iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After weeks of primaries and now just 56 days remaining until Election Day, it’s time for the final primer for the last primary day of the season.
The final states to vote before November are New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware and Rhode Island, with a gubernatorial primary in New York, even though their congressional primaries were earlier in the season.
One former Massachusetts senator is likely to defeat a former New Hampshire senator to be that state’s GOP nominee, there’s a Democratic gubernatorial brawl in Rhode Island, and one on the other side of the aisle in New Hampshire. There’s also a gubernatorial primary in Massachusetts with a familiar name, an 81-year old running for the Senate in Delaware, two openly gay Republicans on ballots in two states, and much more.
Here are ten races to watch this primary day:
NEW HAMPSHIRE SENATE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY
The race between former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has been playing out as a general election face-off for months since Brown moved to the state late last year, but Brown actually has to win his primary on Tuesday first.
WHY IT MATTERS
He’s up against former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith and former New Hampshire state Sen. Jim Rubens. Brown is heavily favored and now that we are hours away, the expectations game is playing out in this general election battle that could determine control of the Senate. New Hampshire’s Union-Leader reported Monday that Brown’s campaign believes he can beat Shaheen in November even if he only wins today with a plurality of the vote. The New Hampshire Democratic Party put out its own release, saying that it is expecting Brown to win by a “massive margin” and calling “anything short of an overwhelming win … an embarrassment.”
Brown’s primary lead and endorsements from Granite State Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and even Mitt Romney has made him the focus since he entered the race. But that hasn’t deterred Smith, who has a 30-year political resume, with several non-traditional stops along the way. Smith served in both the House and Senate, and waged an unsuccessful presidential bid that included leaving the party for a short time. He moved to Florida soon after his 2002 Senate re-election loss and mounted two bids for the GOP Senate nomination from the Sunshine State in 2004 and 2010, both unsuccessfully.
Now that he’s back in New Hampshire, Smith is running as the “true conservative” in the race, but it’s not only the fact that he left the GOP that has undermined his claim to that title: In 2004, just before Election Day, he endorsed John Kerry over George W. Bush. Either way, he said this is the likely end to his 30-year political resume. Rubens has also positioned himself to the right of Brown, but in their final debate last week he said unequivocally that he believes global warming exists and is caused by man, a belief he says makes him the only Republican Senate candidate in the country willing to openly share that view.
NEW HAMPSHIRE REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY
The only Democratic female governor is in New Hampshire, and Maggie Hassan only faces token opposition today. However, the Republican fight to take her on is an interesting one. Walt Havenstein, a former Marine and president of BAE Systems, has vastly outspent his 32-year-old opponent Andrew Hemingway, a tea partier and former aide to Newt Gingrich in 2012, overseeing his efforts in the Granite State.
WHY IT MATTERS
Despite how tight the race remains, Havenstein, 64, has not only outspent his young challenger, spending $1.5 million of his own money, but he also has the backing of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s also the chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association. It was a rare foray for Christie into a primary, one that got a lot of attention and speculation this was more about 2016 than 2014.
The race remains tight between the Havenstein and Hemingway and they are appealing to different parts of the party. Hemingway to the more conservative electorate and Havenstein, who is pro-abortion rights, is running more of a moderate campaign trying to paint himself as the only candidate who can beat Hassan. State polls show Hassan leading both possible challengers.
MASSACHUSETTS GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY
With incumbent Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick opting against seeking a third term, this is an open race with high-profile candidates on both sides of the aisle, which, despite blue Massachusetts, could lead to a competitive general election.
WHY IT MATTERS
On the Democratic side, the Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, backed by Emily’s List, has come in first against her two opponents in state polls. She famously lost in 2010 to Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race in the seat that opened up after Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death. Brown then lost to Elizabeth Warren in 2012 and now is running for the Senate again in New Hampshire. (See above.)
Coakley faces off against Donald Berwick, a former Obama administration health care official, and Steve Grossman, the Massachusetts state treasurer, who was endorsed by the state party, as well as the Boston Globe. He has been touting the endorsements as the primary approached.
