houston businessman Andrew White has sought to energize suburban white voters dissatisfied with Abbott. White’s father was a Democratic governor in the 1980s.
Results: Valdez beat White.
The 21st Congressional District pits Army veteran and entrepreneur Joseph Kopser against pastor and retired professor Mary Wilson in the Democratic primary. Kopser has more money (and the endorsement of Steny Hoyer and VoteVets), but Wilson won more votes in March. On the Republican side, former Texas Assistant Attorney General Chip Roy (who also served as Sen. Ted Cruz’s chief of staff) faces off against businessman Matt McCall.
Results: Kopser defeated Wilson, and Roy defeated McCall.
While Rep. Lamar Smith, who currently represents the 21st district, is retiring, he won the seat by more than 20 points in 2016, and Trump also won the district.