What to expect from Tuesday’s elections

Four states will hold primaries on Tuesday, while California voters will choose a replacement for former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, giving Republicans a little more breathing room in the House.

With two Republicans running in a special election in California’s 20th District, the GOP is sure to add a new member to its slim House majority. And voters in Georgia, Oregon, Kentucky and Idaho will head to the polls for the primaries. All the action is focused on the House elections, which will set up showdowns in key battlegrounds and decide likely future lawmakers in less competitive open seats.

Polls close in Kentucky at 6 and 7 pm ET, with the state divided into two time zones; 7 pm ET in Georgia; 10 and 11 pm ET in Idaho; and 11 p.m. ET in California. Oregon conducts its elections entirely by mail and ballots must be returned or postmarked by 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday.

Here’s what to keep in mind in Tuesday’s elections:

Kevin McCarthy’s replacement

Republicans in Washington, D.C., will get a gift from Tuesday night’s elections: a boost from California, where voters will cast their ballots in a special election between Assemblyman Vince Fong, who used to work for McCarthy, and the sheriff of the Tulare County, Mike Boudreaux.

Both candidates are Republicans, meaning the GOP will have 218 members to the Democrats’ 213 once the winner is sworn in, with four vacancies. That means Republicans will be able to afford two defections instead of the current one with the full House in attendance.

California places all candidates on the same primary ballot regardless of party affiliation, and in a special election, if no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two vote-getters advance to a general election.

The winner of the special election will serve out the remainder of McCarthy’s term. McCarthy resigned late last year after being removed as president. Fong and Boudreaux will also face off in November in the regularly scheduled general election.

Former President Donald Trump also endorsed Fong, who finished with the most votes in the March primary.

battles of oregon

Oregon is home to three competitive House districts where matchups will be set Tuesday.

Monique DeSpain, an attorney and Air Force veteran, is the top fundraiser in the Republican field in the 4th District to take on Democratic Rep. Val Hoyle. The top Republican fundraiser vying to take on Democratic Rep. Andrea Salinas in the 6th District is businessman Mike Erickson, who lost to her by nearly 3 percentage points in 2022.

But most of the primary action has focused on District 5, where Republican Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer is running for re-election.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has taken the rare step of taking sides in the primary to boost state Rep. Janelle Bynum over attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner. Chavez-DeRemer beat McLeod-Skinner by 2 points in 2022, even though Joe Biden won the district by 9 points in 2020, according to Daily Kos Elections calculations.

Multiple outside groups have entered the race, and a pro-Bynum group, Mainstream Democrats, released an ad highlighting reports that McLeod-Skinner mistreated her campaign staff.

Meanwhile, McLeod-Skinner got a boost from a group called Health Equity Now, which launched ads promoting its support for “Medicare for All” legislation. Some Democrats have suggested that the group could be an attempt by Republicans to meddle in primaries, because Republican candidates often use the group’s ad-buying company, according to The Washington Post.

sister act

Outside groups have also entered the Democratic primary to replace outgoing Rep. Earl Blumenauer in Oregon’s deep blue 3rd District.

The primary field is crowded, and leading candidates include former Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, whose sister, Pramila, represents Washington’s 7th District in Congress and chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Jayapal has garnered some high-profile endorsements, including from Sen. Bernie Sanders, but has faced attacks on the airwaves from an outside group called Voters for Responsive Government.

314 Action, which supports candidates with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) backgrounds, has also launched ads to boost state Rep. Maxine Dexter, a physician. Dexter has led the field in fundraising, followed by Jayapal and Gresham City Council member Eddy Morales.

Republican primaries to follow

There are also a handful of Republican primaries worth keeping a close eye on, albeit in districts that aren’t expected to be competitive in the fall.

In Kentucky’s 4th District, Republican Rep. Thomas Massie faces a primary challenge from two primary opponents who have been critics: attorney Eric Deters and Michael McGinnis.

Massie has made some enemies in Congress. He joined the unsuccessful effort to unseat President Mike Johnson, R-Louisiana, over criticism of aid to Ukraine and funding of a controversial intelligence tool. He was one of the few members of Congress to support Trump (he endorsed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis). And in 2020, his opposition to an emergency pandemic relief bill led Trump to call for his expulsion from the party.

Massie is the heavy favorite, but the primary has generated significant spending from a super PAC affiliated with Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (who backs Massie) and the pro-Israel United Democracy Project, which has said it is not playing games. directly into the primary, but is running ads criticizing Massie’s policies in Israel (Massie is seen as a potential future candidate for state office).

In Idaho, Republican Rep. Mike Simpson went on the air before his primary and received outside help from Defending Main Street, a super PAC tied to the Republican Main Street Partnership. Simpson’s best-funded primary opponent, financial adviser Scott Cleveland, has partly self-funded his campaign.

In Georgia, Trump’s endorsement is at stake in the 3rd District, where he is backing Brian Jack, his former White House political director, to replace outgoing Republican Rep. Drew Ferguson. Jack has been the top fundraiser in the race through April, and has also been boosted by significant outside spending from the group. His opponents include state Sen. Mike Dugan, former state Sen. Mike Crane and military veteran Philip Singleton.

There is also a Republican primary for the right to take on Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop in Georgia’s 2nd District. Bishop is not expected to be vulnerable in a general election: He won re-election in 2022 by 10 percentage points and Biden won the district in 2020 by a similar margin, according to data from Daily Kos Elections.

The Republican Party primaries have not generated much spending. The field includes Chuck Hand, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor related to his conduct during the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Other items on the Georgia ballot

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson faces a challenge from former Democratic Rep. John Barrow, who has focused his campaign on abortion rights. The court, where conservatives have a majority, is technically nonpartisan, but Pinson has the support of Republicans, while Democrats have tried to boost Barrow.

An incumbent has not lost a Georgia Supreme Court race since 1922, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

And Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, handling Trump’s election interference case in Georgia, faces a challenge in the Democratic primary from Atlanta attorney Christian Wise Smith.

Meanwhile, Fulton County Senior Judge Scott McAfee, who is overseeing the case, also faces a primary for his nonpartisan seat on the court.