On the Republican side, Charlie Baker, who won the Republican nomination in 2010, is the former state Secretary of Finance and Administration and the former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He’s up against Mark Fisher, a businessman aligned with the Tea Party. Baker is favored, but Fisher is trying to awaken the more conservative members of the party in the Bay State that he believes may be upset at the more moderate GOP in the state. Baker has a more moderate approach, trying to appeal to voters in both parties ahead of the November election. The Democratic and Republican winners will be up against three independent candidates in November.
RHODE ISLAND GUBERNATORIAL PRIMARY
Gov. Lincoln Chafee is not seeking a second term, so there’s an open race for Rhode Island’s top office.
WHY IT MATTERS
The Democratic primary for Rhode Island’s governor is a tight battle pitting state general treasurer Gina Raimondo against Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and Clay Pell, the 32-year-old grandson of Claiborne Pell, the late senator who represented Rhode Island for 36 years and for whom the Pell Grant is named.
The former Coast Guard attorney is married to former Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan, also a draw on the campaign trail. Raimondo has led in the most recent polls, but has remained tight with Taveras through most of the primary, with many undecided voters. If Raimondo — backed by Emily’s List — wins today and goes on to win in November, she would be Rhode Island’s first female governor. Public-sector unions aren’t supportive of Raimondo since she reformed the state’s pension plan, cutting benefits, but unions have split their support between Taveras and Pell.
Spending between the three has been sky high, with spending in the Democratic primary alone topping $10 million. Taveras, who has appealed to Latino and middle-class voters, has hit Raimondo for her support from Wall Street donors. The unions supporting Pell and Taveras could help with their get-out-the-vote operations, while Raimondo has been appealing to more independents and moderates who could boost her today. Pell has trailed in polls despite spending $3.4 million of his own money, but may be able to get support from voters who remember his grandfather. His opponents have portrayed him as a wealthy rookie unable to hold down a job.
The winner will face either Cranston Mayor Allan Fung or businessman Ken Block, who are facing off for the Republican nomination. Fung has been endorsed by Mitt Romney, while Block has been endorsed by John Robitaille, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor. Fung and Block have spent considerably less than their Democratic rivals. Fung has questioned Block’s conservative credentials, since Block voted for the president twice. Fung ran into some trouble in August when it was revealed he shot a campaign ad touting Rhode Island’s as “open for business,” but from an Ohio diner. The lack of polling makes this a complete toss-up. Rhode Island is a blue state and a Democrat is favored to win, but Rhode Island hasn’t elected a Democrat as governor since 1992.
NEW YORK DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PRIMARY
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a Democratic challenge from liberal Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout. Teachout claims Cuomo is too far to the right for New York, despite victories like the legalization of same-sex marriage and the passing of one of the strictest gun control bills in the country, achievements to which Cuomo has pointed.
WHY IT MATTERS
There has been no polling, but Cuomo is heavily favored to win. The race that has gotten more attention is actually the second name on both tickets: the race for lieutenant governor, where there’s more of a possibility for an upset. Cuomo’s pick is Kathy Hochul, a former one-term congresswoman from a conservative district outside Buffalo who is up against Teachout’s choice, Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor.
Hillary Clinton released a robo-call last week backing the ticket, but in the call she primarily focused boosting the little-known Hochul. Hochul has been stressing her progressive stances, but Wu has hit her for her own gun control and environmental records. Hochul is most well-known for winning a special election in one of the state’s most conservative districts in 2011, but she lost her re-election one year later.
The biggest controversy hanging over the race is the Moreland Commission, the anti-corruption panel Cuomo dissolved after it began looking at organizations close to the governor. It prompted a federal investigation after it was revealed in the New York Times. The winning ticket will face Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in November.
DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR MASSACHUSETTS’ SIXTH DISTRICT
Incumbent nine-term Democratic Rep. John Tierney, 62, has a competitive primary today and if he is victorious he will also have a tight general election on his hands. His Democratic opponents include Harvard-educated former Marine Seth Moulton, 35, who was also a top aide to General David Petraeus.
