by Caroline Rayburn
Voters took to the polls earlier this week in six states to cast their ballots in the “Super Tuesday” primary elections. In Kentucky, Arkansas, and Oregon, the stage is now officially set for the general election for the U.S. Senate – and the GOP has its sight set on taking back the Upper Chamber for control of the entire legislative branch. A Georgia Republican runoff is all that stands in between what is sure to become another key race that could determine control of the Senate. And for citizens of Idaho and Pennsylvania, the way has been paved for pivotal congressional races and for the right to take up residence in the governor’s mansion.
The Republican Leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), fended off his Tea Party challenger, businessman Matt Bevin. McConnell captured 60.2% of the vote to Bevin’s 35.4% and will now face Kentucky’s Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes, in what is expected to be a competitive race. Already, Republican factions in the state are joining forces and rallying around McConnell to prevent losing one of the GOP’s most pivotal Senate seats, and Grimes aims to establish herself independent of President Barack Obama – who remains very unpopular in the Bluegrass State.
Another hot race to watch leading up to November will be the Arkansas Senate race. Representative Tom Cotton (R) won the uncontested Republican Senate primary, marking the formal start of the showdown with incumbent Senator Mark Pryor (D). Pryor is among several incumbent Democratic senators vulnerable this election cycle due to support for ObamaCare. In 2012, Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, carried Arkansas with 60.57% of the popular vote, spelling trouble for Pryor as he attempts to distance himself from the President and his policies.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley (D) easily defeated his primary challengers on Tuesday, while Monica Wehby – a pro-choice brain surgeon – emerged as the Republican primary victor over State Representative, Jason Conger. An early critic of ObamaCare and a political outsider, Wehby will work to topple Merkley – a first-term senator who was narrowly elected in 2008.
The crowded Georgia primary is finally beginning to take shape: businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston (R) have advanced to a runoff for the GOP Senate nomination, as neither candidate was able to garner 50% of the vote on Tuesday. Perdue and Kingston are vying for the opportunity to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA). The runoff will take place in July and the winner will move on to face Democrat Michelle Nunn, the daughter of a former Georgia senator, in the general election.
Senate seats weren’t on the line in Idaho on Tuesday, but the Republican bid for the state’s 2nd Congressional District was. Rep. Michael Simpson (R) defeated Tea Party candidate, Bryan Smith. Simpson now looks to the general election where he will run against the former Democratic representative of Idaho’s 2nd District, Richard Stallings. Stallings represented the 2nd District form 1984 to 1992.
Finally, voters in Pennsylvania had their eyes on several key state races. In the 8th District, Kevin Strouse (D) won the Democratic primary; he will face off against Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R) to represent the district located just outside of Philadelphia. Incumbent Rep. Bill Shuster (R) will also seek reelection in PA’s 9th District. Shuster is set to run against the uncontested Democratic candidate, Alanna Hartzok (D), in what pollsters have deemed a Republican-safe district. Finally in PA’s 13th District, State Rep. Brendan Boyle (D) knocked off three other candidates – including Clinton-supported Marjorie Margolies. Boyle will now go on to challenge Republican Carson Dee-Adcock (R) for the District’s open seat, which was vacated by Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) during her bid for governor. Schwartz, however, did not secure the Democratic nomination for governor – instead, Tom Wolf (D) will battle the four-year incumbent governor, Tom Corbett (R).
With an exciting election season now underway, AMAC is committed to ensuring that our members have the information they need to make intelligent decisions in the ballot box come November 4th. AMAC will continue to keep our members engaged in the latest political news as the campaigns kick into full gear!