WHY IT MATTERS
Moulton is considered Tierney’s strongest opponent and while the incumbent has tried to look past him to focus on the general election, Moulton has run an aggressive campaign focusing on voter discontent with Congress. Tierney has tried to paint Moulton as too conservative, running an ad tying him to the National Rifle Association, something Moulton called absurd, according to the New York Times. Moulton has raised almost as much as Tierney, with the incumbent bringing in $1.9 million to Moulton’s $1.6 million. Moulton has been backed by both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, two editorial boards that usually do not agree.
Tierney has the backing of the Democratic establishment, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Marisa DeFranco, a Middleton immigration lawyer, is also running in the Democratic primary. The winner will face the man Tierney beat by just one percentage point in 2012, Republican Richard Tisei. The 2012 race was dominated by a gambling scandal involving Tierney’s wife. Tisei is openly gay and moderate and the possible re-match between Tierney and Tisei is considered a toss-up, even in this blue state. Moulton is thought to have an advantage against Tisei if he is the victor, but with no primary or general election polling this race is impossible to predict, even though there hasn’t been a successful primary against a House incumbent in the Bay State in over 20 years.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE’S FIRST DISTRICT
Four Republicans are vying to take on incumbent Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, in a race considered a November toss-up.
WHY IT MATTERS
Former Rep. Frank Guinta is favored in the race against Dan Innis, a dean at the University of New Hampshire, and former selectman Brendan Kelly. There’s also a fourth lesser-known candidate: Everett Jabour. Shea-Porter was elected in 2006 and 2008, but Guinta beat Shea-Porter in 2010 only to then be ousted in 2012. Guinta is running for the fifth time in nine years and Innis has called Guinta a career politician, but he has much higher name recognition than his opponents. Innis is one of three openly gay Republican candidates running this cycle and is much more moderate.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE’S SECOND DISTRICT
Marilinda Garcia, named one of the RNC’s rising stars, is attempting to become one of the youngest members of Congress. She’s up against former Marine and state Sen. Gary Lambert and former state Rep. Jim Lawrence to take on incumbent Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster.
WHY IT MATTERS
With no primary polling, it’s unclear if the 31-year-old Garcia, Lambert, or Lawrence will pull off the primary. Garcia is seen as the more conservative choice and Sen. Ted Cruz hit the campaign trail for her this weekend. The race has gotten nasty with Lambert running ads accusing Garcia of supporting Obamacare and “amnesty.” After their final debate, she declined to shake his hand.
DELAWARE SENATE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY
Delaware voters will choose today which Republican will go up against incumbent Democratic Sen. Chris Coons in November. Carl Smink, an 81-year-old retired engineer and Air Force veteran, is up against businessman Kevin Wade, who ran an unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2012, and founded his own engineering business when he was 29.
Wade, 62, has visited Israel during his campaign on a trip he called a fact-finding mission to research the Middle East conflict. He also visited the Mexican border to understand the border crisis, according to Delaware’s The News Journal, which also reports both trips abroad were funded by his campaign. Smink, appealing to a more conservative electorate, has said one of his biggest concerns is the implementation of Sharia Law in this country. The winner will face Coons in the general election and he is widely favored to beat either opponent.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY FOR MASSACHUSETTS’ NINTH DISTRICT
Four Republicans are vying to go up against Democratic incumbent Rep. William Keating. The favorite is former Romney administration official John Chapman, who has the backing of Mitt Romney, Scott Brown, and is on the National Republican Campaign Committee “Young Guns” list. He’s up against Mark Alliegro, a scientist and researcher aligned with the tea party, Daniel Shores, a lawyer, and Vincent Cogliano Jr., a former selectman who operates a family Christmas tree farm. Romney recorded a robo-call on behalf of Chapman and said he will “cut spending, repeal Obamacare, and get rid of the red tape holding back the economy.”
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